As we move closer to ringing in the New Year, there’s still time left to finish gift shopping while also enjoying New York atmosphere at a holiday market around town. There are plenty to choose from. Enjoy numerous stands selling crafts (many of them locally made) and kiosks serving hot cider, hot chocolate and food from around the world. It’s a great way to spend time with friends and family while checking off items from your gift list.
If you’re looking to get your holiday gift shopping finished but can’t stand the thought of having to deal with department store lines or big box stores and you’re looking for gifts that are unique and often locally crafted, consider heading to one of the many holiday markets around New York City. Not only can you make inroads on your gift list, these markets offer food, drink and in some cases, entertainment and are often found in areas that you, family and friends (especially from out of town) would enjoy visiting. Here are some TravelingMom picks.
Out and About at the Holiday Market
Columbus Circle Holiday Market
Perhaps Christopher Columbus’ statue standing overhead feels as if he’s discovered something in the Columbus Circle Holiday Market—found in the shadow of Columbus Circle–on the corner of 59th Street and Central Park West, by the entrance to New York’s Central Park. This market, run by Urbanspace, features more than 100 artisans and local makers and a food court featuring treats from various spots around the world. We saw gifts including jewelry and ornaments starting as low as five-dollars, leather goods, children’s toys (planes, puzzles, sporting goods), spices, jams, syrups and honey and plenty more. With family-style tables in the food court, there was plenty of spiced cider and hot chocolate to sip alongside your grilled cheese, BBQ, La Sonrisa Empanadas, and Lebkuchen (just to name a few of the options). A market “concierge” is available to help you find what you need. You can head out for a jaunt in the park or walk down to see holiday store windows along 5th Avenue straight from there. It’s open from 10am-8pm (M-Sat) and 10am-7pm (Sun) through December 24th.
Union Square Holiday Market
Considered to be one of the top European-style winter markets of the season, this market presented by Urbanspace and the Union Square Partnership has been around for more than 20-years running. Featuring more than 150 vendors, this year’s market boasts multiple performance stages, lighting displays and a warming station. A crafting booth for children is sponsored by the Children’s Museum of the Arts allowing them to make crafts and ornaments. A “Little Brooklyn” section is devoted to locally made items for the home and your stomach. Vendors there include the Bedford Cheese Shop and The Strand. Hours are 11am-8pm (M-F), 10am-8pm (Sat) and 11am-7pm (Sun). Open through December 24th.
Garment District Holiday Market
This is a new market project for the Urbanspace group (and still in its infancy), but located along Broadway between 39th and 41st in New York’s historic Garment District, are more than 30 vendors in its first year. Included are Kubiya Games, Rosie’s Poutine Kitchen, and a Stella Artois Beer tasting trailer. Hours are 11am-8pm and it’s open through December 24th.
Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
One of the lovely advantages of the market at Bryant Park is not only can you shop in more than 125 kiosks and food vendors, but you can take advantage of the free ice-skating (if you bring your own skates; otherwise skate rental is $19) at Bryant Park’s outdoor rink. Shops feature jewelry, holiday decorations, local foods, and even items for your pets. The shops at this market often have international appeal and offer plenty of vendors that look to source (locally if possible) with organic, natural products that have low environmental impact. If you’re heading there to skate and shop on the weekends assume you’ll be skating on a crowded rink! Hours: 11am-8pm (M-F), 10am-9pm (Sat), 10am-6pm (Sun) through January 3rd.
Grand Central Holiday Fair
Operating in its 16th year, this holiday fair is inside of New York’s beautiful Grand Central Terminal. More than 75 vendors can be found in Vanderbilt Hall offering gifts including clothing, art, home goods, toys, leather goods, jewelry and body goods. Easy to get to if you come in by train or subway the station is a landmark that should be seen and appreciated. You could also take a walking tour of the station while you’re there (although best to arrange that in advance if possible.) Hours: 10am-8pm (M-Sat), 11am-7pm (Sun), Close at 6pm on Christmas Eve.
Brooklyn Flea (And Smorgasburg) Holiday Market
As a Brooklynite, I’m a fan of the Brooklyn Flea because in addition to all of the brand new items, there are plenty of vintage finds to be had as well. This market and food fair move around to different sites depending on the month and season, but in the winter months, Brooklyn Flea moves inside. Right now it’s in a 50,000 square foot space in Industry City (which is located in Sunset Park). More than 100 vendors can be found there selling vintage housewares and clothing, furniture, collectibles and crafts. There are 40 Smorgasburg vendors cooking up plenty of delicious food and drink. Hours: 10am-6pm (Sat and Sun)
Head to Queens on market days to scope out this market specializing in artisanal and vintage goods. Located in Queen’s famous Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden (in the main hall) there are plenty of Queens based makers and craftsmen and you’ll find items ranging from chocolates to pottery to jewelry to vintage merchandise. There are many items to “taste test” as you head down the aisles! Hours: 12pm-6pm on December 13 and 20th.
Local Markets Near You
Don’t forget to check your local churches, synagogues, historical societies, libraries and schools for special holiday fairs in the coming weeks as well. Not only may you find that special something for that special someone, you also may be able to help out an institution that you stand behind by ensuring that they benefit from a portion of your shopping proceeds.