Did you know that New York has its very own Winter Wonderland. While to some Australians, winter in New York is a wonderland in itself, from late October each year Bryant Park is transformed into a Winter Village that even Santa himself would be proud. The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park has everything from a free Ice Skating rink, over 125 Christmas and Holiday themed shops and stalls and 8 restaurants and cafes plus multiple food stalls throughout the shops.
The Bank of America Winter Village ice skating rink rounds out the 3 ice skating rinks that open in New York each winter, with the others being the Trump-Wollman rink in Central Park and the rink at Rockefeller Center. One of the best features of the rink at the Winter Village is that skating is free. Whilst this may pose an issue for Australian tourists they do offer skate hire starting at $15 (this price increases to $19 during the holiday period). The Village also has free locker use with the ability to check bags for a small fee. If you want to use one of the lockers you will need to bring your own lock or purchase one for $9.
The rink is open daily from 8am til 10pm in all weather conditions. The rink will be closed if the entire Winter Village is closed due to severe weather or on advice from local authorities. During the peak holiday times (Thanksgiving through til the first week in January) lines can be long and New York Concierge recommends using the Fast Pass which can be purchase as an individual or as a family pack (2 adults & 2 children), which will allow you to skip the lines and enter the rink for free. The Fast Pass also includes skate rental and bag check and the family pack also includes a hot chocolate for everyone at Ice Bites.
The rink at the Bank of America Winter Village is open from October 30, 2015 through until March 6th, 2016.
My favourite part of the Winter Village at Bryant Park are the shops, and it is the shops and stalls that truly make it feel like a village. Each of the shops are housed in small European custom designed kiosks that bring a true taste of a Northern Hemisphere winter wonderland to life.
The Winter Village has over 125 retailers selling everything from Christmas gifts and jewellery to local foods and crafts and that special something for those that couldn’t make the trip across the pacific with specialist pet retailers ensuring your beloved pooch or cat won’t miss out when you get home and start handing out the presents.
The shops are only open for the Holiday season and open on October 30, 2015 but close earlier than the rink. Their last day of operation this season will be January 3rd, 2016. The Shops are open at the following times:
Monday–Friday: 11am – 8pm
Saturday: 10am – 9pm
Sunday: 10am – 6pm
It is important to note that The Shops will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, however some retailers may choose to open.
The Food & Drink
Bryant Park is known for having some great restaurants and cafes available year round such as the Bryant Park Grill and the Southwest Porch and in addition to these great options the Bank of America Winter Village also brings its own dining options for the season.
Ice Bites is a small café located inside The Rink and offers skaters and those watching the chance to warm up with hot drinks and typical café style foods.
Apart from the rink itself the biggest change to Bryant Park during the Winter Village is the construction of a temporary 2 story restaurant located on the northeast corner (closest to the New York Public Library off 42nd Street). A full menu is available for those not wanting to lace up their skates to enjoy the festivities from above.
Bryant Park Grill
The flagship restaurant of Bryant Park year round comes in to its own during the winter months and allows visitors to the Winter Village the chance to enjoy a fine meal in spectacular surrounds in the heart of Manhattan
This idyllic watering hole can be found in the southwest corner of Bryant Park just off the corner of 40th Street and 6th Ave. Offering visitors an array of beers and cocktails it is the perfect way to spend an afternoon in summer or winter before enjoying a quick bite to eat or a chance to recharge before continuing your Midtown adventure.
The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park has been a great addition to New York’s calendar of events and provides a taste of a European style Christmas village in the heart of the Big Apple. New York Concierge recommends visiting in the mid afternoon to avoid most of the crowds but it should definitely be on your must do list if you are visiting New York in November or December.
The easiest way to get to Bryant Park is to take either the B, D, F or M (Orange) trains and get off at 42nd St – Bryant Park station or take the 7 train (Purple) and jump off at the 5th Ave station, each have station access which will bring you directly out at Bryant Park. It is also only a short 10 minute walk from Times Square or 15 minutes from 5th Avenue shops.
For more information on how to get to Bryant Park or what you’ll find there year round check out our guide to Bryant Park.