Christmastime is here! The day after Halloween, twinkle lights go up, radio stations start slipping holiday songs into their sets, and most importantly, holiday markets begin to open. And there’s none more anticipated than Bank of America’s Winter Village at Bryant Park, which will have its grand opening ceremony Nov. 1 when two-time Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir hits the ice beginning at 5:30 p.m.
This year, Winter Village's jewelbox shops brings over 120 vendors and restaurants under the trees around the park every day from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. (through Jan. 2), with one of the city's largest outdoor ice rinks (through March 5) and a new Danny Meyer project. Here’s what makes this market the best in town.
Didn’t the perfect gift always seem to appear just as your hands were full of sticky treats? This year, instead of having food and product booths side-by-side, almost all of the Winter Village restaurants have been consolidated into Feast on 40th, located behind the skating pavilion. Expect lots of rib-sticking fare like raclette from Baked Cheese Haus, Chinese street crepes from the Vendy Awards' best newcomer Mr. Bing and a cretzel bar at Breads Bakery, just some of the 30 restaurants spread along 40th Street. Stop here first to fuel up for your treasure hunt.
Need another reason to come out on opening night? Nov. 1 is one of the market’s two Tasting Tuesdays, when many food vendors offer free samples between 6 and 8 p.m. You’ll need to get a wristband at Le Carrousel; the next one is on Nov. 15. Skating at Winter Village is open through March and always free (skate rentals are $20), as are photos with Santa when Santa’s Corner returns Dec. 18-24 from 1-3 p.m.
Lots of new nibbles
The market has long supported independent vendors, and this year Winter Village has even more novel ways to fill those stockings through a collaboration with Farm to People. UrbanSpace Provisions brings the online marketplace for small-batch products to the heart of Midtown with 50 vendors selling sugar and spice and everything bite-size. Expect tasting sessions, too!
Public Fare by Danny Meyer
The village’s main restaurant at the northeast corner of the skating rink has become a Danny Meyer joint. The Shake Shack CEO has opened Public Fare inside the glass-walled building, a casual cafe that starts the day as a coffee bar serving breakfast fare, then transforms into a restaurant serving wine, beer and cocktails in the evening with a menu of sandwiches, soups and salads. Outdoor fireside seating will be available again, sure to be one of the coziest (and tastiest) spots in town.
Start your holiday shopping at Winter Village’s Holiday Shops featuring nearly 100 local vendors. Gifts like a woodcut tie clip from Lewis & Pine, eco-friendly toys at Mr. Ellie Pooh Fair Trade and aromatherapy candles that melt into super-rich body lotions from Dr. Silkman’s Emporium are sure to impress anyone on your list. New this year is a mini bookstore by The Strand at the market’s entrance on Sixth Avenue, selling new releases, classics, and because the Strand is known almost as much for its quirky accessories, lots of literature-themed gifts.