Christmas is quickly approaching, and that means New York City has dressed itself in colorful lights and extravagant ornaments. As tradition dictates, tourists and locals will don their winter coats to catch a glimpse of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree or the holiday windows created by New York City’s largest department stores.
These decorations are certainly beautiful, but few are as gaudy, ornamented and over-the-top (in the best way possible) as the displays put on by the following 10 places. Get in the holiday spirit this season by paying a visit:
If there was a competition that awarded the “most ostentatiously decorated restaurants,” Rolf’s would easily take home the highest honor. The German eatery, located in Gramercy Park at 22nd Street and 3rd Avenue, is noted for its ambitious Christmas display, which incorporates thousands of lights, ornaments and a variety of festive garlands.TimeOut, which describes the interior as “Santa Claus’s opium dream,” notes that the installation process takes about a month to complete. This year, it will be on view until May — so there’s plenty of time to step into this trippy winter wonderland that also happens to serve schnitzel.
9. Dyker Heights
One of the most spectacular Christmas displays New York City has to offer can be found in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. Each year, over 100,000 people head to the neighborhood, where homeowners have decked out their properties with a colorful assortment of lights, inflatable figures and animatronics.
While all 22 blocks on the neighborhood participate in festivities, 83rd, 84th and 85th Streets (between 11th and 13th Avenues) are considered to be the “showstoppers.” There are even bus tours through the neighborhood and a dedicated PBS documentary called Dyker Light in honor of the attraction. See photos from our 2015 trip there.
8. Garabedian Family’s Christmas House
With 27 reviews on Yelp, the Garabedian estate in Pelham Gardens, the Bronx (Pelham Parkway North and Westervelt Avenue), is known as “the Christmas House” for a reason. Come the holidays, the pink home is transformed into a traditional nativity scene, complete with blaring holiday music and roughly 200 life-size mannequins that are dressed in Hollywood-style outfits. The swanky dress can be attributed to the fact that the Garabedians are in the fabric-trimming business.
The display has been on view since 1974, although the reason behind its creation has been largely kept a family secret. All we know is that the installation is a way of showing thanks to the Lord, inspired by a miracle that happened to the family on Christmas Eve in 1973.
7. Milon Bangladesh Indian Restaurant + Panna II
At Milon Bangladesh Indian Restaurant, it’s Christmas all year round. Located on 93 First Avenue (2nd Fl. between 5th& 6th Streets), the cozy eatery serves traditional Indian food inside a not-so-traditional space. In fact, its website guarantees that its “over-the-top décor” will “definitely exceed your expectations.” It’s “where chili pepper lights meet Christmas lights,” and where a collection of world flags dangle from the ceiling.
Though small in size, this East Village institution is big in spirit and personality. It opened in 1982, five years prior to the establishment of Panna II, the neighboring, rival Indian restaurant, which also happens to be covered in twinkling lights.
6. Jamaica Estates Christmas House
In Queens, the Jamaica Estates Christmas House is so spectacular that it has its very own dedicated Facebook page. Located on 185-07 80th Drive, the attraction is put up by Anthony Gurino and his grandson (also named Anthony) each year after Thanksgiving. “My grandfather likes to give back to the community. And he loves Christmas,” the younger Gurino explained to DNAinfo.
They have been carrying on Gurino’s grandmother’s tradition since she passed away many years ago. In the past, the family has also added interactive elements to their display, even going as far as hiring carolers, installating donation boxes and offering free treats like cookies, hot chocolate and coffee.
Pete’s Tavern (129 East 18th Street) — the oldest continuously operating bar and restaurant in New York City — opened its doors in 1864. With such a reputation, it’s unsurprising that Pete’s goes all out when it comes to decorating. Come the holidays, both the interior and exterior are transformed: ornate wreaths are hung, whimsical window displays are installed and garlands are strung.
Most notable, however, is its “world renowned red ceiling,” which is completely covered in holiday lights. As an additional plus, Pete’s is open on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day (due to popular demand), giving patrons plenty of chances to drink through its menu of fall and winter cocktails.
4. Doubles Private Club
Today’s #Christmas #luncheon at Doubles was beyond fun and way to over the top! I especially loved seeing so many wonderful friends:) #gingerbreadhouse #candycane #rockinghorse #christmastree #deckthehalls #🎄 #🎉
Located inside the Sherry Netherland Hotel, Doubles (783 5th Ave #414) is a private club that opened its doors in 1976. It’s both a dancing and dining club, a “polished brass and velvety mecca,” complete with a red carpeted stairway that leads down to an inner sanctum. While membership is needed to access the club, photos online showcase what it’s like during the holidays.
During its annual Christmas Luncheons, you can expect things like carolers, a dessert buffet, Christmas trees and a stunning ceiling. Notable members over the years include the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tara and Michael Rockefeller and Muffie Potter Aston, among others.