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The best things to do in the winter in NYC

The weather outside might be freezing, but the best things to do in winter in NYC will keep you cheery.

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Bryant Park Bumper Cars
Time Out/Ali Garber

New York knows a thing or two about activities, even in the winter! There are a lot of incredible things to do all season long, which only reinstates how the city that never sleeps certainly doesn’t hibernate during the colder months. There are many exciting events during the snowiest time of year, including a winter lights festival and other pop-ups to keep this town entertained. For something a bit more snuggly, check out the free fireplaces to cozy up by in NYC or lounge inside a sauna at one of the best spas. Don’t forget that New York is absolutely gorgeous in winter, so bundle up and go out to admire all the snow-covered trees at the best NYC parks, and enjoy fun winter celebrations.

Best things to do in the winter

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Photograph: Courtesy CPAA + New York Mets

Hello Panda

The Hello Panda Festival features more than 120 enormous lanterns that will dazzle the whole family. At this holiday home run at Citi Field, attendees can also take part in various cultural traditions (think paper cutting, dough sculpting and other Chinese crafts), taste-test dishes from 60 international vendors, and pick up trinkets and gifts at the market. All ages. 

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15th annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival, Chinese New Year
Photograph: Filip Wolak
Things to do

Chinese New Year

Get ready for one of the best NYC events in February: Chinese New Year! NYC will be chock-full of dragon dances, vibrant floats and yummy vendor foods during the annual celebration. Make sure to head to Chinatown for one of the best things to do in the winter, including annual Lunar New Year Parade & Festival. 

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Courtesy of Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
News, City Life

Ice bumper cars at Bryant Park

New Yorkers have been making rounds on ice rinks, gliding, skidding and pirouetting for a near century, but in recent years, something debatably even more thrilling than ice skating has entered into the sphere of winter activities: ice rink bumper cars. Every winter, Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park throws down FrostFest, a 10-day stretch packed with winter activities. Last year, they added a new fun activity to the mix: ice bumper cars. Since then, it’s been a smash hit. Now, they are bringing it back for a second season this winter with extended hours—in case you missed out. Starting Friday January 17, the bumper cars will be available daily until February 28. Its hours are as follows: Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday from 11am to 4pm, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 2pm to 7pm. You can bet the spots will fill up faster than you can say, "ouch, my neck," so book your session sooner rather than later. For the uninitiated, the entrance to the rink at Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is between 40th Street and 42nd Street on 6th Avenue. When you’re not busy on the ice you can hit up the rink-side bar or food hall, The Lodge by Urbanspace.

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paradise found at last light
Courtesy Paradise Found at Last Light/Alex Forestier
Things to do

Paradise Found at Last Light

Sister City, Lower East Side

Rooftop season shouldn’t be limited to summer. For the month of January, Sister City is hosting a tropical pop-up bar on its 11th-floor rooftop. Order from the tiki-inspired menu, which sports cocktails with names like Jon Snow on an Island and Happy as a Clam, plus snacks such as Hawaiian pizza and hot- honey lamb ribs. Psst: No one will judge if you don a lei and make believe you’re vacationing in the tropics.

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Pier 17 Rooftop Concert Series
Things to do

Après ski disco at Pier 17

Pier 17, Financial District

Your inner dancing queen is invited to come out to skate the day away on The Rooftop at Pier 17's ice rink that'll be turned into an Après-Ski Disco for two days this February. Lace up your skates atop the pier and make your laps to all the best disco hits (cue all of Abba's discography). You won't be along on the ice–you'll be joined by ice skaters and acrobats who will get the party going. Pier 17's Winterland Rink at the Seaport District has stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the East River and the cityscape, which makes for a magical time. The disco promises to turn up the heat, too, with a cozy chalet-style lounge and decadent comfort food (raclette, bratwurst, fondue, s'mores, hot chocolate and mulled drinks) just as winter is gets even more aggressive.  Pairing all of that with funky beats will keep you going long after the sun has set.  

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Winter Jam
Photograph: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks and Recreation
Things to do

Central Park Winter Jam

With just one good snow under our belt thus far in 2020, New Yorkers are jumping at the chance to sled down one of city's many hills. Luckily, Central Park has our backs (as they do each year) with Winter Jam. Our inner child rejoices at the idea of the winter sport event located at one of the best NYC parks: Central Park. If you want to learn more about the action-packed, snow-covered affair (yes, they actually bring in snow machines), we have all the details you need below. The NYC Parks and Recreation event includes ice-skating, sledding, snowboarding, grub and more, so get ready to join New Yorkers of all ages for one of the best things to do in winter. Winter Jam is a free winter festival chock-full of events for New Yorkers of all ages. Whether rain or shine, upstate ski destination Gore Mountain blows fresh snow into the heart of Central Park, where festivalgoers can go snowshoeing, sledding, and even figure out the sport of curling. There will also be skiing lessons provided by Lake Placid. Other highlights include live ice carving and an ice sculpture garden. For Instagrammers, there will also be bobsled and snowcat photo ops. We have chills (the good kind) just thinking about it.   When is Winter Jam? The date for Winter Jam is Saturday, February 1, 2019. The event is from 11am to 3pm. Where is Winter Jam? Winter Jam is located at the Rumsey Playfield. Enter at 72nd Street. 

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TWA Hotel
News, City Life

Massive rooftop jacuzzi at JFK

TWA Hotel just gave us another epic way to embrace a chilly New York winter. Instead of heading to JFK to fly somewhere tropical over the next few months, bring your swimsuit to TWA Hotel’s rooftop infinity pool and lounge in water that's now cranked up to a toasty 95 degrees Fahrenheit. (Germaphobes: If the thought of a hotel jacuzzi freaks you out, heads up that TWA’s rooftop pool water completely purifies itself every 30 minutes, instead of once or twice a day. Phew.) During the summer months, there are fees and food and beverage minimums for non-hotel guests to visit the pool and observation deck. But as of right now, there’s zero charge for visitors to swing by. Even better than a free pool day, they've turned the poolside bar into a "Runway Chalet," a 1960s après ski-themed winter hideaway that’s both heated and tented. It's officially open for biz! TWA Hotel     Inside, you can hang by a vintage fireplace while sipping on seasonal cocktails like an Idlewild Hot Toddy (spiced rum and hot apple cider garnished with a cinnamon stick) or a Weather Delay (vodka, hot chocolate and marshmallows.) To top off your visit, you can order up some fondue too. The heated infinity edge pool and deck are open from 7am to 11pm every day (weather permitting) so consider heading here after an ice skating sesh at TWA on the tarmac below. The Runway Chalet at The Pool Bar is also open daily, from 11am to 11pm.

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midcentury buildings in NYC
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia/Kenlarry
Things to do

The Ford Foundation Atrium

Midtown East

If you need a quick change of scenery from our concrete tundra, duck into this hidden oasis in midtown that just so happens to be open to the public. The Ford Foundation building houses a 12-story atrium that boasts a verdant green space with 39 species of subtropical plants, a reflecting pool and a garden with plants you can touch and smell. Even if it’s only during a few stolen moments between meetings, sneaking away to this paradise will enliven you.

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Photography: Tiki Chick / Emilia Aghamirzai
News, Drinking

Tiki Chick cocktails

Jacob Hadjigeorgis gave the Upper West Side’s sleepy restaurant scene a jolt of energy when he opened Jacob’s Pickles in 2011. The gastropub became a popular destination for Southern comfort food with a menu filled with fried pickles, hot chicken biscuits and other American comfort food dishes (full disclosure: its success, and perfectly crisp fried chicken, is one reason we welcomed the eatery into our very own Time Out Market New York). Now Hadjigeorgis’ Pickle Hospitality (which also operates Maison Pickle and Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co.) has opened Tiki Chick next door with a modern day spin on the retro tiki bar. The area isn’t exactly a hotbed for the best New York bars but the vibrant space with tropical vibes is refreshing debut filled with pineapples, greenery, bamboo, a red leather banquette and an array of fun drinking vessels. New Year's eve was the first night the bar opened. Instead of beer and whiskey, beverage director Selina Arden and lead bartender Michael Walters have put their own touches on classic drinks. You’ll find the requisite Mai Tai ($16) and Singapore Sling ($16), but there’s also a Rum & Cola’d Fashion ($16) and large-format drinks to share such as the Mida’s Gold Punch ($29 and $55), a bowl filled with Brennivin Aquavit, Blackpool Spiced Rum, Perry’s Tot Gin, apricot, golden beets, turmeric, agave and lime. There will be at least seven frozen cocktails, too.

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Winter Jam
Photograph: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks and Recreation
Things to do

Central Park Winter Jam guide

With just one good snow under our belt thus far in 2020, New Yorkers are jumping at the chance to sled down one of city's many hills. Luckily, Central Park has our backs (as they do each year) with Winter Jam. Our inner child rejoices at the idea of the winter sport event located at one of the best NYC parks: Central Park. If you want to learn more about the action-packed, snow-covered affair (yes, they actually bring in snow machines), we have all the details you need below. The NYC Parks and Recreation event includes ice-skating, sledding, snowboarding, grub and more, so get ready to join New Yorkers of all ages for one of the best things to do in winter. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the winter in NYC What is Winter Jam? Winter Jam is a free winter festival chock-full of events for New Yorkers of all ages. Whether rain or shine, upstate ski destination Gore Mountain blows fresh snow into the heart of Central Park, where festivalgoers can go snowshoeing, sledding, and even figure out the sport of curling. There will also be skiing lessons provided by Lake Placid. Other highlights include live ice carving and an ice sculpture garden. For Instagrammers, there will also be bobsled and snowcat photo ops. We have chills (the good kind) just thinking about it.   When is Winter Jam? The date for Winter Jam is Saturday, February 1, 2019. The event is from 11am to 3pm. Where is Winter Jam? Winter Jam is located at the Rumsey Playfield. Enter at 72nd Street. 

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The No Pants Subway Ride 2015
Photograph: Luciana Golcman
Things to do, Festivals

The NYC No Pants Subway Ride

One of the best and most amusing NYC events in January is the No Pants Subway Ride  created by Improv Everywhere’s Charlie Todd. In 2002, the funny fella produced the first-ever event and posted it on YouTube, where the short clip quickly gained popularity. Now it has turned into one of the group’s most anticipated events, as thousands of New Yorkers continue the funny tradition on subway cars across Gotham. Donning winter coats—minus their pants—the straphangers share the same goal: to confuse bystanders. The event had only 150 participants in its first year, but now the prank is an international sensation with over 25 countries involved. Why? Because annual international pranks are fun! Find everything you need to know about the No Pants Subway Ride. And make sure to consult our list of bars with fireplaces for warming up afterward.  

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Photograph: Courtesy Jane Kratochvil
Things to do

The Sweetheart Soiree

Norwood, Chelsea

The Jazz Age Lawn Party’s Michael Arenella hosts his eighth annual black-tie affair in honor of St Valentine. The swank soiree offers cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, live music from Arenella and Queen Esther, a kissing booth and even dance lessons, all in an 1847 townhouse that’s now a private club.

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Westminster Dog Show
Courtesy J. Grassa for WKC
Things to do, Exhibitions

The Westminster Dog Show

The best doggos from around the country are set to take over New York City for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, at which hundreds of dog owners and all types of breeds (including brand-new ones) are primped and prepped to compete in agility and obedience challenges and for the highly coveted title of "Best in Show." This is one of the best NYC events in February, where spectators can join in on the excitement (after they’ve visited some dog-friendly restaurants or pampered them at one of the best pet-friendly hotels). And if you want to come face to face with the breeds, you can actually play with them at the AKC Meet the Breeds event in January. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the winter in NYC What is the Westminster Dog Show? The Westminster Dog Show is a long-running competition for dogs, with Best in Breed winners advancing to the Group and Best in Show competition at Madison Square Garden. Spectators can watch the dogs compete as well as see them get primped for their show time backstage. You may see some dog breeds you never have before! (At last year's show, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes and Grand Bassett Griffon Vendeéns were recognized as a breed for the first time by the AKC.) Owners of show dogs often spend many thousands of dollars on training and grooming. When is the Westminster Dog Show? The Westminster Dog Show takes place on Sunday, February 9, Monday, February 10 and Tuesday, February 11, 2020. Daytime breed juding sessions take place

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Rollerskates
Things to do

Roller Disco Brunch Party

Schimanski, Williamsburg

Get the good times rollin' at Fever Up's and club Schimanski's 1980s-themed roller disco brunch party set for four Saturdays in NYC. Lace up your skates, which you can rent (for additional muns) if you don't own a pair, and chow down while harkening back to the good old days of big hair and spandex. You'll have some help going back in time from professional roller dancers who will entertain and wow with their moves. While food is not included in your admission, at least one mimosa will be. You can opt to have more, though–two hours of unlimited drinks is $59. To curb the wait, Fever Up and Schimanski are running three sessions: noon-2pm, 2-4pm and 4-6pm each Saturday. So get out on that dance floor and groove the afternoon away before the next Manic Monday comes.

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Winter Jazzfest 2017
Photograph: Courtesy Gulnara Khamatova
Music

Winter Jazzfest

Each January, Winter Jazzfest, perennially one of the best concerts in NYC, hosts the genre’s top talent over several nights. Its signature two-night Greenwich Village marathon brings vets and up-and-comers, hordes of music fans and a palpable air of excitement to an array of cozy downtown venues. More than 100 groups perform at this year's fest from all around the world. Multi-talented drummer-bandleader, Mark Guiliana is artist-in-residence at this year’s Winter Jazzfest (Thu 9, 10, 11, 16, 17). The lineup includes talent like cutting-edge jazz drummer Makaya McCraven (Sat 11), Brazilian musical artist Seu Jorge (Thu 16) and many more classic and contemporary artists.

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Silent Film/Music at Brookfield Place
Photograph: Courtesy of Brookfield Place
Things to do

Silent Films/Live Music

Brookfield Place Winter Garden, Battery Park City

Remember what it’s like to sprawl under the trees and catch a flick with your friends during Brookfield Place’s silent-film series, held in the palm-tree–lined Winter Garden. Screenings of James Searle Dawley’s Frankenstein, Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant and Tod Browning’s The Unknown, among others, will be accompanied by live music courtesy of GoGo Penguin or bassist Alexis Cuadrado.

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Photograph: Courtesy Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
News, City Life

Bumper cars on the ice rink of the Winter Village at Bryant Park

FYI: The Rink at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is no longer just for skating. Until February 3, you can ride bumper cars on the ice during the attraction's new winter carnival called FrostFest—a ten-day event filled with activities. Just like in recent years, folks can don their fanciest formal wear (and skates) for the Ice Ball on Wednesday, January 30 and attend a Cozy Sweater Puppy Meet-up (aww) on Saturday, February 2.  There's also live music in The Lodge by Urban Space, free fitness classes, kid-friendly events (i.e. puppet shows and "penguin" catching in the Bryant Park Fountain) and...wait for it...heated igloos! That's right, you can reserve your own bubble in the park and sip mulled wine and eat s'mores during the festival.  Photograph: Courtesy Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park There are free activities at the Winter Village at Bryant Park every day from now until the fest ends on Super Bowl Sunday. So if you're looking for a spot to see the Patriots take on the Rams, this option is certainly classier than going to a sports bar. For more details, visit bryantpark.org.  

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Things to do, Festivals

Chinatown's Lunar New Year Parade

Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Lower East Side

Steel drums, acrobats, martial artists, dancers, ornate floats and, obviously, the iconic dancing lions and dragons snake through Chinatown’s crowded streets for the 21st annual Chinese New Year Parade. The mouth-watering smells from the neighboring restaurants and the sounds of the traditional music meld to create a joyous, immersive experience. Begins at Mott and Hester Sts. But before you get lost in the bang of firecrackers, check out what you need to know to take part in celebrating and some fun things to do in the neighborhood, including the best karaoke in Chinatown.

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Photograph: Courtesy Scott Lynch/Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea
News, City Life

Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg Winter Market

New York knows a thing or two about indoor fun. The beloved Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, two of NYC's favorite summertime attractions, are back again to keep the eating and shopping going all winter long. The wintertime market will be set up at 25 Kent Avenue, a brand-new office building and creative hub in Williamsburg, which also happens to be the new home of the 29Rooms exhibition. During its residency, Brooklyn Flea will feature about sixty vendors of furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques, as well as a curated selection of art, jewelry and crafts from local artisans and designers. Vendors on hand will include vintage shop Omnia, Portmanteau for furniture and design, Superfussy for new clothing, Thea Grant Design for jewelry and Dan's Parents' House for toys.   When you're ready to eat your way through the Smorgasburg section of the market, you can expect fifteen to twenty specialty food vendors to choose from including Blue Chicken, Mao's Bao, Leitao, Vayalo! Cocina and Petisco Brazuca. The indoor market will be running every weekend from November 2, 2019 through March 2020, from 10am to 6pm. At the very least, it should be an activity that’ll let you thaw your extremities from the coming cold. 

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Duo Fusion in BIG APPLE CIRCUS
Photograph: Courtesy Juliana Crawford
Theater, Circuses & magic

Big Apple Circus

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Upper West Side

After declaring bankruptcy in 2016 to widespread lamentations, the family-friendly circus came bouncing back to life at Lincoln Center last year, and now returns for its 41st season with a show that aim to throw some spotlights on women. New ringmaster Stephanie Monseu presides over a spectacle that includes a trapeze routine by the Flying Tunizianis, a trampoline act created by Andréanne Quintal, and an acrobatic duet, performed by Virginia Tuells and Ihosvanys Perez, in which she does most of the heavy lifting.

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Cupid's Undie Run 2013
Photograph: Eric H. Brown
Things to do, Quirky events

Cupid's Undie Run

The DL, Lower East Side

Embrace the bone-chilling cold by stripping down to your skivvies and running with other maniacs at this one-mile dash. Make the most of your endorphins at a lit after party and also feel good knowing your liberation is for a good cause: money raised benefits efforts to cure neurofibromatosis. Plan your laundry days accordingly. 

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Photograph: Lauren Spinelli
Things to do

The Butterfly Conservatory at AMNH

Upper West Side

In what feels like a makeshift rain forest, a winding path leads you through an enchanted landscape where you’ll marvel at 500 vibrant butterflies fluttering in the air. Plus, you can reconnect with nature while staying nice and cozy in the temperature-controlled exhibition room, set to a balmy 80°F to protect these winged beauties.

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Photograph: Raydene Salinas
Shopping

New York Fashion Week

Get camera-ready for Fashion Week. NYC will be filled with a stampede of posh editors, bloggers, stylists and shutterbugs. Tickets to some of the major runway shows aren’t available to the general public, but newsflash: you don’t have to be part of the elite fashion world to feel like an insider. Maybe you don’t have a front-row seat to the shows or a spot reserved next to Anna Wintour, but don't fret—we’ve got you covered. 

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The Orchid Show 2013 at the New York Botanical Garden
Photograph by Cinzia Reale-Castello
Things to do, Exhibitions

The Orchid Show

The New York Botanical Garden explodes into a tropical floral extravaganza for the annual Orchid Show. Take in the thousands of blooms on display, and don’t forget to make a pit stop by the Shop in the Garden for your very own orchid to take home.

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Things to do, Festivals

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

No St. Patrick’s Day in NYC would be complete without staking out a spot at this parade, which makes another glorious march up Fifth Avenue. (The event is even older than the United States; it was started by a group of homesick Irish conscripts from the British army in 1762.) More than 2 million onlookers show up for the annual spectacle. 

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Minton's
Photograph: Zandy Mangold
Restaurants

NYC Restaurant Week

Twice a year, NYC Restaurant Week takes over our fair city, allowing penny-pinchers like us to stuff our guts like royalty at top eateries for only a fraction of the usual cost. With three-course prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus and reservations available via OpenTable, it’s easier than ever to get into that new French bistro you’ve had your eyes on and nearly 400 other mouthwatering gems.

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Super Bowl Party Food
Things to do

Super Bowl

Whether you dig football or not, the big game is, if anything, an ace excuse to gorge and get sloppy. And if football isn’t really your jam, there’s always the Puppy Bowl, a televised gaggle of adorable doggies in a mock stadium. Who are we kidding? We’re mostly here for the puppies.

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Photograph: Thomas Donley
Things to do

Mardi Gras

Every year, New York's usual anxiety and chaotic charm turns laissez-faire via the Crescent City for Mardi Gras. NYC’s Fat Tuesday is a typically rambunctious affair, featuring jazz performances at some of the best jazz clubs in the city, plus more funky shows. There also rich cuisine from Cajun restaurants, king cake and some of the best parties in New York.

More winter things to do

Windham Mountain
Photograph: Courtesy Windham Mountain
Things to do

The best ski trips near NYC

Interested in ski trips near NYC? Take the bus or train to hit the slopes in ski paradises near New York in no time.

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Winter food & drink

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Winter events guides

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Archive things to do in the winter content

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