Fun Fall and Winter Traditions


For decades people have recognized Central Park as a destination with several enjoyable fall and winter traditions for families, couples, kids, tourists and regular city-goers. Here are a few suggestions to take part in this year:

Experience Fall Foliage During Walking Tours

Fall in the Park
Fall in the Park

When summer comes to an end and the leaves start to change, grabbing a delicious cup of hot chocolate on a crisp autumn day is the ideal way to spend time walking around the park. Visitors can observe the various unique species of trees in the park in their full glory, such as the Red Maple, Bald Cypress, Gingko, American Elm, European Beeches, London Plane and many more. Guided walking tours like the Arts and Architecture TourMovie and TV Sites Tour and the Hidden Secrets Tour offer a chance to learn fun facts about the park while taking in the fall foliage up close with a licensed tour guide in one of New York City's most scenic areas.

Photography Tours in Central Park

Central Park photo tour
Central Park photo tour

Citifari Central Park offers a photography tour that allows you to capture breathtaking views of various bridges, lakes and also the NYC skyline from within the park. The tour is organized like a photo workshop and the photography tour guide assists you in selecting the best vantage points and offers useful techniques and explanations of composition, camera settings and more.

Another tour full of photo-ops is the three-hour bird watching tour led by guide Dr. Robert "Birding Bob" DeCandido on Friday and Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. The park is home to 235 bird species, which include the black-capped chickadee and red-winged blackbird. For this tour, make sure you don't forget your binoculars and a camera! For additional spots to take photographs of birds and other wildlife, head to the Pond and the Reservoir.

Ice Skating

Ice Skating in Central Park
Ice Skating in Wollman Rink
by Ivonpless

Ice skating is one of the park's most popular pastimes. It can be a romantic outing for couples, a fun activity for families and a great reason to get friends together on a brisk fall or winter day.

There are two separate ice skating rinks in Central Park: Wollman Rink, located in the southeast part of the park, and Lasker Rink in the north.

Wollman Rink, which is converted from Victorian Gardens amusement park in the summer into an ice skating rink in the winter, offers plenty of activities, such as ice hockey, a skating school, skating parties, and amenities like skate rentals and lockers. See the full schedule here.

Lasker Rink, which is converted from a swimming pool in the summer, is found mid-Park between 106th and 108th Streets. Besides skating, this rink also provides adult and youth hockey, skating lessons for any age, skate rentals and lockers. See the full schedule here.

Central Park photo tour
Winter Jam in Central Park

Winter Festivals

Winter Jam NYC is a free annual winter sports festival put on by the NYC Parks Department, Lake Placid and I Love NY. Courtesy of some of their partners at Gore Mountain, there is always plenty of fresh snow at the event even if it's not actually snowing! Come for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding lessons, and bring along your 4-legged friends as well to enjoy the Doggie Snow Zone!

Equipment provided at no cost, or bring your own snow sports gear and enjoy the terrain in the heart of Manhattan. 

For more information, call (212) 360-1319 or visit the NYC Parks Winter Jam page.  

Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides

Central Park Horse Carriage
Horse and Carriage Ride 
in Central Park

Horse-drawn carriage rides are another traditional way to spend time in the park while kicking back with a loved one and indulging in the crisp fall air and winter wonderland sights. Sites seen typically include the Wollman Rinkthe Pond, the Central Park ZooSheep Meadowthe MallCherry Hillthe Dairythe CarouselStrawberry Fields and the Dakota (former residence of Beatle John Lennon).

Horse-drawn carriages are available for rides all year round and can be reserved online. The price of the ride is based on how long you want it to be, with most carriage rides lasting between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. You can also order specialized add-ons such as extra time, photography, flowers, chocolate, or specific pick up and drop off locations. Rides can be personalized beforehand for wedding proposals, anniversaries, birthdays or other special occasions.

Carriage rides are extremely popular during the holiday season and there is usually a line for a walk-up ride, so reserving online is highly recommended.


Central Park Horse Carriage
Central Park, Snow, Sunset, 
and a Red Sled

When the snowflakes start to fall there's no better place to enjoy a fun-filled day of sledding and other winter festivities in the city than Central Park. Be sure to bundle up in your snow pants, gloves and winter hats and bring your sleds, flying saucers and toboggans to join others in going down the snowy hills.

Pilgrim Hill has the steepest slopes, with its entrance located at 72nd Street and Fifth Ave. Another less populated sledding area is Cedar Hill, which can be found between 76th and 79th Street at Fifth Ave.

Holiday Sights Tour of Central Park and New York

Holiday Sights Walking Tour
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

The seasonal Holiday Sights Tour, which runs from mid-November to early January, is the perfect excursion for the whole family to take part in during the winter months. Starting at Central Park near Grand Army Plaza, the tour guide will lead you on a journey through New York City during the holidays to see the stunning lights and elaborately decorated window displays. Some of the most popular window displays include stores like Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord And Taylor's, Bergdorf Goodman's and Barney's.

An exciting stop on this tour is to see the gigantic Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. Millions around the world come together annually to watch the tree as it's illuminated during the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting. The tree is typically lit at the beginning of December. People from around the city and around the world flood the sidewalks to be a part of this special occasion. The tree's lights continue to burn brightly after the ceremony until early January.

The Holiday Sights Tour of Central Park ends at Bryant Park where guests can shop for unique gifts at the Bryant Park Holiday Market. This annual market comprised of 100 vendors, which attracts locals and tourists, includes food stalls, jewelry makers, and other item booths containing one-of-a-kind trinkets and holiday decorations. It opens early November.

Swedish Cottage in Central Park
Swedish Cottage in Central Park
by waterlooHildreds via photopin cc

Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater

Marionette puppet shows are a unique year-round offering in Central Park and a great indoor activity for kids and families. The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater was actually imported from Sweden in 1877, 2 years after it was built. It has served as the headquarters for the Civil Defense during World War II, and it was also formerly a tool house, a library, and Central Park's entomological laboratory. In addition to hosting marionette performances, the Cottage is also available for children's birthday parties. Ticketing, show information and a full schedule can be found here: 

Weddings, Proposals and Vow Renewals in Central Park

Proposal in Central Park
Proposal in Central Park

Central Park is known as one of the most romantic parts of the Big Apple to have a wedding. Couples are constantly saying "I do" near the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, the Loeb BoathouseBow Bridge, the CarouselShakespeare GardenBelvedere Castleand other top wedding spots in Central Park.

Proposals are also especially popular during the holiday season, especially when paired with a romantic horse and carriage ride or some surprise photography.

Wedding vow renewal has also been increasing in popularity, and more and more couples are choosing Central Park as a place to re-live and re-affirm the promises that they made to each other on their wedding day.

To make these moments as special as possible, has partnered with I Do New York event planners to provide completely custom and unforgettable proposal,weddingvow renewal, and photography services. See some testimonials here from happy couples and contact us to start planning your special occasion in Central Park.


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Top of Page Header Photo: © Aric Boyles 2017
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