Think back to the first time you watched Buddy the Elf discover New York City. Every time he turned around, he found something new, interesting, and exciting (except for taxis because “yellow ones don’t stop!”). For a New Yorker, immersed in rushing to work and shopping and cooking and cleaning, it can be so easy to forget about that excitement.
But there’s truly nothing quite like the holiday season in New York City. As temperatures drop, holiday cheer rises. Decorations go up, adding sparkle to an already magical city. Christmas trees and menorahs grace store windows, and snowflakes, both real and electric, appear on light poles. The prospect of delicious meals with family, curling up by a fireplace, and a good cup of hot cocoa with carols in the background is enchanting.
Even with all of these exciting things, there’s a lot to miss. How many people remember to look up from their smart phones and shopping lists to catch the light show on Saks Fifth Avenue? Considering the beautiful display and windows to admire while waiting, probably quite a few. But how many know the history of it?
Saks first opened in 1924, when holiday displays were a tool to draw customers to stores. Elaborate windows originally resulted in window-shopping, but evolved into a tradition that’s as important as Santa and his reindeer. Hydraulic lifts, electric lights, and competitions for the best design made the windows an attraction on their own. When Saks Fifth Avenue added the light show, they took the prize for one of the most entertaining displays.
The 2015 display is called The Winter Palace and was revealed on November 23. Two hundred choir members from performed “Carol of the Bells” as more than 225,000 individual points of controlled light lit up the storefront. The product of more than 250 individuals working for over 10,000 hours over 11 months, the show is breathtaking and highlights the Seven Wonders of the World—and the evolution of holiday decorations.
Of course, the lights and windows are not the only amazing show in the city. We’re sure you’ve seen the beautiful tree in Rockefeller Center, but do you know when the first one was decorated? Or how about where the tree comes from?
The first official tree in Rockefeller Center arrived in 1933, when 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened. Before that, however, Depression-era construction workers decorated a smaller, 20-foot tree with strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even some tin cans on Christmas Eve in 1931. There was no tree in 1932, but 1933 kicked off the tradition that still holds strong today.
This year’s tree lighting will be on December 2. The 78-foot Norway spruce comes from Gardiner, NY. Decorated with 45,000 multi-colored LED lights and a 550-pound, 9.5-foot star at the top, it’s sure to dazzle both New Yorkers and visitors to the city!
While watching the tree lighting, you’ll see a performance by the Rockettes, but don’t miss their main show, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, performed at Radio City Music Hall. The group was founded in St. Louis in 1925 and moved to Radio City Music Hall in 1932. It has since won world recognition and numerous awards.
The show has changed over time, but two numbers from the original production are still performed today: “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “The Living Nativity.” With these numbers, and their famous eye-level kick lines, you’ll certainly want to get a ticket! There are five shows every day during the Christmas season and with over 2 million viewers per year, it’s one of the most-watched live shows in the United States.
With these amazing events happening all over the city, how can you resist a trip to New York just to see them all? Be sure to contact us to join us on a Holiday Tour, where we’ll show you all of this and more!
Happy Holidays from AT Escapes!
It's Christmastime in the City