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Events and Things to Do in Bryant Park

Updated: February 20, 2024

Bryant Park in New York City is a leafy green space in the heart of Midtown Manhattan just a few blocks from Times Square. 

This nearly 10,000-acre (40 sq km) park runs from 40th to 42nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenue (map).

It’s visited by more than 12 million people each year.

Bryant Park

Many are office workers who come during the week to escape their cubicles during lunch hour. 

Others are those taking one of our pay-what-you-wish Midtown Manhattan walking tours.

But many more are locals and visitors who come at all times of the year to partake in the array of activities in Bryant Park.

Bryant Park is so much more than a place to stretch your legs.

It’s a cultural hub, a playground for kids and grown-ups, and a historic location (see below).

Bryant Park is open every day from 7 am-10 pm year round! (Hours can vary monthly).

There is also free Wi-Fi and a very nice public bathroom.

The closest subways are the 7 trains to 5th Ave., the 4/5/6/S to Grand Central Station, and the N/Q/R/W to Times Square.

Here are the top things to do in Bryant Park in NYC!

Winter Village - Christmas Market

During the holiday season in NYC, Christmas markets pop up throughout the city, and Bryant Park’s Winter Village is one of the very best!

You can stroll along the small holiday shops strung with holiday lights and decorations where artisans sell their wares. 

Warm yourself up with some hot apple cider and hot chocolate and other yummy foods at the food vendors. 

They also have an annual Christmas Tree lighting ceremony with an ice skating show with Olympic medalists. 

Read our post on Bryant Park’s Bank of America Winter Village for dates, hours, and all the great things to see and do there.

Ice Skating

In the Winter, the giant lawn in Bryant Park is transformed into an ice skating rink. It’s one of the prettiest - and cheapest - ice rinks in New York City.

people ice skating at night

It’s free to skate! But that is if you bring your own skates. Otherwise, skate rentals are available.

Read more about ice skating at The Rink at Bryant Park.

Free Movie Night

Every summer, Bryant Park hosts its iconic Free Movie Nights. 

This is a much-loved summer activity that locals flock to with blankets and picnic baskets.

The movie selection is excellent and the price is right! 

See our Summer Guide to NYC for details on this and other free outdoor movie nights.

Broadway in Bryant Park

In the summer, Bryant Park hosts their Broadway In The Park program.

Every Thursday in August, you can see free performances by stars of Broadway shows from 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm. 

Picnic Performances

In the summer, Bryant Park hosts a series of live performances - 26 in all - and they are all free!

You can hear top-notch music including jazz, classical, opera, and cutting-edge music. 

Bryant Park Picnc Performances

There are also contemporary dance, ballet, and theater productions.

Grab some food at one of the places to eat nearby and absorb yourself in culture in this beautiful setting.

Symphony in the Park

In September, the American Symphony Orchestra performs on several dates. There is limited space, so it is first come, first serve. 

Find out about the other arts and culture events in Bryant Park.

Free Games

Every day (weather permitting) between April to early October, from 11 am - 7 pm, Bryant Park sets up free lawn games Pétanque, Putting, and Kubb. 

Ping-pong tables are set up as well. Board games and Chess tables are available. Read more here.

Reading Room

Bryant Park’s Reading Room provides books to borrow, newspapers, and magazines to enjoy in the park. 

Bryant Park Reading Room

They also put on a great calendar of literary events, including Books on Broadway, Authors, BookClub, Poetry, StoryTime, and much more!

Art Cart

Located on the north end of the Fifth Avenue Terrace, near the New York Public Library, you’ll find the Art Cart. 

Filled with free craft supplies and art materials for use, adults and kids are welcome! 

Fitness Classes

Free classes with instructors include Yoga,  Boot Camp, Limón Dance, and Tai Chi. See more here.

Bryant Park Yoga


Learn how to juggle, knit, and ribbon dance. Hear about beekeeping, take a Birding tour, or take a writing workshop.

Read more here.


Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from June to October stop by for live music including ragtime, jazz, and piano playing.

For Kids

Most of the above activities are suited for children, though maybe not young children.

Here are two activities they will love!

Le Carrousel

This kiddie carousel is a delight! Its 14 classic carousel animals revolve while French cabaret music plays. 

It is open all year (see hours) and costs $4 per ride.

Bryant Park Carousel

Kids Creative Corner

Open June through September next to the Carrousel, the Kids Corner invites parents and their children to enjoy coloring, reading, and engaging in other creative activities. 

Find out about things to do with kids in New York City.

Where To Eat Near Bryant Park

Bryant Park Grill

Looking out onto the park through its large windows, this restaurant serving New American cuisine is a lovely place to dine.

There is a rooftop garden as well. 

Bryant Park Grill

It is open daily from 11:30 am - 9 pm, In addition to the regular menu, the Grill serves brunch on Saturday & Sunday from 11:30 am-3:30 pm.

Reservations are suggested for the dining room. The rooftop is first-come-first-serve. Read more here.

Bryant Park Cafe

Run by the Bryant Park Grill, the cafe serves American cuisine in a casual atmosphere.

It is open from mid-April to November from 11 am-11:30 pm. No reservations are needed.

The Porch

Located on the south side of the park, this casual restaurant is open daily starting at 11 am.

Bryant Park Porch

It closes at 11 pm in the summer and winter months and at 10 pm in spring and fall.

The Lodge Deck

Open during the winter, located next to the ice rink, The Lodge is perfect for hot drinks and snacks like sausages with different sauces and fries with cheese. 

Food Kiosks

A few permanent food stalls are located in the park along the western end of 6th Avenue.

You’ll find Breads Bakery, Joe Coffee, Le Pain Quotidien, and Wafels & Dinges.

History of Bryant Park

Bryant Park is known for its beautiful lawn, free programming and its fascinating history.

During the Revolutionary War, Washington's troops camped on the site. In 1822, the site was used as a potter's field, a public cemetery for the poor.

From 1837 and 1842, a giant reservoir to supply the city with fresh water from New York was constructed on the adjacent land where the New York Public Library stands today.

In 1853, the Crystal Palace was erected on the site, which was now known as Reservoir Square. The Crystal Palace burned down in 1858. 

During the Civil War, Union army troops camped at Reservoir Square.

In 1884, Reservoir Square was renamed Bryant Park, to honor the New York Evening Post editor William Cullen Bryant, who was an outspoken abolitionist. 

The park went through a tough patch in the 1970s as a hub for drug dealers, addicts, and prostitutes.

In 1980, the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation was founded. The park was renovated and has become one of the most popular spots to relax in Midtown Manhattan.

Things To Do Near Bryant Park

About The Author

Courtney Shapiro

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker in love with the city’s history, culture and food. She's a world travel as well and enjoys sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined Free Tours by Foot in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She still leads tours on a part-time basis. READ MORE...
Updated: February 20th, 2024
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