5 Beautiful Holiday Trees in NYC (Beyond Rockefeller Center)

December 19, 2013 6:00 AM

It takes a hard heart not to get excited by a well-trimmed tree. After you’ve ogled the one at Rockefeller Center—a 76-foot, 12-ton spruce illuminated this year with 45,000 LED lights—take a look at New York City’s other great trees. By Jessica Allen.

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

(credit: Garrett Ziegler)

For more than 40 years, volunteers and members of OrigamiUSA have intricately folded the paper that decorates the Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History. (The folding begins in July.) This year’s theme, “Wicked, Wild, and Wonderful,” echoes the museum’s new exhibition on The Power of Poison. The tree stays up until January 12, 2014, and folks will be on hand to show you how to create your own paper art.

More: Holiday Shopping: Top Toys For 2013

(credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

(credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

In, around, beneath, and among the branches of the towering spruce at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s first-floor gallery are more than 200 crèche figures, organized into an eighteenth-century Neapolitan Baroque Nativity scene. It includes angels in silk robes, various shepherds, farmers, and villagers, and lots of animals, including a monkey playing cymbals. Recorded music comes on periodically, adding to the festive, yet contemplative mood.

More: 5 Delicious Gingerbread Treats In NYC

What the Park Avenue trees lack in ornaments, they make up for in sheer number (and meaning). Since 1945, the trees along more than two miles of Park Avenue have been lit in memory of those who lost their lives defending the United States. (The tree lighting takes place annually on the first Sunday in December.) Each tree gets around 25 strands of lights, making for a twinkling memorial and somber reminder.

More: NYC’s 5 Best Cups Of Hot Chocolate

2013 marks the 30th year a tree has been lit at the South Street Seaport. After you’ve finished admiring its lights, colors, thickness, and height, you can tackle your last-minute shopping, grab a hot drink, or head to the ice skating rink. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in December, Santa will be on hand from 12 to 8 pm, along with live music from The Mistletones, self-described “urban hipster” carolers (check the website for specific times).

More: The 5 Best Alternative Holiday Craft Fairs In NYC

Last week, a 45-foot tree was lit beneath the arch in Washington Square Park, the 89th time such an event has occurred. Few neighborhoods so immediately take visitors and residents back to earlier days as Greenwich Village. The fashions, mores, and cars might have changed, but the spirit has remained remarkably consistent over the past nine decades. Join the crowds for the annual Christmas Eve caroling at 5 pm on December 24.

Watch & Listen LIVE