European-style outdoor holiday markets are a relatively new phenomenon in New York City. In recent years these temporary marketplaces have appeared in several areas around Manhattan including Union Square (the oldest), Columbus Circle (the newest), the cafe at St. Bartholomew’s Church (the smallest) and Bryant Park (the most centrally-located).
Now in its fifth year, the holiday market at Bryant Park is officially known as Fêtes de Noël. The market includes over 100 booths with green and white striped canvas roofs arrayed around the fountain (turned off for the season) and the skating rink (erected for the season). Most of the booths offer specialty items and handicrafts ranging from stuffed toys to suits of armor.
Tucked among and around the booths are an enormous star-topped tree and a refreshment area complete with tables, chairs and snacks including hot cider, cocoa, hot waffles, candy apples, caramel apples and shao bings (Chinese buns).
If shopping, snacking and skating becomes boring, you can always duck into the New York Public Library — the main research library shares the block with Bryant Park and its closed stacks are located directly under this space.