Each winter, holiday magic comes alive in New York City with elaborate department store windows along Fifth Avenue, the high kicks of the Radio City Rockettes, and most of all, the city’s many holiday markets. After all, Manhattan is home to some of the best in the country, and there’s one for every type of shopper.
Even on the chilliest December days, stay cozy amid twinkling lights and holiday cheer at these seven festivity-filled markets.
Grand Central Holiday Fair
Photo: Grand Central Station
Just a short distance from Mondrian Park Avenue, the Holiday Fair at Grand Central Station offers the perk of keeping you warm indoors while you browse. You’ll find creations by more than 40 vendors, all surrounded by the stunning architecture of Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall, which is an attraction in itself. The fair puts a heavy focus on locally made products from sustainable businesses, so you can feel good about every gift purchase you make. Before you begin browsing, head to Grand Central’s lower level to grab a hot chocolate from Magnolia Bakery. It’s the perfect beverage to sip on as you stroll between stalls.
Holiday Market at The Oculus
The chic, futuristic Oculus is the centerpiece of the Westfield World Trade Center Mall, and during the holiday season, it transforms into a sleek gift-shopping paradise. Dozens of merchant booths, entertainment options, and photo opps make for a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and when you’re ready for a break, the mall’s coveted shops and fantastic restaurants are just a few steps away.
Columbus Circle Holiday Market
This market stands apart from the rest thanks to its excellent location alongside Central Park (and its generous servings of steaming mulled wine). You’ll also find plenty of gourmet eats and other goodies to keep you warm. When you’re done browsing the vendor stalls, you can pop across the street to The Shops at Columbus Circle, a high-end mall in the storied Time Warner Center, for some indoor shopping.
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
Photo: Bryant Park / Colin Miller
Located right next to the New York Public Library (which has a beautiful holiday tree display of its own), the Winter Village at Bryant Park is a bona fide winter wonderland. The star of the show is the skating rink in the center of the park, where you can glide around on the ice without a care in the world (and free admission, at that). The market has dozens of food and gift offerings, and a heated food hall where you can warm up.
Crafts at the Cathedral
Held inside the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, this annual juried craft fair offers up unique gift ideas against a stunning backdrop. The Cathedral has been around since the late 1800s, and its historic architecture and stained-glass windows make the artisans’ creations look that much more beautiful. The use of the church as the fair’s setting is a nod to the churches in medieval Europe that were also used as centers of commerce for local communities. Think of it as shopping with a side of history.
Dover Street Market & Bites at Cleo
Stay warm and stock up on gifts at the indoor Dover Street Market. Inspired by the London market of the same name, Dover Street offers a showcase of cutting-edge, high-end fashion from around the world. The space is open year-round, but it really comes alive in December, when shoppers arrive eager to scoop up the newest looks for everyone on their list. After you’ve worked up an appetite shopping, grab a bite at Cleo, Mondrian Park Avenue’s stylish Mediterranean eatery.
Alsatian Strasbourg Christmas Market
Photo: Strasbourg Christmas Market / Philippe de Rexel
This market in Lower Manhattan’s Bowling Green Park pays homage to the Strasbourg Christmas Market in France, an Alsatian cultural event that has been an annual European fixture since 1570. The new Manhattan outpost of the market will be decorated with a 22-foot tree and will offer an authentic French Christmas Village created by a European design team. Visitors can snack on food from the region and gawk at the market’s photogenic charm — it’s like a miniature European getaway in the heart of the city.
Featured photo courtesy of Strasbourg Christmas Market / Philippe de Rexel
- Story by Claire Hannum