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Central Park
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

The 50 best winter activities for kids in NYC

No time to hibernate! NYC's winter activities for kids will help your crew make the most out of the cold-weather months!

By Danielle Valente and Allie Early

The most delightful winter activities for kids will have you singing "Let It Snow." 

Now is the time to conquer those steep sledding hills and lace up for ice skating in NYC. Sure the temperatures are wicked, but with the help of a warm winter coat and a mug of hot cocoa, you will be ready to tackle any adventure that awaits. 

Plus, there are plenty of indoor activities for kids worth exploring: from pop-ups to escape rooms to cooking classes and book clubs. (Whether you're staying in or going out, hot chocolate should be a requirement.) 

Don't forget to also check out our go-to Christmas events for kids like The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting and so much more! 

Best winter activities for kids

Photograph: Paul Kolnik

1. Christmas events for kids

Things to do

The most wonderful time of year is fast approaching, so check out these magical Christmas events for kids in NYC. From the Winter Family Fair at the Morgan to Macy's Santaland, Gotham is bustling with winter goodness. This year marks the return of the beloved Bronx Zoo Holiday Light Show, along with other luminous affairs, including the Hello Panda Fest and NYC Winter Lantern Fest. 

Photograph: Courtesy Michael Moran

2. Ice skating

Things to do

From Prospect Park to Rockefeller Center, NYC's best ice skating spots will keep you busy all winter long! Lace up and take a few loops around the rink (rentals are available if needed). Most locations have lessons, group sessions and even parties! Might we suggest refueling with hot chocolate?


3. Central Park


We sure love to visit Central Park when the picnic weather is fine, but did you know there’s still plenty to do in the area during wintertime? Don’t miss the annual Winter Jam (typically in January), when Central Park makes snow and lets kids try out some cool winter sports and games. You can also go ice skating at Wollman or Lasker rinks or catch a show at Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre.

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

4. Sledding hills

Things to do Quirky events

When Elsa sends a blizzard our way, your brood will ditch those indoor activities for kids and opt for tallest hill he or she can find. We mapped out our go-to kids' playgrounds and parks equipped with the perfect slopes for sledding in NYC, from  Central Park to Van Cortlandt Park. 

Photograph: Courtesy Random House Children's Books/Per Breiehagen

5. Holiday books

Things to do

When your family grows tired of the tried and true classics, grab these newer titles to refresh your holiday spirit. These children’s picture books and chapter books will have the little ones gathering around for story time and may very well become their favorite tales season after season.

Macy's Herald Square Santaland
Photograph: Courtesy Diane Bondareff

6. Macy's Santaland 2019

News Events & Festivals

Indulge in peppermint and break out an ugly Christmas sweater for this holly, jolly news: Macy's Santaland 2019 will run from Nov 29–Dec 24, and we're feeling festive just thinking about the celebration that awaits. Every year, the eighth floor of the Herald Square shop transforms into a winter wonderland. Expect 13,000 square feet of holiday goodness, which in years past has included a rainbow bridge to a giant Lionel train-scape, Santa's workshop, Christmas trees and of course, the man in the red suit. If the kiddos are anxious to see St. Nick, here's what you need to know!  Meet and greets with Kris Kringle will begin Nov 29, and visitors will be able to RSVP online beginning Nov 25. 

Unsilent Night
Photograph: Dorret Oosterhof

7. Unsilent Night

This musical performance piece, dreamed up by composer Phil Kline, is downtown’s decidedly arty, secular answer to Christmas caroling. Boombox-toting participants gather under the Washington Square arch, where they are given a cassette or CD of one of four different atmospheric tracks; you can also download the Unsilent Night app and sync up via smartphone. Everyone presses play at the same time and marches through the streets of New York together, blending their music and filling the air with a beautiful, echoing 45-minute piece. The NYC event will take place on Dec 15 at 6pm. Learn more online

Photograph: Courtesy @flobacci on Instagram

8. The GIANT Room

Things to do Classes and workshops Chelsea

The GIANT Room is a new innovation space for tiny New Yorkers with big dreams. Now operating at 550 W 28th St, the venue set up roots just in time for the colder months (when parents desperately need recs for indoor activities for kids).  The hub is geared toward visitors ages 3–12 who are curious about STEAM studies and art classes for kids. Arguably one of the main draws to the space is the "Blank Canvas," where participants help piece together a new monthly exhibit for The GIANT Room's gallery. Plus, exciting workshops, including "Storytelling, Animation and Character Design" and "Design and Fabrication," are also available. There are options to participate in after-school sessions ($50/session), open studios ($25) and day camps ($200).

Photograph: Courtesy New York Botanical Garden

9. Holiday train shows

Things to do Exhibitions

Winter is upon us, and it's time to check out a holiday train show for kids. New York has some of the best displays anywhere. Include a detour for a mug of the best hot chocolate in NYC and you'll have a magical day full of family fun. 

Best winter activities for kids

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

11. Hanukkah events for kids

Things to do

First in a month full of exciting festivities, Hanukkah kicks off the holiday spirit! Use the family time to catch a massive menorah lighting, enjoy latkes and more. 

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

12. Winter weekend getaways


These winter weekend getaways will brighten up the season for you and your family! Pack your warmest clothes, pile everyone in the car and get ready for some serious car sing alongs—it's time to have some fun in the snow. Want your kid to learn how to ski? These family-friendly ski resorts near NYC have amazing ski schools that are perfect for first-timers, and offer reasonably-priced beginner's packages. Skiing isn't for everybody, and these awesome ski areas also have plenty of off-piste fun, from snow tubing in NY tubing to horse-drawn sleighs. If the mountains aren't your thing, what about a snowy vintage train ride, or a water park that feels tropical year-round, or a cozy hotel where you can sip mugs of cocoa by the fire? 

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

13. Christmas tree farms near NYC

Things to do Markets and fairs

Channel your inner Clark Griswold and make a visit to our favorite Christmas tree farms near NYC...just make sure you plan more wisely than our favorite holiday funnyman.  At these venues, including Barclay's Christmas Tree Farm and Hardwick Tree Farm, you and your family can have the experience of cutting down your own Serbian spruce (or calling for an S-O-S when need be). Think of how gorgeous your hand-picked 2019 tree will look with the ornaments, lights and tree topper!

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

14. Snow tubing


We guarantee the best snow tubing in NY and the surrounding areas make for fantastic winter weekend getaways (or day trips), so grab a heavy coat and wear a durable pair of snow shoes. From Camelback Mountain to Mount Peter, our favorite  spots provide a little something for all of the thrill-seekers in your brood (and some locales offer hot chocolate when you need to refuel). Whether you're on your belly or teaming up with your family for a little friendly competition, you'll have a blast. (We have a feeling you'll want to sign up for multiple tubing sessions). See you at the bottom of the hill! 

Photograph: Courtesy Doubleday Books for Young Readers/ Honeyky Hanukah

15. Read a Hanukkah book

Things to do

Let the joy of Hanukkah extend beyond its designated eight days with the help of these children’s books. There’s a lot to love with selections such as The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin and Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins. After the family’s festivities wind down, tuck the kids in with one of these fun stories. One per night? Sounds like a solid plan to us!

Photograph: Courtesy Twinkle Playspace

16. Indoor playgrounds

Sports and fitness Gyms and fitness centers

Winter weather won't ruin your kid's parade. These indoor playgrounds are perfect for running, jumping, sliding and swinging, and options are endless—whether your child wants to play in ball pits or have fun in a music in dance class. Added bonus? Many cater to parents with designated café areas. 

Photograph: Courtesy Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort

17. Family ski trips

Travel Getaways

We're lucky to live in a city where there's plenty to do as a family, no matter what the weather is like—from cool NYC museum exhibits to awesome classes and workshops, there's no shortage of indoor activities for kids. Sometimes, though, the great outdoors beckons, and these seven ski trips for families are the perfect way to heed the call. 

Photograph: Courtesy Jon Miller

18. Kids' museums in NYC

Museums Childhood

These legendary NYC museums never cease to amaze us with their ever-changing offerings, and many of the picks on our list offer exhibits that children can actually touch and play in (vs observing items hiding behind glass). We’re all for playing and learning at the same time, so why not pay CMOM, Brooklyn Children’s museum and Staten Island Children’s Museum a visit?

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

19. Broadway shows for kids


Family-friendly performances range from retellings of Disney princess movies, to musical adaptations of your go-to movies for tweens, to a surprise hit about an obscure airport in Newfoundland. The Great White Way offers something for all ages, and the lineup is totally grool (if you catch our drift).(Psst: There are plenty of ways to get tickets cheaply enough!)


Best winter activities for kids

Photograph: Courtesy FunFuzion

21. Indoor amusement parks

Attractions Arcades and amusements

These indoor amusement parks and fun zones near New York City are a great fit for restless kids! Sometimes the weather just doesn’t permit a visit to Luna Park, so options like Kidz Village in New Jersey or Bowlmor Times Square can sate your crew’s craving for adventure (at least for an afternoon).

Photograph: Courtesy Kevin Winzeler / Sky Zone

22. Trampoline park spots

Things to do Play spaces

Since the weather is frightful, you’ll just have to move the fun indoors. Trampoline parks and bounce houses are great indoor activities for kids who want to run wild! Let them get all of that energy out before coming home. We'll help you find the perfect venues. After all, we believe the best family attractions don't necessarily require shoes.  

Photograph: Courtesy Escape the Room

23. Escape rooms for kids

Things to do

These fantastic escape rooms for kids offer themed challenges that no kid—even your teens—can resist! New York's biggest new family entertainment trend lets you, your kids (and their friends, if you're brave enough to invite even more adventurers) strategize to escape from a thief's house, help a space ship make its way home and even basically pretend to be Indian Jones right here in the city. While some escape rooms are better suited for an older crowd, these picks are perfect for visitors of most ages. Read on for our recommendations! 

Photograph: Courtesy Beat the Bomb

24. Beat the Bomb

Things to do Quirky events South Brooklyn

Think you have what it takes to beat the bomb? Fingers crossed you're ready for the challenge! This escape room-like activity encourages participants to disarm a giant paint ball in an immersive video game-like setting before time runs out. Those who don't? Well, it'll be a colorful mess, that's for sure. Ages 8 and up. 

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

25. Book club for kids

Things to do Literary events

So many stories, so little time. Our favorite book clubs for kids will ensure that your budding bibliophile is reading the coolest picks on the bestseller list (and beyond)!  Venture to indie book stores in NYC for a list of gatherings geared toward youngsters. Not only will they fall in love with new authors and genres, but they'll be able to chat with friends about those chapters they wish never came to an end.  If your Matilda in the making can't get enough, don't just settle for the best book clubs for kids NYC families swear by. Be sure to also venture to our go-to kids' library branches and sit in on an engaging storytime for kids. 

Photograph: Courtesy Colin Miller

26. Holiday markets in NYC

Shopping Markets and fairs

The calendar says Dec 25 is fast approaching! Head to holiday markets in NYC to find a special gift for your loved ones.  Why not make a day of it? Dress in layers (you'll thank us later), sip on the tastiest hot chocolate in NYC and peruse the vendors! You'll find plenty of toys, accessories and other nifty trinkets. 

Bar Pisellino Hot Chocolate
Photograph: Oliver Strand

27. Hot chocolate in NYC


The hot chocolate in NYC has never been better! There are so many amazing, high-quality options in this city that you could take your kid on a season-long cocoa crawl, and try everything from classic cups to more creative expressions: cardamom almond milk hot chocolate, anyone? 

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Mark Baylor

28. Elf on the Shelf ideas

Things to do Games and hobbies

Kids will always want to snag a space on the "nice" list, yet chances are they're participating in activities that are perfect for any "naughty" list contender. No surprise there! That's where the Elf on the Shelf comes in. This little friend is always watching to ensure that youngsters are acting the way they should be during the holiday season. We can't help but love parents' creativity, so if you're curious about where you should hide your teeny holiday friend this year, let this guide be your inspiration. Prepare to LOL at some of the silliest spots. You will love this new holiday tradition!

Photograph: © Warner Brothers/ABC Family

29. Christmas movies for kids

Things to do

With so many festive Christmas events for kids and families—the return of the Bronx Zoo Holiday Light Show, a loop around Macy's Santaland and so on—it's kind of hard not to get excited about winter. After a long day exploring new happenings, you'll want to curl up on the couch and get cozy while watching classics (Miracle on the 34th St, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) or new favorites (Elf, The Polar Express).  Fortunately, our list of flicks has 'em all! 

Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

30. Christmas songs for kids

Things to do

As Buddy the Elf once said,“The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” If you want to make one of the silliest holiday characters in town proud, you’re going to need to jam to the best Christmas songs for kids. From classics like “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Feliz Navidad,” our roundup has rocking beats that will make the Christmas spirit contagious.

Best winter activities for kids

FAO Schwarz
Photograph: Danielle Valente

31. FAO Schwarz

News Shopping & Style

We've been crossing days off our calendars, waiting for the moment when FAO Schwarz promises we'll "return to wonder." Well NYC, wonder no more because the anticipation is over. The beloved toy store opened the doors to its new permanent home at 30 Rock, and the endless stacks of empty red shopping bags aren't going to fill themselves. The palpable void that came with FAO's Fifth Ave closure in 2015—and the subsequent demise of Toys “R” Us earlier this year—was difficult to bear, but we can all rest assured that there will still be a place for New Yorkers to go when they need a teddy...and then some. From stuffed animals and board games to dolls and STEM products, FAO's selection is nothing short of generous. All interests will find something that strikes their fancy, but perhaps what's so lovable about the store is the extra step it takes to make the experience interactive. Not only will kiddies be able to find a new furry friend or snag Hatchimals eggs, but they'll be able to enjoy hands-on activities (some of which are free) that'll spark a bit of imagination and playfulness.

Photograph: Courtesy MICRO

32. Underrated museums


Although trips to the Museum of Natural History are always crowd pleasers, the long winter offers plenty of opportunities for New Yorkers to spice up their routines. Explore exhibit offerings at smaller venues such as The Skyscraper Museum or Historic Richmond Town—equally exciting places to bring the family. There are plenty of new things to discover, and every once in a while, you’ll need a break from the dinos.

Photograph: Courtesy Green Apron

33. Cooking classes for kids

Things to do Classes and workshops

The holidays are a great time of year to test out new recipes and introduce little ones to the ins and outs of the kitchen (and give mom and dad a hand when the preparation becomes excessive). Let your pint-sized chefs help prepare a few meals for the festivities after they’ve mastered one of NYC’s best cooking classes for kids. From sweet desserts to healthy meals, these courses offer something for all ages and palettes. Bon appétit!

Photograph: Courtesy Schmackary's

34. Cookie delivery services


Sometimes bundling up in a winter ensemble is just too much to bear. Swap the coat and scarf for some jammies and let the treats come to you. The best cookie delivery services in NYC—Levain Bakery, Schmackary’s, to name a few—bring top-notch sweets right right to the comfort of your home. If you’re in the middle of a fun holiday movie or can’t quite find the strength to brave the cold, this is the perfect way to snag some dessert without any winter discomfort...just make sure you have some hot cocoa before you order!

Photograph: Courtesy of Sahara Sam's Oasis Water Park

35. Indoor water parks NY families love

Things to do Play spaces

When the weather outside is frightful, plan a family trip to where it's delightful: Wintertime is the best time for the best indoor water parks close to NYC. Pack your swimsuits and get ready for one of the best winter weekend getaways you can have. A few of these indoor water parks are parts of family resorts that have stay-and-play packages, so check to see if admission is included in the price of the room. Some are even located in the best ski resorts near NYC. Talk about the best of both worlds! This list includes the yet-to-open DreamWorks Water Park at the American Dream Mall in Rutherford, NJ. When it welcomes its first guests at the end of November 2019, it will be the second-largest indoor water park in the country.

Courtesy American Dream

36. American Dream Mall

News City Life

"Mall" isn't necessarily an accurate way to describe American Dream.  Sure, the long-awaited Jersey attraction boasts hundreds of retail options, from Zara and H&M to Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co., but the three-million-square-foot destination is definitely an entertainment hub that needs to be on your radar.  The estimated $5 billion project from Triple Five Group, the masterminds behind the Mall of America in Minnesota, worked to ensure that the Meadowlands shopping and entertainment behemoth is the talk of the town. Here's what you can look forward to:  Nickelodeon Universe (Opens Oct 25), DreamWorks Water Park (Opens Nov 27), Big SNOW Ski and Snowboard Park (Opens Dec 5) and SO much more. 

Photograph: Courtesy Goldfish Swim School

37. Swimming lessons for kids (Goldfish Swim School)

News Sports & Fitness

A Goldfish Swim School is set to open mid-January in a former warehouse at 620 Degraw St in Gowanus. Haven't heard of Goldfish? That's understandable—this will be the first NYC outpost of the franchise that will have more than 100 locations nationwide by the end of the year. Here's why we think it's going to be one of the best indoor swimming pools in NYC for families. The water at Goldfish is always heated to a tropical 90 degrees. This makes splashing around in the pool seem like bath time. No need to convince the kids to jump into a cold pool because "it'll warm up"—they'll get right in. The pools are geared toward children  Goldfish is only for swimmers between the ages of four months and 12 years, and the rooms are bright and cheerful. Just like all of the best swimming pools for kids in NYC, these pools are scaled to the needs of young swimmers—your kids won't need to share a multipurpose lap pool with adults and teenagers. 

38. Family dinner ideas


Yum! These tasty family dinner ideas from bloggers like Oh, Sweet Basil, Teach Eat Love and One Hungry Mama will have your little ones rushing to the table (and finishing their plates without a fuss)! Be sure to explore our favorite recipes for kids from NYC restaurants, our 50 favorite family restaurants in NYC and top it all off with a cone from one of these sweet ice cream shops.


39. Build a snowman

While adults might not be terribly pleased about commuting in the snow, kids pray for fierce winter weather, and rightfully so. Once NYC is transformed into a bright-white blanket, it’s go time. Grab accessories, carrots and buttons to create a unique, trendy snowman that adds some flair to NYC winters.

Best winter activities for kids

Photograph: Courtesy Aviator Sports + Dillon Clancy

41. Ice bumper cars

News Sports & Fitness

An amusement park staple is getting a wintry makeover.  If your little ones can't find their balance while ice skating in NYC, why not give ice bumper cars a try? They're making a Kings County debut, and deserve prime-time real estate on your winter bucket list.  Venture to Aviator Sports, the gracious host of Big Bounce America, for the super-cool experience. Taking a cue from the Winter Village at Bryant Park, one of Brooklyn's most popular family attractions will offer families (with kids ages 7 and up) a chance to enjoy a 15-minute session for $13 on a first-come, first-serve basis. Time to channel those Coney Island summer days, but with a few cold-weather modifications!

Photograph: Courtesy Museum of Ice Cream

42. Museum of Ice Cream

News Eating

A delightful treat is headed to NYC this season, and you definitely need the full scoop (pun intended). According to a breaking newsletter from the Museum of Ice Cream, the masterminds who delighted tastebuds with the Pint Shop last summer, a flagship SoHo store will make its delicious debut this winter and feature exhibits, a shop, a café and naturally, creamy goodness. We have a feeling this three-floor bonanza will be a hit! The venue opens on Dec 14! 

Photograph: Courtesy Macy's and Kent Miller

43. Macy’s holiday windows

News Events & Festivals

When kids hit Herald Square, chances are they have a one-track mind: Santaland. While you’re visiting Macy’s to meet the man in the red suit, don’t forget to do a scan of the store’s exterior, too. This year’s Macy’s windows will get an other-worldly twist thanks to its new character, the sweet and fierce Sunny the Snowpal, who will be at the forefront of the "Believe in the Wonder of Giving" theme. These installations, which will be on display beginning Nov 15, depict Sunny is trying to save Christmas with her BFFs by her side. If your kiddies can't help but fall for Sunny's sweet demeanor, they'll be able to snag an 11-inch plush of the character exclusively in the Midtown store.

Photograph: Shutterstock

44. Family attractions


Who said tourists should have all the fun? Snag tickets to one of NYC’s best family attractions—from the beloved American Museum of Natural History to the lesser known but equally loveable New York Hall of Science. Topics vary, as do the experiences, but one thing remains the same: Each venue is worth exploring. Make a checklist and visit all of the spots on your family’s list this winter!

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jenny T.

45. The best candy stores in NYC the whole family will love


Craving something sweet? Visit our favorite candy stores and feast your eyes on the swoon-worthy snacks that are mighty difficult to pass up.  Old-school shops such as Fferins of Brooklyn offer delicious imported treats while the popular IT'Sugar brand boasts a vibrant, whimsical vibe as guests fill their bags with all-things flavorful. 

46. Go thrifting

Things to do

Finding the best kids' consignment shops and thrift stores in NYC is easy with our list of top-notch picks! You'll find everything from baby clothes and maternity clothes to teen-worthy hipster duds and fun accessories at these cool NYC spots. Many also have locally-made accessory offerings as well! If you're looking for brand new items, try our favorite kids' shoe stores and visit the best kids' clothing stores in NYC too. Need suggestions on what to do with your new pocket money? Check out our NYC events calendar to find fund events coming up near you.

Photograph: Courtesy of Macerich

47. Santa's HQ

News Events & Festivals

Santa's workshop might be in the North Pole, but he's headquartered here in New York. Naturally. To be more precise, Santa HQ is coming to the third floor of the Queens Crossing shopping center (90-15 Queens Blvd, Elmhurst). Starting November 8, Ol' Saint Nick will be there seven days a week. (Hours vary; check the Queens Crossing website for times.) Queens Crossing and HGTV are creating an immersive experience that uses augmented reality so that visitors can join the Elf Academy, get an Elf ID and become a part of the team. Once you do, you can use your ELF-RAY vision to see who's been naughty and who's been nice. It's a technological funhouse, a 21st-century update on the classic Santa display and a cool way to kickstart Christmas for kids.  The real reason to go? Your little elves get to sit for pictures with Santa. Purchase a Fast Pass online ($34.99), and you can make a reservation that lets you bypass the standing and waiting. HGTV's Santa HQ is also encouraging the generous spirit of the season by encouraging you to bring an unwrapped toy to be donated to Dare2B and other local charities.

Photograph: Courtesy Pip's Island

48. Pip's Island

News Theater & Performance

Back by popular demand, Pip’s Island will establish a permanent NYC home in 2019. The immersive theater experience for kids lets little visitors take control and allows them to be the heroes of their own story. This pop-up-turned-attraction encourages youngsters to wander through immersive sets, exploratory spaces and audiovisual features while attempting to save the island from darkness.

Photograph: Courtesy Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com

49. Sloomoo Institute

News Weird & Wonderful

New Yorkers take their immersive experiences quite seriously, and this fall promises a slew of sensory-filled adventures.  After indulging in creamy goodness at the Museum of Ice Cream's new Soho flagship, head over for a creative afternoon at Sloomoo Institute. This 8,000 square-foot entertainment hub, also in Soho, opens Oct 25 and guarantees a slimy encounter like no other.  "We are all excited to bring the wonder and happiness of slime to the world in a large way,” says Karen Robinovitz, one of the three co-founders of the installation, alongside Sara Schiller and Toni Ko. “Our hope is that people of all ages will come to Sloomoo Institute and delight and evoke their inner child.” Prepare to get your hands dirty! Sloomoo acts as an art exhibit and art class for kids, too. Visitors big and lil' will enter a black light cove with glow in the dark slime, let an EEG machine provide a sneak peek of your brain on slime and much more.

Photograph: Creative Commons/Flickr/Grufnik

50. Plan a spring day trip

Travel Getaways

Give your youngsters a dose of fresh air and introduce them to a variety of exciting East Coast cities this spring. These destinations, each just a short drive or train ride from the city, are bursting with family-friendly activities, making them the perfect spots for spring day trips from NYC. Make the most of the kids' time off school during their spring break or plan a quick weekend outing away from the hustle and bustle to explore awesome museum exhibits for kids, check out unique fairs and festivals and enjoy the great outdoors—NYC will still be here when you get back!


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