Blog: Bryant Park Pond
Beneath the shadows of the Empire State Building lies one of the most magical experiences that Manhattan has to offer this holiday season. Every fall, the fresh green grass of the park is replaced with a frozen sheet of ice, topped with dozens of smiling adults and children alike adjoined in circular trips around the newly created rink. The Citi Pond at Bryant Park turns the typically quiet park into a mixture of restaurants, boutique style shopping, and interactive entertainment- a bustling, action-packed holiday village all in one place.
Even this early in the season, there is a considerable buzz of holiday cheer surrounding the park and the variety of specialty shops which surround it. Most notable perhaps is the seasonal construction of “Celsius,” the all white, enclosed two-story restaurant and bar. Open until February each year, the structure hosts patrons seated comfortably in the warm indoor area, or on the outside patio seating area, under warm heat lamps. Either way, both areas provide incredible views of the skating pond just below, all while sipping on bottles of wine and noshing on traditional American cuisine.
If watching the skaters is the draw, the open air market’s specialty shops provide the distraction. If you’re hungry, but aren’t looking to sit down at Celsius or at nearby Bryant Park Grill, stands like “Big Apple Cider,” “Anna’s Pizza,” “Crepe Café,” “Dumpling Soup House,” “Kettle Corn NYC,” and our favorite, “Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man,” provide the perfect holiday tastes for weaving in and out of the small stores. Shops like “Exotic Handmade Jewelry,” KTCollection NYC Jewelry,” and “Friction Jewelry” offer eclectic (you guessed it) jewelry from some of the most unique local artisans, at varying costs. Looking for stocking stuffers like soaps and candles? The Pond has you covered- “Long Island Candle Factory,” “Soapology,” “Just Bubbly,” and “Sabon” feature fragrant soaps, candles, bath salts, and bubble baths, that serve as flexible gifts for friends and family, or for the people you just can’t figure out what to buy for. Although it’s a bit premature, our favorite stop has quickly become “It’s Always Christmas in New York,” an all ornament store, that allows you to have a shop representative customize one of the hundreds of different tree-hangers, with people’s names, dates- virtually anything you’d like on there. They make for great keepsakes for yourself or gifts to others.
All the kitschy-campy shopping stuff aside, the pond is there for one main purpose- free ice skating (the only place you can skate for free in Manhattan, with your own skates). And for those of you who (like me) are skating impaired, the rink provides a fascinating spot for people watching. Laugh as strangers fall down, as women show up completely underdressed for an ice skating rink, men who are amazing skaters but you can’t look away from their incredibly long hair, and watching the orange jacketed skate patrol cruise around the ice pretending to help people, while desperately trying to look cool. Yes, we encourage you to laugh at everyone down at the Pond at Bryant Park, because it’s been built so that we can all have fun in our own ways…and spread some of that holiday cheer.
- Jane Van Arsdale