Shopping

The Best Holiday Markets in NYC

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

Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar

Even if you usually hate shopping, there’s something 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 ICE-SKATING

Deck the Stalls at Fulton Stall Market in South Street Seaport
On Sunday, December 8, 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 rooftop Winterland Rink. The skyline-surrounded ice patch that debuted last year to much fanfare and Instagram love is back—and even bigger—this year. 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 8; The Rooftop at Pier 17, 89 South Street

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

union square holiday markets nyc
Photo courtesy of Urbanspace/Facebook

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

BEST FOR A FRIEND DATE

Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar in Gowanus
Catch this Gowanus showstopper while you can. For just three Sundays inside an airy, industrial-chic space, 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. 501 Union Street, Gowanus; December 1, 8, 15

brooklyn holiday bazaar holiday markets nyc
Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar

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. (Only downside: The popular ice bumper cars from last year don’t return until January.) 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 5

bryant park holiday markets nyc
Photo courtesy of Urbanspace/Facebook

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 K2 Pearls jewelry, Aleja Avila leather clutches and wallets, and One Million Roses wire ornaments. West 59th Street (at Central Park West), Midtown; December 4–24

BEST FOR DESIGN LOVERS

FAD Market in Downtown Brooklyn
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 7 and 8, 14 and 15 

fad holiday markets nyc
Photo courtesy of FAD Holiday Market

BEST FOR JAPANOPHILES

Industry City Holiday Market by WantedDesign in Sunset Park
Sure, the home goods and personal accessories curated by WantedDesign tend to be minimalist and expertly engineered, but the real reason lovers of Japanese culture will flock to this fair—for three weekends in December—is the chance to visit some of Industry City’s other offerings: Japan Village, where you can sample everything from sushi and rice bowls to okonomiyaki and tempura, as well as shop for Japanese staples at Sunrise Mart; Brooklyn Kura, a craft sake tasting bar that brews its own rice wine; and Kuraichi, a Japanese liquor and sake store. Domo arigato, Industry City! Industry City, 33 35th Street, 2nd floor, Sunset Park; December 6–8, 13–15, and 20–22

industry city holiday markets nyc
Photo courtesy of Industry City

BEST FOR ASPIRING CRAFTERS

Bust Craftacular in Sunset Park
At this juried craft fair sponsored by Bust, the feminist lifestyle magazine, expect fair-trade coffee, gender-nonspecific apparel, feminist statement tees, crocheted uteri, and more—all from female-identified makers. Aside from the shopping, Bust hosts a full lineup of crafting workshops and lectures courtesy of the Bust School for Creative Living. We’ll be at so many of them: the pom-pom earrings tutorial, the make-your-own CBD topical class, and bandana screen printing workshop, to name a few! Industry City Factory Floor, 220 36th Street, Sunset Park; December 7 and 8

BEST FOR GROWN-UP GOTHS

Oddities Flea Market Holiday of Wonders in Williamsburg
Have a family member or friend with a love of all things peculiar? Head to the Oddities market at the Villain event space in Billyburg 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 floors of vendors. The organizers say all ages are welcome, but your tot may not enjoy the visit from Krampus. Villain, 307 Kent Avenue, Williamsburg; December 7 and 8

Photo courtesy of Oddities Flea 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 1, 8, and 15

BEST FOR ANIMAL LOVERS

Vegan Shop-Up in Bushwick
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. The best part: Bloody Marys, everyone’s favorite brunch drink, vegan or not. Pine Box Rock Shop, 12 Grattan Street, Bushwick; December 7 and 14

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