Winter’s Eve to light up Lincoln Square for the 20th year

Winter’s Eve is back on Dec. 2 at Lincoln Square. (Courtesy Lincoln Square Business Improvement District)

Lincoln Center might be one of the most recognizable neighborhoods in New York City, but for one night, it will take on the atmosphere of a small town.

For the 20th year, the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District is throwing its Winter’s Eve at Lincoln Square festival and tree lighting  on Dec. 2 with emcee Jawan M. Jackson from “Ain’t Too Proud,” Ronnie Spector and The Ronettes, tastings from 30 restaurants, ice sculpting and much more.

Lincoln Square BID President Monica Blum has been lighting the Lincoln Square holiday tree for two decades and says that even as the event has gotten bigger since the days it was just a tree lighting, the festival feels small.

“The thing that is special about Winter’s Eve is that we take this cosmopolitan part of New York City and turn it into a small town for one evening,” she told amNewYork. “I’ve been to other small towns and it does have that feel.”

The 30-foot-tall tree, which comes all the way from Bliss, NY to be set up on Wednesday morning, is decorated with old-fashioned silver glitter glass ornaments (by Wendy Addison and Tinsel Trading) will be lit with LED bulbs a few minutes before 6 p.m.

Arlo Guthrie performs at Winter’s Eve. (Courtesy Lincoln Square Business Improvement District)

The lighting kicks off the rest of the festival, which goes until 9 p.m. and features dancers from the Fusha Dance Company and Fuákata’s Rueda de Casino at Frey Plaza and roaming performers from Processional Arts Workshop and the Alice Farley Dance Theater among others.

Lincoln Square’s many restaurants will be on site, too, to feed the thousands expected to make it out with bites from $1-$4, like Bouchon Bakery, Bluebird London, Dizzy’s Club, BarMasa, Asiate, Momofuku, Porter House, Gourmet Garage Bar Boulud, Breads Bakery, Magnolia Bakery, P.J. Clarke’s and Rosa Mexicano. Find out where they’ll be situated on winterseve.nyc.

Kids will have their own fun scheduled at Raymour & Flanigan at 1961 Broadway at 66th Street, including Twinkle Time and face-painting.

There’s a lot going on for one night, and that doesn’t escape Blum, whose staff is comprised of just six people, who work on it full time beginning at the end of spring each year.

“All the pieces have to fit together  — there are sleepless nights,” she said. “And then it’s over before we know it.”

For 20 years, Blum and the Lincoln Square BID have been organizing the festival, which is the largest of its kind. It started out only as a tree lighting that lasted about 30 minutes.

A huge bowl of guac from Rosa Mexicano at Winter’s Eve. (Courtesy Lincoln Square Business Improvement District)

“People stood around after wards saying, ‘what do we do next?'” she recalled. “We wanted to give them something to do.”

By hiring local and diverse performers and including the local shops, the festival became a local tradition. It only strengthened when in 2008 Lincoln Center stopped doing its own tree lighting. The BID continued its own lighting from there on out and carried on with it, even in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks.

“In the beginning, one person called [the tree] a bush,” Blum said. “Winter’s Eve has grown over the years. The whole idea is to introduce people to all the wonderful things that take place here. I don’t see this turning into Rockefeller Center; I think we just want to try to continue the same kind of spirit and feeling and the sense of community, which I think we do.”

Here are some of the highlights of the lineup:

At Dante Park main stage, Broadway, between 63rd and 64th streets

  • Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes, Young Artists from the Metropolitan Opera, the Every Voice Concert Choir:  5:30 – 6 p.m.
  • Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas: 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Grupo Rebolu:  8 – 9 p.m.

At the TD Bank Dance Tent, 62nd Street & Columbus Avenue

  • New York City Swing: 6 – 7:15 p.m.;  7:45 – 9 p.m.
  • DJ Mikey Palms: 5:30 – 6 p.m.; 7:15 – 7:45  p.m.

At the Richard Tucker Stage, Broadway & 66th Street

  • Alicia Svigals’ Klezmer Fiddle Express: 6 – 7:15 p.m.
  • Jules & The Jinks: 7:45 – 9 p.m.

At the American Folk Art Museum, 125 Columbus Ave. at 65th Street

  • Melanie Charles Trio: 6 – 6:45 p.m.; 7 – 7:45 p.m.; and 8 to 8:45 p.m.

At the Shops at Columbus Circle

  • Jazz at Lincoln Center Presents Karlea Lynné: 8 p.m.

At the David Rubenstein Atrium, Broadway, between 62nd and 63rd streets

  • Strings N Skins: 7 p.m.

At the Apple Store, 1981 Broadway at 67th Street

  • JasminFire: 6 – 7 p.m.
  • Sing Harlem: 8:30 – 9 p.m.

At 1900 Broadway, between 63rd and 64th streets

  • Mariachi Nuevo Mexico: 6 – 7 p.m.; 7:15 – 8 p.m.; and 8:15 – 9 p.m.
  • ASCAP Holiday Chorus: 5:30 – 6:15 p.m.

At 30 Lincoln Plaza (outside)

  • Columbia Kingsmen: 6 – 6:30 p.m.; 7 -7:30 p.m.
  • Broadway Buskers: 8 – 8:45 p.m.

At 1865 Broadway, in front of Target on 61st Street

  • L Train Brass: 6 – 6:45 p.m., 7:30 – 8:15pm