What to Buy and Eat at Union Square Holiday Market in NYC

You may be wondering what’s the best things to buy and eat at Union Square holiday market this winter. After trying out a bunch of vendors, I will show you everything you need to know about Union Square holiday market.

New York City has no shortage of Christmas and holiday markets, and Union Square holiday market happens to be largest holiday market in New York City! Similar to Bryant Park Winter Village, Union Square Christmas Market is an open air European style holiday market in the heart of Lower Manhattan.

Each year over 100 vendors open shop at Union Square Holiday Market to sell all sorts of gifts and souvenirs. There are also food vendors that you have to try to complete your Union Square Holiday Market experience.

I used to live within 5 minute walk to the Union Square Holiday Market so I had the opportunity to check it out over multiple years and I have to say it just gets better each year!

This post will tell you everything you need to know about the Union Square Holiday Market, including what to shop and what to eat at Union Square holiday market. I will even tell you other cool things to do at Union Square so read on!

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The most famous house in Dyker Heights during Christmas holiday

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How to Get to Union Square Holiday Market

As the name implies, the Union Square Holiday Market is held at Union Square between 14th street and 15th street.

Union Square Subway Station

You can easily reach Union Square Holiday Market by subway with the W, R, N, Q, 4, 5, 6, and L trains. So really, you can reach Union Square from pretty much anywhere in New York City.

You can see all the wooden stalls as you walk on 14th street and you can get a nice aerial view of the market from the second floor of WholeFoods Market across the street.

When does Union Square Holiday Market Open and Close?

Union Square Holiday Market Outside

Union Square holiday market is open from November 16th to December 24th in 2023. It is closed only on Thanksgiving Day and it closes by 4pm on Christmas Eve, the last day it’s open.

Below are the opening hours of Union Square Holiday Market:

  • Weekday: 11am – 8pm
  • Saturday: 10am – 8pm
  • Sunday: 11am – 7pm

What vendors and shops are at Union Square Holiday Market?

There are over 200 vendors at Union Square Holiday Market, making it the largest holiday market in New York City.

Union Sq Holiday Market what to buy and eat

Union Square partners with Urbanspace markets to bring local artists and small businesses to this market (as well as Bryant Park Winter Village). Therefore you can expect to find many independent shops at Union Square.

Below are the category of shops you can find at Union square:

  • Arts and crafts
  • Apparel
  • Jewelry
  • Beauty products
  • Home and holiday decorations
  • Toys
  • Food products (like spices, sauces)
  • Leather goods
  • Souvenirs
  • Other unique gifts

Some of the shops are also available at Bryant Park Winter Village, but there are a lot of unique ones. Unfortunately I cannot find a complete directory of the shops, but you can see some of the ones from my pictures on this blog.

Best shops at Union Square Holiday Market in NYC

What to Eat at Union Square Holiday Market?

There are a variety of food options at Union Square Holiday Market, from sandwiches to “baos” to desserts to hot chocolates and other baked goods.

There are about 10 food vendors at Union Square, with many of them also available at Bryant Park Winter Village. some of the best food I tried at Union Square include the following:

  • Ube Mochi Square from The Boiis (literally the best mochi I’ve had in NYC)
  • Pasta from Cheese Wheel Pasta
  • Nutella Bomboloni from Casa Toscana
  • Beef Empanada from Empanada Papa
  • Cheesy Truffle Fries from The Truffleist
  • Arepas from Palenque Arepas & Empanadas

Other food options include Waffles & Dinge, United Chocolate Works, the viral cheese sandwich from Baked Cheese Haus, Pork Belly Baos from Bao Tea House, soup and sandwich from Gunthers, cookies from Rubyzaar Baked and many more.

Other Tips on Visiting Union Square Holiday Market

  • You can use credit cards (or cash) at pretty much all the shops and vendors at Union Square holiday market
  • I did not see any bathrooms at Union Square Holiday Market. If you need to use the bathroom you will need to find it either at WholeFoods Market across the street or the other retailer stores nearby
  • It is prettier to visit Union Square at night when all the lights are on than during the day
  • The best view of Union Square Holiday Market is taken from Burlington against the window
  • There aren’t really chairs or tables at Union Square Holiday Market so expect to either sit on the bench near Union Square or just eat the food standing around
  • During the day there is also the farmer market going on outside of the Holiday Market

Union Square Holiday Market vs. Bryant Park Winter Village, which one is better?

New York City has a number of holiday market, with the 2 most famous ones being the Bryant Park Winter Village and Union Square Holiday Market. So how do they compare? Which holiday market is better in NYC?

In terms of entertainment, Winter Village at Bryant Park has a lot more to offer than Union Square. Bryant Park has its free ice rink, cozy igloos, and a carousel.

Bryant Park is also a lot bigger than Union Square holiday market since it pretty much takes over the entire Bryant Park.

In term of shopping, Union Square appears to have more stores than Bryant Park Winter Village. There are over 150 – 200 vendors at Union Square holiday market every year. Although there are definitely stores that are at both markets, there are also unique stores at each Christmas market.

Bryant Park Winter Village has more food stalls than Union Square Holiday Market. Most of the food vendors at Union Square are also at Bryant Park Winter Village. But there are way more food options at Bryant Park, such as Korean food, Indian food, Brazilian food, Crepes, Malaysian food, Mexican food and many other hot chocolate and dessert places.

In summary, Union Square Holiday Market is better for shopping whereas Bryant Park is better for entertainment and food. But both markets are fun and worth a visit.

Things to do near Union Square

If you are visiting Union Square, there are a ton of things to do and eat at besides the holiday market. Union Square is not a typical tourist attraction so you will find an array of more “local” things to do here.

  • Check out Strand Book Store, the famous independent book store in New York City. Established in 1927, the Strand is one of the oldest bookstores in New York City. You will find rare and first edition books at Strand as well as super cheap used books.

  • Have coffee at Ariston Coffee Bar, one of the most popular flower cafes in NYC. They change their flower decorations through the year and it is the perfect place to have a date or meet up with friends.

  • Grab some authentic and trendy food in East Village. You will find a large number of trendy Japanese and Chinese restaurants and these are not your average Chinese take out places. You will also find the famous Ukrainian food and yummy Italian places (and ice cream and bubble tea shops) in the East Village.

  • Walk over to Washington Square Park to do some people watching. If there is one place for people watching then it’s the famous Washington Square Park. On a regular day you will find street performers, protests, NYU events, hipsters hanging out and other interesting sights.
Fountain at Washington Square Park in NYC

  • Stroll up Broadway to check out the Flatiron District, famous for the Flatiron Building, Eataly, and the original Shake Shack at Madison Square Garden. The walk up Broadway is also lovely, where you will find a ton of cute shops, restaurants and cafes.

Is the Union Square Christmas Market Worth It?

Union Square Holiday Market is a super cute and festive market in lower manhattan. It has a ton of shopping options as well as some food vendors.

If you want to experience the holiday festivity in New York City while looking for some unique gifts and souvenirs then you should definitely visit Union Square Holiday Market.

Other New York Christmas Articles

Check out some of my most popular New York Christmas blogs below:

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Best things to buy and eat at Union Square Holiday Market in NYC