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East Side Holiday Markets

Close up of nutcrackers on display in a store window

The holiday season means it’s time for holiday shopping, but tracking down the right presents in a fun-filled environment isn’t quite as easy as finding 1 bedroom apartments in Manhattan. Or is it? Near the Upper East Side and around Manhattan island, there are holiday markets abound, and chances are, at least one of them will have something to fit your fancy. If you’ve got a mind to do some Christmas shopping, but prefer the openness and tradition of an old-school holiday marketplace to heading online or somewhere else, then these picks might be just what you’re looking for. Read on to see what’s popular around this part of New York City.

Union Square Holiday Market

The Union Square Holiday Market is one of NYC’s most well-known, and one that’s located quite centrally in beautify Union Square Park:

“The Union Square Holiday Market is an internationally renowned Holiday Market located at the heart of New York City, in Union Square Park. Hailed as a must-visit destination for unique gifts created by local craftsmen and artists, millions of people browse the winding aisles each year enjoying this unique and eclectic holiday experience.”

This market experience, hosted by Urbanspace NYC, has gone through some upgrades and revisions, and now includes new draws like Little Brooklyn, Urbanspace Provisions, a “warming station,” a Kid’s Art Studio, live musical performances, and, of course, some of the best vendors you’ll find on the island.

You can get a look at those fine vendors here. As you can see, they run the gamut from art, design, crafts, sculpture, and much more. If you’re looking for a creative gift that you can find in a wonderful outdoor space, this is the place to obtain it. Furthermore, the items you will find here are organic, made in the USA, local, fair trade, recycled/reused, and 100% handmade. Quality like this is hard to come by, so you’ll do well to stop by and at least take a gander.

Timeout listed Union Square Holiday Market as No. 2 on their collection of the best holiday markets NYC has to offer, stating:

“If there’s one alfresco shopping event worth braving the cold for, it’s this one. This European-style winter market boasts more than 150 local and national vendors hawking an impressive selection of handcrafted gifts, ranging from jewelry and accessories to leather goods and artwork.”

And those aren’t the only kind words spoken about this winter spectacle. Several publications have had positive things to say about the Union Square Holiday Market, and you can find those stories here, if you’re interested.

Grand Central Station Holiday Market

Grand Central Station is a name that most people recognize, but did you know that during holiday run up, from November 13th to December 24th, that Vanderbilt Hall in the Grand Central Terminal is transformed into a shoppers paradise? Here’s the lowdown:

“The Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair is one of the finest, longest-running indoor holiday fairs in New York City. The Holiday Fair Committee spends the year looking for unique vendors with a focus on American-made and handmade products with locally-sourced materials or a socially-conscious business model.”

To that end, they’ve enlisted 40 vendors to set up in the hall and peddle their wares: clothing, accessories, toys, home goods, and more. They represent a range of prices, so you’re more likely than not to find something within your range, all among one of the most elegant structures located in the confines of the city. Timeout listed this one as No. 3 on their rundown, and heaped in some glowing praise:

“It’s hard to imagine a more perfect excursion than going to a Christmas market in Grand Central. Gawk at the swirls of constellations on the roof inside, then check out the towering, bejeweled tree to get a new meaning of bright lights, big city.”

Renegade Craft Fair

The Renegade Craft Fair is an event that pops up in places across the country. In NYC, they make a special holiday appearance at Metropolitan Pavilion, bringing with them the hip style and unique crafts they’re well known for: jewelry, accessories, clothing, ceramics, prints, apothecary, home decor, etc. Timeout has them at No. 7 on their list, and had nothing but good things to say:

“New Yorkers should get psyched for the mother lode of holiday craft fairs...Only the most serious artists, tchotchke-making fiends and creative types are invited to gather and display their hand-made or bespoke goods.”

The Renegade Craft Fair will also be making other stops on their “holiday tour,” so be sure to check out their schedule to see where you’ll be able to find them next.

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

Another Urbanspace production, the Columbus Circle Holiday market is “internationally known as one of the most elegant and beautiful places for holiday shopping.” This year, the market takes place at the entrance to Central Park, around 59th Street and Central Park West, from November 28th to December 24th. Now in its 15th year, the market has a little something for everyone who’s out on the holiday shopping warpath, like art, jewelry, home goods, food, and more. Coming in at No. 5 on Timeout’s list, the Columbus Circle Holiday Market certainly made an impression:

“This market has stepped up its game from this year to last. Aside from some of the staple stores that are there year after year (shoutout to Spices and Teas!), they've bettered the quality of their food stands and have included more unique makers than in the past.”

8th Avenue Holiday Market

For something that’s just slightly out of the way, the 8th Avenue Holiday Market Provides. Head to the parking lot by 46th Street and 8th Avenue, then you’ll be treated to a display of handmade goodness: artsy clothing, jewelry, crafts, and even a slew of food vendors selling crepes, waffles, and more. It’s not as glitzy as the other holiday markets you’ll encounter, but it possesses a level of NYC charm you’ll find hard to pass up.

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