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The Best (and Least Crowded) NYC Holiday Market that You’ve Never Heard Of

The Best (and Least Crowded) NYC Holiday Market that You’ve Never Heard Of

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If I hadn’t absentmindedly taken the wrong exit out of the subway, I would have missed this market entirely. Annoyed at having to walk across two extra avenues in the bitter cold, I hurried down 34th street, huddled in my not-warm-enough coat. But by chance, I glanced to the left and a baby blue tent caught my eye.

hester street fair

Hester Holiday Market? I was familiar with Hester Street– it’s the location of the well-regarded Hester Street Fair, a fantastic outdoor market on the Lower East side known for its indie vendors and one-of-a-kind goods. But I had no idea that Hester Street Fair also had a holiday market– held not in a downtown neighborhood, but in a nondescript office plaza near Penn Station.

I couldn’t believe my luck at stumbling across this hidden market, so instead of heading home as planned, I made a quick detour to check it out.

hester street market fair stalls

As I walked into the Hester Holiday Market I realized I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t heard about it. It was late afternoon on a Sunday and the Hester Holiday Market was practically empty.

For those not from New York, you may not be aware that the larger holiday markets in New York City (like those at Bryant Park and Union Square) are jam-packed on evenings and weekends. Those holiday markets can be so uncomfortably crowded that at times you can barely see the vendors’ goods and you might have to gently push your way through the sea of people.

But not at the Hester Holiday Market– it was easy to get into the holiday spirit as I leisurely walked under the strings of lights, a respite from the busy streets just outside the market.

Nearly all of the shops and food stalls at the Hester Holiday Market were browse-worthy, offering unique items I hadn’t seen at the other area markets. It’s definitely the kind of market you want to visit with friends or family in tow– I plan to return with my own friends later this week for some more serious shopping.

A photo tour of some of the shops and food stalls at the Hester Christmas Market:

hester street fair rasany vendor

I loved the fabrics at Rasany, made using traditional hand block printing techniques.

headdress nyc

I need to come back with my girlfriends so we can try on all the fun head bands and other accessories at Headdress NYC.

Vintage jewelry and sparkly things.

Frittering Away lemonade's stall.

Loved the white picket fence at Frittering Away lemonade’s stall.


Would you try Cheetos-flavored macarons?

Would you try Cheetos-flavored macarons?

It's nice to have a place to shop for men's gifts, like this stall from Dr Sofskin, offering natural products.

It’s nice to have a place to shop for men’s gifts, like this stall from Dr Sofskin, offering natural products.

kickys kitchen cookies

Stop at Kicky’s kitchen for delicious homemade crispy chocolate chip cookies.

Scotch bonnet grill hester street fair holiday christmas market food stall

The Hester market wasn’t limited to snacks– Scotch Bonnet Grill offered full meals of tempting looking Jamaican food like jerk chicken.

okonomiyaki nyc

Ever since my visit to Hiroshima, I’ve been craving okonomiyaki– a ridiculously delicious vegetable/pancake mishmash. This is the first time I’ve ever seen it served outside of Japan.

okonomiyaki nyc market japanese

This version of okonomiyaki is a mini version of the original. I had dinner waiting at home so I had to pass, but am already planning my return visit just to sample it.

I was obsessed with watching this little donut machine flip the hot donuts into the basket.

The Hester Holiday market is definitely worth a visit this season– now that I’ve discovered it, it’s my new favorite holiday market in New York. It has an intimacy and charm missing in the larger markets. It’s Hester’s first season in midtown, which would explain the lack of crowds– so I recommend you go now before it gets overrun. The vendors here were all super friendly and welcoming– and I’m sure could use a little extra business.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Souvenir Finder Shopping Tip Sheet
What to Buy:
Indie goods, vintage jewelry, sweets and more.
Where to Get it: Hester Holiday Market, December 1-23, 11 am-8 pm
What to Know: Come hungry because the food here is incredibly tempting.[/box]

Have you been to the Hester Holiday Market? Share in the comments below!

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Chanel | Cultural Xplorer

Tuesday 16th of December 2014

Gah! Wish I would have known about this place sooner! Thanks for sharing - looks like I will have to check it out :D

Ray Laskowitz

Sunday 14th of December 2014

You're starting to sound like me. Read Storyteller long enough and you realize that every time I think I've discovered something, everybody else has known about it for a decade.

Kristin Francis

Tuesday 16th of December 2014

Haha! Ray forgot to ask you for some NOLA tips, my mom has been there all week but leaving today! I still need to make my own visit!


Sunday 14th of December 2014

1. I actually have tried a cheetos macarons at Macaron Parlour. And it was pretty good. I also had the delicious bacon one that's next to it :-) 2. Wish I was there to try on headbands with you! I want those cat ears.

Kristin Francis

Sunday 14th of December 2014

haha that is so random!! I'm going back again when I have more time so I'll give them a try. Oh I know! It's not the same trying on fun headbands alone. : )