Bryant Park

How Bryant Park Goes From Grassy Lawn to Magical 'Winter Village'

November 13, 2015
Jennifer Szulman, New York Daily News

Bryant Park Winter Village
Bryant Park's "Winter Village" attracts over 1 million visitors each holiday season. Photo: Shawn Inglima

Walking in a winter wonderland is easier than building one.

Bryant Park's signature “Winter Village” opened on Oct. 30 for the season — the result of two weeks of 16-hour days by dozens of craftsmen and women.

“At the end, we're all really tired but it’s all worth it when we open,” said Kelvin Alburquerque, manager of the project that results in 125 market stalls, an ice skating rink, and a two-story restaurant.

Here’s how Bryant Park becomes the “Winter Village”:

Removing the grass lawn

Lawn going away
Bryant Park's signature grassy lawn is removed during the winter and recycled, to make room for the ice rink. Photo: Bryant Park Corporation

Bryant Park’s signature grassy lawn is removed during the winter and recycled, to make room for the ice rink.

Workers first remove the grass because it can’t survive under the rink. Once all the sod is loaded onto trucks for recycling, the ground is leveled to provide an even surface.

“It’s a massive effort to get all that material out,” said Kati Solomon, the director of operations for the Bryant Park Corporation.

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The rink’s ice is made on site and kept cold with chillers for about a week prior to the season opening.

Lawn going in
An aerial view of the park after the lawn/sod is removed. Various machinery smooth out the dirt so that it is level for the ice rink. Photo: Bryant Park Corporation

“We are building up that ice layer, constantly adding layers and freezing it to make sure we get the right quality of ice for the public,” said Solomon.

The multi-layered ice is used in the 170 by 100 foot skating rink, cleaned and smoothed as needed for “ice cut” by zambonis.

Odds and ends

A large deck is built all around the rink, in addition to constructing the interior design of the “Skating Pavilion” — a spot for lockers and skate rentals.

The two-story “Celsius,” a pop up eatery, is full-service.

“You wouldn’t know it’s temporary if you visited it,” said Solomon. “It looks like a real building with steel and glass.”

Skating rink nearly complete
In the top left is the construction of the "Celsius" restaurant and the wooden boards seen on the right is the "Skating Pavillion," for skate rentals and where guests can enter the rink.

Visitors can also browse over 125 shops snaking the park’s pathways. Vendors are a mix of local and up and coming businesses.

Bryant Park Winter Village, Sixth Ave. between 40th and 42nd Sts., now through March 6. Holiday shopping ends Jan. 3. For information, visit http://wintervillage.org.