Looking Back at the Holiday Season: The Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

December is always a magical time in New York City, with the city dressed up in its holiday finery. There are Christmas trees and giant menorahs in many locations, and the department store windows sparkle with competing themes. It’s always my favorite time of the year, but this year was particularly busy. I didn’t get anything written about my December adventures at the time, but I thought I’d let you in on some of what kept me busy then. And there’s an added bonus – I get to hang on to the holiday season just a little bit longer in the process!

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is visit the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights during the month of December, as it is known for its holiday spirit. Homeowners in the neighborhood decorate their homes with Christmas lights and other holiday decor, making it a wonderful place to explore between Thanksgiving and New Year’s each year. In fact, Dyker Heights is famous throughout the United States for its Christmas decorations, as it has been featured in television shows about the topic! The only reason we haven’t gone in prior years is that Dyker Heights is a little complicated to get to if one doesn’t have a car. The subways don’t go to the neighborhood, so it requires a combination of subway and bus if you are traveling by public transportation. This year, we were fortunate to go with a friend who has a car, and so there were no transportation challenges. Having explored the Dyker Heights Christmas lights once, I think it will now be part of our annual traditions.

So let me give you a glimpse of the lights. As you can see, they vary significantly in style, from the elegant to child-like Christmas glee. After walking the neighborhood, visitors were guaranteed to be in the holiday spirit!

So which do you prefer? The delicate, elegant lighting that casts a magical glow, or the fun, over-the-top exuberance of the blow-up decorations and their accompaniments?

One Last Look at NYC’s Holiday Windows: Bloomingdale’s

So, I know I’m late posting this, but I really wanted to show everyone some photos I took of Bloomingdale’s department store windows during the 2016 holiday season. The theme for Bloomingdale’s windows this year was “Light,” and artists were invited to create chandeliers embodying that theme. During the exhibition, the chandeliers were auctioned off and the money donated to a children’s charity.

So here are the chandeliers, reflecting the artists’ very different approaches to the common theme. This first one is titled “Sparkle,” by artist Allison Eden.


The close-up shot shows the three-dimensional details of both the chandelier and the tile mosaic aquatic background.


This next one is titled “Brilliant,” by artist Susanne Bartsch.



This mirrored chandelier is titled “Luminescence,” by artist Sean Augustine March.


Here’s “Moon Glow,” by artist Abby Modell.


This window was titled “Aura,” a collaboration between artists Erika DeVries and Jonah Meyer.


In this window, artist Inma Barrero utilized clay, porcelain, metal, glass, and wood to create “Reflections.” And this one really did reflect the light, making it challenging to photograph!


With that last photo, I’ll officially close the door on the 2016 holiday season – but I can hardly wait to see what the department stores do in 2017!

Unique Holiday Windows at NYC’s High School of Fashion Industries

I’ve written before about the incredible variety of of department store holiday windows on display across New York City during the month of December (here and here), but I recently found out about a set of windows I had never heard about before – they’re found at the High School of Fashion Industries. Students at the school worked with the creative ambassador for Barneys New York, Simon Doonan, to design and build the window displays.

The students chose not to stick to a holiday theme for their designs, instead focusing each window on an iconic woman musician, artist, or model. There are six windows in all, honoring Joan Jett, Beyonce, Celia Cruz, Madonna, Dolly Parton, and Grace Jones. I think they are imaginative and delightful.







While I was viewing the windows, I also noticed this set of beautiful mosaics above the school’s entrance.


Want to see the windows at the High School of Fashion Industries yourself? The school is located at 225 W. 24th Street in Manhattan, between 7th and 8th Avenues. (The closest subway stations are the 23rd Street stations. The 1 train or E and C train stations are very close – it’s a little further walk if you take the F, M, R, or W trains to their 23rd Street stations.) In my research about the school, I discovered that they actually create windows 4 times each year, so it’s not just a holiday thing. And, as a bonus, you are just a short walk up 7th Avenue to the Fashion Institute of Technology’s free museum, a hidden gem I’ve previously written about here.

Lord & Taylor’s Holiday Windows 2016: Enchanted Forest

New York City is a magical place during the holiday season, and those seeking activities to put themselves in the Christmas spirit can find endless activities to enjoy. Of course there are the Christmas trees at locations like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural History, which I’ve featured before here and here. But both New York City residents and visitors alike always look forward to the department store holiday windows, wondering what each store’s them will be for the current season. One of my favorites this year is Lord & Taylor’s Enchanted Forest, a delightful set of windows that appeals to both adults and children. Here are some of the photos I took of the Enchanted Forest recently.










If you are in New York City for the holidays, I encourage you to check the Lord & Taylor windows out. They are even better in person, especially with the animation and moving figures! Lord & Taylor is located on Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets, just a short distance from Bryant Park and the iconic New York Public Library building. It is easily accessible by subway or bus.

Christmas in New York City

It’s one of my favorite times of year – Christmas in New York City! If you’re looking for something to do in the city for the holidays, check out the department store window displays and decorations.

Start with the window displays at the Macy’s at Herald Square. Macy’s was the first department store to offer holiday window displays, with the tradition going back to the 1870s. This year’s theme celebrates the 50th anniversary of the classic holiday TV special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The windows are delightful and imaginative, and several are interactive as well!





What’s Christmas without Snoopy and the Red Baron?


On the other side of the building, there are windows telling the story of the movie A Miracle on 34th Street.



If you have children, you can always visit Santa in Santaland, located on the 8th Floor at Macy’s. This balloon, located over one of the entrances to Macy’s, reminds visitors that Santa is available (and also gives the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the iconic Empire State Building in the background!). The theme for Santaland is also the movie A Miracle on 34th Street.


Of course, Macy’s continues the holiday theme inside. The entrance area near the makeup and perfume counters is dazzling, with sparkling lights and a woodlands theme. If you look closely, you will find animated creatures in the tree limbs above!



There are also large ornaments with moving parts, reinforcing Macy’s holiday themes.


After you finish at Macy’s, head over to Fifth Avenue. As you walk up Fifth Avenue towards Bryant Park, you will discover Lord & Taylor’s window displays. This year’s theme is “A Few of Our Favorite Things.” As you approach the store, you will walk under scaffolding covered in ivy and twinkling lights, setting a festive tone to the window displays. There are several large windows, as well as a bunch of tiny windows.

Here is a photo of Lord & Taylor’s beautiful gingerbread house window:


There is also a magical cuckoo clock with moving parts:


And here is one of the fabulous small windows displaying beautiful jewelry:


Walk several more blocks up Fifth Avenue to Saks Fifth Avenue. The theme at Saks this year is “The Winter Palace.” Go across the street from the department store to watch the musical light show that runs every ten minutes. (I found the best views were from the corner diagonally across the street from the store, as the view wasn’t blocked by city buses going by.) This is something definitely better to do at night, as it isn’t possible to fully appreciate the light show if it’s still daylight.




After watching the light display, make your way across the street to view the holiday windows which stretch on three sides of the building. They are magical, with a fairy tale feel.





Several blocks further and you’ll stumble upon the beautiful, delicate windows of the jeweler Tiffany & Co. with its iconic Tiffany-blue color theme.



From there, it’s just a short distance to Bergdorf Goodman. The department store is celebrating the 120th anniversary of Swarovski crystal with a “Brilliant” theme. The windows are dazzling, with so many details it’s hard to take them all in.




Finally, head over to Bloomingdale’s, located between Lexington Avenue and 3rd Avenue on E. 59th Street. The theme of Bloomingdale’s window displays this year is “Holiday Through the Senses.” Each window is framed in greenery, and you can actually smell that piney smell of Christmas!




These photos are just a sample of what you will see on a holiday windows tour in New York City. (Unfortunately, they also show one of the challenges of photographing the windows – the reflections of buildings, people, and cars passing by!) Henri Bendel and Barney’s also have holiday windows this year. Henri Bendel’s window is pretty simple, which is why it isn’t featured in this article. I didn’t make it to Barney’s, but I’ve heard that this year’s windows are beautiful (and cold – one window operates as a freezer, and ice sculptors make new pieces each day as bystanders watch).

Hope everyone enjoys Christmas in the city!

Origami Holiday Tree at American Museum of Natural History


I previously shared photos of the beautiful Christmas tree and Neapolitan nativity scene at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but the Met Museum is not the only New York City Museum to host a unique and beautiful holiday tree. The American Museum of Natural History, located on the Upper West Side next to Central Park, has exhibited a tree decorated with origami ornaments for more than 40 years, and this years’ tree is the best one yet.

The museum partners with OrigamiUSA to design and create the origami holiday tree, and ornaments are made by local, national, and international origami artists. Each year’s tree has a theme, taken from current temporary and permanent exhibits. This year’s theme is “Mighty and Microscopic Life,” and the ornaments range from microbes and strands of DNA to dinosaurs – and everything in between.

Everywhere you look there is something different to see, as the tree holds more than 800 ornaments. Some ornaments have been pulled from the museum’s archives, examples from past years’ trees, while many others have been introduced for the first time. Here are a few close-up views of various parts of the tree, showing more details of the many intricate, beautiful ornaments.

This first one features a Titanosaur, soon to be the museum’s newest symbol. It is the large cream-colored dinosaur in the middle of the page, surrounded by a variety of other origami animals, insects, and other living things.


If you look closely at this next photo, you’ll notice a centipede on a leave, a snake, butterflies, bats, and a host of other creatures. If you are wondering about the larger red items in the bottom left corner of the photo, those are red blood cells!


And here are more dinosaurs.


This final photo shows a different perspective, looking up towards the top of the tree from its base. This view allows you to see the clusters of sparkling origami stars that hover around the tree, suspended on wires that extend outward from the tree.


This is definitely a tree that will put you in the holiday spirit! And volunteers from OrigamiUSA are set up at a table nearby, willing to teach visitors how to fold their own origami animals.

The tree is on exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History until January 10, 2016. The best way to get to the museum is by public transportation. If traveling by subway, take the B or C train to the 81st Street-Museum of Natural History station, or take the 1 train to 79th Street.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Christmas Tree


Looking for something holiday-themed to do in New York City? One of the city’s wonderful Christmas traditions is the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Christmas tree. The Christmas tree is decorated with a beautiful Neapolitan nativity scene that dates back to the eighteenth century. The figurines in the nativity scene – including the accompanying townspeople, shepherds, kings, animals, and angels – number more than 200.

The tree can be viewed from all sides, and by doing so one can see so many beautiful details. Here are several photographs that show some of those details, but the tree is even better when viewed in person.







The Christmas Tree is set up in the Museum’s Medieval Sculpture Hall, making a visit to see the tree a great opportunity to also view some of the pieces in the Museum’s medieval religious art collection. The Christmas Tree exhibition is included your regular admission ticket.