“There is no more beautiful place to be at Christmas than New York City.” — Mike Roth
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My Favorite Place
It is no secret that my favorite place in New York City is Bryant Park. It is an oasis amongst the concrete and hustle and bustle of the city. It is always magical, but it is especially so during the holiday season, when the park comes alive with the Winter Village. Every year in October they build an ice skating rink, shops, a lodge that houses food and drinks, and other fun little buildings. They have a tree lighting, which in my opinion is better the Rock Centers, as well as other fun events like skating shows, curling, and even bumper cars. From October to January, it has ALL the holiday fun and is the perfect spot to jumpstart the holiday season.
The last couple years it has looked slightly different due to the pandemic with a more hybrid Winter Village. But this year it is back and better than ever! In fact it even opened the earliest it ever has, and about two weeks before Rock Center did! They also had their tree lighting early as well! The Winter Village was making up for lost time!
All the Shops
The shops in Bryant Park’s Winter Village make the BEST presents! Not only are they small businesses, many locally owned and based in the tristate area, but it gives the opportunity to buy unique gifts that you really can’t find anywhere else. Over the years I have discovered some of my most favorite shops there, from Melsy’s Illustrations who has also become a friend, to Shalant candles, to even a shop that sells fun wine toppers and bottle openers. I also usually getting my annual skating ornaments here. There literally is something for EVERYONE. They also have specialty foods from olive oils to spices. Every time I go, which is often, I am always finding something new. The shops are open from October to January 1, though some of them do stay open until March, as do many of the food kiosks.
I have been skating at the rink at Bryant Park for years! As it is the only free admission rink. It is also much bigger then Rock Centers, and there is something so fun about skating amongst the buildings in Midtown! While Winter village has almost all but returned to normal since the pandemic began, they do still require you to register online to reserve a spot, as well as if you want skate rentals or a bag check. But it is a super easy process to do, and honestly I kind of appreciate that as someone who is type A and likes to plan ahead. I always go first thing in the morning where it is not as crowded, and I am able to do a bit of practicing.
The Lodge and other Food
The Lodge stays open from October to March and is filled with a bunch of restaurants and bars, from S’Mores No More who has the most decadent hot chocolate to Black Tap Bar to cheesecake in a cone. I love going there for some boozy hot chocolate or a glass of wine, and just taking in the festive atmosphere and people watching. There are other food kiosks spread through out the park, including donuts, chicken on a stick, and of course multiple hot cider and hot chocolate stalls. You want to come hungry because there are so many options, and many different types of cuisine.
Most Wonderful Spot
Even if I wasn’t Christmas obsessed, or loved ice skating, I would love going here. It really is a must do every year. In my opinion it embodies what Christmas in the city really is and there are times I really do feel like I am in my own Hallmark movie with the ice skating and sipping of (boozy, so maybe Lifetime?) hot cocoa. There is something for everyone to enjoy, and I am always counting down the days until they re-open. If you visit New York, you HAVE to go here.
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