Winter Cities

Great public spaces around the world draw people 12 months a year.

Jay Walljasper

Plunging temperatures, gray skies and long night don’t mean we need to hurry indoors until springtime. Many cities around the world now offer inspiring examples of how creative Placemaking allows people to enjoy public spaces and lively city streets throughout the winter. From Copenhagen to Quebec City to New York, people are flocking to outdoor markets and festivals, engaging in public activities and even gathering at sidewalk cafes during the coldest months of the year.

In an increasingly globalized economy, where businesses as well as workers have more say in where they locate, winter cities can no longer afford to appear lifeless for a quarter of the year. Many people now choose places to live on the basis of vital local culture, and civic leaders increasingly understand that making public places that are inviting all year, not just when it is warm and sunny, is essential for a dynamic, prosperous community. Successful visions for winter cities include showcasing numerous opportunities for public activity throughout the winter months (not just during the brief holiday season), focusing on local identity and character and, of course, providing an inviting, vibrant physical environment.

    Learning from Vienna, Berlin, and Paris
    Creating a Vision for Winter
    Winter Markets and Celebrations Are Hot
    Wonderful Winter-full Copenhagen
    6 Lessons for Making Great Winter Cities
    Our Local Winter Landscape

Jay Walljasper, author of The Great Neighborhood Book, is a writer, speaker and consultant on how citizens can improve their communities. He lives in Minneapolis and is a Senior Fellow at Project for Public Spaces. See

Project for Public Spaces is a New York-based group that works around the world helping people revitalize streets, parks, downtowns, public markets and civic spirit in their towns. This article first appeared on the PPS website.

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