NYC holiday market

The ultimate NYC holiday market – Union Square. Credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

NYC holiday markets offer free festive fun; stroll these markets and get into the holiday spirit!

Outdoor holiday markets are a festive way to celebrate the season – and if you just look, you don’t have to spend any money.

New York City has three well-established holiday markets, in Union Square, Columbus Circle, and surrounding the free ice skating rink at Bryant Park.

The biggest of the three, , opened in November with over 150 shops, including a “Little Brooklyn” section that highlights local artisans. Somehow New York doesn’t seem as cold when you are shopping in the park, or just looking at all the festive decorations.

There are also often giveways and free samples at the shops. The Union Square Holiday Market is open until December 24th.

NYC holiday market

The free ice skating rink at Bryant Park, part of the NYC holiday market. Credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TravelingMom

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park offers 125 specialty vendors, plus free access to its outdoor rink, and if you bring your own skates, you can take a spin at absolutely no cost. The rink is open daily, November 1 – March 2.

The Bryant Park Holiday shops, open October 30 – January 3, 2016, also have special events where you can taste food for free and win gift certificates. Santa’s Corner, open daily, December 18 – 24, 1pm – 3pm, lets you take photos of your children with Santa for free.

The Columbus Circle Holiday Market, little sister to the Union Square Holiday Market,  will be open from December 3rd until December 24th. There are 100 vendors, and if you get food or drink, you can sit at the picnic tables.