NYC Market Crawl: Battle for the Best Holiday


Skaters relax at the ice rink at Bryant Park. (COURTNEY BROGLE/THE OBSERVER)


It’s almost that time of year again, the holiday season, where we are anticipating reuniting with friends and family back home and enjoying a much-needed break. Yet, worry still lingers: what to gift, what to do with visiting relatives or what to do to combat cabin fever as we cram for finals and desperately need a break? Luckily, some of the best holiday markets are sprawled all throughout Manhattan. I visited three of the most popular markets to see what was worth the hype and whether any leave you out in the cold.

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park 

(Oct 28, 2017-Jan 2, 2018. 11 a.m-8 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. -8 p.m. on weekends)

Easily accessed by a quick ride on the B or D train, Bank of America presents “Midtown Manhattan’s Winter Wonderland.” It touts holiday vendors, pop-up eateries and ice-skating adventures.

This stop had the strongest familial vibe. With a $3 per ride carousel, weekend storytelling hours and free photo-ops with Santa each weekend (and daily beginning Dec 16), the environment was mostly curated for families and the young at heart. They even have free ice-skating (with a $20 skate rental fee, however) that continues well into winter. So even if you can’t make it to the fair, you most certainly can make time for The Rink, which closes on March 4, 2018.

The shops host artisans from across New York and offer a wide array of products for all. From Himalayan outerwear to all things traditionally Christmas and natural health and beauty products to unique art-deco pieces, these shops cater to all needs (and impulsive desires). The food was tasty, though a bit expensive. I ordered some french fries with a little Parmesan cheese and garlic powder from Crepe Café, and though they were a little pricey, they were the ultimate comfort food on a windy day. Bryant Park’s Winter Village even has a booth with Dō Cookie Dough Confections with no line. Just be wary about what you order, because the prices can jump quickly if you aren’t careful!

Union Square Holiday Market 

(Nov 16-Dec 24, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. weekdays, 10a.m.- 8p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Sundays)

Brought to patrons in partnership with Citibank, Fordham students can hop on the N/Q/R train at 57th and 7th and travel to Union Square for another European-style winter market with both local and national vendors and dozens of spots to eat.

The shops bring Etsy to life. With delicate jewelry and handmade knitwear, along with bath products and handcrafted holiday-wear, the environment allows interaction with booths and patrons that is typically difficult to do over an online transaction. I purchased dog socks from Sabyloo, a booth selling exclusively novelty pairs, for my mom, who absolutely loved them.  Obviously, because many of the products are made by up-and-coming artisans with enormous talent, some things are a bit pricey, so if you are on a budget, be sure to address how much you are willing to spend to sellers, and hopefully they can help you find what you are looking for.

The food was just as tasty as the options at Bryant Park, and in my findings they were slightly more affordable. I enjoyed a traditional salted pretzel from Sigmund’s, and a free hot chocolate brought to the market by Citi!

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

(Nov 28-Dec 24 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Sundays)

Just a brisk walk from Fordham’s 60th St. entrance is the Columbus Circle Holiday Market, also in partnership with Citibank. The market is therefore very similar to what is offered in Union Square, but much closer to home.

I visited one afternoon as I ran errands nearby, and was super excited as construction workers worked quickly and efficiently to prep for opening day. I came back the next day and the fair was in full swing!  Because the same group that brought the Union Square Holiday Market to life produced it, it highly resembled that fair on a smaller scale. There were some of the same vendors in addition to the new spots to shops—baby clothes, handbags, dog treats and toys, and even a Strand Bookstore stop.

However, this is definitely the spot with the fewest food booths, so if you are visiting for food experiences you may not necessarily find what you are looking for. That being said, the food available was probably my personal favorite. I got a hot chocolate with 60 percent french chocolate from The Baking Bean and it was the richest drink I have ever had. I also picked up a chicken and waffle cone from Chick’n’Cone for dinner, and not only was the food amazing, but this booth had the friendliest employees!

So, all in all, each holiday market has pros and cons. Based on the type of experience you and your friends/family are looking for, one of these fairs will certainly have everything you’re looking for!