Photograph Courtesy of Chumley’s Restaurant

 The twinkle and glow of holiday lights in New York City create a magical feeling that is hard to replicate in any other place at any other time of year. In addition to iconic holiday destinations like the flashy light show at Saks Fifth Avenue, the nearby department store windows, and the giant Rockefeller Center Tree, there are spots all over the city where you can find quirky and creative expressions of holiday cheer. Here are 10 places in New York City where you can find holiday decorations to get you in the spirit:

1. Shine On Light Show at Hudson Yards

Lyra, a star-shaped lightshow at Hudson YardsPhotograph Courtesy of Related Companies

New this holiday season is a mesmerizing lighthosw at Hudson Yards. Shine On is a dramatic indoor-outdoor artistic light and music installation coupled with seasonal events and experiences for the whole family. The centerpiece of the activities is an installation by artist Christopher Schardt called Lyra. This New York City debut for Schardt was inspired by the constellation Lyra, which represents an enchanting stringed instrument of Greek mythology. Images programmed by the artist undulate across five star-shaped sculptures (representing the main stars of Lyra) set up throughout Hudson Yards.

Every day at 5:00PM, the 12,000 LED lights on the stars light up and create a visual spectacle synchronized to a classical soundtrack. The sculptures can be viewed from below. The show  will be accompanied by other Shine On activities and installations including a 360-degree photo booth, hot chocolate sampling, holiday selfie cookies, and more. You can see the entire schedule of events here.

2. Chumley’s Restaurant

Photograph Courtesy of Chumley’s Restaurant

Christmas wreaths and ribbon join portraits of famous writers and actors on the walls of Chumley’s Restaurant, an eatery in Greenwich Village which dates back to 1922. The former speakeasy, purportedly the origin spot of the term to “86” something, is decked out in garland with oversized Christmas ornaments hanging from the ceiling. The shiny baubles of red, green and gold mixed with the lit up garland and wreaths give the historic location extra shimmer this holiday season.

3. Wreath Interpretations Exhibition at the Arsenal

Wreaths made out of found objects at The Gallery at the Central Park ArsenalMeagan Meehan, Toy Cycle, Canvas, paint, metal, plastic, assorted toys, glitter. Photograph Courtesy of NYC Parks

Instead of garland and holly, the decorative wreaths at the 37th Annual Wreath Interpretations Exhibit in The Gallery at the Central Park Arsenal are made of salvaged chess boards, crepe paper, recycled waste, and other found materials. The inventive and quirky wreaths were crafted by more than 40 artists, designers, and creative individuals of all ages. Each used a variety of unexpected materials to reinterpret the traditional holiday symbol, often with a touch of humor and light-hearted fun.

Drawing on themes ranging from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the bridges of New York City, artists this year have incorporated woven dog leashes, candy, plastic trophies, foil coffee wrappers, and wigs into their wreaths. You can see the free exhibition now through January 2, 2020. The Gallery is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. More details here!

4. One World Trade Light Show

Photograph Courtesy of Slanted Studios

The base of One World Trade will light up this season with festive scenes of presents, snowflakes, candy canes and more holiday images. All four sides of the tower’s podium are seamlessly covered in LED panels that stretch over 200 feet high. The show is made of original imagery by Slanted Studios, a creative company that has been producing the show at the Freedom Tower since 2017.

The inside of the tower is winterized as well. During the winter months, One World Observatory turns into a “Winter Onederland.” As you head up to the observation floor, snow swirls around you inside the SkyPod elevators. You can meet Santa, wander through a glacial cave and follow the journey of Ollie the Snowy Owl.

5. Rolf’s German Restaurant

If there is one place in New York City that goes all out with Christmas decorations, it’s Rolf’s German Restaurant in Gramercy Park at 22nd Street and 3rd Avenue. Every inch of Rolf’s ceiling is covered with decorations like giant metallic ornaments in varying shapes from balls to icicles, yards of garland, strings of Christmas lights, and miniature figurines of reindeer and angels. During the holiday season Rolf’s gets packed pretty quickly, but if you can’t get a reservation or never make it to the front of the line to eat your schnitzel under the festive decorations, don’t worry, the holiday decorations are kept up until the end of May!

6. Secret Pet Tree in Central Park

Deep in the Ramble of Central Park there is a very special tree dedicated to the memory of pets who have passed on. The tree is decorated with handmade ornaments, many with pictures of beloved animals, some made of pet toys. More and more decorations pop-up on the tree as the holidays draw near and more bereaved pet parents add their mementos. The secluded tree offers a quiet place to remember a long lost furry friend.

7. NYC Winter Lantern Festival

Animals crafted our of lights at the NYC lantern festivalPhoto courtesy of NewYorkee and JMT Media

Seven acres of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden on Staten Island will be covered in illuminated sculptures for the NYC Winter Lantern Festival! This year’s show follows 2018’s debut installation and promises to offer visitors a completely new experience. There will be over 1,000 lanterns on display, sculpted into magnificent figures of luminescent art. The show will be on view through January 12th, 2020.

8. New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show

2019 New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show Lower Manhattan

Watch model trains zip around a miniature, plant-based New York City at the annual New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show, a classic New York tradition. This year’s display features new replicas of iconic and historic structures in Central Park like Bethesda Terrace and Belvedere Castle. These new models join other New York City staples like One World Trade Center, The Statue of Liberty, and the TWA Hotel. The more than 175 New York City landmarks are created using bark, leaves, and other plant-based materials. The Holiday Train Show will run through January 26th, 2020.

9. Dyker Heights

Christmas decorations on a house in Dyker Heights

Every year homeowners in Dyker Heights make the streets glow with their festive lawn displays. The lights, inflatables, projections, and animatronic figures dazzle over 150,000 spectators who visit the Brooklyn neighborhood each year. All twenty-two blocks in the neighborhood participate, but 83rd through 86th Streets (between 11th and 13th Avenues) are considered to be the “showstoppers.” The tradition of residents excessively decorating their homes started in 1986 when Lucy Spata’s extravagant display, put up in honor of her mother’s love for the Christmas holiday, inspired her neighbors to also pull out all the stops. The lights stay on until midnight on weekdays!

10. The NYSE Tree

To get up close to a massive tree without having to fight through the crowds of Rockefeller Center, head down to Broad Street where you will find the New York Stock Exchange Christmas Tree and Menorah. This is the 95th tree to be lit on Broad Street since the tradition began in 1923. The date coincided with the first national tree lighting and the completion of a fully developed electrical grid in Manhattan for the first time. The stock exchange building itself is also decked out in bows, wreaths and rows of garland.  While you’re there, you can also visit the Fearless Girl statue at her new location right across from the NYSE.

11. Luminaries at Brookfield Place

Photo by @ShaneDrummondPhoto, courtesy of ArtsBrookfield

Luminaries is an annual light installation stretched above the Winter Garden in Brookfield Place. The glowing canopy, designed by LAB at Rockwell Group, is made up of 650 lights that constantly change in color and intensity. Not only is the installation pretty just to look at, you can interact with it too. By placing your hand on one of the touch-sensitive Wishing Stations, you can send a ‘wish’ to the lanterns above which will pulse with color! Brookfield Place will donate $1, up to $25,000, for every wish made during the holiday season to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a national non-profit that is committed to raising funds for research to develop new, improved and less toxic treatments for pediatric cancer. The wishing experience follows the light show for approximately 55 minutes between 10am and 8pm.

12. The Floating Trees in Central Park

Photograph Courtesy of The Central Park Conservancy

One of the most interesting alternatives to the big tree at Rockefeller Center is the trio of trees floating on the Harlem Meer in Central Park. The first iteration of the floating decoration was a single tree attached to a floating platform in 2011. The idea behind bringing the tree outside of the nearby Charles A. Dana Discovery Center and into the meer (which is Dutch for lake) was to bring more focus to the water.

13. The Bronx Zoo

A tunnel of holiday lights at the Bronx ZooPhotograph by Julie Larsen Maher, Courtesy of the Bronx Zoo

Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo is a dazzling display that brings together the magic of the holidays and the wildlife of the zoo. As you walk through the light display, you will see animal lanterns, animated sculptures, and colorful designs brought to life by LED technology. Among the sparkling lights there will also be roaming carolers, ice sculpting, costumed characters, and a holiday train. The display will be on view through December 31st and on January 3rd to the 5th.

BONUS: NYC Landmarks

From Grand Central Terminal to the American Museum of Natural History, New York City’s landmarks are getting a bit of holiday flare. Outside the Natural History Museum you will find dinosaur shaped topiaries holding holiday wreaths. Grand Central Terminal is covered in garland, and a giant wreath adorns its giant central window. Patience and Fortitude, the lion sculptures that guard the entrance to the New York Public Library are dressed in their holiday finest with Christmas wreaths around their necks. Everywhere you look, you are sure to find some festive decorations!

Next, check out 11 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in NYC 2019 and 6 Stunning NYC Holiday Windows to Take In This Year