Thursday, February 10, 2011

new york christmas lights

It was so exciting to be in New York just before Christmas. The city is so full of energy, excitement and people. So many people working, shopping, sightseeing... coming into the city to see the lights. It's a different cultural experience too. Shops often display menorah as well as Christmas trees. There is a real sensitivity to cultural and religious differences. No one assumes that you will be celebrating Christmas and you're more likely to hear "Happy Holidays" than "Merry Christmas!"

First I had to check out Macy's. I loved their whole "believe" campaign for Christmas. They have the most beautiful lights decorating the outside of their flagship store and gloriously decorated windows with moving displays that tell Christmas stories. Embracing the "believe" slogan I entered the store. I did some pretty good Christmas shopping in there but it was crazy busy... with the emphasis on crazy. While it's chilly outside, they ramp up the heating inside. Short of walking around in my underwear I found it quite stifling. The jostling crowds of Christmas shoppers and sauna like atmosphere had a trying effect on everyone. I saw families on the edge of Christmas shopping meltdown. A few snippets of overheard conversations.... "It's too hot in here!" "I can't stand it!" "Buy your own presents!" "I'm getting out of here!" As I came up the escalator to yet another floor decked out for the holidays and teaming with people, I saw a sign that I thought said "Holiday Hell." It actually said Holiday Halls. Phew! I knew it was time to get out of there! "Believe!!" Bah humbug!! Just kidding. I still do like the whole "believe" theme but maybe not in that overheated commercial setting.

I moved on to Anthropologie - a totally different shopping experience. The Anthropologie stores are my favourite in the US. All of them are styled differently by artists, designers and crafts people. They have a strong artistic aesthetic that is quite breathtaking. Even though they can still be busy, they have a totally different atmosphere to Macy's. More peaceful! I spent hours in each shop taking in the sculptural displays, windows and out of this world styling. So creative, so beautiful, so clever. This is just one of the windows from the Rockefeller Plaza store. Everything in the window is handcrafted, sewn , knit, constructed, collaged, painted or drawn. 

Then over the road to the Rockefeller Centre. I have never been in a crowd like the one gathered there. So many people come from all over the US (and the world) to see the biggest Christmas tree ever!! It's actually from someone's yard. Each year they scour the countryside to find a suitable tree and the person is honoured to have it displayed at the Rockefeller Centre. They must have had some truck to transport it. It is enormous!!! There's a skating rink that is here just for the holiday season. The queues are huge to see the tree, to skate and the crowd is wall to wall people. Taking advantage of my small stature, I managed to wriggle my way through the crowd to the edge of the skating rink. Even with the crowd it's still magical!

Sorry this photo is blurry. I was being crushed by the crowds on all sides!! Check out the couple in the middle (with the girl in the white hat and jacket). Here is a magic New York moment. People were going "He's got a ring! He's got a ring!" and he did have one. He asked, she said yes, then they kissed and kissed and kissed...... Oooooh! Sigh! So romantic!

I moved on from the Rockefeller Centre to Times Square. It's neon, lights, people, bustle.... it's action 24/7, any time of the day or night, any time of the year. Even the NYPD have neon!

Bryant Park also has a skating rink. You might know it as it's alter ego - host to New York Fashion Week. At the time I thought Bryant Park, that sounds familiar.... I only clicked to the Fashion Week connection later in my trip (thanks Beth!). After all those seasons of watching Project Runway I should have been a bit quicker on the uptake!! Tim Gunn would be ashamed of me!

Washington Square was great contrast to the rest of the city.... tranquil, peaceful and quietly spectacular.... a lovely oasis in the midst of the busyness.

New York is a special lady who dresses up for Christmas with so many accessories, jewels, decorations.... sparkling with lights, lights and more lights. It seems that you can never have enough lights! 

So this is a little taste of New York in her Christmas finery. She's breathtaking, mind blowing and completely overwhelming.... and I wouldn't have missed seeing it for the world!!

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