We loved the area around the Rockefeller Center – a real winter wonderland right in the heart of Manhattan. So much festive stuff to see and do, we ended up coming here several times during our New York week. The whole complex, built during the Grand Depression of the 1930’s really seemed to sparkle at Christmas time.
Walking from Fifth Avenue we found bugle playing angels and toy soldiers – interesting by day and beautiful lit up by night then braved the masses to get to the famed Christmas tree. Everybody in the city (or so it seemed to us) comes to see this tree, the crowds are never ending. We put up with the jostling and secured Son in his stroller to get close to the towering spruce tree. It takes centre stage here – rightly so – it is enormous and with 5 miles of lights it definitely sparkles. Stunningly simple with only lights and a star as decoration I loved it, the scale of the tree just takes your breath away. Lit every day in the run-up to Christmas it is a New York must see.
The ice-skating rink right below the tree looked very glamorous and gorgeous, we decided to give this a miss preferring instead to watch as others glided over the ice. My abilities in this area are dodgy and decidedly ungraceful at the best of times, I didn’t fancy my chances of staying upright with a four year old thrown into the mix. Maybe next time….
A trip to the Top of the Rock in daylight hours was another of our Rockefeller highlights. Almost seventy floors above mid-town Manhattan it is an amazing place to take in the scale of the city. We bought our tickets on-line in advance – the timed admission was welcome, no queues and it was uncrowded at the top – very different to the long lines and packed spots at the top of the Empire State Building. Son would have been happy with the ride in the elevator alone – a glass roof and fluorescent lighting in the lift shaft made going up and coming down quite an experience.
When we emerged from the elevator at the top I have to confess to knocking knees and a dose of vertigo. A few deep breaths though and I managed to get my act together. No such problems for Husband or Son, they were entirely in their element and loved the stunning views through the floor to ceiling crystal clear glass – seventy floors up and glass walls makes for an amazing 360 degree panorama of the city. We had unobstructed views of Central Park to the north and the Empire State Building to the south – Son was super excited to spot the Statue of Liberty in the distance too. I just focused on the views and tried to forget about the height.
There are three levels – one is enclosed and the other two are open-air terraces – magnificent views all round from many different angles – or so Husband told me, I stayed firmly inside. When the others had taken in the views from all sides and angles I was not too disappointed to be heading back to ground level again. Looking back now though I feel frustration that I couldn’t enjoy it more. Where else could you get such amazing views of such an iconic city. If or when we return to New York I am determined to go back up again and conquer those fears.
We saved the best for last. As a final New York Christmas treat we visited the Art Deco gem that is Radio City Music Hall to see the Christmas Spectacular. Tickets were readily available when we booked on-line a couple of months before our trip, we got great seats with perfect views close to the stage. The building itself is gorgeous, we lingered a while in the splendid foyer – ogling the incredible chandelier. Get inside early too is my advice – the grand and cavernous red and gold auditorium is splendid and worthy of some admiration before the show starts. Son was enthralled by the Wurlitzer organ booming out holiday music before the show – everyone was happy.
As for the Christmas Spectacular – it more than lived up to its name. Colourful, bright with so many incredible scene changes it was breath taking. The Rockettes charmed our socks off with their dazzling kicks and dancing, the sparkly costumes were gorgeous and the fabulous music – well I could go on forever. This was cheerful Christmas escapism at its best. Santa made a star appearance close to the end and we saw a memorable Nativity scene. The absolute perfect way to spend a last evening in New York.