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5 Items for Winter Parks

Ljubljana, Slovenia. Flickr: ethan.kent (www.pps.org)

Winter does not have to be a time for cold weather parks to shut down. Often, a lively winter park can help bring vibrancy to the city around it. Here are five items (especially for center city parks) worth considering for the cold:

1. Ice Skating. Detroit’s Campus Martius Park is a prime example of how an outdoor skating rink can help bring a great city setting to life.

2. Holiday markets. Small outdoor tents can be set up to give people something to do while outside, and these spaces can be warmed with outdoor space heaters. The Bryant Park market accompanies the park’s ice skating rink and is a filled with shoppers and browsers meandering about the vendor’s stalls.

3. Lights. Winter is a dark time, literally. The Project for Public Spaces provides a picture from Ljubljana, Slovenia of its center city park. The colored lighting during the dark hours really gives the space an inviting feel. (We also recommend this PPS piece on winter cities.)

3. Trees. A tree can provide not only decoration and lighting along with a skating rink or other features, it is an attraction itself and can essentially be programmed as a sort of signature winter element. There’s lots of examples: the White House tree, Rockefeller Center and more.

4. Warm food and drink. Jan Gehl, the Danish planner famous for helping rejuvenate Copenhagen’s public spaces likes to advise places to offer hot drinks such as cocoa and cider as well as soups that can warm people up. Indoor facilities might even be set up or used for people to come in from the cold temporarily.

5. Music. Just because its colder, it doesn’t mean people won’t gather to hear music. Its often said that “cold is a state of mind.” If it is, than music certainly helps warm that condition. In Chicago’s Millennium Park, choral groups sing carols Friday evenings with park visitors joining in.

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