The Very Best of NYC Holiday Events

Thanksgiving Day Parade, Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Holiday Train Show, The New York City Ballet

At 9am on Nov 22, the 86th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will step off with its signature giant helium balloons, clowns, floats of fantasy, marching bands and a visit by the one-and-only Santa Claus. America’s favorite holiday spectacular returns to the New York City bigger and better this year, with new giant character balloons and a new parade route down 6th Avenue.

No holiday season is complete without a trip to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, starring the world-famous Radio City Rockettes, on stage now through Dec 30. This year’s Christmas Spectacular honors the Rockettes and highlights the attributes that have made them so engaging for the past 85 years, including their fabulous style, athleticism and unparalleled talent. The entire look and feel of the Art Deco venue and the 2012 Radio City Christmas Spectacular will celebrate the past, present and future of the Rockettes in this milestone year.

Head out to the New York Botanical Garden for the annual Holiday Train Show, running Nov 17-Jan 13. This seasonal favorite transports visitors to an enchanted New York surrounded by the glow of twinkling lights in America’s premier glass greenhouse, the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. More than a dozen large-scale model railway trains—from late-1800s American steam engines and streetcars to modern freight and high-speed passenger trains and trolleys—traverse nearly a quarter-mile of track across rustic bridges, along overhead trestles, through tunnels, and past waterfalls that cascade into flowing creeks. New to the show this year is a replica of Macy’s flagship location (“the miracle on 34th Street”) which greets visitors as they enter the Conservatory; two botanically inspired trolleys and a train, each running on their own separate tracks in the Artist’s Studio; replicas of national and international sites and landmarks such as the ancient Sphinx, Route 66 Diner, Parthenon, and Boston Harbor Lighthouse.

The New York City Ballet will present the beloved holiday favorite, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Nov 23 through Dec 30. Set to Tchaikovsky’s glorious score, the ballet features New York City Ballet’s dancers and the New York City Ballet Orchestra, as well as 50 children from the School of American Ballet joining together to make each performance as magical as possible. From the moment the lights dim, the audience is transported to a enchanted place filled with adorable children, marching toy soldiers, a glowing one-ton Christmas tree, mischievous mice, crystalline waltzing snowflakes, the Land of Sweets and some of the most breathtaking costumes, sets and dancing on earth.

Join thousands of your fellow New Yorkers at the lighting of the 2012 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza Nov 28. Every year the tree is decorated with more than 30,000 multi-colored, energy-efficient LED lights and crowned by a Swarovski star, creating a worldwide symbol of the holidays in New York City. More details on the festivities for the tree lighting will be announced closer to the event.

If yuletide traditions are a little too saccharine for your palate, Here Art Center’s holiday show is for you. The Butt-Cracker Suite: A Trailer Park Ballet, running Nov 24-Dec 29, stars Chris March in an outrageous re-creation of The Nutcracker. Set, of course, in a trailer park with dancing pink flamingos, cans of Spam and ugly Christmas sweaters that come to life on Christmas Eve, The Butt-Cracker Suite contains no sugar-plum fairies or snowflakes! March promises to brighten your holidays by turning trash into this season’s most unique and outrageous show. With a lot of fun music, over-the-top costumes, fabulous dancers, and just a hint of blasphemy, this show is the tacky gift that keeps on giving.


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