Holiday Villages at Iconic New York Sights
December 9, 2013
NEW YORK, US – It doesn’t take a trip to Barneys New York or Century 21 to know that New Yorkers love to drop a dime on extravagant inessentials. The city is a backdrop for constant disposable-income transactions, from threaded eyebrows at Shobha to vintage duds at Resurrection. But in the holiday season, commercialism as usual takes a back seat to a more thoughtful kind of shopping.
For the month of December, charming markets that appear as if from a fairytale take over a range of our favorite New York sights, peddling festive crafts and elegant wares. Ideally suited for gift shopping, but seasonal sights in and of themselves, the markets are a critical component of the New York Christmas experience. Often in close proximity to related attractions like ice rinks, the holiday villages beg some major priority-organizing. The biggest decision of all, though, is which of the markets to visit first.
Bryant Park: Bank of America Winter Village
In one of New York’s most beloved parks, and in the shadow of one of our favorite hotels, scores of vendors pack just about every inch of pedestrian space except aisles between them. Booths hawking glass pendants (Momo Glassworks) and winter-friendly PJs (The Snooze Shack) and are always warmly lit. In addition to the 125 stalls, Christmas season in Bryant Park brings the popular restaurant pop-up Celsius, a glass-enclosed, heat lamp-lit restaurant overlooking the seasonal ice rink. (Of course, chocolate-truffle desserts are still best left to the Jacques Torres booth that makes an annual appearance.)
Grand Central Terminal: Grand Central Holiday Fair
Below the high ceilings of Vanderbilt Hall blooms one of the city’s best curated markets. In booths that resemble life-size boxes or rooms from a dollhouse, elegant chains drip from jewelry hooks and leather products tempt the last-minute gift-shopper. The market is particularly heavy in home décor goods and has a handful of enchanting children’s shops, such as Madame Alexander Doll Company and Cate and Levi, which sells fun and playful puppets, packs, and stuffed animals.
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine: Crafts at The Cathedral
In contrast to the other markets on our lists, the fair at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine focuses squarely on excellent arts and crafts. Highlights include metalwork like intricately engraved spoons by Megin Diamond and rings by New Traditions Jewelry; clay animal- or human-inspired bowls and pots by Margaret Wozniak Ceramics; and notebooks bound in vintage paper by Tracy Strong Fine Paper Goods. Ever unpretentious, the market also allows potential visitors to print out an online card for a USD 1 discount to start off their shopping on a happy note.
Union Square: The Union Square Holiday Market
This market boasts about bringing together “makers, artists, farmers, and chefs,” and that claim is not far off the mark. Handmade jewelry, colorful abstract paintings, and artisanal kitchen products are the touchstones of this bustling bazaar that in 33 days draws upwards of a million—a million!—shoppers year after year. Some artistic, crafty, or culinary standout stalls include the Brooklyn Brew Shop, which vends beer-making kits; 4mula, which creates glass ornaments of small terrariums; and Himalayan Vision, which beads all-natural bracelets.