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‘Tis the season for taking photos with Santa, sipping mulled wine, and shopping for unique, handmade gifts at these spirited Christmas bazaars across the West

Stephanie Granada  – November 15, 2019

The best gifts are one-of-a-kind, thoughtful pieces with heart; the kind that you find at a local holiday market. Benefitting from the West’s design-savvy, DIY-happy population, the region is stocked with bazaars that pair talented makers with seasonal merriment. You’ll cheers with hot cocoa, sing along with carolers, and maybe learn to make a craft or two while crossing off every person on your gifting list. Oh, and did we mention saying hi to Santa? 

RiNo Holiday Bazaar, Denver, CO

Not only is the RiNo arts district one of the hippest hoods in Denver, but it’s also one of the best areas to shop—especially when the RiNo Holiday Bazaar takes over the 22,000-square-foot EXDO Event Center. General admission is five bucks, but it’s worth the $30 early-bird fee (book online before December 8) for the bottomless mimosas, beer and cider tastings, themed parties (ugly sweater, après-ski), and access to more than 70 top-notch makers under one roof. Pro tip: If you’re looking to skirt the fee, arrive within the first hour of the market’s opening time of 11 a.m. 

Cultivate Market, Tucson, AZ

You can be sure every chic, handmade item at Tucson’s Cultivate holiday market is thoughtfully and lovingly made. When the team set out to create this pop-up artisan fair, they started with some goals: bring creatives together, build community, support entrepreneurs and nonprofits, and make use of underutilized spaces in the city. Five years later, the market, which runs twice a year, delivers on every point. This year’s market takes place in an abandoned, 1920s warehouse with a percentage of sales benefitting Casa Alitas program for migrant families. The stock ranges from desert-inspired jewelry by Little Toro Designs to embroidered clutches by Linus Textiles.

Art + Flea Holidaze, Honolulu, HI

For three weekends, spanning late November and early December, the monthly Art + Flea takes on a mirthful vibe as it rotates through stylish locations around Honolulu. Everywhere the shop lands, it brings a killer mix of local and vintage goods from Hawaii-based sellers. More block party-like than shopping strip, the art-centric fair comes with interactive installations, play areas for kids, bands, and food trucks. DJs spin tunes while the island’s stylish creatives peruse a stock of urban graphic tees, breezy linen dresses, island-inspired jewelry (think rings with lava stones, gorgeous orchid-shaped gold earrings), cheeky stationery, and other modern must-haves. Follow the party to the founders’ permanent shop and gathering space, MORI

Cambria Christmas Market, Cambria, CA 

German Christkindlmarkts (street fairs thought to be the O.G.’s of Christmas markets) capture all the festive charm of the holidays. In California, Cambria throws down one of the most spirited of these German-themed fests in the West with a decked-out beer garden, Santa Maria-style barbecue dinners, and an artisan market filled with handmade and locally baked goods. Carolers, pictures with Santa, and train rides help complete the classic affair hosted at the cozy Cambria Pines Lodge. 

Crafty Wonderland, Portland, OR

A hipster version of Santa’s workshop, Crafty Wonderland might take place twice a year, but the holiday market is spectacular. The fest brings together more than 250 Portland artists who trade in everything from screen-printed tees to homemade soaps. Dreamed up in 2006 by two local artists who wanted to sell their own plus their friends’ goods, the market is now the largest handmade craft show in the Northwest. This year’s holiday edition takes place the second weekend of December at the Oregon Convention Center. Can’t make the market? Stop by the two Portland brick-and-mortar locations for local-made, Portlandia-approved goods. 

Emperor Norton’s Holiday Bazaar, San Francisco, CA

For handmade gifts, sweet desserts, and holiday drinks, take a stroll through the first-ever Emperor Norton’s Holiday Bazaar in San Francisco. The free-to-attend market is hosted by Off the Grid, an organization that popularized the food truck movement in SF. You can shop through the winter-themed space and soak in the holiday spirit until December 24.

Winter Bazaar Holiday Night Market, Los Angeles, CA

L.A.’s five-week Winter Bazaar Holiday Night Market—an offshoot of the popular Hollywood Night Market—pops up on Thursdays at Hollywood Hills’ Yamashiro Restaurant, where you’ll also score some of the best views of the city. In addition to holiday movies screened weekly and maybe a run-in with Keanu Reeves (a past night market guest), you’re also in for an evening of full-on caroling, (fun, grown-up) photos with Santa, live music, and a by-donation gift wrapping station with money raised going toward the Free Little Library program. Start with cocktails at the Pagoda Bar before exploring the curated collection of items from independent designers, artists, and chefs across the city. Highly-giftable items run the gamut from vegan fare to CBD-infused oils to feel-good crystal jewelry. 

Wintry Market, Boise, ID

Idaho makers converge at Jack’s Urban Meeting Place in downtown Boise for the WintryMarket. In its ninth year, this Christmas market draws a talented mix of screen printers, jewelers, artists, candle makers, ceramists, and other vetted regional designers—many of which channel the West’s gorgeous scenery in their work. Admission is free, so you can save your pennies for all those coveted goods. Just try not to keep all the loot for yourself. 

Make Good Market, San Francisco, CA

Heath Ceramics hosts this holiday fair at the SF Tile Factory to showcase the region’s thriving design scene. Between the 30-plus sellers, you’ll find zero-waste totes by Aplat, Patagonian sheep wool slippers by Chilote Shoes, and small-batch teas from T Project Teas. Whether it be shopping from Kissweh—who employs Palestinian women in Lebanese refugee camps to make its one-of-a-kind embroidered pillows—or scoring your buddy a Muir Woods-smelling candle from local Destination Fragrances, you’ll feel good knowing anything you buy here carries a story, and many of the products are made with a give-back mission at the core. Demos and personalized gifts are also on tap. 

Little Red Truck’s European Christmas Vintage Market, Missoula, MT

Janie Scheben was a long-time vintage vendor before launching her own antique show, Little Red Truck, five years ago. Another German market-inspired gathering, the event runs twice a year: once in spring or summer and another bigger version always around the holidays. Of course, vintage finds are a big draw, but the European Christmas Market, at the Missoula County Fairgrounds, goes all out with activities for kids, live music, and visits with Santa. After strolling through two buildings filled with throwback and handmade treasures, you can cozy up by one of the bonfires with bratwurst and a steaming mug of mulled wine in hand. Kiddos under 12 get for in free. 

Winter Spanish Market, Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque taps into its Hispanic roots with this holiday market known for its stock of Spanish Colonial-inspired art. Mingle with craftsmen who do traditional woodwork, weaving, pottery, bultos (sculptures of saints), and tinwork, among other artistic mediums. Check out the Youth Gallery to support the next generation of talent preserving and reimagining New Mexico’s centuries-old art traditions. While you shop, musicians play flamenco and mariachi tunes and vendors serve up festive foods. Make a weekend out of it by pairing the market with a visit to the city’s River of Lights festival, when BioPark shines with dozens of holiday displays.