NYC for the Holidays

Avenue Queue

by David Sokol

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  • Destination: Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
    Rockefeller Plaza, W. 48th to W. 51st Sts. (bet. Fifth and Sixth Aves.), Manhattan
    Alternatives: American Museum of Natural History Origami Holiday Tree
    Central Park West and West 79th Street, 212-769-5100, Manhattan
    World Financial Center and Winter Garden
    World Financial Center, 200 Vesey St., 212-945-0505, Manhattan
    Overseeing another famous ice-skating rink is the even more legendary Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, laden with more than 30,000 lights and crowned with a Swarovski star. Uptown, another tree inspires awe without glowing in the dark. Branches sprout intricately folded paper amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, sea life, insects, dinosaurs and more at the American Museum of Natural History, which has hosted the Origami Holiday Tree for three decades. Origami USA comes up with a new theme for the tree each year (this year, it's "Museum Collections," with ornaments inspired by the museum's holdings), and volunteers around the world start folding the 500 ornaments in July. Like the museum themes, variety characterizes the cultural programs at the World Financial Center and Winter Garden. They range from holiday performances to Santa encounters, and all take place against the backdrop of the atrium's signature 45-foot-tall palm trees.

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