UPPER WEST SIDE — It's time to put away the turkey and bring out the mistletoe.
The festival, which kicks off at 5 p.m., runs from West 63rd Street to West 68th Street along Broadway and shuts down the street to traffic.
It features a 25-foot holiday tree lighting, kids crafts and activities, trolley rides, live performances and more than 30 tables of food from local restaurants. The festivities are free aside from the cost of food, which will run from $1 to $4 per item, according to BID President Monica Blum.
Blum said she expects around 25,000 people to attend, based on last year's turnout.
There will be more than 20 live musical acts, with artists including Suzanne Vega, the puppets from "Avenue Q," and Laurie Berkner headlining at the tree-lighting ceremony.
While Blum said that each year the festival gets better and better, she also noted that this year feels different to her because of Hurricane Sandy.
"You obviously don’t want to forget — and you can’t forget — the people who’ve suffered so much," she said. But the BID decided to go ahead with the plans because "it’s good for building spirit and sense of community.
"You have to continue to do these things," Blum said, remembering that hosting Winter's Eve after 9/11 also provided a way to heal.
Blum said she's encouraging attendees to bring coats to donate to New York Cares for victims of the storm.
There are a number of newcomers to the festival this year. The Film Society of Lincoln Center is participating for the first time with three free screenings of "Annie" at 2:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
"It’s a great opportunity for people to sample food that they might not otherwise sample and might not otherwise go to or know about," Blum said.
Santa Claus will make appearances at Brooks Brothers, Gracious Home and St. Paul the Apostle.
Some performances will be inside stores and others outside, so Blum encouraged people to bundle up.