From November through March, Bryant Park transforms into a winter wonderland. The Bryant Park Winter Village is primarily a holiday market and ice rink, but there’s a few other things to do there, too. In this post, we’ll outline all of the offerings at Bryant Park Winter Village, including lots of details on ice skating specifically. I hope this helps you plan a perfect visit.
What is Bryant Park Winter Village
Bryant Park Winter Village is a seasonal event at Bryant Park in New York City. It has some Christmasy components, but the winter event continues well into the new year until almost spring. The event itself is free and open to the public, but some elements require reservations and additional fees.
At the center of the Winter Village is the ice skating rink. The ice rink at Bryant Park is 17,000 square feet, which is larger than the rink at Rockefeller Center (7,200 square feet) but smaller than Wollman Rink at Central Park (33,000 square feet). Timed reservations are required and must be purchased in advance online.
Looking out onto the skating rink is The Lodge, which is a temperature controlled food hall and bar. It’s the largest full-service bar at the Winter Village and has a decent menu of German foods (mainly sausages and pretzels), plus some sweet shops. Beyond the food hall, there is an additional line up of food vendors serving up a variety of sweet and savory menu items.
Encircling the entire park is the holiday market. There are over 150 vendors selling a variety of goods. Market stalls offer a wide range of souvenirs and gifts ranging from toys and games to handmade jewelry to specialty food items. The market is organized by category, and there are maps posted throughout the park if you’re looking for something specific.
Lastly, the Winter Village has some more expensive attractions intended for small groups. You can reserve a cozy igloo or a private curling lane for parties up to eight. Both of these options are sold as packages with food and non-alcoholic beverages included.
The market will also offer bumper cars on ice starting in January.
Ice Skating at Bryant Park Winter Village
One of the highlights of Bryant Park Winter Village is the ice rink. Ice Skating at Bryant Park requires timed reservations and has variable skate-rental pricing. Skating is free if you have your own skates. All reservations are for 55 minutes of skating time, which includes the time it takes you to put on your skates. There is no specific age or height requirement for skating at Bryant Park, but children will need to be about two years old before they can fit into the smallest pair of ice skates available to rent.
Let’s go through some of the details for ice skating at Bryant Park Winter Village.
Timed reservations are required to ice skate at Bryant Park. If you need to rent skates, you will be charged a rental fee when you make your reservation. Prices vary based on the date and time of your visit and range from $18 to $55. Reservations with skate rentals are opened in batches and are typically available a month or more in advance.
You can ice skate for free at Bryant Park if you have your own skates. However, you will still need to book a timed reservation. Free reservations for guests with their own skates are released daily, one week in advance. For example, if you log in on Thursday, December 1, you will be able to book through the following Thursday, December 8.
When you make your reservation, you also have the chance to pay in advance for a checked bag. Shoe storage is free, but storing a standard bag costs $5 and an oversize item (e.g. stroller or car seat) costs $15. Bag check prices are the same if you purchase it at the rink. Buying in advance just saves you some time.
There are other add-ons available for purchase when you arrive at the rink.
- Skate Aid for children: $22+ (free weekdays before noon and weekends/holidays before 11, while supplies last)
- Helmet Rental: Free
- Socks: $6
- Skate Sharpening: $40 while you wait or $20 with 24-hour turnaround
Check in & Skate Rental
After you complete your booking online, you’ll get a ticket with a QR code sent to your email. You do not need to print your ticket and can scan it directly from your phone.
When you arrive at Bryant Park, proceed to the check-in desk located beside the skating rink, opposite the food hall. Check-in officially begins 15 minutes prior to the scheduled reservation time. After they scan your ticket, you’ll be given a paper tag on an elastic band to wear during your skating session.
Then you’ll be sent to queue for skate rentals. Ice skate rentals at Bryant Park are available for children (size 6-4) and adults (5-14.) Children’s sizes are unisex figure skates with a toe-pick. Women’s skates are also figure skates with a toe-pick. Men’s skates are hockey style. All skates lace up with hooks and extra long laces.
I’m not a professional skater, but the rental skates were functionally sharp. There was an option to sharpen your skates for an additional fee, but I believe this was primarily for people bringing their own skates.
Ample benches and seating is available near the skate rental area to change into your skates.
Around the corner from the skate rental window was bag and shoe check. Shoe check is included for free and bag check was available for an additional fee ($5 standard, $15 extra large). No personal items could be left in this area or taken with you on the ice. If you need to purchase add-ons like skate support for a child, you can do that at this window, too.
Each session is scheduled for 55 minutes, which includes the time it takes to put on your skates and check your bags. Check-in opens 15 minutes prior to your scheduled start time, so you can get your skates and get ready early. We recommend arriving 20 minutes in advance so you can be at the front of the queue, get your skates first and be ready to skate for the full 55 minutes.
The ice is cleared and resurfaced between each session. During our visit — which was an unseasonably warm 68 degrees — it took them longer than usual to resurface the ice. We weren’t allowed onto the ice until 12 minutes after our scheduled start time, which cut our skating time down to 43 minutes.
Once the rink opens for your session, you can skate as much as you like. There are benches available near the skating area if you need a break. You can move between the rink and this rest area as often as you like. Once you exit beyond this area (clearly marked), you cannot return.
There are no phones allowed on the ice rink. You can have them on you, but they have to stay in your pocket. That means if you want to take photos, someone will need to take them from the rest area off the rink.
Ice Skating with children at Bryant Park Winter Village
Bryant Park Winter Village is billed as a family-friendly event, but just how old does a child need to be to go ice skating? There’s no official age requirement, but based on recent experience with a 2.25-year-old, I would say children two and up can go ice skating at Bryant Park.
They still need pretty substantial help at that age, but they can still lace up and give it a go. Babies cannot be carried on the ice rink, so younger children who can’t yet fit into the smallest skates and/or stand on their own will not be allowed to participate.
Ice skates at Bryant Park Winter Village are available in toddler sizes 6 through 10 and kid sizes from 11 to 4. Our child was 2.25 years old when we took them, and they typically wear a toddler size 6 sneaker. We got the smallest ice skates available at Bryant Park, which were size 6. They were a little big, but with some tight lacing they were functional.
Our child is very active and can walk and run on their own, which is a prerequisite to ice skating. Once they saw other people ice skating when we arrived, they were immediately excited and wanted to try it. This is pretty much essential, because it would be really hard to force a protesting toddler onto the ice.
Skate aids are available and shaped like penguins and snowmen, which also helped lure our kid onto the ice. The skate aids are available in two different sizes based on the child’s height. There’s a height stick on the wall which will help you determine which size is right for your child.
Hot tip! Book your reservation on a weekdays before noon or weekends/holidays before 11 AM and skate aid rental is free.
We took our first lap without the aid. We mostly just held our child’s hand and pulled them along, despite recommendations against it from guides on teaching your child to ice skate. Since we weren’t training a professional skater, we decided it was fine if they didn’t learn the proper technique right away.
Then we took a few laps with the skate aid. At two, our child wasn’t yet able to skate on their own even with the aid. It did help give them something to balance on, and then we took turns skating behind them with our hands under their arms for backup. Our child was more interested in petting the penguin, though, so it was honestly more of a distraction. We switched to just pulling them for the rest of our session.
We had two adults sharing kid duty, and after a few laps our backs were already hurting. If you’re skating with a small toddler, prepare for a workout! If that doesn’t interest you, you might want to wait until they’re three or four and can skate on their own a bit better.
After about thirty minutes, our little one told us they were “all done” and they were ready to leave. We were fine with that, because our backs were pretty sore by then. But ever since we left, they’ve been asking for “more ice skating” and “more penguins,” so it’s safe to say they loved it and we’ll be back.
Eating and Drinking at Bryant Park Winter Village
Whether you’re looking for a full meal, a little something sweet or maybe a festive cocktail, you’re in luck at Bryant Park Winter Village. There are several different places to purchase and enjoy food and beverages at the event.
The main restaurant is The Lodge, which is a temperature-controlled food hall and bar that overlooks the skating rink. Inside there are a couple different bars, food booths and lots of seating. Alcohol is available for purchase in The Lodge, but must be kept within a designated area.
The Lodge serves up meat/cheese boards, Bavarian pretzels, french fries with a handful of toppings/dips and a variety of sausages (including a vegan option). Beer, wine and hot and cold seasonal and classic cocktails are also available. Think hot mulled wine, apple cider margarita or maybe a maple bourbon old fashion.
If you’re looking for more variety, head into the market where you’ll discover a wider variety of food vendors. Most of the food booths are located on the south end of the park near the carousel and along the ice rink. There’s a range of cuisines including Mexican, German and Asian, as well as burgers, chicken, cheese steaks and more. We tried all of the vegan empanadas from Nada’s Empanadas and loved them all, particularly the black bean.
Got a sweet tooth? You’re in luck. I couldn’t pass up the s’more booth where they had a slew of tempting artisanal marshmallow flavors, hand-torched on the spot! My M&M-loving toddler was won over by a giant cookie covered in M&Ms, which was a surprise to no one. There was also doughnuts, stroopwafels and so. Much. Chocolate. And since it’s not a Christmas market without cocoa, be sure to grab a mug from one of several spots around the market.
While The Lodge is the only indoor seating, this is a decent amount of outdoor seating available around the park. There are several tables located near the skating rink and near the main food vendor section near the carousel. More tables are scatted around the rest of the park and market, with relatively high turnover.
There’s also several public bathrooms in Bryant Park, including in the north east corner and the south side by the carousel. Bathrooms are also available inside The Lodge.
Shopping at Bryant Park Winter Village
If you’re not ice skating or eating at Bryant Park Winter Village, you’re shopping. The holiday market at Bryant Park takes over most of the space at Bryant Park. There are over 150 vendors categorized under apparel & accessories, artwork, gifts, health & beauty, home, jewelry, kids & games, provisions, sweets and food & drink.
Many of the vendors are local to New York and/or offer hand-crafted goods and gifts. It’s a good place to shop for unique gifts for a variety of recipients in one place.
There were a few things specifically that grabbed our attention. Jewels by Atlantis had really cool necklaces made out of old subway train tokens. My little one loved the fun animal inspired hats and gloves at Nirvanna Designs, and I loved that proceeds supported Nepalese women. Last but not least, my husband loved all of the shirts at PASTE by Jason Laurits and was totally paralyzed by choice.
Another cool feature of the Bryant Park Winter Village market is that they have a rotating Small Business Spotlight. Every two-weeks, a different minority-owned small business has the chance to showcase their products in a prime location near Lowell Fountain and the park’s west entrance.
From what we saw and experienced, most of the vendors all took credit cards. However, it would helpful to have some cash on you for small purchases. Small businesses have to pay fees on credit card transactions, so if you’re buying something cheap that fee can cut into their profits.
Group Packages at Bryant Park Winter Village
Bryant Park Winter Village has a couple package experiences that are great if you’re visiting with a small group. These packages are available for smaller parties of one or two, but the higher price point makes them more appealing for slightly larger groups.
There are two package reservations options available at Bryant Park Winter Village: private igloos and reserved curling lanes. Both experiences last for 90 minutes and allow up to eight people.
The private cozy igloos are located between the skating rink and the Christmas tree. Each dome is temperature controlled and made of a clear material so you can enjoy views of the Winter Village. To reserve an igloo, you must purchase a food and drink package which includes a warm non-alcoholic beverage, entree selection, popcorn and fries. Prices vary based on the date and range from $215-$265 for 1-4 guests and $430 to $530 for 5-8 guests.
For a bit more, you can reserve a private curling lane. The curling lanes are outdoors and located near Bryant Park Cafe on the northeast corner of the park. To reserve a curling lane, you’ll also need to purchase a food and drink package which includes a warm non-alcoholic beverage, entree selection and fries. Each curling lane reservation also includes a private, heated igloo where you can warm up with your teammates between throws. Prices vary based on the date and start at $300.
We personally have not done either of these experiences. It just wasn’t worth it for just the three of us. However, I love the idea of the private curling lane if either of our parents were visiting.
Plan your visit to Bryant Park Winter Village
Okay, ready to head to Bryant Park? Let’s cover some of the essential planning details.
How to get there
Bryant Park Winter Village is located at Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan. There are several entrances to the park, but the main entrance is on 6th Avenue and 41st Street.
Like most places in Manhattan, it’s easy to get to the market by subway. The closest stations are 42 Street – Bryant Park (B, D, F & M trains), 5th Ave (7 train), Times Square – 42nd Street (N, Q, R & W trains) and Grand Central (4, 5, 6 & 7 trains).
Each component of the Winter Village has slightly different hours.
- Ice Skating: Monday through Wednesday 8 AM – 10 PM. Thursday through Sunday (plus holidays) 8 AM – Midnight.
- The Lodge food hall & bar: Monday through Wednesday 10 AM – 10 PM. Thursday through Sunday (plus holidays) 8 AM – Midnight.
- Holiday Market: Monday through Friday 11 AM – 8 PM. Saturday & Sunday 10 AM – 8 PM. (hours may vary by shop on holidays)
Want to know when all of the things are open? All components of Bryant Park Winter Village are open Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 8 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 8 PM.
We mention prices throughout this post, but here’s a summary of base pricing.
- General Admission: Free
- Ice Skating: $18 to $55 (free if you have your own skates)
- Cozy Igloos: $215 – $530
- Private Curling Lane: $300+
- Food, beverages & shopping: As much as you wish
How long does it take
The Bryant Park Winter Village can really be whatever you want it to be. You can take a quick stroll through the market in about 30 minutes or you could easily spend half a day or more if you plan to ice skate and enjoy some food or drinks.
If you’re visiting with children, we would suggest spending about three hours at Bryant Park Winter Village. That gives you time for ice skating, a lap through the market and a meal or some treats at a leisurely pace. If it’s cold, I would drop that down to only two hours.
If you’re visiting without children, I’d suggest allotting a full four hours at Bryant Park. That will give you time for ice skating, relaxed shopping and will leave you plenty of time for a few drinks at The Lodge.
Tips for visiting Bryant Park Winter Village
- Make ice skating reservations as early as possible. Popular dates and times can book up days and even weeks in advance. That said, it is possible to book the same day if slots are available.
- Arrive 20 minutes early for ice skating check-in. Registration opens 15 minutes before your scheduled time, but the queue starts forming before that. Try to get in line early, so you can get your skates on early, so you can have as long as possible to skate during your session.
- Book a morning time if you’re skating with kids. Skate aids for children can cost $22 or more to rent. However, if you visit on weekdays before noon and weekends/holidays before 11 they are FREE! Plus the rink tends to be less crowded, which is better for kids.
- Book private packages early. Cozy igloos and curling lanes tend to book up pretty quickly. In 2022, popular December dates were fully booked before the end of November.
- Dress the for the weather. We lucked into an unseasonably warm 68-degree November day, but that won’t always be the case. This event is primarily outdoors so be sure to bundle up on a cold day.
Looking for more Christmas things to do in New York City?
Check out what else is on our list of Christmas things to do in New York this holiday season!