Check out the Museum of Natural History’s tree, decorated with folded paper, plus barosaurus all lit up. Bonus: Learn how to fold your own.
• Through 1/1, during museum hours. Central Park W. at 79th St. (212-769-5100 or amnh.org); free with admission.
There are plenty of ways to introduce kids to gingerbread this year; here are three. One: Drop $65 to decorate the stuff (and sip holiday tea) at the Peninsula New York (Mrs. Claus is rumored to be making an appearance). Two: Build gingerbread houses from homemade dough at Cupcake Kids. Three: Smell/touch/taste the spices and plant parts that make up a classic gingerbread recipe at the New York Botanical Garden, then decorate cookies. N.B.: Train lovers would do well to take their gingerbread at the garden, then check out the awesome holiday train show.
• The Peninsula Hotel: 12/13, noon to 2 p.m. 700 Fifth Ave., at 55th St. (212-903-3923 or peninsula.com); $65, reserve in advance.
• Cupcake Kids!: 12/13, 10 a.m. to noon. 150 W. 10th St., nr. Waverly Pl. (646-789-5554 or cupcakekids.com); $90 for parent-child pair.
• NYBG: Through 1/11. Tues.–Fri., 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sat. and Sun., 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 200th St. at Kazimiroff Blvd. (718-817-8700 or nybg.org); free with admission.
Kaleidoscope Light Show
Light shows choreographed to seasonal music zap and zing all over Grand Central Terminal’s famed ceiling constellations.
• Through 1/1, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, shows run every half-hour. 87 E. 42nd St., at Park Ave. (212-532-4900 or grandcentralterminal.com); free.
Santa, Take One
See the man at Macy’s Santaland, an “enchanted forest” set up on the Herald Square store’s eighth floor.
• Through 12/24. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., weekend times vary. 151 W. 34th St. at Sixth Ave., eighth fl. (212-494-4495 or macys.com); free.
Santa, Take Two
Apparently St. Nick likes big department stores. He hightails it over to Bloomies, too (there’s only one, right?). Photo packages available.
• Through 12/23, noon to 6 p.m. Lexington Ave. at 59th St., eighth fl. (212-705-2000 or bloomingdales.com); free.
Santa, Take Three, Four, Etc.
If you prefer to meet the man downtown, in smaller venues, head to ABC Carpet & Home, the West Village kiddie boutique Estella, or the World Financial Center.
• ABC Carpet: Through 12/21, weekends, noon to 5 p.m. 888 Broadway, at 19th St. (212-473-3000 or abchome.com); free.
• Estella: 12/14 and 12/21, noon to 1 p.m. 493 Sixth Ave., nr. W. 12th St. (212-255-3553 or estella-nyc.com).
• World Financial Center: 12/12 to 12/14; times vary. 200 Vesey St., at West St. (212-417-7000 or worldfinancialcenter.com); free.
Rescue the man from the roof of the New York City Fire Museum. Once he’s down, pose with him for photos.
• 12/14, noon. 278 Spring St., nr. Hudson St. (212-691-1303 or nycfiremuseum.org); suggested admission $5 adults, $1 kids.
Lord and Taylor’s pleasingly old-fashioned displays don’t get quite as much press as Macy’s, but they’re plenty engaging, and free to all sidewalk shoppers.
• Through 1/1, anytime. 424 Fifth Ave., nr. 38th St. (212-391-3344 or lordandtaylor.com); free.
There are always trains at Grand Central, but now there are holiday-themed mini Lionel O-Gauge model ones, too. At the Transit Museum Annex.
• Through 1/19, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Shuttle Passage, next to the Station Master’s Office, Grand Central Terminal (212-878-0106 or grandcentral terminal.com); free.
They’re just about everywhere this season, wrapped gorgeously on trees. For a grander-scale show, head to the South Cove Holiday Lighting in Battery Park City. The Roches perform as families sip hot cider and chocolate. Santa makes an appearance (a menorah will also be lit starting 12/21), and toys and clothes for kids in need will be collected.
• 12/10, 5:45 p.m. South Cove, Battery Pl. nr. Third Pl. (bpcparks.org); free.
Don’t miss Jazz at Lincoln Center’s holiday celebration concert. Easy-style holiday swing is promised. Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon hosts Marcus Printup, Walter Blanding, Victor Goines, Dan Nimmer, Don Vappie, Reginald Veal, and Herlin Riley.
• 12/11 to 12/13, Thur. and Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 8 p.m. Frederick P. Rose Hall, Lincoln Center, Broadway at 60th St. (212-721-6500 or jalc.org); $82.50 to $127.50.
There are many renditions of the classic to be seen this time of year, but who better to perform—and to watch—than Joffrey Ballet School students?
• 12/12 to 12/14, Fri. and Sat., at 7 p.m.; Sat. and Sun., at 2 p.m. 566 La Guardia Pl., at Washington Sq. S. (212-992-8484 or skirballcenter.nyu.edu); $25 to $65.
Not The Nutcracker
Let’s be honest—not everyone loves it. Peter and the Wolf is a quirkier classic, especially as Isaac Mizrahi narrates and the Juilliard Ensemble performs. Couple this with “a brand new visualization by the legendary Brazilian designers, the Campana Brothers.” Not to be missed.
• 12/13 to 12/21, times vary. 1071 Fifth Ave., at 89th St. (212-423-3500 or guggenheim.org); $30 to $35.
Anyone out there have quiet kids? Ha. Take the noisy crew on a noisy musical romp—meet (with your own boom box) at the Arch in Washington Square Park and march all the way to Tompkins Square Park.
• 12/13, 7 p.m.Washington Square Park (philkline.com); free.
Dreaming Of White?
Multitask: Go holiday shopping at the Time Warner shops, where visitors will be sprinkled every half-hour with a fifteen-minute “snowfall.” An excellent way to distract errand-averse children.
• Through 12/21, Fri.–Sun., every half-hour beginning at 5 p.m. 59th St. at Columbus Cir. (shopsatcolumbuscircle.com); free.
Witness—and perhaps sing along with—a tuba holiday concert at the Rink at Rockefeller Center. If the crowds for the actual event scare you off, go early to hear the rehearsals.
• 12/13, 3:30 p.m. Rockefeller Center Ice Rink, 50th St. nr. Fifth Ave. (tubachristmas.com); free.
Visitors to the Intrepid will feel the holiday love: Expect caroling, storytelling, craft workshops, performances, and more.
• 12/13 and 12/14, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pier 86, Twelfth Ave., nr. 46th St. (877-957-7447 or intrepidmuseum.org); free with admission.
Fingers crossed for the real thing, but in case they don’t fall, head to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to hear about them and make some paper ones.
• 12/13, 11:30 a.m., and 12/14, 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. 145 Brooklyn Ave., at St. Marks Ave., Crown Heights (718-735-4400 or brooklynkids.org).
New York has it all, including a Mexican family holiday celebration at the Museum of the City of New York. Participate in a traditional singing procession (a posada) and witness a shepherd’s play (a pastorela). Bonus: piñatas.
• 12/14, noon to 5 p.m. 1220 Fifth Ave., at 103rd St. (212-534-1672 or mcny.org); free with admission.
Hanukkah, The Musical
Latkes and Applesauce, a holiday revue, celebrates the New York Hanukkah experience at Merkin Concert Hall.
• 12/14 and 12/21, 11 a.m. 129 W. 67th St., nr. Broadway (212-501-3330 or merkinconcerthall.org); $20.
Hanukkah, A Festival
Decorate dreidels, dress up as a Maccabee, and more at the 92nd Street Y.
• 12/14, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 1395 Lexington Ave. (212-415-5500 or 92y.org); $20 adults, $15 children.
DIY miracle-light holders: Build your own at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.
• 12/21, times vary. 212 W. 83rd St., nr. Amsterdam Ave. (212-721-1234 or cmom.org); free with admission.
Designer Unity Cup
A week later, make your own Kwanzaa Cup, to be used at the harvest feast. Same place.
• 12/27, times vary, 212 W. 83rd St., nr. Amsterdam Ave. (212-721-1234 or cmom.org); free with admission.