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The moment November rolls around, Midtown begins a holiday frenzy, signifying the start of New York City’s transformation into a magical, wintery wonderland.  Since last weekend’s wild October snowstorm, Starbucks has put out its red Christmas cups, Macy’s has set up its Christmas trees, 5th Avenue has been overtaken with festive window dressings, and Bryant Park has opened up The Pond, an outdoor ice skating rink, to prepare for the season.

Price: Ice skating at The Pond is free (if you bring your own skates) and $13 to rent a pair.

Location: Bryant Park, between 40th and 42nd St. & 5th and 6th Avenues

Hours: The Pond is now open through February 27, 2011. Open Sunday through Thursday from 8:00am until 10:00pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00am until midnight. The Holiday Shops will be up and running until January 8, 2012. Hours are as follows: Monday-Friday from 11am-8pm, Saturday from 10am-9pm, and Sunday from 10am-6pm.

I like to TRY to ice skate, but after an hour or so of skidding and sliding on the ice I’m ready to go explore the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park, and make a pit-stop at the Max Brenner’s pop-up for some rich and creamy hot chocolate by the bald man

Shops: The likes of Sabon, Aroma, Max Brenners, Molton Brown, Trollbeads, Sensa, The Walking Art, Miss Tea, The Historical Research Center of NY, United Leather, Deko, BrooklynMade, are open daily for your browsing pleasure.

Tip: find a pair of new or used skates on Ebay, Craigslist, or at the Salvation Army for $15-20 and skate for free all season!