By Joanne Colella
The holidays are upon us, and with them come weeks full of festive sights, sounds, and celebrations! There are plenty of holiday delights within an easy drive from our area. Here are just a few of the traditional favorites that are sure to help ring in the season.
Perhaps the crown jewel of Manhattan at this time of year is the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, traditionally a Norway spruce, which is widely considered a world-wide symbol of the holidays in NYC. This year’s 78-foot, 10-ton jolly green giant is already lit, as of November 30, by tens of thousands of LED lights on miles of wire, topped by a tremendous 9.5-foot Swarovski crystal star. It is located in the plaza between West 48th and West 51st Streets and between 5th and 6th Avenues and illuminated from 5:30 a.m. to 12:00 midnight daily, 24 hours on Christmas Day, and from 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. The tree will remain up until 9:00 p.m. on January 7.
The Rockefeller Center tree draws tens of thousands of visitors each year, who come to gaze up through its branches and pose for photos. Down below, New Yorkers and tourists alike will be found lined up for their chance to take a spin around the Ice Skating Rink at Rockefeller Center, under the watchful gaze of oversized wooden soldiers, glowing angels, the golden sculpture of Prometheus, and fellow visitors. Glide on over to www.therinkatrockcenter.com for hours and rates for admission and skate rentals.
“Window shopping” takes on a whole new look in December, as some of the city’s flagship department stores decorate their windows with elaborately designed and animated themed tableaus. Wander your way along the avenues, stopping to take in the sights at Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s, Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman, and other shopping emporiums. While standing outside Saks, don’t forget to look upwards to enjoy the annual 3-D light show that comes to life at regular intervals.
If you’ve gotten a kick out of those sights, you’re sure to get an even bigger kick out of the famed Radio City Christmas Spectacular, featuring renowned Rockettes. This family favorite show has been entertaining audiences for more than 80 years, and includes a cast and crew of hundreds, a living nativity with a menagerie of live animals, an indoor winter wonderland, a spectacular Santa, a dazzling, high-kicking march of beautifully costumed wooden soldiers, and more state-of-the-art wonders. For more info, visit www.radiocitychristmas.com.
Looking to sink your teeth into a sweet holiday season? Why not travel west, to Hershey, PA? Each year, Christmas in Hershey presents unique holiday-themed attractions, special activities for children, festive culinary events, abundant shopping, and more. The Hersheypark Christmas Candylane delights visitors of all ages, as the park is decorated with over two million sparkling lights, themed rides, merry entertainment, and Hershey’s costumed characters meeting and greeting guests, decked out in their holiday finest. Visit Santa’s reindeer, browse the shops, and stop to listen to the talented choral group performances. Christmas in Chocolate Town is an interactive holiday dinner musical presented at the Hershey Lodge, with a delicious meal accompanied by spirited song and dance by a talented cast. And you won’t even have to get out of your car to ooh and aah over the winter wonderland of Hershey Sweet Lights, a drive-through spectacular with nearly 600 illuminated, animated displays set up along a two-mile route of wooded trails.
Does this sound like a sweet celebration? Go to www.christmasinhershey.com for all you need to know. This family favorite runs through January 1.
Wherever you go, and whatever you celebrate, I hope that you will enjoy the sights and sounds of the season, and have a chance to relish at least a brief escape with family and friends – or perhaps even on your own, to give yourself the gift of peaceful and happy solitude – as we ring out the old year and ring in the new!