​The Bryant Park Christmas Market (Winter Village) – The Perfect NYC Holiday Experience

Since 2002, the Winter Village in Bryant Park, located behind the iconic New York Public Library, has bloomed to become one of the most popular Christmas markets in NYC- a winter wonderland that boasts not only unique arts, crafts and novelty gifts to buy for home and loved ones, but a belly-bursting choice of delicious international cuisine, juggling classes, a traditional carousel, as well as its holiday centerpiece: a 17,000-square-foot ice skating rink and the only one in NYC that has free admission when you take your own skates! Don’t miss out on the chance to skate, shop and dine all in one twinkling, New York, Christmas-infused location! 

The carousel. Photo by Onemoreroad

Open October 27, 2023 – March 3, 2024 (The Holiday Market Closes On January 2, 2024)

Mondays – Fridays11am – 8pm*
Saturdays and Sundays10am – 8pm*
Ice Rink8am – 10pm (midnight on weekends and select holidays)
*Hours are usually extended after Thanksgiving. Some stalls in the Bryant Park Winter Village will be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Just a 15-minute walk from Penn Station, and surrounded by NYC’s iconic midtown skyscrapers, the Bank of America Winter Village in Bryant Park offers the millions of visitors that grace its boards every year up to 200 enclosed kiosks housing artists, specialty stores and young entrepreneurs selling good quality home and season-focused decorations, artwork, jewelry, bags, body products, candles, stationary, clothing, accessories, model-making kits, ceramics, vintage and novelty items, dolls and soft toys for kids and pets, sweet treats and savory gifts.

The kiosks, full of treats. Photo by Odyseey

Despite what you may imagine, not all the gifts on sale here are Christmas-themed – there are plenty of home and year-round products alongside the baubles and Santa decorations. Nor are they all outrageously expensive. We’ve found many bargains over the years, while realizing that if something is hand-made and had love and time poured into its making, we should rightly pay more.

The holiday spirit is all but bursting out of the trees at Bryant Park – with the caroling, festive music, happy shoppers, twinkling lights and giant Christmas tree. And not everyone goes there to shop – some are up at 7am for the 8am rink opening, aiming to start the day with some healthy on-ice exercise before the crowds arrive; others go simply to try out something new and imaginative from the many food vendors.

The Best Time To Go To The Bryant Park Winter Village

The best time to shop there is on a weekday, within the first few hours of opening, before lunch. The crowds are thinner on the narrow boardwalks between the kiosks, and you’ll feel more comfortable as you browse, with a calmer chance to speak to the vendors and artists before you buy. Then we recommend you treat yourself to a rewarding hot chocolate for a holiday job well done!

If you’re not there to shop, it’s still worth grabbing a warming hot chocolate and doing some people-watching rink-side, while catching up on gossip with friends.

Alternatively, if the buzz of locals and tourists is what does it for you, head there later in the day and on the weekends. Book yourself dinner in an igloo to escape the cold with friends and make a festive evening of shopping, eating, drinking hot cider, and ice skating.

Let’s have a closer look now at all the wonderful elements that make the Bank of America Winter Village in Bryant Park such a great place to head to this holiday season.

The Tree Lighting

The Bryant Park Christmas Tree. Photo by Janvanj7

The Bank of America Winter Village Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is a dazzling event well-worth attending if you’re in the city. In 2022, the tree was 43 feet tall and decorated with 12,000 lights, and we expect no less this year! The tree lighting ceremony traditionally includes special guests, an ice skating show by Olympic Medalist skaters, and other performances.

The tree lighting date is still to be announced, but last year it took place on November 29 at 6pm.

The Ice Rink

The Bryant Park Ice Rink. Photo by jinuwill

New York City has several ice skating rinks this time of year, but The Rink at Winter Village is one of the prettiest, and is the only free-admission ice rink in the city (for those who bring their own skates). If you’re without skates, they do offer good quality skate rentals, and they also have snowman, penguin and Zamboni skate buddies for beginner skaters to use ($22/hr, free before 11am daily).

The 17,000-square-foot rink is open from early to late, and gets crowded during peak hours, with long lines of people waiting for a go. You must reserve your skating session online in advance, even if you’re going for the free “got my own skates” option!

Surrounded by midtown skyscrapers. Photo by jgbtravels

Prices per session, if you don’t bring your own skates, vary by day and time (from $18/hour, including skate rental) – check their site for the exact information and to reserve your 55-minute skate slot. Bag check is an additional $5.

If money is no object, or you’ve been saving up for a well-deserved treat, Bryant Park Ice Rink offers a VIP skate service, which includes an 80 min+ skate session, skate rental, skate concierge, access to the Polar Lounge, snacks, and bag check. From $150 per person.

For those looking to hone their figure skating skills, there are early morning practice sessions (6am and 7am) available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for $18/person. Skate rentals are not available for these Freestyle Skating sessions.

On some days there are bonus free skating shows and other special events to entertain friends and families in the lead up to Christmas. 

A skate buddy. Photo by Kim C.

Note that you cannot book multiple skate sessions in a row. They limit each person to one 55-minute skate session per day so as to accommodate as many skaters as possible each day.

The Rink in February. Source: Facebook

How It Works

Choose and reserve a time slot online, and get there some 15 minutes before to get ready. A rink attendant will check your confirmation email/QR code. They will put your shoes in a large plastic bag and give you a ticket with a number so you can get them back after your skating session.

There are limited lockers available. Bring a lock, or buy one of theirs on-site. Remove your items from the locker before you leave the Rink area.

Note that if you’re renting skates, they do not carry half sizes, so either go up or down a size.

Phones are not allowed inside the rink.

Everyone should travel in the same direction. 

There are numerous staff skating around to help where needed. 

Bumper Cars On Ice

Bumper Cars On Ice from January. Photo by Leandro D.

In January, they split the ice skating rink into two for ice skaters and the hugely popular 12 joystick-operated bumper cars. Kids of all ages from 7+ can bump, slide and spin their way around the ice (but stay away from the walls, they ask!) for a real post-New Year giggle.

Great fun for kids of all ages (7+). Photo by Eloy Y.

Bumper cars can be reserved up until the day of your visit, with sessions starting at $20 and lasting 10 minutes each. Your sessions will be within your reserved one-hour booking window, during which your ride is first-come, first-serve – and the lines will be long! We suggest you sign up for the Bryant Park newsletter to see when tickets go on sale – and grab yours fast!

The Holiday Shops

Market stalls at Bryant Park. Photo by Odyseey

Holiday Shops by Urbanspace Markets is a European inspired open-air market with up to 200 “jewel box” kiosks located on all sides of Bryant Park, around the ice rink, between 40th and 42nd Streets, and Fifth and Sixth Avenues, in the plazas and on the terraces.

It makes the perfect place to buy holiday and New York City-themed gifts, as well as one-of-a-kind home and novelty items, clothing and accessories, locally-produced foods like honey, chocolates, teas, and cookies, and pampering body-care goods, many of which are handmade by both local and international artisans.

The Holiday Shops. Photo by Onemoreroad

Open October 27, 2023 – January 2, 2024, Monday – Friday: 11am-8pm, Saturday and Sunday: 10am-8pm. Hours are usually extended after Thanksgiving. Some stalls in the Bryant Park Winter Village will be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Unique festive gifts. Photo by Odyseey

What we like best in the set-up is that Urbanspace, the brand behind Union Square’s and Columbus Circle’s holiday markets, as well as Mad. Sq. Eats, offers a traditional Small Business Spotlight that gives four New York City-based minority-owned small businesses, with annual revenues of $1 million or less, an opportunity to showcase their products in a free booth at the Winter Village.

The Bryant Park Christmas Tree. Photo by Lucam1985

Eats And Treats

There is a huge number of food vendors in the Bryant Park Winter Village – everything you can imagine, and plenty you can’t, so definitely an excuse to try something new!

So much choice! Photo by Emanuela Ramos

Our favorites are Pickle Me Pete, which offers delicious fresh and fried pickles, the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate truffles from No Chewing Allowed, Max Brenner’s caramelized pecans coated in milk or dark chocolate, cheese fries from Baked Cheese Haus, Bao by Kaya, Cheesesteaks by The Truffleist, crepes from Crepe Café, anything hot from Frida’s Favorites Mexican Cantina, and apple cider and molasses cookies from Breezy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill. And all that is just a taster of what’s on offer!

Get there before Santa gobbles them all up! Source: Facebook

The Lodge Bar + Food Hall

The Lodge Bar and Igloos. Photo by Eloy Y.

The Lodge is a rink-side, open-air seasonal food hall and pop-up bar to head to after your skating or shopping session, or just to hang in and people-watch as you enjoy a festive cocktail, delicious meal and catch-up with friends and loved ones.

For a unique (and much warmer) experience, get online now and reserve a cozy “igloo” with a view, to drink and dine in. Each transparent dome can accommodate up to eight guests.

Inside an igloo. Source: Facebook

Curling Café + Bar

Curling at the Curling Café. Source: Facebook

Bring together your family, friends or colleagues and get iceless curling! Your online reservation will include your own curling lane and a heated dome with food and drinks from The Lodge next door. Packages start at $300. No reservations are needed to sit at the bar if you’re not curling.


Overlook is a large, private event space with floor-to-ceiling glass walls and a clear roof, boasting an expansive view of midtown Manhattan as well as the magic of the Bryant Park Winter Village. It’s a great place to hold holiday parties, receptions, and corporate events.

Polar Lounge

A cozy corner near the entrance to The Rink, Polar Lounge is also a perfect place if you’re looking for somewhere festive to hold a birthday party or skate outing.

A free show on the ice rink. Source: Facebook

The Takeaway

The Bank of America Winter Village in Bryant Park offers visitors from around the country and globe an annual, festive, action-packed shopping, dining and ice-skating bonanza, with up to 200 kiosks housing artists, specialty stores and food vendors, and with holiday music pumping out all the holiday spirit you can take!

What Else Can I Do In New York City During The Holidays?

There’s a lot to tempt you in NYC during the holiday season. Grab some tickets to watch special holiday-themed theater shows, get your ice skates on, stroll along the streets and enjoy the stores’ festive window displays, visit the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, or head over to the Union Square Holiday Market, which has a similar set up to Bryant, with much the same vendors, the Columbus Circle Holiday Market, or the Grand Central Holiday Fair for more upmarket gifts.

NYC at Christmas, the Rockefeller tree. Photo by Lee Acavedo

And when you’re done exploring, photographing and shopping-till-you’re-dropping in NYC’s seasonal cheer, why not treat yourself to a hot mineral water spa to recuperate your energy for the New Year? We’ve found the best hot springs in New York State for your well-deserved soaking pleasure.


While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the most up-to-date information, we always recommend you do your own research before you travel to a particular area or visit a specific destination, and check conditions with relevant official authorities. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your adventure!

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