These Holiday Markets Boast Chic Artisan Goods and Loads of Cheer
‘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.
It’s time to go holiday shopping again. But as the end of the year approaches, it can be hard to find time to slip away to buy presents, ornaments, and decorations. Unless of course, that shopping trip can be turned into a family adventure. All over the West, there are Christmas shops and markets that offer family fun and holiday shopping at the same time. These places are mini-wonderlands of seasonal decorations and goodies sure to entertain and fascinate the kids while also letting you find everything you need for the holiday season in one place.
Benefitting from the West’s design-savvy, maker population, the region is stocked with bazaars that pair talented creatives with seasonal merriment. It doesn’t have to be just a shopping trip either. While there are plenty of specialized Christmas stores with inventories full of locally made unique items, many of the markets have much more to offer. From all kinds of food to skating rinks, and from replica North Poles to more holiday booze than you could ask for, some Christmas markets are veritable mini amusement parks for kids and adults alike.
Bring the family to one of these markets near you and make progress on seasonal shopping while creating a fun family memory at the same time. 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 Zepplin Station on Black Friday weekend. General admission is free, but VIP tickets ranging from $30 to $40 give you access to the bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys, beer and cider tastings, VIP music tents, and access to more than 80 top-notch makers under one roof.
Christkindlmarkt SLC, Salt Lake City, UT
It’s time for Christmas in the desert with this market. Another in the collection of Christmas markets that take their lead from German tradition, it features plenty of German food, over 90 vendor stalls, a gnome fest, parades, and visits with St. Nicolaus Haus. But this market has a unique element to it. The whole thing is based on St. Martin, a man who cut his cloak in half to give to a beggar, according to German stories. The market is focused on a theme of honoring service and celebrating giving and hosts a number of children’s parades honoring St. Martin. This year the market is also supporting the St. Martin’s Project, which aims to provide resources to the Navajo community amid the pandemic and economic crisis. Christkindlmarkt SLC is being held this year in This is the Place Heritage Park from Dec. 1-4.
The McCall Christmas House, McCall, ID
The McCall Christmas House is the largest Christmas store in the state of Idaho. Open year-round, it offers anything and everything you could need for Christmas. From all kinds of Santas to Christmas pillows and from Christmas village buildings to nutcrackers, you could spend hours wandering around looking at all the Christmas items they have to offer. Whether you need ornaments, signs, or Christmas table settings, you’re sure to find it at Idaho’s biggest Christmas store.
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 from Nov. 26 to Dec. 23.
Susan’s Christmas Shop, Santa Fe, NM
Susan Weber has owned and operated her shop in downtown Santa Fe for 43 years and sells all kinds of handmade Christmas items made by over 140 artists, including local Pueblo artists. It offers nativities in traditional, Southwest, and Navajo styles, ornaments in the traditional retablo style, and East German wooden figures. Also available is a line of glass ornaments depicting local landmarks which Susan helped design, Russian wool challis shawls, and pieces made out of German pewter. The shop is located in historic downtown Santa Fe and can also be visited online.
Crafty Wonderland, Portland, OR
Crafty Wonderland might only 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, with a ticketed shopping event on Friday and free public access on Saturday and Sunday. Can’t make the market? Stop by the two Portland brick-and-mortar locations for locally-made, Portlandia-approved goods.
Montana Gift Corral, Bozeman, MT
The Montana Gift Corral has been a favorite among Montana travelers since 1993. Originally intended as a place to get all kinds of Montana-themed souvenirs, it also has a selection of Christmas items unique to the Gift Corral. It offers ornaments, figurines, and art all made by Montana craftsmen. It has ornaments and figurines featuring native Montana wildlife like bears, moose, and buffalo, Yellowstone-themed ornaments, and art portraying the winter beauty of Montana, as well as all the classic Christmas designs. The Gift Corral can be visited at the stores and outlets in and around Bozeman or online.
SkyPark at Santa’s Village, Lake Arrowhead, CA
Head out to Skyforest, CA to combine holiday fun with history by visiting the first franchised theme park in the United States. The original Santa’s Village opened six weeks before Disneyland in 1955. Today, the original vision and whimsy of Santa’s Village is still going strong with plenty of sights, activities, and entertainment for the whole family. Open from Nov. 17 to Jan. 2, the village is home to Santa’s house, where you can meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus, Santa’s workshop and post office, a skating rink, and much more. Adult tickets are $69 and child tickets are $59.
Denver Christkindlmarket, Denver, CO
It’s back to Germany again but this time in Denver. This particular continuation of European holiday traditions has been going on for 20 years and brings together German culture and food and Coloradan artistry. The market offers all the Bavarian favorites like pretzels, smoked salmon, and plenty of beer. Plus, you can try authentic glühwein, traditional German mulled wine. The market also features a number of cabins, each hosting a Coloradan or international artist selling their handcrafted holiday gifts and treats. This year’s Christkindlmarket is being held in Civic Center Park from Nov. 19 to Dec. 23 and has no admission cost.
Wintry Market, Boise, ID
Idaho makers converge at the Boise Convention Center for the WintryMarket. In its tenth year, this Christmas market draws a talented mix of screen printers, jewelers, artists, candle makers, ceramists, and other vetted regional designers—many of whom channel the West’s gorgeous scenery in their work. This year’s market is on Nov. 13 and 14. Admission is only $5 so you’ll have plenty of pennies left over for all those coveted goods. Just try not to keep all the loot for yourself.
Kris Kringl, Leavenworth, WA
Welcome to another year-round Christmas store, this time in central Washington. Open since 1986, Kris Kringl offers all kinds of Christmas decor. In addition to a selection of smaller, more local items, it also sells more notable Christmas brands, including Christopher Radko ornaments and Fontanini nativity sets. The German name isn’t for nothing either, as Kris Kringl also features several varieties of impressively wood-carved cuckoo clocks, music boxes, and figurines, made in and imported from Germany. Kris Kringl has an online store and can also be visited in person in the heart of the Bavarian Village in Leavenworth.
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, seven 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. This year the market is Dec. 3 and 4 with a $5 admission for one day and $10 for both days. Kids under 12 get for in free.