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Three Art-Driven Christmas Experiences in New York City

Works at the Guggenheim, Brookfield Place and the EDITION Hotel move tradition forward

by David Graver
on 19 December 2017

A period of time that requires tremendous thought, the end of year holidays stimulate creative behavior from decor and design to gift giving and, let's be honest, time management. All the while, traditional, nostalgia-laden experiences appear around every corner. Many of these are deeply personal—the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center with a family, dinner at Rolf's with a loved one, a stroll by the Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Window display (and this year's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-themed spectacle) or Bergdorf's, who honor NYC's cultural institutions this year with "To New York With Love" windows. These are staples, and among many. However, there are times when the season's inspired-decision making unites with our love of theatrical experiences—and maybe a new tradition is born. The following three destination-specific experiences are relatively new to the holiday roster. All of them demonstrate an artistry that underlines the magic of the time during which they were unveiled. And for those not based in the Big Apple, perhaps they'll inspire curiosity and motivate a trip next year.

Brookfield Place's "Luminaries" by LAB at Rockwell Group

Lights—and colorful ones at that—have long been a part of many cultures' Christmas traditions. With "Luminaries," the experience design studio LAB at Rockwell Group has reimagined the experience, draping a row of 650 glowing cubic lanterns midair in Brookfield Place's Winter Garden. Commissioned by Arts Brookfield, the installation encourages interaction, with three touch-sensitive "wishing stations." Here, guests can send a wish and watch it initiate the light show above. For every wish made, Arts Brookfield will donate money to the GRAMMY Museum, for music education programs. For those who can't get to Brookfield place before the end of January, you can take a 360-degree tour online now.

Works & Process at the Guggenheim presents Holiday Concert

Beyond the exceptional program, with performances encapsulating three centuries of Christmas music, there's no experience quite like singing along with strangers—at the top of your lungs—in the iconic Guggenheim rotunda. This was the case with the Works & Process Holiday Concert, which featured the Vox Vocal Ensemble, American Brass Quartet and numerous guests. It was also the premiere for Nico Muhly's "Hurrian Hymn," a commission by Works & Process—the Guggenheim's performing art series that develops and unveils new works from both leading and emerging performers. Muhly's stunning work, featuring soloist Geoffrey Williams, drew inspiration from the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World's interpretation of the earliest-known song to be recorded in writing. Throughout the night, performances ranged from "Hark, the Herald Angel Sing" to Philip Glass' "Etoile Polaire."

Misha Kahn's Christmas Tree at the New York EDITION Hotel

When tasking a designer with their interpretation of what it means to be festive, options become limitless. The work of Misha Kahn, installed at The New York EDITION, demonstrated this. Kahn decorated his tree—which itself was composed of garland and resin—with lava lamps, custom-made pink pompom stars and plastic candles. Altogether, it's something Seussian and something lovably artificial, coming together in a grand and glitzy fashion.

Hero image by Darial Sneed​, courtesy of Arts Brookfield; second image by Arbuckle Industries, courtesy of Arts Brookfield; Guggenheim image by Holly Campbell; EDITION image by Steven Rojas

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