New York at Christmas time

There’s no place more iconic than Manhattan at Christmastime, says Holly Sands

New York City had a claim on Christmas long before Kevin McCallister checked into The Plaza Hotel with his trusty Talkboy. Miracle on 34th Street, Trading Places, The Family Man, Scrooged… For festive movie fans, there’s no place more synonymous with twinkling trees, hand-holding ice-skaters and bags of brightly wrapped gifts. But instead of just living vicariously through screen stars, a December trip to the Big Apple has to be done at least once in a lifetime. Why not this year?

Do your Christmas shopping at the Grand Central Holiday Fair, which runs until December 24, or head over to the Winter Village at Bryant Park, where more than 100 holiday shops sell tree decorations and handmade wares, and there’s a free ice rink at the centre of it all. Walk down towards the Flatiron Building on 5th Avenue afterwards and grab a stool at Eisenberg’s for a hot coffee and one of its famous sandwiches.

No matter how wildly the wind rips through the city’s streets, no tourist-tastic visit is complete without standing on the freezing cold deck of a ferry to take in the Statue of Liberty, and later (via a piping hot pizza in Little Italy, naturally) the icy pinnacle of the Empire State. Check out the Wollman Rink in Central Park, which you can cycle, walk or take a horse-drawn carriage around (and don’t forget your wellies, unless you want to spend the afternoon squelching around the American Museum of Natural History – as we’ve lived and learned).

Finally, like a certain lost little boy before you, don’t leave New York without catching a glimpse of the Rockefeller Center’s enormous tree.
Flights with Virgin Atlantic cost from Dhs3,103 with a stopover in London. www.virgin-atlantic.com.

Three to see

Rockefeller Center Tree

This year’s magnificent 78ft Norway spruce will be lit on Wednesday December 2, and stay up until Friday January 8.
www.rockefellercenter.com.

Carnegie Deli

World famous and littered with pictures of famous diners, tackle Carnegie’s mighty Rueben if you dare.
www.carnegiedeli.com.

Brooklyn Nets

Head off the island to the famous Barclays Center to watch a basketball game. The walk takes you over the historic Brooklyn Bridge.
www.nba.com/nets.

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