I once heard a Norwegian saying, “Det fins ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær” - “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Winter is coming here, but that doesn't mean that public spaces have to go away once the frigid air and snow move in (unless of course you’re Buffalo. Sorry, Buffalo…). Especially In the world of public space activation, these are certainly words to live by.
In fact, in one of the most impactful examples of urban outdoor activation, Denmark was once the poster-child for naysayers when it came to bringing people outside. They never thought that a Dane would go outside, not with the rain and the snow in winter and so forth. But as everyone knows, Copenhagen is now the public space exemplar filled with reclaimed waterfronts, outdoor cafes, and pedestrian streets - as is much of Europe.
But bringing people outside in the winter does require a concerted effort. Other than outdoor cafes and the like, a mainstay of cities that make full use of the winter season is the holiday market. Also peppered around Europe, and increasingly found elsewhere, these stalls take full advantage of both the existing public space and adamant holiday shoppers. The best thing about it, like many great public spaces in the summer season, holiday markets also bring in food vendors, places to sit and drink a coffee, and even buskers - all of which creates a vibrant public space.
Pictured above, Bryant Park in New York City transforms in its entirety every year to create a place that is as active during the summer as during a snowfall. The central lawn becomes an ice rink while paved areas nearby retain their chairs and provide a place to rest and view the skaters. Pop-up shops line every walkway providing you with all of your holiday market needs - from late night bites and hot chocolate to gifts for all of your loved ones. And if you’re chilly, you can always enjoy a warm drink or meal at the two-story restaurant built on site and watch the skaters from above.
So how about you? Do you stroll, skate, or sit outside even in the wintry months? Does your city host holiday market wonderlands? If you’re not inside nursing a hot toddy and hoping for a cold to go away (like half of us at PPS right now), we hope you’ll take a moment to spend some time in a public space, or maybe even start an event in one, and keep enjoying the places in our towns and cities this winter.
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