1. Visit a Christmas Market
Visit the Grand Central Station Holiday Fair (87 East 42nd Street) in the Vanderbilt Hall – what an amazing setting for a market! Jake and Bea visit Grand Central during one of their New York sightseeing trips (it’s one of Jake’s favourite places) and although they don’t visit during the Christmas season, you can bet it’s somewhere they would love. For a fab outdoor market, head to the Union Square Holiday Market (14th Street to 17th Street, between Broadway and University Place, Manhattan), which has over 100 red-and-white stalls selling everything you could possibly want for Christmas… Or be like Bea and head to the Christmas Brooklyn Flea (at Skylight One Hanson, 1 Hanson Place, Fort Greene, Williamsburg) – much beloved of Bea and Rosie, a quirky market that moves indoors at Christmas with three floors and over 100 sellers, perfect for unusual gifts and unique Brooklyn chutzpah.
2. Skate on a Christmas ice rink
It’s a classic New York sight and there are several places you can have a festive skate, including the Rockefeller Center (overlooked by the famous Christmas tree), Prospect Park and the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. Of course, Bea’s favourite place to skate is the Wollman Rink in the centre of Central Park. It’s also known as the Trump Rink, but Bea can’t bring herself to call it that! She has long dreamed of skating on the rink after watching the film Serendipity too many times, but until she meets Jake she’s never experienced it. What happens when they venture out onto the ice surrounded by New York’s most beautiful park is one of my favourite scenes in I’ll Take New York…
3. Visit a Christmas toyshop
It has to be done! You can design your own Muppet, see the giant piano Tom Hanks made famous in the film Big! and revel in the huge Christmas toy displays at FAO Schwarz (767 Fifth Avenue) or stock up on your superhero supplies at Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co (372 Fifth Avenue, between 5th Street and 6th Street, Brooklyn) which not only is one of the coolest places in New York but also gives all profits to Dave Eggers’ amazing 826NYC charity that teaches creative writing to children.
4. Head to an Outdoor Event
New York comes alive at Christmas and the best thing to do is to wrap up warm, head out into the snow and get stuck in to the fun! Watch the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (Rockefeller Plaza, West 48th Street to West 51st Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, Manhattan) – a classic New York festive sight with twinkly lights, the ice rink, famous guests and a Swarovski-star-topped Christmas Tree. Or go to a neighbourhood event like Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square (Lincoln Square, Manhattan) – with live music, tree lighting in Dante Park, street performers, ice sculptures and an amazing choice of food from local restaurants.
5. Grab a Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity3
Bea James would choose this in a heartbeat! While you can get hot chocolate all over New York during the festive season, there is something really special about having one of Serendipity3’s famous beverages (225 East 60th Street). Whether you go for their classic ‘Frrrozen’ Hot Chocolate or the hot ‘Serendipitous Hot Chocolate (with whipped cream, grated Valley orange, cinnamon and shaved French chocolate), sitting in the café made famous by Bea’s favourite film, gazing out at the snow-covered Manhattan street, has to be a truly special New York Christmas experience!
I’ll Take New York is published on 4th December by Avon (HarperCollins) in sparkly paperback, ebook and audio versions.