Pop-ups in New York City: The most Instagrammable shops and experiences

Stella Vettori, 6, takes in the "Rainbow Room," made with 44,000 plastic bags, at the Arcadia Earth pop-up exhibit in the East Village. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Whether it’s a 14-room wine experience or a one-day-only shop, we’ve got the latest in pop-ups.

Stella Vettori, 6, takes in the "Rainbow Room," made with 44,000 plastic bags, at the Arcadia Earth pop-up exhibit in the East Village.
Stella Vettori, 6, takes in the "Rainbow Room," made with 44,000 plastic bags, at the Arcadia Earth pop-up exhibit in the East Village. Photo Credit: John Roca

"Experiential" and "immersive" pop-ups give us what we want — a way to escape the daily grind and get that dope selfie.

Brands know this and have been infiltrating city spaces to bring memorable settings like Candytopia‘s Willy Wonka-esque maze, the Rosé Mansion’s boozy ball pit and Dream Machine‘s candy cotton Laundromat.

Some exist to provide a novel experience for a price.

"Between Sunday brunch and Sunday ‘Game of Thrones,’ there’s really not a lot to do as adults," Paige Solomon, co-founder of Dream Machine, told us last year. "It’s easier for children. In New York, there are so many options. We have Smorgasburg and museums, but I think people want to be part of something new."

Others are meant to create a personal connection for you and the product they’re hawking.

"There’s been an ongoing trend for decades now, where people are ceasing expenditures from material goods and moving to experiences," Tom Meyvis, a professor of marketing at NYU Stern, said. "These pop-ups give you social currency … they have to be novel and new and it’s important that people want to talk, tweet or post about it. It’s guerrilla marketing."

Whatever the reason, New York City is rife with pop-up experiences and shops for you to explore. Here are some going on right now.

Retail 

New York Handmade Collective at Grand Bazaar
100 W. 77th Street and Columbus Avenue, Sept. 29

Seven vendors that are part of the NYHC — Ubuntu, The Stitching Point, resetreality, Knits & Nash, R&D Designs, Vicki Finkel Ceramics and Jantar Handcrafted Jewelry — will be doing live, 10-minute demonstrations of their crafts starting at 10:30 a.m. at the team booth at the Grand Bazaar until 5:30 p.m.

Brand Assembly at Showfields
11 Bond St., through the end of September

A curated market of 11 brands, from ready-to-wear clothing to home décor to shoes and slippers, are at Showfields for a limited time. See merch from the following designers from noon to 8 p.m. Mondays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays: Also Freedom, All Things Fabulous, Boy Smells, Certain Standard, Anecdote Candles, Leg Specs, The Book Club, Ariana Bohling, Mignonne Gavigan, Teressa Foglia and Press Pause Project.

Rockets of Awesome is popping up in New York City in time for back-to-school shopping. 
Rockets of Awesome is popping up in New York City in time for back-to-school shopping.  Photo Credit: Jocko Graves/BFA.com

Rockets of Awesome pop-up store
133 Fifth Ave., through October

This immersive pop-up store is a fun way to prepare for the new school year. Spread across 2,500 square feet, the store has limited-edition backpacks, gender-neutral neon sweatshirts you can personalize, over-the-top treats, a GIF swing photo booth, a marshmallow pool, mini-manicures, a braid bar and more. The store is open daily: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

The Arrivals OutThere Lab

Lifestyle and outerwear brand The Arrivals is launching a shop that uses light, color and sound to create distinct outdoor environments. It opens Oct. 5 at 26 Mercer St. in SoHo.

Henry Chalfant-themed pop-up shop

Celebrating the opening of the exhibition "Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit, 1977-1987," The Bronx Museum of the Arts (1040 Grand Concourse) is opening up an exclusive pop-up shop with limited editions of streetwear, accessories and skateboards by Alfie, which will be open during museum hours — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

Experiential 

Elective pop-up courses

If you missed out on cool electives in college or want to increase your knowledge, check out Elective’s pop-up classes series, "Back to School Pop-Up" in October. Each class is $24-$29 and held at One World Trade Center (111 Vesey St. on the 74th floor):

  • Oct. 1 — What to Look For When You Look at Art: Elevate your museum game and learn more interesting things to say about art.
  • Oct. 8 — Who Run the World? (Women of the Middle Ages): Meet the medieval women who were smashing the patriarchy before it was cool.
  • Oct. 15 Culture Clash: Why Are We Having a Trade War?: Find out what is going on with the trade war with China and how it affects your daily life.
  • Oct. 16 — It’s Complicated: America’s Relationship with Immigration: Find out why defining "tired, huddled masses" has always been such a tough task.

Arcadia Earth exhibit
718 Broadway, through January

Learn about the ecological issues our world faces, from overfishing to plastic pollution, food waste, deforestation and more, through a series of 15 rooms that have been designed to empower you to help conserve the planet. All materials are upcycled and reusable, including a cave of 44,000 recycled plastic bags (representing the number used in New York State per minute). Tickets are $33 and $27 for students on arcadia.earth. Proceeds go directly to support Arcadia’s partner Oceanic Global. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays through Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays.

PokéBar
Oct. 25

A Pokémon bar pop-up will arrive in October with an "IRL" version of the game. The space will be divided into seven regions that guests can explore for two hours of hunting, battling and catching. Whoever completes all seven regions will be the ultimate winner. Squirtle, Pikachu and Charmander burgers will also be available. 

Food & Drink 

Urbanspace fall pop-up food market
Broadway between 39th and 40th streets, Sept. 23 to Oct. 28. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily except for Sundays

Seasoned chefs and up-and-coming food entrepreneurs are coming to the Garment District for a food bazaar, including Empanada Papa, Croton Reservoir Tavern, German Sausages, Monk’s Vegan Smokehouse, Balkan Bites, The Flo Specialty Treats and Blintz. To celebrate, the pop-up will hold a "sample sale" on Sept. 23 between 5 and 7 p.m., giving free tastes to passersby. 

The Coconut Lounge at W New York — Downtown

Summer doesn’t have to end — you can find it at a pop-up bar within W New York — Downtown’s fifth floor Living Room Bar + Terrace with a menu of "large-format" and themed cocktails (made with rum, tequila and vodka) served under twinkling "jungle" vines and disco balls. It will be up through December at 8 Albany St. in Manhattan.

The Taste of Priceless

MasterCard is opening a free pop-up with art inspired by food from artists Marilyn Minter, Jennifer Rubell, Monika Bravo and London-based designer Daniel Lismore. The experience finishes with a tasting of two "bespoke" macaroons — Passion and Optimism by Raphaël Castoriano. The pop-up is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 4, noon to 11 p.m. Oct. 5 and noon to 7 p.m. Oct. 6 at Spring Studios in TriBeCa (50 Varick St.)

Briana Kreamer of Westchester in the Secret Garden room at the Rosé Mansion pop-up in the Manhattan Mall on Aug. 8.
Briana Kreamer of Westchester in the Secret Garden room at the Rosé Mansion pop-up in the Manhattan Mall on Aug. 8. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

The Rosé Mansion
111 W. 32nd St., through November

Across 14 rooms, guests will learn about the process of winemaking and its history amid an Instagram-friendly backdrop — a vineyard, Cleopatra’s palace, a glitter cannon celebration room and more. Tickets ($35-$45) include eight wine tastings, a collectible pin and a wineglass by Govino. 

City Winery’s wine garden
Rockefeller Center, through the fall

While City Winery’s 143 Varick St. location shuttered on July 31 due to a displacement by Disney, and a new spot at Pier 57 is slated to open by March, there’s a stopgap where the vino flows. Through the fall (no hard stop date yet), City Winery’s pop-up is serving a selection of its Manhattan-made reds, whites and rosés on tap, plus beers from Montauk Brewing Company. Pair those with, say, charcuterie plates or hummus. 

The William Vale’s Turf Club
111 N. 12th St., Brooklyn, through September

The Turf Club, positioned 23 stories up on its rooftop, offers music and drinks — beer, wine or one of seven specialty cocktails — maybe a Sunset Park (with tequila, spicy honey and watermelon) for us, a Ponce de Leon (coconut rum, banana and pineapple) for you.

Queens Night Market outpost
Rockefeller Center, through September

Nine vendors from the popular food bazaar are bringing an array of cuisines to midtown Manhattan. Polish pierogies, Portuguese pastries and Jamaican jerk chicken are just a sampling of the flavors that await.

The Lookout at Pier 17
89 South St., through October

This food and cocktail pop-up experience in the Seaport District is an open-air space at the end of the Pier where you can grab beer, wine and cocktails and bites like lobster rolls, meat and cheese plates, tacos, grilled corn on the cob and more this fall.

Art

Beikyong Lee's "Thoughtful Space," from 2017, a 3D animation with mapping and sound shown on multiple screens, can be found at Technoimagination.
Beikyong Lee’s "Thoughtful Space," from 2017, a 3D animation with mapping and sound shown on multiple screens, can be found at Technoimagination. Photo Credit: Beikyong Lee, Thoughtful Space, 2017, 3D animation, mapping, sou

Technoimagination
417 Lafayette St., through Oct. 26

The Korean Media Arts Festival is spread across three floors with work by internationally prominent Korean new media artists who are exhibiting together for the first time in New York City. The art is meant to immerse the viewer and question concepts of time and space. Entry is free and it is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Pixinity: Pop Futuristic
1 York St., Aug. 16 to Nov. 8

Artist Tianyu Qiu’s first solo installation will be an interactive, digital art experience that explores where technology, gaming and social media imagery meet. Described as a "digitized world brought to life in physical form," Pixinity will feature 10 rooms that hold more than 100 pieces of sculpture, pixel art, digital and gaming icons and computer-generated imagery. Tickets are $38 for adults and $19 for children 10 and younger.  

Shaye Weaver