Shopping

The Best Holiday Markets in NYC

’Tis the season to be gift-y. Which merry-and-bright bazaar is right for you and for those on your shopping list?

Even if you normally hate shopping, there’s something kind of magical and communal about strolling the aisles of New York City’s festive holiday markets. You can sip hot cocoa or cider while you browse; bump into old friends who are also trying on hand-knitted scarves and winter hats; and get all of your gifts without ever having to set foot in a mall. Plus, with extras like ice-skating, performances, and tasty food, they’ve become an event on their own. Skip Black Friday and instead go to our favorite holiday markets this year.

BEST ALL-IN-ONE MARKET

WinterFest at the Brooklyn Museum
Cross off all of your holiday to-dos at this brand-new “village” on the grounds of the art museum. Meet Santa? Check. Take photo in a giant snow globe? Drink mulled wine and hot chocolate? Check and check. And then, of course, there’s shopping. More than 50 vendors occupy quaint wood “chalets” lining the Makers Market. Expect standard market fare—hand-knitted mittens, candles, and screen-printed tees—but in an idyllic setting under twinkling lights. The market is free, but other attractions require tickets. Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn; November 23–31

[Update, 12/5/18: Unfortunately, we can no longer recommend WinterFest. As other media outlets have noted—and as WSWD saw on a visit there—the organizers did not follow through on their original plans for the event. We hope that the pop up, now under new management, will improve.]

holiday markets nyc
Photo courtesy of WinterFest at the Brooklyn Museum

BEST ICE-SKATING

Deck the Stalls at Fulton Stall Market
On Sundays in December, you can shop for gifts and groceries at this farmers’ market/holiday retail combo. Before you spend all your money, though, head to the top of the Pier 17 building for the the Rooftop at Pier 17 Winterland. Another new entry to the holiday-experience market, this one wins for best rooftop ice-skating because, well, it’s the only one with a rooftop rink (you gotta stand out in this crowded field!). Take in views of the East River, Brooklyn, and lower Manhattan as you glide on the ice. Fulton Stall Market, Water Street (between Fulton and Beekman Streets); December 2, 9, 16, and 23. The Rooftop at Pier 17, 89 South Street; opening mid-December

holiday markets nyc
Photo courtesy of Pier 17 NY

BEST PEOPLE-WATCHING

Union Square Holiday Market
Getting lost in the maze of busy aisles at this bazaar is an annual tradition for us. Yes, it can get crowded, but that’s the beauty of it: New Yorkers united by their love for beeswax candles and handmade soy soap! (Don’t worry, it has less crunchy gifts, too.) And on cold days, the press of humanity helps keep you warm. Returning to the market this year: an Urbanspace Provisions aisle with a curated selection of New York–produced food and drink; Little Brooklyn, a section devoted to goods made 100 percent in the hip borough; a warming station; and an arts station hosted by the Children’s Museum of the Arts. 14th Street (between Union Square East and Union Square West), Union Square; through December 24

BEST LAST-MINUTE GIFTS BEFORE YOU CATCH THE TRAIN HOME

Grand Central Holiday Fair
Located right inside the historic train station’s Vanderbilt Hall, the longest-running holiday market in the city caters to commuters and visitors. But locals shouldn’t overlook it: Where else can you shop more than 40 quality vendors, not to mention Grand Central’s permanent posh retailers, then refuel with oysters and Muscadet at the Oyster Bar? 89 East 42nd Street (between Vanderbilt and Lexington Avenues), Midtown East; through December 24

holiday markets nyc
Photo courtesy of New York Makers‎/Facebook

BEST FOR A FRIEND DATE

Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar
Catch this Gowanus showstopper while you can. For just two days inside the gorgeous Green Building (perhaps you’ve attended a wedding there?) and another space across the street, Brooklyn makers show off their one-of-a-kind wares, from jewelry and handbags to ceramics and stationery. Nosh on authentic pierogi and homemade desserts while you browse to the beats of a live DJ. Kids and nonshoppers will appreciate the music, the photo booth, and the arts and crafts table. 452 and 501 Union Street, Gowanus; November 24 and 25

BEST FOR FAMILIES

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park
Bryant Park’s magnificent 17,000-square-foot ice-skating rink and 150-plus shopping kiosks and food purveyors make this the best bet for families. In addition to the skating, there’s a heated observation deck perched just above the rink where kids can make art and play board games and chess (though it is sometimes closed for private events). And when the troops get peckish, there are food kiosks to suit every taste: Dulcinea Churros, Casa Toscana, Baked Cheese Haus, La Sonrisa Empanadas, Home Frite, Max Brenner’s, and Wafels & Dinges.
Sixth Avenue (between West 40th and 42nd Streets), Midtown; through January 2

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Photo courtesy of Bryant Park

BEST FOR HOLIDAY PHOTO OPS

Columbus Circle Holiday Market
Created by Urbanspace, the same folks behind the Union Square Market, this corner-of-the-park fair feels similar to its downtown sister, but with a variety of classic New York backdrops against which to snap your selfies. There are the majestic American elms of Central Park; the towering Art Deco buildings of Central Park South; the skyscrapers of Columbus Circle; and the golden Columbia leading her seashell chariot atop the Maine Monument. Oh, and there’s shopping! Our favorite vendors here include CaraCruz Brooklyn jewelry, Joyfullook tights, Lotus Skin Care, and No Chewing Allowed treats. West 59th Street (at Central Park West), Midtown; November 28–December 24

BEST FOR DESIGN LOVERS

FAD Market
Need a gift for your fashionable boss who has impeccable taste? This is where to get it. The FAD (Fashion, Art, Design) Market at City Point in downtown Brooklyn features stylish, modern accessories; home goods; art; and more from more than 60 designer-makers. Dibs on the chunky-knit hooded infinity scarf from Muddy River Knits! And if you haven’t yet been to Dekalb Market Hall, the very Brooklyn-ish food court, just head downstairs to grab lunch from Katz’s Deli, Pierogi Boys, Bunker, Daigo Hand Roll Bar, Fletcher’s BBQ, and more. City Point, 445 Albee Square West, Downtown Brooklyn; December 8 and 9, 15 and 16 

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Photo courtesy of FAD Market/Facebook

BEST FOR DAY DRINKERS

Astoria Market
Shopping is always more productive (or at least more interesting) with a bit of a buzz, don’t you think? Enjoy a pint or two of Czech ale at Astoria’s Bohemian Hall, the oldest beer garden in NYC, before browsing the handmade and baked goods. The offerings here trend more toward kitsch than cool, but the setting can’t be beat. 29-19 24th Avenue, Astoria; December 2, 9, and 16

BEST FOR RESISTERS

Bust Craftacular
At this juried craft fair sponsored by Bust, the feminist lifestyle magazine, expect fair-trade coffee, gender-nonspecific apparel, feminist statement tees, “Ladies Kick Butt” prints, and more. Aside from the shopping, Bust hosts a full lineup of crafting workshops and lectures with female luminaries, courtesy of the Bust School for Creative Living. 72 Noble Street, Greenpoint; December 8 and 9

holiday markets nyc
Photo courtesy of Bust Craftacular/Facebook

BEST FOR ANIMAL LOVERS

Vegan Shop-Up
Is a holiday meal still a holiday meal if you take away the turkey, ham, and butter? The organizers behind this one-of-a-kind food festival sure think so. Taste for yourself: Sample vegan everything, from seitan stuffing and brisket to pumpkin macarons and pecan pie. Best part: Bloody Marys, everyone’s favorite brunch drink, vegan or not. Pine Box Rock Shop, 12 Grattan Street, Bushwick; December 1 and 15

BEST FOR GROWN-UP GOTHS

Oddities Holiday Flea Market
Have a family member or friend with a love of all things peculiar? Head to the Oddities Market, sponsored this year by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square, to sift through an unusual assortment of medical history ephemera, anatomical “mysteries,” osteological specimens, taxidermy, and jewelry made from the above items. A $10 entry fee gets you access to three full floors of vendors and the restaurant and bars inside Brooklyn Bazaar. The organizers say all ages are welcome, but your tot may not enjoy the visit from Krampus. Brooklyn Bazaar, 150 Greenpoint Avenue, Greenpoint; December 1 and 2

holiday markets nyc

BEST FOR AVOIDING CROWDS

SO Holiday: Shoppe Objects Retail Marketplace
Brand new to the holiday market scene this year, Shoppe Objects takes over two spacious floors of Industry City for one weekend, November 30–December 2. The debut, combined with the out-of-the-way location, means you won’t have to fight over the Brooklyn Candles, Siren Song hair combs, and Makaua woven baskets. And Industry City is a pretty great place to spend an entire day playing table tennis and sipping sake. The Landing at Industry City, 274 36th Street, Brooklyn; November 30, December 1 and 2

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