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New York for the Holidays

USA
No one celebrates the holiday season like New York. Whether it’s the colorful balloons floating through the City during the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the bright lights of the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree or the incomparable excitement of a million revelers coming together to watch the ball drop during the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, all eyes are on NYC during the most wonderful time of the year.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Savvy visitors know that the night before the big parade, they can hang out near the American Museum of Natural History-entering the designated viewing area, if they like, at Columbus Avenue and 79th Street-to watch as workers inflate those famous balloons. Don’t worry; they use nets and sandbags to make sure Snoopy and Dora the Explorer don’t fly away before their big moment.

Christmas Tree
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree acts each holiday season as a luminous magnet for camera-toting visitors. It towers above the ice-skating rink, with the golden statue of Prometheus near its apron, carrying on a custom as old as Rockefeller Center itself-starting back in the early 1930s when the Midtown complex was under construction.

Skating
New York City’s many ice-skating rinks are synonymous with winter and the first glimpse of the holiday season. If you prefer your skating experience to come with a killer view, take a spin at Wollman Rink (open late-October through March), with its amazing skyline vistas from inside Central Park, or enjoy the spectacular surroundings of the seasonal Rink at Rockefeller Center (in December, the famous tree will be there too). The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, which is open October to March, is another fine option with stunning architecture nearby. For an indoor experience that will make you feel like a professional hockey or skating star, visit City Ice Pavilion in Queens or the Aviator Sports & Events Center in Brooklyn; both operate year-round.

Holiday Shows
Radio City Music Hall has hosted the Radio City Christmas Spectacular as an annual holiday musical production since 1933, featuring the dance team known as The Rockettes. In addition, the program features appearances of Santa Claus.
At Lincoln Center, the New York City Ballet’s annual production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker is at the heart of New York City’s year-end holiday season, and this year marks the 64th annual performance of the Big Apple’s best loved Nutcracker! Whether it is a family tradition or a once-in-a-lifetime visit, your experience of this glittering classic ballet will stay with you forever and warm your spirit.

Shopping
New York City takes its shopping experience to a new level with the many holiday markets that pop up for the season. So, grab a cup of hot cocoa and brave the cold to find homemade wares for everyone on your list at the three big outdoor markets-Union Square Holiday Market, Holiday Shops at Winter Village at Bryant Park and Columbus Circle Holiday Market-or stay warm at the indoor Grand Central Holiday Fair.
Consider New York City’s holiday window displays the official beginning of the holiday season. Each year, department stores including Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue put together over-the-top decorations that spare no expense.

New Year’s Eve
Every year, around 175 million Americans and another billion people around the world watch on television as the ball drops in Times Square to mark the New Year. Times Square is the backdrop to a lifetime of TV specials hosted by Dick Clark (and, more recently, Ryan Seacrest), the place where the ball drops, the fireworks explode and the streets are bathed in a ton of confetti. And we don’t mean “a ton” as in “a lot”-we mean an actual ton, as in 2,000 pounds. The famous illuminated Waterford Crystal ball-which can display more than 16 million colors and billions of patterns-drops from a flagpole atop 1 Times Square.  Best spots for viewing are on Broadway between West 43rd and West 50th streets, and on Seventh Avenue up to West 59th Street. Be sure to arrive early, as police officers close down streets as they fill up. Those who score the choicest spots typically arrive before 3pm; the ball rises to the top of the flagpole at 6pm; by 10:30pm, it’s nearly impossible to find a spot with a view of the ball.  
For tickets and travel packages, visit http://nycvp.com  For more information about visiting New York anytime of year, visit www.nycgo.com

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