New York City in the Winter

November 6, 2013 by

Festivals & Events, Local Guides, Local Recommendations, Things To Do, Travel Tips

Ice skating in Central Park

Ice skating in Central Park. Photo credit: James Trosh via Flickr.

One of the wonderful (or frustrating, depending on how you look at it) things about New York City is that the weather changes so drastically from summer to winter. One minute you’re sweating bullets and swatting away the humidity, and the next you’re bundled up with gloves and scarves dodging patches of snow on the street. Unfortunately, the Big Apple doesn’t have an extended spring or fall (or, some would argue, any spring or fall at all), but with the temperature change comes a general atmospheric change as well—Shakespeare in the Park is now ice-skating in the park; fashionable miniskirts are now fashionable trench coats; and hot, hurried locals are now cold, hurried locals.

All joking aside, winter can be truly beautiful in NYC and gives it a new kind of energy; compared to some big cities in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s not unbearably freezing, either. Winter also brings Christmas, with iconic scenes like Rockefeller Center’s rink and tree, and New Year’s, with the Times Square Ball Drop and fireworks displays watched by millions around the world. Basically, there is many great reasons to visit New York City in the winter.

Winter also means numerous seasonal events in NYC, like Hot Chocolate Festival, Z100’s Jingle Ball, the Holiday Market in Union Square, Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night parade of boom-boxes (or iPhone music apps) in Washington Square Park, the romantic hotspot that is Trump Wollman Ice-Skating Rink, New York Transit Museum’s Holiday Train Show, and, of course, the legendary window displays of Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, and Henri Bendel. There’s also NYC Restaurant Week, NYC Beer Week, NY Chili Fest, the Coil Festival (avant-garde theater/dance), NYC Winter Jazzfest, and the packed Chinese Lunar New Year Firecracker Ceremony in Chinatown. This may seem like a lot, but this is nowhere near an exhaustive list of things to do in New York City during winter months.

If you’re on a subway at the right time and place, you might also see someone (or many someones) not wearing any pants—that would be the annual No Pants Subway Ride event, which is put on by ImprovEverywhere and has grown every year since it started in January 2002.

Aside from the holidays and festivals, some NYC attractions are best seen through the lens of slightly-less-touristy wintertime. Parks are dusted in white—Central Park, Washington Square Park, Battery Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park are perfect places for a slow, thoughtful walk with your significant other. Best of all, most hotels are cheaper in winter, too!

-Natalie Grant

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