Free NYC Ice Skating and Holiday Shopping is back at Bryant Park Winter Village

Ice skating in NYC at the Bryant Park ice skating rink.

The Bryant Park Winter Village Has Opened

Eager for the season to start, Bryant Park's now-traditional Winter Village–the centerpiece of which is the nicely-sized skating rink–went up this year the day BEFORE Halloween, but now that it's actually been chilly for a couple of days in a row, our thoughts turn to gliding around the ice for… for at least long enough to earn a hot chocolate or two. I went to check out this season's iteration of the decade-old holiday ritual last Saturday, a perfect day for skating with sunny skies but a nip in the air, and found festive crowds on the ice, wandering in and out of the temporary gift shops, and eating and drinking from one of the many food booths. Here's the full scoop about the Bryant Park Skating Rink and Holiday Shops 2015…

Ice skaters at the Bryant Park free ice skating rink in NYC.

Bryant Park Ice Skating

The ice looked great at the Bryant Park Rink, with none of the slushiness that had plagued the attraction during the "heat wave" earlier this month, though beware: it's supposed to hit 60 again this week. Ice skating is definitely more pleasant when it's not freezing, but you do actually need ICE. Anyway, the huge holiday crowds of tourists aren't here yet, so even in the early afternoon there was no line to get in and plenty of room on the rink for all of your Beillmann spins and double axels and, uh, falling down. As always, ice skating at the Bryant Park Rink is free, with these qualifiers: skate rentals are $19 from now through to the New Year; bag check (which you have to do if you're going on the ice) is $10; and if you need to buy a lock for your free locker (to stow your shoes), that'll be $9. Plan accordingly.  

Holiday shopping at the Bryant Park Winter Village shops in NYC.

Bryant Park Holiday Shops

These days, of course, skating is only a small part of the public park's activities during the holiday season, the others being shopping for things no one needs but that might make a decent gift, and eating. The Holiday Shops in 2015 are the now-standard assortment of silly items aimed at the tourist trade (nothing wrong that), and some nice jewelry kiosks (like Jessica DeCarlo's). The food booths are really where it's at as far as I'm concerned, with Top Arepa, Enfes Turkish Food, La Sonrisa Empanadas, and the huge Max Brenner Chocolate Bar among the many standouts. The two-story Celius bar and restaurant is back again as well, which is always good for a goof. It's been ten years now that the Bryant Park Rink and Holiday Market has taken over this patch of Midtown, and however over-commercialized it may seem today, it's still one of the prettiest places to skate in the city.    

Super Mac + Cheez, a specialty foods booth at the Bryant Park Winter Village and Holiday Shops.

The Bryant Park Rink will be open through March 6, 2016, with skating every day from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The Holiday Shops stick around through January 3. Visit the website for more details about the Bryant Park Winter Village.

Holiday shoppers browing the Bryant Park Winter Village kiosks.


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