Ice Skating (and More!) in Bryant Park 2011

skating rink in Bryant park

We know that the great free skating rink in Bryant Park–aka, Citi Pond–has been open for almost a month already, but for us, outdoor ice skating season doesn’t really kick in until Thanksgiving week. Which is now. Which is why we went to Citi Pond a couple of days ago for the first time this year, just to scope out the ice and see which, if any, new and exciting vendors have joined the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park, a food and retail mini-village that gets ever more sprawling each year. The good news: after a few years of shrinkage to make room for the stores, Citi Pond seems to be same size as it was last year. Which is to say, Citi Pond is still pretty roomy–only Central Park’s Wollman Rink beats it in Manhattan–especially considering you’re ice skating right in the center of Midtown. 

skating rink in Bryant park

skating rink in Bryant park

Ice skating in Bryant Park–that is, just being on the rink–is, as always, totally free. But rental skates will cost you $14 this year (up from $12), and if you bring a bag, they’ll make you check it, for either $7 or $10. Oh and don’t forget to bring your own lock, because though the shoe-sized lockers are complimentary, locks are $9. But enough about money. Now in its sixth year, the Citi Pond ice skating rink in Bryant Park remains our personal holiday-season favorite. The ice here is terrific, the rink itself large enough to hold all but the peak-est hour crowds, the music festive but not too corny, the setting still pretty magical, surrounded as it is by the columned rear of the New York Public Library and the towers of Midtown Manhattan.

woman and child sitting in Bryant Park

Bryant Park winter market

And in addition to the ice skating, there’s a lot more going on in Bryant Park during the holiday season well. First and foremost: the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park, more than 50 different stores shambling to all corners of the space, with all of the usual gifty items, snacks, jewelry, clothing, kids stuff, etc. Frankly, except for a couple of bright spots (Jessica DeCarlo jewelry, Brooklyn’s Recycled Record Products, Max Brenner), most of the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park are best left to the tourists. Le Carrousel on the south side of Bryant Park is cute, though, for the toddler set. And having a drink at the two-story temporary bar/restaurant Celsius is always good for a goof. And, really, just relaxing with some friends, and maybe a hot chocolate or tea, in one of Bryant Park’s many seating areas, and watching all the skaters and passers-by, is an exceptionally pleasant way to pass some of your holiday-season time. 

jars of cookies

Citi Pond ice skating rink at Bryant Park details 

The Citi Pond ice skating rink at Bryant Park is open now until February 26, 2012, from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, and until 12:00 midnight on Friday and Saturday. There are special Holiday hours as well, as well as separate hours for Celsius and the Holiday Shops, all of which are listed at the Citi Pond Bryant Park ice skating rink website, here

women sitting at table in Bryant Park

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