Named for William Cullen Bryant, an abolitionist and editor of the New York Evening Post, this now beautiful Midtown park transforms every October into Winter Village.
The sponsors of Winter Village at Bryant Park are Bank of America, but it's really the people you encounter who make this a special place to visit during the holiday season. While we're not always a fan of the large holiday crowds, we do love to interact with all the local and specialty businesses throughout the market.
Some of our favorite vendors include Nirvanna Designs which is based in Long Island City (where we now offer our NYC Brewery Tour) and sells hand-knit scarves, coats, and hats knit by Nepalese women which allows them to earn a living wage from their homes; The Truffliest, which sells all sorts of truffle products from oils to honey to mustard; and photographer John Conn sells some of his funky subway images and artwork at NYC Subway 1980's.
In addition to the more than 150 vendors at the holiday market, you can find plenty of other things to do and explore. Just like at the open-air European markets that inspired Winter Village, there is plenty of food. Some of the yumminess is mixed in but the majority of the savory food is on the south side of the park. This is actually a great place to get lunch or just to try some of the local vendors. Whatever you do make sure you have a cup of hot apple cider from Breezy Hill Orchards to enjoy when walking around. The market is curated by Urbanspace (who also run the food hall we visit on our Midtown Sights & Bites tour)
When you've had enough shopping, it's time to do some ice skating. This is a less crowded rink than the iconic Rockefeller Center and it's actually the only free one in Manhattan. The catch is you have to bring your own skates otherwise they charge you for a skate rental.
Transforming the park into the Winter Village during the holiday season takes quite a feat of human ingenuity. Workers first remove the grass because it can’t survive under the rink. Once all the sod is loaded onto trucks for recycling, the ground is leveled to provide an even surface. The rink’s ice is made on site and kept cold with chillers for about a week prior to the season opening.
One of the most exciting things to see is one that Mother Nature provides. When the weather gets cold enough, be sure to check out the fountain which freezes mid stream.
On our special NYC Holiday Sites & Markets tour which runs through Christmas Eve, we show you that despite the crowds, this can be a very fun and festive place to visit. Most weekday mornings are rather quiet and it's a great place to come, do a little holiday shopping, and get into that holiday spirit. An even better time to come and enjoy is the week after Christmas when the Winter Village remains open (the shops are here through January 2 and the rink remains until March).
Winter Village at Bryant Park
Between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
and 40th and 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018