Wall Street tree

New York City Christmas tree lights are starting to twinkle in neighborhoods all across the city! While the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in midtown is a spectacular sight to behold, there are plenty of other trees in museums, historic houses, public parks, and libraries throughout the city that are also worth a visit. From origami bugs to 18th-century cherubs, these towering trees are decked out in all manner of ornaments and lights. Find out where you can soak up some holiday cheer while (hopefully!) avoiding the crowds. We’ll continue to add to this list as more trees are lit!

1. American Museum of Natural History

Origami Christmas tree at the American Museum of Natural History
Photo by M. Shanley/©AMNH

The American Museum of Natural History’s 13-foot Christmas tree is full of bugs! Every year the museum puts up an origami-covered tree and this year, its theme – Beautiful Bugs – reflects a new exhibition inside the Gilder Center. The new exhibition is the Susan and Peter J. Solomon Family Insectarium, set to open with the Gilder Center in February. The insectarium is the first Museum gallery in more than 50 years dedicated to insects.

The origami tree tradition has its roots in entomology. In the 1970s, Museum entomologist Alice Gray began creating paper models of insects based on the Museum’s collections. Those models made their way onto a small holiday tree in one of the scientific offices, and a new tradition was born.

This year’s tree features more than 1,000 origami pieces depicting some of the world’s most amazing insects, including long-legged grasshoppers, brilliantly-colored butterflies, and even the spotted lanternfly, an invasive species recently observed in increasing numbers in the New York area. Iconic museum pieces including the Blue Whale, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Titanosaur also hang on the tree. You can view this unique tree in the Grand Gallery through January 9, 2023.