Manhattan's Most Captivating, Twinkly Holiday Displays

Manhattan's impressive Christmas trees and department store windows aren't the only things decked out at this time of year. All across New York City, corporate buildings, public parks and outdoor plazas display eye-catching holiday exhibits, offering a perfect family diversion during holiday shopping or even as a fun seasonal destination. 

We've rounded five of the city's best 2015 displays from glowing indoor lanterns in Battery Park to giant, flashing stars on the Upper West Side that you won't want to miss. Even better? These spectacular installations are put on in public spaces, meaning it is FREE holiday fun with the kids.

Illuminated globes suspended in the glass atrium of the Winter Garden dazzle passersby. Photo by Max Lakner/ Brookfield.

Luminaries —Financial District
Brookfield Place, 230 Vesey Street
On display through January 10, 2016
The glass-enclosed atrium at Brookfield Place's Winter Garden is illuminated by a whopping 650 suspended lanterns. Kids can manipulate the lights by making a wish on the interactive console. For each wish Brookfield Place will make a donation to the Grammy Foundation supporting music in schools. Starting at 10am, the globes flash in a winter- and holiday-themed light show every two hours. See our Luminaries post for more photos and information. FREE

RELATED: Must-See Christmas House Lights Around NYC

While you can't take a bite out of Taste of Home's sweet gingerbread houses, the display does have a fun, interactive feature. Photo by Mommy Poppins. 

Second Annual Gingerbread Boulevard — Flatiron District
Madison Square Park
23rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues
On display through December 22
Four adorable faux-gingerbread houses have again been erected by Taste of Home in Madison Square Park. These life-sized buildings correspond to different regions of the country and include a ski chalet, farm (above), beach shack and houseboat. While you can't climb inside these sweet dwellings, you can download the FREE shazam app on your smartphone to explore them using augmented reality. FREE 

RELATED: 21 Holiday Activities Every NYC Kid Should Try at Least Once

The Empire State Building's lobby windows feature the art deco icon in metallic holiday settings. Photo courtesy of the Empire State Building. 

Empire State Building — Midtown East
350 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street
On display through January 5, 2016
The iconic symbol of NYC once again illuminates its tower in honor of Hanukkah and Christmas throughout December, but this year, the landmark added its own holiday window display. The Fifth Avenue lobby windows feature metallic-hued vignettes of mini-models of the building in various holiday scenes. The Empire State Building is just blocks from Lord & Taylor and Macy's Herald Square, making it a perfect addition to your Holiday Windows Walk. FREE

The prismatic sculpture Nova invites visitors to see the Flatiron Building and other landmarks in a new, exciting way. Photo courtesy of the Flatiron BID.

Nova — Flatiron District
North Plaza, in front of Flatiron Building
23rd Street at Fifth Avenue
On view through January 4, 2016
This giant kaleidoscope of an exhibit is mounted in conjunction with the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District's (BID) annual 23 Days of Flatiron Cheer initiative. Nova, created by SOFTlab, is something to behold from the outside, but to experience it fully you need to enter the prismatic exhibit. The interactive sculpture acts as the neighborhood's "North Star," allowing visitors a view of the "galaxy" of landmark buildings, including the Flatiron, Empire State and Met Life buildings, through its scopes. Read our review on Nova for more photos and information.  

The Shops at Columbus Circle's annual display of colorful, changing, illuminated stars looks great from inside and out. Photo by Mommy Poppins. 

Holiday Under the Stars – Midtown West
The Shops at Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Circle at 59th Street
On display through January 3, 2016
You can't miss the dozen enormous, illuminated stars hanging from the swanky shopping mall's lobby ceiling. Watch as they change colors in time to festive music. The view is actually better from outside, so you need not worry about being overwhelmed by crowds of last-minute shoppers in Columbus Circle. FREE

Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides