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 more places throughout the city that are also worth a visit. From origami animals to 18th-century cherubs, these towering trees are decked out in all manner of ornaments and lights. While some may be almost as famous as the Rockefeller Center Tree, like the one in Bryant Park, we’ve included a few that are a bit more off the beaten path. Find out where you can soak up some holiday cheer while (hopefully!) avoiding the crowds.

See some of these trees on one of our upcoming Christmas in New York Tours!

Christmas in New York Tour

Saks Fifth Avenue NYC Christmas Decorations

1. American Museum of Natural History Origami Tree

  • American Museum of Natural History Christmas Tree
  • American Museum of Natural History Christmas Tree

The American Museum of Natural History’s 13-foot Christmas tree is full of elephants! This year’s theme, Proboscideans on Parade, is inspired by the museum’s new exhibition, The Secret World of Elephants. More than 1,000 origami pieces adorn the tree. Among the many animals you’ll see there will be a woolly mammoth, the iconic Blue Whale, a T-Rex, and a colorful garland of hundreds of elephants ringing the tree. Each ornament is hand-folded by local, national, and international origami artists.

2. Floating Christmas Trees in Central Park

Photograph Courtesy of Central Park Conservancy

Central Park’s Harlem Meer is aglow with holiday lights from a flotilla of trees. Floating on the lake in front of the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center at 110th Street on the East Side of the park, the flotilla is made up of multiple lighted trees, the tallest of which is topped with a glittering star.

Untapped Central Park Walking Tour

Belvedere Castle

Of Central Park’s 18,000 trees, almost 1,000 are evergreens. In the winter, you can find lovely wintry scenes of snow-covered spruces, hemlocks, pines, hollies, and cedars in various areas of the park including Arthur Ross Pinetum and Cedar Hill.

3. The Secret Pet Memorial Tree in Central Park

Secret Christmas tree pet memorial in Central Park

Also in Central Park, you may find this heart warming, makeshift memorial is hidden deep in the woods of the Ramble south of Belvedere Castle. On the tree, you’ll find mostly handmade ornaments, all dedicated to lost furry loved ones. There are laminated photos of pooches and notes to lost felines and other pets among ribbons and bows. While this part of the park is usually quiet, especially during the winter, you might run into another person or two taking a moment to reflect on fond memories of their long-lost companion.

4. The Met Museum Tree

The Met Christmas Tree in NYC

Like the American Museum of Natural History’s Tree, the tree at the Met Museum takes inspiration from the institution’s collections. Standing twenty feet tall in front of the eighteenth-century Spanish choir screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid in the Museum’s Medieval Sculpture Hall, the tree is adorned with cherubs and angels from the 18th century.

The Met’s tree tradition started in 1957 when museum patron Loretta Hines Howard started to decorate a tree at the museum with Nativity figures she had been collecting since 1925. Now, the Met holds more than 250 such objects from Howard’s collection. At the base of the tree is an eighteenth-century Neapolitan Nativity scene, surrounded by an array of over seventy figures. The tree will be on view through January 7, 2024 along with a historic menorah. The Menorah, on view in The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Galleries was created for the Great Synagogue in Lviv (present-day Ukraine) and dates to 1866. It is one of the largest silver Hanukkah lamps known.

5. Madison Square Park Tree

Madison Square Park Christmas Tree

The very first public holiday tree lighting in the United States took place not at Rockefeller Center, but in Madison Square Park on Christmas Eve 1912. The tree was called the “Tree of Light.” The idea of a public holiday tree lighting was conceived by social activist Emilie D. Lee Hereshoff. Hereshoff wanted to provide those who couldn’t afford their own tree with a special celebration.

The first public New York City Christmas tree, which was sixty feet high and twenty feet wide, was donated by The Adirondack Club. At least 20,000 New Yorkers came out to see that first lighting ceremony. When you visit the tree today, you can also stop by the Star of Hope. This star-topped pole marks the spot where the first tree was placed. The tree is now in the northern section of the park.

6. Washington Square Park Tree

Washington Square Park arch Christmas tree

Nestled within the opening of the Washington Square Arch you’ll find another historic New York City Christmas tree. A tree-lighting ceremony has taken place at Washington Square Park since 1924. The tree under the Arch is lit for the season between the hours of 4 pm and 1 am. Along with the traditional lighting of the tree, this festive site is also a gathering place for caroling on Christmas Eve. Every year the public is invited to belt out “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men” and other songs of the season. You can download the Washington Square Arch caroling songbook on the Washington Square Arch Association’s website.

7. Wall Street Tree

Wall Street Christmas Tree

2023 marked the 100th Wall Street tree lighting! Situated in front of the New York Stock Exchange, the Wall Street tree is covered in multi-colored lights and topped with a big bright star. The tree is accompanied by festive lighting on the columns of the New York Stock Exchange facade. Every year, the tree lighting is met with festive fanfare. Musical guests help ring in the holiday season at the ceremony and Santa is usually on hand too!

8. Bryant Park Tree

Bryant Park Tree

Perhaps the next most popular tree after Rockefeller Center, the tree at Bryant Park is surrounded by the Bryant Park Winter Village which includes shops and an ice skating rink. More than 180 new and returning merchants have set up shop at the winter village this year. The ice skating rink, the largest free admission rink in the city, will be open through March 3rd.

9. DUMBO Tree

DUMBO Christmas tree
Photo by Ming Fai Chan

DUMBO is where you’ll find one of Brooklyn’s best alternative New York City Christmas trees. The tree stands at the Pearl Street Triangle and will be accompanied this year by a mailbox for Santa. Stationed in the Dumbo Archway, New Yorkers can submit a wishlist that can be sourced in Dumbo and will have the chance to win $100 of Dumbo Dollars, courtesy of the Dumbo Improvement District.

10. The Southstreet Seaport Tree

Image Courtesy of the Howard Hughes Corporation

Standing next to the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse and the South Street Seaport Museum, you’ll find the glowing South Street Seaport tree. The tree stands tall on the historic cobblestone streets of the seaport district which boasts historic ships, stunning views, and landmark buildings that date as far back as the late 1700s. Throughout the holiday season, businesses surrounding the tree and the Seaport Museum will be hosting various festive activities.

11. Lotte New York Palace Hotel Tree

Lotte Palace Christmas Tree in NYC

The Lotte New York Hotel Christmas tree is finally unobstructed from scaffolding and glowing in all its glory this year! The tree stands at the center of the hotel’s courtyard which is full of red and gold presents and shining lights. This space is open to the public Wednesday through Sundays. Stepping inside the lobby, you can see another surprising Christmas treet, a gingerbread model of the hotel made out of more than 100 pounds of cookie dough and icing!

12. The Lobster Trap Tree

Red Hook Lobster Pound

The tree at Brooklyn’s Red Hool Lobster Pound restaurant is quite unconventional. First erected The first lobster trap tree in 2017, the tree is made up of stacks of lobster traps lined with garlands of red buoys. Every year, the Red Hook restaurants hosts an annual tree lighting with complimentary drinks and snacks, and lots of cheer every year.

13. Arthur Avenue

Arthur Avenue Tree
Courtesy of Nicholas and Lence Communications

In Ciccarone Park, a colorful Christmas tree will shine throughout the holiday season. The tree lights up a section of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx’s Little Italy. The Christmas tree is one of many festive holiday displays in the area. While in the Bronx, you can also check out the Holiday Train Show or NYBG GLOW at the New York Botanical Garden, as well as Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo. You can spot the tree at the intersection of East 188th Street and Arthur Avenue.

14. The Hendrick I. Lott House

Sinterklaus at the Lott House
Courtesy of the Hendrick I. Lott House

At one of the oldest buildings in Brooklyn, you’ll find a charming New York City Christmas tree. The historic Hendrick I. Lott House in Marine Park host its annual tree lighting with Sinterklaus (Dutch Santa) in attendance. The Lott House was built in 1720, with an expansion in 1800, making it 302 years old.

15. 1221 Avenue of the Americas Tree

The sunken plaza on 6th Avenue in front of 1221 Avenue of the Americas has a towering Christmas Tree this year that you can walk through. At the bottom of the tree, there is a section that is cut out and covered with lights for a perfect photo op.

16. Tompkins Square Park Tree

Tompkins Square Park Tree
Photo and entry copy contributed by reader Robin McMillan

The tree at Tompkins Square Park is a permanent specimen, a spruce that grows in the park year-round. It’s 50-something feet tall, Jack Spratt-scrawny, and more than a little crooked. It was planted in 1992, only eight feet tall at the time, but originally not to mark the Holidays. A local resident named Albert Favozzi and fellow members of the local Community Board planted it as a memorial to Favozzi’s partner Glenn Barnett, a victim of AIDS. Soon it became a memorial to all in the neighborhood who had died of AIDS, as well as a symbol of the neighborhood’s revitalization.

The annual tree lighting is accompanied by Carolers of Olde New York from the Theater for the New City dressed in period clothes, some wearing togs from the very first New York Public Theatre performances of the musical “Hamilton,” back in 2015. So the Tompkins tree does double duty: It keeps the Christmas spirit alive—while also memorializing those from the Lower East Side who unfortunately are not.

Next, check out Top 10 Secrets of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and 7 Dazzling Holiday Window Displays