Holiday markets and winter wonderlands to visit in New York City

The Holiday Shops at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. (Photo by Elizabeth Shrier)

The halls have been decked!

Chelsea Market

Inside the Chelsea Market. (Courtesy Chelsea Market)

Decorated with lights, multi-colored mylar curtains and lit up stars suspended from the ceiling, the Chelsea Market is full of holiday spirit. Both a tree and menorah will be lit within the market, which will include the new Package Free store, Higher Standards, Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, and much more.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine

On Dec. 6-8, More than 75 exhibitors of handcrafted items, like woodwork, glass, and ceramic, to metalwork, sculpture and jewelry, will be selling their work at the Cathedral, which is taking a cue from a tradition out of medieval Europe where the cathedral served as a civic and commercial center as well. Admission is $8 per person.

Grand Central Terminal

The dramatic Grand Central Terminal will be decorated for the holidays and showcase the work of 40 talented artisans, who will be selling their artwork, clothing, accessories and home goods at a range of price points. Some of them include Ela Rae jewelry, Swoon Living, Edie Art, Playhardlookdope, Jingle Nog, and Bird Dog Bay.

Industry City

Industry City will have a Buddy the Elf impersonator this holiday season. (Courtesy Industry City)

Brooklyn’s Industry City and WantedDesign are transforming the new campus event space, 52A, into a winter wonderland with decorations that pay homage to the holiday lights in Dyker Heights, a winter whiteout with white lights, a Buddy the Elf impersonator, acapella performances, a giant illuminated snowflake and Brooklyn-made gifts for purchase.

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

The holiday shops at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. (Photo by Colin Miller)

Skating at Bryant Park is a holiday must (the admission is free), but the park also has holiday shops inspired by European open-air markets with artisans from around the world and The Lodge by Urbanspace, a cozy cocktail bar surrounded by eateries and an outdoor beer garden.

Union Square Holiday Market

At the South Plaza of Union Square, there are 200 artisans selling their handcrafted accessories, home goods, food drinks and more, including No Chewing Allowed, the Strand Bookstore, Victoria Bekerman, A&V Art, Little Brooklyn and Urbanspace Provisions, and a warming station and lounge Presented by Citi. There is also a Kid’s Arts Studio by partners CMA and Citi and live music.

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

Nearly 150 artisan vendors can be found at Columbus Circle with plenty of shopping, but also food vendors like Jicama: California Street Food, The Baking Bean, Fries + Beer by The Truffleist.

The Rooftop at Pier 17 

The Pier 17 Winterland Ice Rink. (Courtesy Pier 17)

It may not be winter yet, but at Pier 17 in the Seaport District, you’ll find the Winterland Rink, an open-air rooftop ice rink open seven days a week that has themed playlist skates, instructional skate lessons and more. Admission is $23 with skates on weekdays and $26 with skates on weekends. On “peak days,” it’s $35.

Lillie’s Victorian Establishment 

Inside Lillie’s Victorian Establishment during the holiday season. (Courtesy Lillie’s Victorian Establishment)

If being indoors is more your speed, drink in the lavish holiday decor at Lillie’s Victorian Establishment in Times Square or Union Square. It’s like stepping into the interior of a Christmas tree, with nutcrackers, garlands, lights, bells and stockings, without having to go through the rigamarole of waiting for a similar experience at another decked out restaurant.

Hello Panda Festival

An illuminated castle at the Hello Panda Festival. (Courtesy Hello Panda Festival/Facebook)

The Hello Panda Festival, which celebrates the traditional Chinese art of lantern making along with the nation’s beloved bear, will run from Dec. 6 to Jan. 26 and showcase 120 lantern exhibits. Made up of more than 10 million lights, the lanterns will be divided into six different theme parks, such as Holiday Wonderland and Sports World, and will feature interactive exhibits, including the world’s tallest Christmas tree lantern, life-sized dinosaurs, and a 98-foot-long light tunnel. Tickets are $28 at eventbrite.com.


A tunnel of lit-up arches at LuminoCity. (Courtesy LuminoCity)

Randall’s Island will transform into a city of lights, from Nov. 23 to Jan. 5, with themed “worlds” of Winter Fantasy, Wild Adventure, and Sweet Dream with 23 sets of light art displays created by Chinese light artisans. You’ll see a glowing unicorn, an illuminated lollipop land, shining pandas in a bamboo forest, a tasty donut tunnel, and life-sized dinosaurs near a roaring volcano. Tickets are $38 on luminocityfestival.com.

Dyker Heights lights

A home on the corner of 84th street and 12th Avenue displays a nativity scene — along with plenty of lights — in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.

This Brooklyn neighborhood is a must-see at least once in your life — located mainly between 11th and 13th avenues and 83rd and 86th streets, the large properties are decked out in hundreds of thousands of lights and adorned with wreaths, Christmas trees, inflatable Santa Clauses, snowmen and more. Plus, it’s free to see.

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