As the weather outside turns frightful in some parts of the country, the fires (and 60-degree temperatures) around New York City prove delightful. So, let it (artificially) snow and let the city glow as you explore the wonders of Manhattan during the holidays. Read on for a list of ways to see the Big Apple in all its seasonal splendor over the next few weeks.
Deck your halls
Let’s be honest, a big part of the holiday season is filling the stockings, wrapping tons of presents and dressing your pad in all things merry. For the latter task, head to ABC Carpet & Home, possibly the best home furnishing store in the country. Walk through rows of delicate glass ornaments, step under the stunning pile of glittering chandeliers and enter a winter wonderland of dishes, linens, baubles and goblets, all ripe for the picking. Then, if you get hungry, stop into ABC Kitchen, the elegant yet casual restaurant by Jean-Georges Vongerichten that highlights seasonal fare.
Conveniently, this venue is right next to the famed Union Square Holiday Market, a bazaar of unique gifts, kiosks of toasty treats and stands pouring luscious hot cocoa. Stop by The Truffleist for fungi fabulousness, the Brooklyn-based With Roots Jewelry for unique trinkets, Nunu Chocolates for gourmet bonbons, and Nanako, a Japanese-inspired clothing stall.
If you want to get a little more decorating (and baking) inspiration, head to the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel New York, a Midtown hotel where you’ll find a stunning gingerbread village on display. The six-foot exhibit is located in the hotel’s Garden restaurant, and was created by executive pastry chef Jasmina Bojic. It took six people and three weeks to complete, and the effort really shows.
Eat, drink and be merry
Dining out during this season is also important. At Four-Star The Lambs Club in Four-Star The Chatwal, A Luxury Collection Hotel in the theater district, it already looks like the holidays have taken over — but the red leather banquettes and 18th-century French limestone fireplace have always graced the dining room. During the holidays, though, chef Geoffrey Zakarian curates a Holiday Carolers Brunch (December 19, 25 and 26). You can also find three types of hot chocolate made with Michel Cluizel Chocolate, a classic afternoon tea service and fresh stollen loaves for sale.
With brunch in mind, keep Four-Star Waldorf Astoria New York in Midtown on your radar. Every corner of this space appears to twinkle with holiday magic. To make the hotel even more charming this month, Peacock Alley will host carolers at brunch, an epicurean event that comes complete with an epic chocolate fountain and a caviar and seafood bar. (Christmas Day brunch will run between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.) Stay here overnight or just stop in for a festive meal or drink. Either way, consider the iconic address an awesome place to live up the holidays in style.
If you foresee yourself being hungry in the city on Christmas Eve, try to book a table at award-winning chef Brad Farmerie’s PUBLIC, a spot where you’ll find a superb tasting menu featuring cauliflower soup, braised lamb and foie gras parfait, among other delicacies. You can also go for the classic Feast of the Seven Fishes at il Buco Alimentari, a place that will offer dishes such as grilled giant prawns and roasted monkfish for dinner and baker Kamel Saci’s fruit-filled Panettone bread for an after-meal treat.
And if you are looking to warm up after shopping all day, do so with a nice, holiday-themed cocktail. The place to go this season is Mace Cocktail Bar in Alphabet City. Now through December 24, you can visit for owner Greg Boehm’s pop-up Miracle On Ninth Street, a special venture featuring all yuletide and Hanukkah-inspired tipples. This includes the Christmas Tree Gimlet (Shochu, pine needle cordial and grapefruit oil), the Joyeux Noel (gingerbread calvados, spiced pumpkin syrup, cinnamon and egg white), and a very special eggnog made with brown butter-infused cognac. All of the drinks come in festive glasses, and every chair is equipped with a Santa hat — just in case you really want to get into the spirit.
Fa la la la laing
Of course, seeing a concert proves another great way to ring in the season. This year it’s not just Santa who’ll be coming to town, but pop icon Mariah Carey will be at the Beacon Theatre with her All I Want for Christmas Is You tour (December 15, 17 and 18). The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center plays Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos (December 15) at Alice Tully Hall. At Carnegie Hall, you can hear Mozart’s rarely preformed Handel’s Messiah (December 21).
But this wouldn’t be Christmastime in New York without a theatrical touch. For those looking for something with a little more kick than the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, there are a host of other festive productions going on around town. For one, there’s Elf, a staged musical version of the hilarious Will Ferrell movie from 2003, showing at The Theater at MSG (December 16 to 27). Another seasonal winner worth making an effort to see is the New York City Ballet’s classic version of George Balanchine’s Nutcracker (through January 3). It’s a timeless holiday tradition that never gets old. And given that the company uses every musician and dancer on its payroll for the production, it’s sure to impress even the most devout Grinch.