Grand Central is Holiday Central, With Fun Galore
Grand Central Terminal, in the heart of New York City, is a true holiday destination for residents, commuters and tourists alike. The Terminal is alive with holiday fun from a new audio tour to the popular holiday fair market and model train show to the twinkling star ceiling.
One of the most popular destinations in the city - Grand Central - now has an official, affordable, self-guided audio tour available in English, Spanish and French. Japanese, German and Italian will be added early next year. The tour focuses on the architectural highlights of the Terminal as well as secrets, anecdotes and historical notes. The tour, which begins from a ticket window in the Main Concourse, uses a state-of-the-art audio device and headset and comes with a map of the terminal. It's just $5 for adults and $1 from children under 12. Seniors and the disabled pay $4 and students $3. This entertaining tour also has an introduction by New York City's own mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
Overhead, New York's most-beloved galaxy, the zodiac ceiling above the Main Concourse, twinkles with a new luminosity in the form of light-emitting diodes that light up 59 of the brightest stars in the winter sky. The long-lasting, cool-burning LED lights replaced a system of fiber-optic lights, which in turn replaced the original, 10-watt incandescent bulbs, which were state-of-the art when the terminal opened in 1913.
The new fixtures were installed in their original locations so as not to disturb the famed, 25,000-square-foot cerulean ceiling, with 2,500 gold-leaf stars and a pair of intersecting 23-carat golden arcs depicting the elliptic and the equator. When gazing up, 125 feet above the Tennessee pink marble floor, one cannot see all the lighted stars at once. As people walk across the Concourse floor and their vantage point changes, different stars appear, giving a twinkling impression.
The Terminal also hosts the city's premier indoor Holiday Fair with 76 vendors to tempt the holiday shopper. The market features 21 new vendors this year with an eclectic mix of merchandise - contemporary one-of-a-kind jewelry, handmade clothing and toys, holiday ornaments, home décor items, and hand-loomed glass sculptures. The Grand Central Holiday Fair is open seven days a week through December 24, Monday-Saturday 10am-8pm and Sunday 11am-7pm.
And for children of all ages, the Terminal has one of the niftiest scale-model railroad exhibits anywhere - the Ninth Annual Holiday Train Show, free at the New York Transit Museum Annex. A 34-foot-long "O gauge" model train layout with Lionel trains running on eight separate loops of track through a wondrous series of scenes, traveling through a miniature New York City across the Hell Gate Bridge, through suburbs, farmland, and on to the North Pole!
Vintage toy trains from the museum's Lawrence Scripps Wilkinson collection by Lionel, American Flyer, and Louis Marx & Company will be exhibited. Recent limited edition Lionel trains including MTA Long Island Rail Road 175th Anniversary M7 Commuter Train Set, the MTA Metro-North Railroad 25th Anniversary M7 Commuter Train Set, and the MTA R-27 Subway Car Set also will be on display.