Ready or not, the holiday season has arrived in New York City.
One sure-fire sign of the times is the opening of The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park—and it's fully open and serving up hot chocolate and wintertime fun right now.
The midtown holiday attraction re-opened on October 30 with its famous ice rink, shop vendors and a new activity: iceless curling.
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Visiting the park will be different this time since there are numerous health and safety protocols in place now, so we decided to check it out to give you a preview of what you can expect when you go this year:
1. A less-crowded ice skating experience
Ice skating is open at Bryant Park, but this year, it's completely outdoors. In the past, skaters and spectators used to be able to keep warm inside tents. Now, they'll have to brave the cold in separate areas for those waiting to get on the ice and those coming off the ice.
Additionally, reservations and skate rentals must be made in advance online (rental prices change depending the day and time), and fewer skaters will be on the ice at one time, which is good for skaters looking for a less hectic time on the ice.
High-touch surfaces and rental equipment will be sanitized throughout the day. In fact, instead of placing your belongings in a locker, each skater will be given a free drawstring bag to put their shoes in and keep on their backs as they glide across the ice.
2. Spotlighted Black-owned businesses
This year, the Winter Village is featuring four New York City minority-owned small businesses (with annual revenue of $1 million or less) in one rent-free booth, made possible by Bank of America, as part of this season’s Holiday Shops.
Make sure to catch Annie Mae’s Bakery by Bed-Stuy resident Danielle Moore through November 15 (pillow covers pictured above are at this shop); Harlem’s Heaven Hats by Harlem's Evetta Petty from November 16 to December 2; Treestar* NYC, a Jackson Heights wellness company by José Alvarez who designs and creates sustainable soap products and hand-poured candles from December 3 through December 18; and Tibet Tree of Life by Forest Hills owner Chodar Tenzin, who sells handcrafted Tibetan singing bowls, shawls, incense, and handmade metal clutches from December 19 through January 3.
3. Iceless curling
There's a new Curling Café at the park with an iceless curling court. You can try your hand out at curling on a synthetic ice rink, which creates a realistic experience. Just rent a curling lane and accompanying tent for either one to four people or five to eight people on Wednesdays to Fridays: 3:30-9pm, (with extended weekend time slots including Saturdays & Sundays: 1:30pm-9pm). Renting a tent and curling lane ranges from $250 to $475 and comes with a carafe of hot chocolate, finger foods, and brownie pops.
Note: All gaming equipment and tents are sanitized between each and every booking, and all customers must wear a face-covering when not seated inside your designated tent.
4. Hot chocolate
The Winter Village wouldn't be complete without hot chocolate from The Lodge Deck, an outdoor, après skate-escape, where you can watch the ice skaters or admire at the (forthcoming) tree. You can order a delicious hot chocolate with whipped cream for $6 or go for something a little harder, such as mulled wine, a spiked Grand Mariner hot chocolate, or a salted caramel spritz.
5. Spaced out shopping
This year, there are about 40 fewer shops than usual in the open-air holiday market curated by Urbanspace. Open daily through January 3, 2021, it features a mix of new and returning merchants in a reconfigured layout for more spacious walkways, avoiding congestion. You can shop for locally-created and sourced gifts here, from hot sauce from Hell's Kitchen and macaron cookies for dogs, to glass art by local artists and puzzles featuring NYC scenes.
A list of all the vendors is here.
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