Bryant Park’s brrrrilliant Winter Village

Bryant Park Winter Village - T ice skating close up

Two old friends from home recently came for a weekend in which they crammed the most astonishing amount of NYC sightseeing. Taking advantage of jet lag and general child-free giddiness, they saw A LOT of New York. It was ace.

The highlight for me was ice skating at Bryant Park’s Winter Village. Our third winter here, and we’d never done it before. Sometimes it takes having visitors to make you explore. Really glad we did.

Bryant Park is in prime sightseeing midtown Manhattan, not far from the New York Public Library (hello, lions!) and the world class Grand Central Station. It was freezing cold, so the girls and I crammed in a yellow taxi whilst merrily leaving C to slog up on foot with J in the giant stroller (he likes a long weekend walk, does C).

The Winter Village’s main feature is the big ice skating rink slap bang in the centre. There’s something about ice skating in New York that makes you feel you’re in a movie, you can read my review of other ice rinks here.

The rink was extremely crowded as we went at peak time on a Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t helped by the frequent closures to clean the ice by an excruciatingly slow truck ‘powered by hot chocolate’. However, the atmosphere was excellent and there weren’t too many crashes. The staff spent more time telling people not to use their cell phones on the ice than in helping people back up on their skates.

T’s done it a few times now, so was happy to stomp about by herself with the help of a special penguin propper-upper (probably not its technical name).

This was B’s first time, as last winter I was too pregnant to take her, and the winter before that she wasn’t allowed on the ice as she was just too small. Her tiny little skates skittered and skattered in every direction except forward, her mouth open in concentration.

After an hour, my back and feet couldn’t take stooping over B any more, so we all stomped off the rink and joined the boys for a hot chocolate before moving on to Bryant Park’s famous Le Carrousel. (We love a good carousel).

By this point, we’d utterly run out of steam, but the seasonal shops did look v inviting as we walked slowly past.

Tips if you’re planning your own trip to Winter Village with young kids:
  • It’s an expensive family outing, so make sure you get there early to get your money’s worth. The penguin aids are $20 an hour, skate rental is $20 and bag check is $10-12. You’re not allowed bags or personal items on the ice, so the bag check is important unless you have someone waiting for you outside who can hold all your stuff. Click here for the full pricing
  • Arriving early will also give you a bit more space on the ice. It’s disconcerting for young kids to have crowds either whizzing or staggering past you the whole time. The rink is open 7am til 10pm, so you’ve masses of scope to plan your visit around nap and meal times. Click here for more visitor info
  • Bring socks to reduce the chances of blisters. You can hire them for $6
  • If you decide to hire a penguin propper-upper thing, make sure you physically hold on to it at all times. We let go of T’s for under a minute while runny noses were wiped and morale pepped up, and someone pinched it. Not that I’m bitter or anything
This week’s Highs & Lows:
Highs:
  • Having friends to stay, obvs
  • Advent! Now we can tuck into Mr Kipling Mince Pies from the British food shop, Myers of Keswick (read my review here). Something C and I really like about America is the way that Fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving are all celebrated, so that you don’t move on to Christmas until the very end of November. It’s so much nicer than Britain’s tendancy to whack on the Christmas music in October, so that you’re heartily sick of it come December
  • On the subject of Christmas, C reminded me that J didn’t have a stocking so I decided to make him one from his patchwork quilt’s remnants. I then offered his baby cousin S in Hong Kong one. So then the girls wanted new ones too, and I couldn’t leave out their other cousin, R. Which meant that I ended up making FIVE. They’re not the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, but they were made with a lot of love
Lows:
  • Trying to work on my children’s book whilst breastfeeding J, whose new delight is to yank hard on my hair. He’s also cutting his first tooth, which adds to the discomfort
  • Realising I can smell poo on my clothes, presumably from changing J’s nappy, but not bothering to get up off the sofa to change for at least another hour. (Got to finish this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, after all.) #priorities

Author: Alex

Hello. Toddling Round New York is my own little blog of our family's experience of moving young kids from London to New York... And of having a baby out here. They are my own baby steps of exploring this incredible city. I lived in five countries in four continents growing up, so you'd think I'd be good at this by now. Here you'll find stories and photographs of our adventures, the highs and the lows of expat parenthood, and some ideas I hope you'll find useful if you're in New York with young kids.

2 thoughts on “Bryant Park’s brrrrilliant Winter Village”

  1. So enjoy reading about your NY days plus those lovely children – living in Fletching must seem like a very long time ago!

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