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Highlights of New York City’s 2010 Holiday Season

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Every holiday season New York city transforms into a winter wonderland. The city radiates with holiday spirit as the five boroughs offer world-renowned performances, shopping, dining and more.

“There’s no better time to experience New York city’s five boroughs than during the annual holiday season,” said George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing, tourism, and partnership organization. “Each year the city opens its arms and welcomes visitors to experience some of the world’s most stunning holiday decorations, events and entertainment. This year will be another opportunity to enjoy the city’s unique energy, excitement and vibrancy.”

The holiday season kicks off when soaring balloons, crafted floats and of course Santa Claus himself arrive in Herald Square during the 84th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on 25 November. The parade begins at 9am on 77th Street and Central Park West and then makes its way to Columbus Circle, turns east toward Seventh Avenue and continues on to 42nd Street. Then it turns east toward Sixth Avenue and goes down Sixth Avenue to 34th Street, where it travels west until it ends at Seventh Avenue.

Now in its 78th year, Radio city Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular continues to amaze both visitors and residents alike. From 5 November to 30 December, experience the joy of Christmas with performances by the world-famous Rockettes, along with special effects, costumes and excitement that will create lasting memories. Ticket prices start at $45.

The Theater at Madison Square Garden will host Wintuk, a Cirque du Soleil production, for its fourth and final season this year. The holiday show shares the tale of a boy’s quest for snow in an imaginary wonderland called Wintuk. With exciting acrobatics, theatrics and music, you will not want to miss this production’s last season, 17 November 2010, to 2 January 2011. Tickets range from $30 to $220, with a special 30% discount for select children’s tickets.

The Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting is one of the most popular draws for holiday visitors from around the world. The annual tree-lighting ceremony, which takes place this year on 30 November, is an exciting star-studded event. Decorated in festive LED lights and topped with a Swarovski crystal star, the tree, which has become more eco-friendly in recent years, can be viewed till early January.

The New York city Ballet will present one of the season’s favorite annual productions, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Featuring marching toy soldiers, a glowing one-ton Christmas tree, crystalline snowflakes and some of the most glorious dancing the city has to offer, the show is truly a magical experience - whether it’s a family tradition or a once-in-a-lifetime event. The show runs from 26 November 2010 to 2 January 2011. Tickets range from $20 to $135.

 Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s spruce up their window displays with holiday-themed decor that awes visitors year after year. Indoor and outdoor holiday markets at Columbus Circle, Bryant Park, Union Square and Grand Central Terminal have become a new must-go for shoppers looking for unique gifts created by local artists and vendors. The lavish Midtown hotel Le Parker Meridien will host its second annual Gingerbread Extravaganza, during which local bakeries display their large-scale confectionary creations from 1 December 2010, to 9 January 2011. For $1, vote on the best gingerbread design and enter to win a prize. All proceeds will benefit city Harvest, an organization that rescues food to feed hungry New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs.

The Big Apple Circus celebrates its 33rd season this year with an all-new show, Dance On! New York city’s circus returns to the big top at Lincoln Center, complete with unicyclists, contortionists, animals and the hilarious clown Grandma. Seats are never more than 50 feet from the ring. Performances run from 21 October 2010 to 9 January 2011. Tickets range from $15 to $92.

Visit The Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side to view The Hanukkah Project: Daniel Libeskind, on exhibition from 21 November 2010 to 30 January 2011, featuring Hanukkah lamps from the museum’s collection, each with a rich and beautiful history.

NYC & Company will once again launch its annual Harlem for the Holidays promotion, which runs from late November through the New Year. Harlem is a remarkable area to visit during the holidays, as it offers the finest in culture, dining, shopping and more.

In the Bronx, visitors can experience the Annual Holiday Family Day at the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum on Saturday, 4 December 2010 from 10am to 2pm. Get into the spirit with the whole family at the festively decorated 19th-century mansion and participate in programs and activities for children, including photos with Santa. Reservations are requested, call 718-885-1461 or send them an email.

Also in the Bronx, at the New York Botanical Garden, is the family favorite Holiday Train Show, featuring toy trains that zip through more than 100 replicas of NYC landmarks, including the Brooklyn Bridge, Yankee Stadium and the George Washington Bridge. Handcrafted by award-winning designers, the set is made from natural supplies such as orange slices, cinnamon sticks, bark and pinecones. The show will be on display between 20 November 2010 and 9 January 2011.

In Staten Island, the annual Candlelight Tours will take place on Saturday, 11 December and Saturday, 18 December. See the sights and sounds of Historic Richmond Town, which will be lit by candles, oil lamps and blazing fireplaces. Tickets cost $22 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under; prepaid reservations are required. Call 718-351-1611, ext. 281, for tour times and reservations.

Brooklyn comes alive for the holidays with the Lights of Dyker Heights. Truly a sight to behold, the spectacle attracts thousands of visitors during the holiday season. The best displays can be seen on the blocks between 83rd and 86th Streets from 11th to 13th Avenue in this small neighborhood between Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst.

During the week of Hanukkah, be sure to visit the Menorah of Brooklyn in downtown Brooklyn at Columbus Park, right outside Borough Hall. And in Manhattan, don’t miss the lighting of the World’s Largest Menorah at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, right in front of the Plaza Hotel.

In Queens the Queens Historical Society presents the Annual Historic Holiday House Tour on Sunday, 12 December 2010, from 1pm to 5pm. This guided trolley tour includes stops at five festively decorated museums and historical sites, including the Queens Historical Society at the Kingsland Homestead, the Flushing Quaker Meeting House, Flushing Town Hall, the Voelker Orth Museum and Lewis H. Latimer House. A local historian will narrate the tour. Visitors will have access to all exhibits at each site, which will also feature holiday refreshments and family activities. Tickets cost $10 for adults, with children under 12 free, and can be purchased in advance at any of the sites or at the door the day of the event.

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