Hands up who has never dreamed of spending Christmas time in New York.
For those who grew up in the 90’s this desire re-emerges every given Christmas when the movie “Home Alone 2 – lost in New York” is broadcasted again and again.
Unlike our previous times, we wanted to stay exactly in the center of Manhattan, the crossroads of the world, and enjoy the atmosphere of its streets and avenues full of life and happiness during the Christmas period.
The magic of this city, even more lively and lit up in this time of the year, is everywhere.
Santas are in every corner and every blocks of Manhattan is dressed up for the occasion with colorful lamps, decorated trees and storefronts that set up their windows accordingly: it’s the Christmas spirit.
You’ll feel the need to be part of this charming show that brings you back to the childhood to relive Christmas through a child’s eyes.
As first step I went to deliver my Christmas letter to Santa Claus in Central park, queuing up with hundreds of children. Just in front of the park you’ll find the famous Hotel “The Plaza” to relive again the scene set in the hotel lobby between Kevin and Donald Trump, at that time owner of the Plaza.
Ten streets away, at the Rockefeller plaza, the iconic toy store FAO Schwarz has recently reopened to the public: it is not the original one of the movie but it’s still a magic place where I had a hard time trying not spend all my money!
Here toys are not just merchandise for sale but a real cult. Take your time, you will be caught by each and every storeman that showcase hundreds of different toys, wandering around on their skates and drones: is there a better place for Christmas?
Once you step out the Rockefeller Tree stares at you but don’t tremble: it doesn’t look so impressive as it appears on TV images.
Despite that Rockefeller Center area is the heart of this Christmas spirit with its famous skating rink, the most famous Christmas songs in background and plenty of people all lined up for the next round. Don’t worry if it happens to listen to music and see a crowd of people trying to earn a front row seat: it’s the Saks Christmas holiday light show, that every 10 minutes attracts thousands of people!
Honestly, my favorite spots are not exactly in Midtown but it’s here, indubitably, that Christmas spreads in the air.
I was completely overwhelmed by all of this and suddenly felt like to celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes, the Italian-American Christmas’ eve dinner. But first we needed to get our own Christmas dress. Mine – 20$ H&M, Columbus circle- it’s been a great success!!!
In the early evening you can have some beers for 3$ as happy hours in one of the several pubs and bars located in Lower East Side, where Christmas celebration takes hipster’s appearance.
For the Eve dinner we finally found out an Italian Apulian restaurant “Vic’s” on opentable that is very nice and frequented by cool people but, when it comes to restaurants, New York is really expensive and the food quality is related to the price actually paid. If this had been a food blog I would have rated it with 2.5 stars on 5.
Christmas day is probably the only one of the year in which Manhattan rests all day long with empty streets and closed shops. That’s why we chose to visit Dyker Heights. However, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge wasn’t a good idea since it was completely full of people queued in single file. With that said the view of Manhattan and the East River from here is always special and the little corner of DUMBO at the end of the bridge deserves always a visit.
After a drink at Harriett’s rooftop we made our way to Dyker Heights, the historic Italian community famous for the unspoken competition among homeowners that adorn their houses with dazzling holiday lights: Christmas Carols in the background, fake snow falling from the roofs landing on life-size Santas and reindeer, sleights and all sorts of decorations. I had never seen something like that before!!!
From the dusk till 9 PM streets here are crowded by tourists but the overall experience is memorable and worth a visit. On our way back it took more than one hour and half to come back to Manhattan with Uber due to traffic along the streets of Dyker Heights.
On Sunday it’s the right time to attend a Gospel Mass: it is absolutely an experience you won’t forget! Try to find a small church in Harlem, they are very characteristic and more probably you will sing and clap your hands among locals. Don’t forget to bring some cash for the offertory and remember: the earlier you show up, the fewer tourists you will find.
GOOD THINGS TO KNOW
31 Great Jones St, NY
30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY
Dyker Heights Lights
11th Avenue to 13th Avenue and from 83rd to 86th Street, Brooklyn, NY
Canaan Baptist Church of Christ
132 West 116th Street, NY