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Stuck in NYC for Christmas? Here are the best things to do in 2021




Stuck in NYC for Christmas? Here are the best things to do in 2021

There’s no place like home for the holidays — even if you’re here due to the latest COVID-19 variant walloping the city.

The bad news: Maybe your plans were scuttled just when you thought we were about to have a normal Christmas.

The good news: You’re stuck in the greatest city in the world and no amount of microscopic Grinches can steal that.

There will likely be fewer tourists around to annoy you: hotel demand had recovered 81 percent of what it was in 2019, according to NYC & Company, the city’s marketing arm. But that changed in the course of a week as Omicron spread quickly.

With some Broadway shows closed, the Rockettes high-kicking off the stage for the year and many restaurants temporarily shuttered, cheer might seem in short supply. But Christmas in New York has always been an outside thing anyway: carolers in the parks, lights on towering houses, music in the streets and corner carts luring you with fragrant bags of roasted chestnuts.

“Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, you might actually find a peaceful city. It’s very magical having the city to yourself,” Chris Heywood, NYC & Company spokesman, told The Post. “We like to say it’s not a consolation prize to be stuck in New York City.” 

This is your year to fully embrace Christmas in New York. Here’s your holiday list of the best things to do: 

See a big Christmas tree — without the crowds 

The Christmas tree — a 79-foot, 12-ton Norway spruce — at Rockefeller Center
AFP via Getty Images

A lot of New Yorkers probably see the Rockefeller Center tree about as often as they visit the Statue of Liberty — never.

Here’s the thing: It’s delightful! A more iconic piece of American Christmas tradition would be hard to find. It’s also hard to see during normal times, with throngs of selfie-stick-swinging, slow-walking tourists crowding the sidewalks. Your staycation Christmas should be the time to finally see what the fuss is about yourself.

Here’s the trick to avoid even a small crowd this year: the tree lights usually turn off at midnight, but on Christmas Day, it’s illuminated for 24 hours. So bundle up and get over in the wee hours and you might have the 79-foot, 12-ton Norway spruce to yourself. 

There are other, less popular public Christmas trees also worth a gander: Washington Square Park boasts a 45-foot tree, trimmed in tasteful white lights and nestled right under the famous arch. Singers are scheduled to keep up the Christmas Eve caroling tradition here starting at 5 p.m. Friday.

The Christmas Tree in Washington Square Park.
The Christmas tree in Washington Square Park
Tamara Beckwith

If you’re missing the club, the tree in the garden at the Public Hotel (215 Chrystie St.; 212-735-6000) in Nolita might cheer you up. The 20-foot “tree” is made entirely of disco balls — 450 of them, including some that rotate. Light shows bring them to life throughout the day. 

The New York Stock Exchange won’t be exchanging gifts on Christmas Day but you can still see its big tree out front, right next to the Charging Bull statue. The South Street Seaport’s tree looks sharp next to the tall masts of the nearby ships. The outer boroughs have public trees to choose from, from Bronx’s Little Italy to a lobster trap tree outside Red Hook Lobster Pound in Brooklyn (284 Van Brunt St.; 551-261-5178).

Make your days merry and bright — really bright 

A man wearing a mask takes a selfie at the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights on Dec. 12 in Brooklyn.
A man wearing a mask takes a selfie at the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights on Dec. 12 in Brooklyn.
Getty Images

If you can’t visit a suburb this year, it’s time to bask in the ostentatious holiday opulence that suburban McMansions can’t even dream of. 

Of course we’re talking about Dyker Heights, the south Brooklyn neighborhood where homes dress up in gaudy displays that have to be seen to be believed. It’s worth the hype (and pictures do not do it justice). The mammoth houses deck their halls, roofs, lawns, gates and balconies with every imaginable form of Christmas decoration: even the much-memed Home Depot 12-foot skeleton makes an appearance this year, dressed up in its holiday best. 

The best lights are between 11th and 13th avenues, from 83rd to 86th streets. Pro tips: if you drive, park your car and walk around because you’ll want to take in every element of every crowded display, or get there via public transit. While you’re down there, make a pit stop at the Lock Yard in Bay Ridge (9221 Fifth Ave.; 718-333-5282) to fill yourself with holiday spirits — they’ve got a great beer selection, and lots of cozy, ventilated outdoor seating. 

Walk in wonderlands

A view of the Lightscape exhibit, with over a million lights, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in the Brooklyn.
A view of Lightscape at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Brooklyn

We may not have snow this Christmas but you can still find a winter wonderland — of lights and art — at the city’s botanic gardens.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden (990 Washington Ave.; has turned itself into a glittering after-dark spectacular called Lightscape, a show that uses lasers, light installations and poetry to highlight the quiet beauty of winter nature. It features more than 1 million lights, including a Fire Garden and Winter Cathedral tunnel of lights, and poetry from Brooklyn author Jacqueline Woodson. Pick up a cup of mulled wine or some s’mores along the route, too. Runs through Jan. 9; tickets are $34 ($30 for members).

The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx (2900 Southern Blvd.; is offering something similar called GLOW, the longest entirely outdoor illuminated spectacle in the city, with 1.5 miles of lights and experiences. Hot cocoa and snacks are available throughout the park. Runs through Jan. 22; tickets are $35 ($25 for members). 

Down the street, the Bronx Zoo (2300 Southern Blvd.; has adorned itself for its annual Holiday Lights show with more than 260 lanterns representing 70 animal and plant species that the zoo works to protect. Add to that holiday decor animated sculptures, colored tunnels and decorated buildings, and you’ve got a festive outdoor feast for the eyes. Runs through Jan. 9; tickets are $39.95.

Visit Governors Island

Governors Island
For the first time, Governors Island is open year-round. It’s celebrating with a Winter Village and skating rink during the holidays.
Sari Goodfriend

If your travel got canceled, you won’t be singing “Mele Kalikimaka” on any tropical islands this holiday.

But who needs the tropics when New York City has its own island paradise just a short boat ride from Manhattan? This year marks the first time that Governors Island — an old military base that is now a sprawling center for art, events, playgrounds and bike paths with 360-degree views of the city — will be open year-round. It’s celebrating with a Winter Village and skating rink during the holidays; even better, the village is open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. It features a 5,000-square-foot rink (open Fridays through Sundays), a dozen lawn games, fire pits, bike rentals, seasonal food, drinks and more. Tourists barely know about the island in the summer, so you’re really in for a peaceful treat if you go in the winter. 

Governors Island is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day; ferries operate daily from the Battery Maritime Building (10 South St.); the NYC Ferry serves the island on the weekends, see full schedules and more info at

Take a North Polar plunge

The annual dip to celebrate the new year at Coney Island.
New Yorkers have a long tradition of taking the plunge into the ocean. Above, the annual dip to celebrate the new year at Coney Island.
Paul Martinka

If you’re really feeling disconnected this holiday season, here’s one fast cure: Jump in the ocean. 

Since last winter, Finnish artist Riitta Ikonen has been leading weekly polar plunges in the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean from the Rockaways every Sunday. She started it as a global project mid-pandemic, encouraging people across the world to jump into a body of water wherever they are at 2 p.m. local time to reconnect with nature, and each other.

Rockaway locals have turned the plunges into off-season beach parties: swimmers warm themselves by a roaring bonfire, share hot drinks, play music and enjoy the serene meditation of a winter beach day. Cold water swimming is allegedly good for the immune system and, while that may not save you from COVID, it beats Zooming with your family all weekend.

“For me, cold water immersion is the perfect way to reboot, charge my energy levels and punctuate time,” Ikonen tells The Post. “It North-Souths me in a way like nothing else can.” 

Every Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Rockaways; DM @seachanges_rockaways on Instagram for more info and location. 

Warm up your insides 

The heated outdoor area at Loreley Beer Garden.
The heated outdoor area at Loreley Beer Garden
Stefano Giovannini

New York’s pop-up holiday bars were lousy with TikTokers all season. But the TikTokers all got COVID at SantaCon or went home to the Midwest, so now you can enjoy a trendy holiday drink in peace, and in cozy outdoor seating.

Your best bet is Loreley Beer Garden on the Lower East Side (7 Rivington St.; 212-253-7077,, which is open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and offers a big, heated outdoor beer garden, decked out for the season. The drinks on its holiday menu are right from Santa’s happy hour menu, oozing with chocolate, loaded with marshmallows or rimmed with sugar. Try the boozy bourbon black and white hot chocolate, spiked eggnog, nitro peppermint martini or the fresh-baked cinnamon rolls on the holiday brunch menu. 

The Skinny on the Lower East Side (174 Orchard St.; 212-228-3668, has transformed for the season into Naughty or Nice, a holiday bar with a bonkers menu of drinks with names like Grinding Up Against the Gingerman, holiday decor dripping from the ceiling and an arcade claw game where you can win stuffed holiday dolls (nice), or an adult movie DVD (naughty). It’s got curbside seating, too, if staying indoors feels too naughty for you right now. The Skinny will reopen on Dec. 27 after a temporary closure due to COVID.

Spiked egg nog and boozy hot chocolate at the Loreley Beer Garden.
Spiked eggnog and boozy hot chocolate to celebrate the holidays at Loreley Beer Garden
Stefano Giovannini


Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death




Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence




Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers




Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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