By Gwen Wunderlich-Smith
As November’s cool breezes blow in, and December’s chill arises we grab our cozy sweaters and hot apple cider for the season’s finest hour. Whether this season brings you holiday cheer or you’re looking to escape the norm, it’s the perfect time to explore with festive day and night activities. If taking the city by sea with a Harbor Lights Cruise, or traveling back in time at the Dickens Fest fits your fancy, get ready to mark your calendars and enjoy all Long Island and NYC has to offer. Don’t miss out on these spectacular winter rendezvous … we’ll be sure to see you there!
Step into the world of Dickens and experience history through the eyes of the iconic author when you visit Long Island’s 20th Annual Dickens Fest. Victorian entertainment and food consume the town while the view is filled with costumed characters and decorated shops and streets. Hop on the trolley or roll around in a carriage after you take a walk through history with a tour through historic homes by lantern light. Running December 4th through the 6th, there’s sure to be fun for all at little to no cost.
Celebrate the holiday season like the elite. The Vanderbilt Mansion Holiday Dinner offers an atmosphere that is unlike any other. Tour the grounds and admire all the Christmas décor before enjoying a luxurious dinner on the Northport Porch and dessert in the Lancaster Room. This holiday tradition is a popular event and sells out quickly so make sure you book your ticket today. Tickets are $100 per person for the December 7th event and seating begins at 6 and 8 p.m.
Bask in the glow of the setting sun and be dazzled by millions of glistening lights from New York City’s skyline during The Circle Line’s Harbor Lights Cruise. For 90 minutes, you’ll sail down the Hudson, around Battery Park, and under the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges. As you’re sipping on your cocktail and watching the sunset, you’ll be able to wave to Lady Liberty, a magnificent sight for all. By the time the moon rises, you’ll be sailing back into New York Harbor, happy and amazed by our beautiful city. Tickets cost between $24 and $35. CircleLine42.com
In ancient times on the shortest day and the longest night of the year, onlookers watched the sun sink lower in the sky each day and feared it would disappear completely and leave them in darkness. By practicing special rituals such as bonfires and candle lighting, they believed they could entice the sun to return and ward off the spirits of darkness. These symbols live on in our modern seasonal customs: the candles of Hanukkah and Christmas. This year, a contemporary take on ancient solstice rituals can be seen from December 17-19 at the Paul Winter 36th Annual Winter Solstice. This immersive holiday spectacular is a dazzling extravaganza of music and dance where winter’s soprano saxophone echoes throughout the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. The event has become New York’s favorite holiday alternative to the Nutcracker and Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular.
Marshmallows, gumdrops, and more: It’s not just the department stores in New York that deck the halls for the holidays. Le Parker Meridien Hotel plays host this season from December 4 through January 4th for their annual Gingerbread Extravaganza in the 56th Street Atrium. Last year’s cookie creations included King Kong on the Empire State Building, a crowded Christmas in Times Square, and a snow covered Brooklyn Bridge. Viewing is free, but to vote for your favorite a $1 donation is made to City Harvest, which benefits the city’s hungry men, women, and children.