At Grand Central, the festive atmosphere is evident as soon as you arrive. Renowned for its historic charm and bustling urban environment, the city welcomes visitors with its annual Holiday Fair, showcasing a variety of crafts and local produce.
In this guide, I’ll provide details such as the confirmed 2023 dates, opening times and what you can expect.
Grand Central is renowned for its unique fusion of historic charm with a contemporary pulse during the Holiday Fair.
Grand Central Holiday Fair 2023
Grand Central Terminal is home to New York City’s longest-established indoor Holiday Fair.
Over its six-week duration, the event presents 40 local artisan vendors, each with unique products spanning multiple categories.
The fair ensures a refined shopping environment within the architecturally impressive beaux-arts Vanderbilt Hall.
As winter’s chill grips the city, the indoor nature of this market provides warmth and comfort, making it an ideal spot for those sensitive to colder temperatures.
The fair’s rigorous vendor selection ensures top-quality offerings for visitors.
With over a million shoppers visiting daily, its location within this iconic transport hub makes the Holiday Fair a prime destination for festive shopping.
Dates and Location
Grand Central Holiday Fair dates: 13th November to 24th December 2023.
Location: Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal, New York.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday: 10am to 7pm. Sunday: 11am to 6pm.
Thanksgiving Day: Closed.
Christmas Eve: 10am to 6pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Ice skating: No.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, some options.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Vanderbilt Hall’s architectural beauty, local artisans, curated products,
Recommended tour: The Secrets of Grand Central Terminal.
Food specialities: New York cheesecake, pretzels, bagels, knishes, black and white cookies, hot cider.
Where to stay: Library Hotel is a popular hotel, one block from Grand Central.
Hotels near Grand Central Station
The immediate vicinity of Grand Central Terminal is ideal for those keen on staying near the Holiday Fair this winter. This area is central and well-connected and a great base for visiting NYC.
I recommend the Library Hotel; it’s popular and perfectly located near Grand Central.
Location of Grand Central Terminal
Recommended Walking and Food Tours
A city tour of Grand Central is an excellent opportunity to understand the area’s significant history and culture.
I suggest the Secrets of Grand Central Terminal tour, where a local expert guides you through its prominent features.
On this tour, you’ll explore some of the station’s most renowned spots and attractions, including its vast main concourse, the iconic celestial dome, and the Whispering Gallery.
I recommend checking out my NYC Christmas Markets 2023 guide, which lists the city’s best Christmas and Holiday markets, including Grand Central.
The Holiday Fair
Holiday Fair Specialties
New York Cheesecake: A classic dessert that has roots in New York, cheesecake is a creamy, sweet treat. It’s made with cream cheese, sugar, and eggs and often topped with a fruit or chocolate sauce. At the Holiday Fair, vendors often sell individual slices, letting you savour this iconic dessert without overindulging.
Pretzels: A popular snack, these twisted dough creations are boiled and then baked to achieve a chewy interior and a crispy exterior. The pretzels at the fair might come in various flavours, including cinnamon sugar or salted, and they’re perfect for snacking on while you browse.
Bagels with Lox and Cream Cheese: A classic NYC snack. Typically served with smoked salmon (lox) and a spread of cream cheese, they’re a delicious, savoury treat that visitors shouldn’t miss.
Knishes: A nod to the city’s Eastern European heritage, knishes are dough pastries filled with various ingredients, commonly potato or meat. They’re a warming, filling snack that’s particularly popular in colder months.
Black and White Cookies: These round cookies are half vanilla icing and half chocolate. Soft, cake-like, and large in size, they’re a sweet treat that reflects New York’s diverse culture.
Hot Cider: This drink, made from apple juice and spiced with cinnamon and other warm spices, is a favourite during chilly winter days. Often served steaming hot at the Holiday Fair, it’s the ideal beverage to warm your hands and your spirit.
Manhattan Clam Chowder: A tomato-based soup brimming with clams, vegetables, and often potatoes. This hearty dish is a twist on the creamier New England version and is a warming choice for those colder evenings at the Christmas market.
Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Artisanal Soaps and Candles: Handcrafted by local vendors, these soaps and candles often come in a variety of scents inspired by New York. Whether it’s the aroma of Central Park in autumn or the brisk air of the Hudson River, these items encapsulate the essence of the city in a delightful way.
Local Art Prints: Various stalls showcase art prints from talented New York artists, capturing the city’s skyline, its iconic buildings, or everyday street scenes. These make for elegant gifts and can bring a touch of the Big Apple to any home.
Handmade Jewellery: Unique to the Holiday Fair in Grand Central are stalls selling exquisite handcrafted jewellery. Often inspired by New York’s landmarks or its bustling energy, these pieces range from necklaces to bracelets, offering something special for every taste.
New York-themed Christmas Ornaments: Celebrate the festive season with ornaments that resonate with the city’s spirit. Be it a miniature Statue of Liberty, a shiny apple, or a yellow taxi, these trinkets are perfect for adding a New York touch to your Christmas tree.
Local Craft Spirits and Wines: New York state has a growing craft beverage scene, and the Holiday Fair doesn’t shy away from showcasing this. You’ll find bottles from local distilleries and wineries, making for a gift that’s perfect for those who appreciate a finer drink.
Hand-bound Journals and Books: For those who appreciate the written word, there are vendors who craft beautiful hand-bound journals and books. Often made with high-quality paper and unique covers, they’re an ideal gift for writers or journal enthusiasts.
New York Cookbook: Filled with recipes that have been tried and tested in the bustling kitchens of New York, these cookbooks offer a taste of the city. From classic dishes to modern fusions, they’re a treat for anyone who loves to cook or wants to try their hand at some New York-inspired dishes.
For a thorough rundown of winter activities and the latest events in the city, I recommend visiting NYC Tourism, the city’s official website. They have a section dedicated to visiting Grand Central and the surrounding area.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here’s how you can adopt more responsible travel practices during your visit to New York.
Eco-friendly Accommodation: When selecting a place to stay, choose hotels that are committed to green practices. Many establishments in the vicinity of Grand Central have now transitioned to renewable energy sources. By opting for such places, you’re supporting businesses that are conscious about their environmental footprint.
Reduce Food Waste: Grand Central’s Fair is teeming with delightful food stalls. While trying a bit of everything is tempting, order portions you can comfortably finish. If you’re unsure about the serving sizes, ask vendors for guidance to avoid unnecessary waste.
Ethical Shopping: While the allure of market stalls can be strong, make purchases thoughtfully. Focus on items that you truly need or will cherish. This minimises wastage and supports artisans who invest time and effort into their crafts.
Sustainable Diets: Many stalls at the market offer vegetarian or vegan options. Opting for plant-based dishes even a few times can significantly impact the environment, given these foods’ lower carbon footprint than meat-based dishes.
Public Transport: Grand Central Terminal is a major transportation hub. Instead of relying on taxis or rental cars, use the city’s vast subway and bus networks. It’s a more sustainable choice and gives you a genuine feel of the city’s pulse.
The Grand Central Holiday Fair runs from 13th November to 24th December 2023.
The Holiday Fair is held inside the Grand Central Terminal, specifically in the Vanderbilt Hall.
The fair is open to visitors from Monday to Saturday: 10am to 7pm. Sunday: 11am to 6pm. Thanksgiving Day: Closed. Christmas Eve: 10am to 6pm.
Yes, given Grand Central’s central location and the popularity of the Holiday Fair, it tends to attract a significant number of visitors during the winter months. Visiting during off-peak hours is advisable if you prefer a quieter experience.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Grand Central, New York. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.