We know it’s cold outside but bundle up because the High Line at wintertime is full of Saturnalia charm. Break out the mittens and:
The gardens’ designer Piet Oudolf believes there’s also beauty in the winter when living things are inactive. As Piet famously said, “Brown is also a color.” And when snow falls and gathers on the surfaces of the park, winter blooming plants on the High Line pop against the white. Witness the coral colored stems of Midwinter Fire bloodtwig dogwood, the pale yellow spikes of Winter Sun mahonia, the apricot orange flowers of Jelena witchhazel, the hearty deep greens of the Jim Dandy winterberry and Southern Gentleman winterberry, the bright Red Sprite winterberry, and the alluring mahogany of the ‘Winter glory’ giant pussy willow.
Not everyone flies south for the winter—New York City, and the High Line, are home to many species of birds who stick around for the colder months. Listen to the famous “chicka dee dee dee” of the black-capped chickadee or the “peter-peter” of the tufted titmouse, hear the sweet, rapid warble of the American tree sparrow, and the very seasonally appropriate “cheer cheer cheer” from the northern cardinal. And, wintertime is owl time in New York. The trees are bare which makes these regal raptors easier to spot. So keep your eyes peeled and your ears open for the northern saw-whet owl’s “too too too,” or the snowy owl’s whistle and hiss.
We welcome you to a winter walking tour of the High Line. Hear the story behind New York City’s park in the sky and gain an insider’s perspective on our history, design, and landscape.
Every Saturday at 12pm, November through April.Learn more
Our thought-provoking art is up all year long. The installations in the public show Agora, such as the neon of Andrea Bowers’ Somos 11 Millones/We Are 11 Million (in collaboration with Movimiento Cosecha) and Pope.L’s chmera, jump out against the sparsely-leaved plants, while other work in the show like Timur Si-Qin’s Forgiving Change mimic the spare surroundings; Phyllida Barlow’s prop takes on new meaning as it blends with the nearby architecture; and Dorothy Iannone’s mural I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door, made in her signature ornamental style, lends a bit of color to the park’s muted palette. As the foliage falls, and the plants take a break, the artwork on the High Line takes center stage.Learn more about art
The Danish coined the perfect word for describing the winter instinct to hibernate: hygge, which translates to a mood of coziness and contentment. Get that hygge feeling with a Maurizio Cattelan “Made in Catteland” scarf, Able Made knit socks, or High Line logo hoodie.Shop our holiday gift guide
Sun sets around 4:30pm in December. The afternoon light that bounces and reflects off the brick building is a sight to be seen—this time of year, the elongated shadows create high drama and the low sun casts objects with a pleasant glow. If you can, duck out of your obligations early and walk the park when it’s quiet, peaceful, and bathed in magic winter light.
Celebrate the winter solstice with an immersive soundwalk along the High Line. Your footsteps will be turned into sounds, creating a collective music piece including twinkling metallic sounds, electric guitar chords, dulcimer notes, and water splashes.Learn more & download the Gaits app
Cold air coupled with too much time spent locked up inside breeds cold and flu. Feeling sick? Stay home and make a medicinal tea inspired by plants on the High Line. Rose mallow, or hibiscus, is great for digestive inflammation; goldenrod and Rosenkuppel oregano are useful for respiratory infections and coughs; Virginia mountain mint works wonders for stomach bugs, headaches, and muscle aches; and good old purple coneflower, otherwise known as Echinacea, is the head honcho of warding of nasty viruses and fighting off infections.
While you’re inside dreaming of returning to the High Line, run to your local grocery to make a scent influenced by the plants in the park. Create a potpourri of quince, sassafras, and bergamot in an empty tea bag. Then, bring the mix to a low simmer over the stove and fill your home with a spicy, invigorating scent to uplift your mood.
The High Line cuts straight through the historic Nabisco factory, birthplace of everyone’s favorite dunkable cookie: the Oreo. The factory has long been closed, but grab a hot chocolate and your favorite treat at the building’s new resident, Chelsea Market, and appreciate the architecture of old-New York. When you’re satiated, consider all the other buildings that surround the park, dating back to the early days of industry in New York’s West Side, including St. John’s Park Terminal, the Merchant Refrigerating Company building, Bell Telephone Laboratories, and the Cudahy Packing Company, which, along with other meatpacking companies, gave the Meatpacking District its name.
Getting a gift on the High Line is far more dramatic than receiving one at home. Consider surprising a loved one with a present this year as you take a stroll along the tracks. The end of the year is a great time to give back to your community and the organizations you care about, too, including the High Line. When you donate or become a member, you’ll become a part of a family of supporters who keep this important public space alive.Give a gift membership
It’s quieter on the park this time of year, giving space for us all to be more contemplative. Take a walk and reflect on the things you’re most grateful for. We’ll start: we’re grateful for plants, art, design, New York City, our dedicated staff and volunteers, supporters, and our nearly 8 million annual visitors.
Lastly, give in to the unpredictability of the season. Sometimes we may have to close from inclement weather but our staff works hard to clear the paths and reopen to our visitors in a timely, and safe, manner. When it’s stormy, make sure to check @highlinenyc for park closure updates.
Photography by: Marcin Wichary; Liz Ligon; Mike Tschappat; Friends of the High Line, Rowa Lee; Steven Severinghaus; Liz Ligon; Liz Ligon; Kalmbach Library; Timothy Schenck