UPPER WEST SIDE — Winter's Eve kicked off the holidays in style Monday as hundreds packed Lincoln Square for live music, kids' activities and food from local restaurants.
Singer Suzanne Vega, who grew up in New York City, headlined the evening and led the lighting of a 25-foot tree.
Andrew Wallace, who lives in an apartment just above the square, said he'd already seen Vega five times this year.
"She was awesome," he said. "A really great start to the evening."
Others from outside the neighborhood made the trip to kick off the season.
Keilin Huang, 24, lives in East Williamsburg and brought her friends with her for the evening.
"It was really cool how they had confetti when the tree was lit up," she said of a burst of shredded paper released after the countdown for the tree lighting.
After watching Vega, who was accompanied by Brooklyn Youth Chorus and members of the Broadway musical Avenue Q in lighting the blue tree, Huang said she and her group were headed straight for the food tents — but were unsure where to start with the more than 20 options.
"I am definitely going to Magnolia Bakery," she said. The bakery was offering samples of banana pudding for $2. "But, it's a little cold for gelato," she said of the offering from 'Screme.
Cast members of the Alex Farley Dance theater, walking on stilts and dressed in elaborate costumes, added an element of spontaneity as they and other bands roamed the streets, entertaining crowds.
The world music band Soul Farm performed at Dante Park.
Though the lines for some food vendors including PJ Clarke's and Rosa Mexicana were long, they moved quickly.
Karen, 33, from Long Island, who did not want to give her last name, was joined by a group of friends who had tried almost every item.
"We're kind of cutting lines," she admitted.
"I think the gnocchi from The Smith is our favorite," she said. "I think we'll definitely try the restaurant, which is the whole idea of the samples.
"It feels really festive. I think it's really pretty."
Throughout the night, ice sculptors from Okamoto Studio chipped away at creations that had children in awe — including a family of penguins and a large polar bear.
Merav Zeidman brought her two children along.
"They love it," she said.