leisure 11.30.05

Christmas in NY, Paris, & London

We've teamed up with two of our favorite city sites, Chocolate and Zucchini of Paris and Urban Junkies of London for a joint holiday venture. On each of our sites, we'll be picking five events (today), food/restaurants (tomorrow), and places to shop (Friday) that represent the best of the holiday season for locals and visitors.

NYC Events
The Views from the Top of the Rock
Rockefeller Center originally opened with an observation deck, but it's been closed since the '80s. If that wasn't bad enough, some years back the Ciprianis made off with the Rainbow Room, closing it to the public except on occasional weekends. (And what could be more Grinch-like than that?) Anyway, the good news is that the observation deck is back, all gussied up in the form of Top of the Rock, offering fab city views, 70 stories up. Buy tickets ahead of time (they don't come cheap: $14 for adults, $9 for kids).

The Lights of Bensonhurst
You'll find homeowners who can't put up a few dozen bulbs on their house when 10,000 will do. Why bother with wooden soldiers, they ask themselves, if they're not 27 feet tall? The lights flash, the figures move, carols play, people mill, and donations for good causes are solicited. Holiday lights, candles, and characters are featured on the lawn, the walkway, the driveway, in the windows. and on the roof. The owners cast a gimlet eye on their neighbor's display and come up with ways to up the ante for next year.

The Sounds of GrooveLily's Striking 12
The NYC trio (piano, bass, electric violin) that makes up GrooveLily blithely ignores genre boundaries to excellent effect, enabling rock, musical theater, and jazz to coexist in perfect harmonies. Sondheim wondered, 'Is Hans Christian Andersen ever risqué?' and even in GrooveLily's rejiggered version of "The Little Match Girl" called "Striking 12", the answer's still probably 'no.' But lots of fun? Definitely. Runs December 3-23 at Ars Nova, 511 W. 54th [10th/11th] 212.868.4444. Tickets are $25.

The Solstice at St. John the Divine
The most popular annual (secular) event at the world's largest cathedral is Paul Winter's Solstice Concert series. This year is the 26th annual celebration of light over darkness and will feature Brazilian singer Renato Braz and a traditional Russian dance troupe among the guests. Thursday and Friday December 15th and 16th at 7:30pm, Saturday, December 17th at 2pm and 7:30pm, $16-$75, limited availability, so act fast.

The Procession of the Clement Clarke Moore Candlelight Commemoration
NY's oldest continuing holiday tradition honors Moore's poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" aka Twas the Night Before Christmas. Moore is interred at Trinity Cemetery and every year, at nearby Church of the Intercession, 555 W. 155th [Bway] there's a service, followed by a celebrity reading the poem. This year, it's NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas who will read. Then St. Nick appears to lead a procession to Moore's grave, along a candlelit path, with participants carrying lanterns. The rest you'll just have to find out for yourself, but it's all thoroughly Capra-esque. Sunday, December 18, 4pm.

Paris Events at Chocolate and Zucchini

London Events at Urban Junkies

Ice Skating and Hot Chocolate
Skate: Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers
Hot Chocolate: Le Gamin, 183 9th [21st] 212.243.8864

Skate: The Pond at Bryant Park
Hot Chocolate: The Pond Snack Bar

Skate: Rock Center Rink
Hot Chocolate: Cafe SFA at Saks.

Skate: Wollman Rink
Hot Chocolate: Serendipity

Skate: Lasker Rink
Hot Chocolate: Hungarian Pastry Shop, 1030 Amst [110th/111th]

Skate: Riverbank State Park
Hot Chocolate: You'll have to fill your thermos for this one— Jacques Torres perhaps…350 Hudson [King] 212.414.2462

Songs for the iPod:
River by Joni Mitchell
Hockey by Jane Siberry
Frozen River by Everything But The Girl

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