Holiday Whirl of Entertainment, Part 2 – Some Things Coming and Things to See and Do, Places to Go
By: Ellis Nassour
It’s that wonderful time of year, and the holidays are very close at hand. Still looking for that special gift? Tickets to a Broadway or Off Broadway show, an evening of cabaret, a night at the movies, home entertainment, or a nearby getaway are options to consider. Get into the holiday mood ice-skating in the winter wonderland at Bryant Park and the Rockefeller Center Rink. Stroll Fifth Avenue’s Miracle Mile to see the magnificent and giant tree in Rockefeller Center; the dazzling Tiffany snow flake over Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, and visit the animated and stunning windows at Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Saks, Bergdorf’s, and Barney’s.
Stop into St. Thomas Episcopal Church at Fifth and 53rd for organ recitals. The copper doors, huge rose stained glass window, and the altar piece are among the most beautiful in the world. Visit the Metropolitan Museum exhibitions Madame Cézanne and Cubism: Braque, Gris, Leger, Picasso. Rediscover Thomas Hart Benton’s America Today mural, and be in awe of stunning Christmas tree and 18th Century Neapolitan Nativity embellished with an array of lifelike figures with silk-robed angels hovering above…
Stars, dinos, whales, trains, and so much more
The New York Historical Society [170 Central Park West, between 76th and 77th Streets] displays the newly acquired Jerni Collection of over 11,000 toys dating to the 1800s and an impressive train exhibit. Free.
Not far away, and always valuing your support is the American Museum of Natural History which offers more fun and awesome excitement than any Night at the Museum movie franchise. In fact, it’s near impossible to see everything in one visit. And don’t miss the Blue whale, Hall of Mammals, and Rose Center Observatory for Earth and Space. There’s also IMAX 3-D. Always a memorable experience.
Take a short journey to Queens [#7 IRT from Times Square to 11th Street] and visit the mammoth New York Hall of Science. Enjoy a stroll down Gingerbread Lane, the world’s largest such village made up of 1.5 edible houses, trees, and trains. Worships: December 27 and January 11. For more information, visit www.nysciorg.
The Bronx’s famed Botanical Garden is celebrating the 23nd Anniversary of its Holiday Train Show. Trains run through January 19 amid the glow of twinkling lights and the holiday tree in the Enid Haupt Conservatory Victorian glasshouse. Over 20 large-scale G-gauge model railway trains and trolleys from the late 1800s to modern freight and high-speed passenger trains traverse a quarter-mile track across rustic bridges, trestles, through tunnels, past waterfalls, and more than 150 fauna-covered New York landmarks. Trains measure more than two feet long and weigh as much as 10 pounds. A special attraction is Thomas, the Tank Engine. The Holiday Train Show is the Garden’s seasonal centerpiece, but there’re 250 acres of winter landscapes to explore other attractions and events. All- Garden Access tickets are $20; $18 seniors/students; $10, children (2-12), weekdays — and $28; $26, seniors/students; $16 children, weekends. For details on operating hours, daily activities, and how to purchase timed visits, check www.nybg.org.
The 13th Annual Holiday Train Show at Grand Central is making rounds through February 23 at the Transit Museum Gallery Annex and Store, with a Lionel model train layout and whimsical artwork by Maira Kalman, author and illustrator of Next Stop Grand Central. The 34` O-Gauge layout features a limited-edition model of Grand Central Terminal (only 250 created) and eight loop tracks on which vintage trains rumble and tiny pedestrians stroll miniature streets. Trains transverse through the City, head into the country, and up to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. Transit fans will find themed gifts and memorabilia at the Transit Museum Store. You can also purchase online at www.transitmuseumstore.com. The location is the shuttle passage off the main concourse. The Holiday Train Show is supported, by Lionel, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts.For more information, call (212) 878-0106. The show runs through February 22. Admission is free. Closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Music: the gift that keeps on giving
For a gift that will plant a seed of love for musical theater and have an impact that will influence a possible career, subscribe to the myriad programs offered by Merkin Concert Hall in the shadow of Lincoln Center [129 West 67th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue]. Musical theater programs feature top Broadway talent at extraordinarily low prices. Two excellent ones are Broadway Close Up, with performances and interviews; and, for ages 4-11, Broadway Playhouse, soon to begin its 10th season introducing musical theater gems and those who created them. Broadway Playhouse gets underway again January 11 at 11 A.M. with a interactive tribute to three-time Tony winner [with four more nominations] and two-time Drama Desk nominee composer Charles Strouse (Annie, Applause, Rags, Bye, Bye Birdie). Programs in February and March salute Tony winning composer/lyricist/book writer Meredith Willson (The Music Man, The Unsinkable Molly Brown) and Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls, How to Succeed…, The Most Happy Fella, Where’s Charlie?). For information about free or low-cost performances for school groups, season subscriptions, and more information on the dozens of programs, e-mail BPH@kaufman-center.org or call (212) 501-3366.
New York’s "Showplace of the Nation," Radio City Music Hall, is ringing in the season with this year’s fast-paced, 90-minute 85th Edition of its Christmas Spectacular, running through December 30. The show, estimated to be seen by 72 million people, is one of New York’s most popular attractions. The standout stars are the world-famous Rockettes, the 36-strong precision dance team, and Santa Claus. To further captivate audiences, the production extends beyond the stage to transform the Hall into a winter wonderland. You can’t miss the jaw-dropping, 35′ mobile tree made up of 6,000 Swarovski crystals in the Grand Lobby. Dreaming of a white Christmas? You’ll get one here! Arrive early for the dueling organs!
Shopped out? Need a getaway to rejuvenate?
Forget the stress of holiday time and upcoming income tax scene and splurge for an experience that’ll give you a lifetime of memories. Step back in time – 145 years, in fact – at Mohonk Mountain House [a Historic Hotel of America], located in one of the most awesome settings imaginable. Though only 90 miles North, mostly on four-lane highways, and just outside charming New Paltz, NY, you have to wonder how many hours it took to get there back then – not to mention how those hair-pin curves up, up, up the mountain road with towering trees [four to six stories high] looming below were maneuvered. This time of year, with snow dusting everything, it’s the very definition of a winter wonderland.
Mohonk is an old Native American word for "lake in the sky." It’s an apt name. Beyond the mirror lake, there’s 300 rustic acres nestled against rugged mountains, It’s still family-owned [the Smileys] and perfect for families. Mohonk House is famous for its service, huge hearths and fireplaces, classic rooms with antique furniture and suites with fireplaces, balconies with rockers, and a towering, stunningly decorated tree in the cavernous main dining hall [the Sunday and special occasion brunches have to be seen to be believed].
There’s no end to the list of activities: fitness center and spa with a solarium, rock climbing, boating, tennis, golf, fishing, horseback riding, cross country skiing, biking, hiking, nature walks, family game room, billiards, and cocktail lounge. There’s a huge indoor pool and, in season, swimming in the lake along a sandy beach. Amenities also include outdoor heated mineral pool. After you dry off, enjoy afternoon tea. For indoor exercise, do a floor-by-floor walk and check out the illustrious history of this one-of-a-kind property, check out the photographs of presidents, government figures, and the famous who’ve stayed there.
During the holidays there’re tours of the countless decorations throughout the complex [including the Gingerbread Village], Yule Log hunt, craft-making, and caroling. New Year’s Eve, ring in 2015 with dancing under a cascade of 2,000 balloons, midnight buffet, and MMH’s signature cocktail.
For brochures, reservations of all-inclusive packages, and more information, visit visit www.mohonk.com.