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22 photos that show off the magic of Christmas in NYC

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New York City is truly a magical place to spend the Christmas holiday. Few will dispute that statement, including the thousands of tourists who travel from around the world to experience it first hand.

The city is outfitted with the most exquisite holiday decorations, including Christmas trees that put nearly every other tree to shame, and people who just want to celebrate Christmas. The excitement of the season is everywhere and in many different forms.

For the second year in a row, I sought to capture this in a unique way. So on a brisk Christmas Eve -- with a steady breeze and temps in the low 30s -- I ventured out to some of the most iconic holiday destinations in NYC.

I started in downtown Manhattan at a caroling event at Washington Square Park, and it was amazing to see so many people gathered to sing the songs of the season.

After the event was finished, I headed north toward Union Square Park. I hopped on the subway, where I saw people who expressed a mix of emotions -- some happy, some sad. Others showed the same expressions I see on my morning commute to work.

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Union Square was a busy place at 6:35 p.m., though the Christmas market set up on the south side of the park was just ending its month-long run and vendors were eagerly working to pack up their booths. Never the less, the view from the park, with the Empire State Building as a backdrop, carries a special feeling to it.

I continued my trek north up Fifth Avenue, where many storefronts were lightly decorated for the holiday. The most prominent seasonal display, though, was the Empire State Building, which towers over this part of the city.

I stopped near the Flatiron Building at 23rd Street to snap some pics looking north. The iconic Flatiron Building was to my back, and its lights were turned off.

In this same area is Madison Square Park, which is likely most known for being home to the very first Shake Shack restaurant. There, a tall and very bright tree stands on the north side of the park.

After just a few minutes of taking photos here, several people asked me to take their pictures in front of the tree. I was surprised to see so many people passing by. It is a good-looking (and very photogenic) pine that often doesn't get much attention.

From here, I continued north -- still on Fifth Avenue -- toward Midtown. Along the way, I couldn't help but to snap some more pics of the Empire State Building. Other people were doing the same.

The next stop on my journey uptown was Bryant Park, home of the Winter Village -- a place where you can shop, eat and skate. It's one of the few markets open on Christmas Day, too.

As a person living in New York City for more than four years, I tend to avoid the more touristy parts, where crowds don't tend to operate under New Yorker rules (e.g. don't stop in the middle of the sidewalk, walk quickly and not in side-by-side groups, etc.). But the tree at Rockefeller Center is a must-see attraction for everyone.

First off, the tree is massive! Standing at 75 feet tall, the tree weighs at least 24,000 pounds and contains more than 50,000 lights.

Rounding out the trip, I made one last stop at one of my favorite, but relatively hidden trees -- the one inside the courtyard at Bloomberg Tower. Nearly fully surrounded by windows, this Christmas tree gives creative photographers opportunities for shots they can't get at other trees.

Those 22 photos sum up my Christmas Eve photo adventure for 2017. Let me know which parts of NYC I should scope out for next year, in the comment section below.

Thanks for checking out my blog!
Mike