Yet another reason to adore the holidays in New York: there is no shortage of events to get together and celebrate with your neighbors. From menorah lightings to tree-decoratings to sing-alongs, NYC is one big holiday love-in right now, and there are plenty of ways to join in the fun. Start here:
• Hanukkah is officially in full swing, but revelers can join in the celebrations every night by watching the giant menorah—32 feet high and weighing 4,000 pounds—at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue right outside Central Park fire up its electric candles at around 5:30 pm. (On Friday, the menorah lighting starts at 3:30 pm and then at 8 pm on Saturday). The event runs till Sunday, when Hanukkah ends.
• Park Slope's Grand Army Plaza and Chabad of Park Slope also hosts its own menorah lighting this week, starting at 6 pm on weeknights, 3:30 pm on Friday, and 7 pm on Saturday. Bonus: hot latkes and live music every night!
• Billed as the city's "oldest tree lighting ceremony," Washington Square Park's 45-foot fir tree comes to life at a celebration tonight at 6 pm. (Santa will be in attendance, counting down the seconds to lighting.) Come back on Christmas Eve at 5 pm for some good, old-fashioned caroling.
• Washington Square Park—specifically, the arch—is also the meetup spot for Saturday night, December 12's Unsilent Night. At 7 pm, revelers bearing vintage boomboxes—there's a limited supply, so bring your own or a smartphone plugged into portable speakers (check the website for tracks to download)—will start blasting "holiday sounds" in a procession that winds up in the East Village's Tompkins Square Park. (Check out the video below, which captures 2012's celebrations.)
• Swing dancing isn't standard fare for tree lighting ceremonies, but it's on tap for the city's Parks & Recreation department-sponsored event at the West Harlem Piers Park at West 125th Street by the Hudson River on Saturday, December 12. The fun starts with dancing at 4 pm, and carol-singing with the Barnard Bacchantae at 5 pm.
• Jackson Heights gets in on the caroling action with an open invitation for New Yorkers to join in its 7th Annual Jackson Heights Winter Caroling Sing-Along on Saturday, December 19, at 7 pm at the corner of 31st Avenue and 75th Street (in front of Cassidy's Ale House). Bring a flashlight and prepare to sing holiday tunes from around the world.