When the first snow layers onto Low Steps, and the vanilla chai tea bags you’ve been snatching from Ferris start piling up in your room, you know the holiday season has begun. Don’t use the cold as an excuse to stay huddled up in your room to work endlessly on papers and finals prep; instead, follow Spectrum’s guide on how to do winter here in the city—holiday market edition—for a good time in the winter wonderland of NYC.
What exactly is a holiday market?
Well, it’s what it sounds like: a set of shops that pop up around the holiday season! They’re kind of like farmer’s markets or flea markets, but instead of only selling food or used goods, holiday markets have a festive theme and are the perfect places to buy unique and authentic gifts for your family and friends before flying back to your hometown. They also open for a smaller time frame than regular markets, so make sure you plan your trips as soon as possible!
Union Square Holiday Market
Visiting friends from NYU or Parsons? Take this opportunity to check out the Union Square Holiday Market! With over twenty years of history, the holiday market in Union Square Park attracts millions of tourists and natives alike with its locally created, one-of-a-kind artisanal goods, including ornaments, toys, artwork, and of course, food. Enjoy live music as you visit newly added sections, such as Little Brooklyn, and pop into the innovative warming stations to stay warm as you stroll through passageways of over 150 candy cane-striped booths. The market is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays until Dec. 24.
Columbus Circle Holiday Market
It takes fewer than 20 minutes on the subway to get to the southwest entrance of Central Park, where you’ll find over 60 booths of artisanal goods and delicious, ethnically diverse foods, all conveniently located along the circumference of Columbus Circle. Buy an adorable handmade hat for your little cousin, a collection of ornaments for your tree back home, or even a handcrafted wooden puzzle for your floor lounge! You’ll feel like you’re in a storybook with all of the buzzing holiday spirit, joy, and decorations strewn among the tents. Immerse yourself in this true winter wonderland experience every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. except for Sunday, when it closes one hour earlier, from now until Dec. 24.
Holiday Shops at Winter Village at Bryant Park
Planning on traveling to Midtown anytime soon? If your answer is yes, good for you for taking the initiative to get off campus! If not, well, the holiday market at Bryant Park is definitely worth the subway fee. With over 170 vendors selling international foods, jewelry, clothes, and various types of artwork, you’ll be sure to find something you like. Visiting this open-air market is a great way to refresh your mind and enjoy the beautifully designed kiosks that light up the night. The market is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends, with weekend hours extending to 9 p.m. after Thanksgiving, until Jan. 2, 2019.
Have some extra time? Enjoy a nice skate around the 17,000-square-foot ice rink in Bryant Park with free admission (skate rentals cost an extra $20).
Grand Central Holiday Fair
If you’re not the kind to thrive in the cold and don’t enjoy losing feeling in your extremities, check out the Grand Central Holiday Fair! It’s conveniently located right in Grand Central Terminal (which is also super close to Bryant Park). So on your way back from downtown, be sure to make a pit stop there, enjoy the warmth and beauty of Vanderbilt Hall, and explore all that the 40 artisanal vendors have to offer. One of the main goals of the fair is to focus on a model that’s both socially conscious and environmentally responsible, so you can be confident that the art, toys, jewelry, clothing, and other goods you’re buying were created with heart and thought.
The fair is open until Christmas Eve from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Keep in mind that the market will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and will only be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 24.
If you’re planning on going on Nov. 21, stop by the Grand Central Taxi Stand for the one-day Thanksgiving Market anytime between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. and grab some delicious pastries and treats. Or, if you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy scene, check out the Holiday Train Show at the Grand Central Gallery Annex & Store that runs until Feb. 24, 2019!
Feeling adventurous? Hit up all four of these holiday markets with a group of friends on a trek from downtown to the Upper West Side to get your gifts for the holiday season. Just don’t forget to bring your wallet!