With the Christmas Season fast approaching, for me there’s only one place that springs to mind…New York City!
As a popular city break destination at Christmas, here’s my guide to 72 hours in ‘The Big Apple”
Why not get straight into the festive spirit by starting the day in Bryant Park. This 9 acre park is situated in Midtown between 5th & 6th Avenue and 40th & 42nd Street. At this time of year the park transforms into The Winter Village, complete with ice skating rink, giant Christmas tree and a European inspired Christmas Market.
If you're visiting during the weekend, start the day off with brunch at the Bryant Park Grill. This stunning restaurant offers a tasty menu consisting of classics such as Eggs Benedict and French Toast, all whilst overlooking the ice skating rink and the Christmas Market.
Ice Skating is free, that's if you have your own skates, which you obviously packed into your suitcase, or if you desire you can hire skates for $20. The selection of holiday shops stock a variety of stocking fillers such as bespoke jewellery, home goods, speciality foods and clothing.
On the 5th Avenue side of the park is the New York Public Library, the 4th largest library in the world. Constructed in the early 1900’s, the structure was a Beaux-Arts design (a combination of Neoclassical and Greek Revival architectural styles) and was the largest marble structure up to that time in the United States.
This large impressive hall features stucco and ornate murals by Edward Laning on the walls and ceiling. The New York Public Library has featured in many Hollywood blockbuster movies including ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ ‘Ghostbusters’ and the ‘Sex and the City The Movie’
After warming up a little it’s time to head back into the cold and walk north along 5th Avenue. Here is where you will find upscale shopping from the worlds major designer brands. Holiday window displays have become a tradition in their own right with the major department stores competing against each other to create the most dramatic and unique.
Opened in 1924, Saks Fifth Avenue is one of the most famous luxury department stores worldwide, situated directly opposite the Rockefeller Center. When darkness falls the entire building comes alive with a dancing light show choreographed to music.
Directly across the street from Saks is the Rockefeller Center, a must for any Christmas visitor. Along with the numerous shops and restaurants, the main draw has to be the ice rink and world famous Christmas Tree, which has been a New York tradition for over 75 years.
Leading down to the ice rink and the legendary Christmas tree, is the beautiful Channel Gardens. Twelve wire-sculptured angels designed by Clarebout have stood proudly since 1954 and are a permanent fixture to the Rockefeller holiday decorations.
Whilst here, in my opinion, going to the top of the Rockefeller Center is best view in Manhattan. Top of The Rock is the observation deck 70 stories high with expansive views of Manhattan including Central Park to the north and The Empire State building and Lower Manhattan to the south. Tickets start at $28.
After the dizzying heights of the Rockefeller Center, it’s time to get your feet back on the ground and a visit to St Patrick’s Cathedral. Opened in 1879, the church provides a moment of calm and solitude in the madness of the city, plus a great place to thaw out.
Heading back onto 5th Avenue, passing the many Salvation Army Bell Ringers, the decorations displayed by the stores are attractions in their own right. The Cartier store is the last remaining Mansion House in Midtown, built in 1904. Cartier converted this Mansion and opened its flag-ship store here in 1917, situated on the corner of 5th Avenue and 52nd Street.
Each year the exterior of the store is ‘wrapped’ like a giant present with a bright red bow, complete with the brand’s signature Panthère de Cartier, shining like a huge diamond piece of art.
My favourite has to be Bergdorf Goodman. The luxury department store was founded in 1899 and the company moved to its current 5th Avenue & 58th Street location in 1928, where they built their Beaux-Arts style store.
These intricate displays are all hand painted and take over 9 months to create. As you enter the store the décor continues to wow. The newly remodeled ground floor is stunningly beautiful with Holiday décor designed by New York event designer, David Monn.
Bergdorf Goodman has created the most breathtaking Christmas décor and is hands down my favourite year on year.
By now it’s certainly time for a little bite to eat, located on the 7th floor of Bergdorf Goodman is the BG Restaurant. The restaurant features sweeping views over Central Park and the interior is elegant and sophisticated with pastel sage greens, blues and gold tones. Designed by Kelly Wearstler, the interior feels as if Central Park has entered the building, albeit in its most elegant form.
For the afternoon, pop over to Grand Central Terminal (Station) on 42nd Street & Park Avenue, it covers 48 acres and features 44 platforms, more than any other railway station in the world. The original building opened in 1871 and saw many changes