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The Holiday Markets to Visit This Season
Lifestyle

The Holiday Markets to Visit This Season

At California's holiday markets, every gift comes with a story. Check out these Christmas markets in L.A. and S.F. to finish your shopping.

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5 min read

December 09, 2021

Now that the insanity of Black Friday is solidly behind us, the gift-giving season is notably calmer. Though the idea of purchasing presents—seemingly for everyone you’ve ever met—remains daunting, California’s holiday markets make the task much less stressful. You will not only find one-of-a-kind items at the artisan markets in Los Angeles, but also take part in an experience that has Golden State written all over it.

From browsing for handmade goods on the Santa Monica Pier, to munching on holiday snacks along Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, to participating in kids’ activities at the iconic Union Station in Los Angeles, there’s plenty to do at California Christmas markets and fairs—and every gift comes with a story. 

Before you cruise back to the mall to finish up your holiday shopping, check out the best holiday and Christmas markets in Los Angeles and San Francisco. 

The San Francisco Bay Area’s Best Christmas Markets 

There are the bakeries that are selling freshly-made pies, and the artists who are making personalized ornaments that read "Snow place like home."

SF Bazaar Holiday NightLife

Location: California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Admission: $15 per person or $12 with a California Academy of Sciences membership

NightLife is a weekly event at the California Academy of Sciences that involves music, entertainment, and science alongside the exhibits, but the SF Bazaar Holiday NightLife event is one of the museum’s most-attended nights of the year. Complete with dozens of handmade and locally designed goods, the Academy of Sciences transforms into a Christmas haven that you won’t want to miss. Twinkling lights, mistletoe, hub-grub that simply soothes the soul—science will contain a little bit of magic this time of year.

Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair

Location: Telegraph Avenue (between Dwight and Bancroft Ways), Berkeley
Admission: Free

Make your way out to the Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair for six days of fun. This Berkeley event is one of the largest Christmas markets in the Bay Area, featuring 200 incredible artisans selling everything from pottery to puppets. Stroll the street for family-friendly goods from the Bay Area's top vendors, grab a bite to eat, take advantage of the free gift wrapping, and get in the holiday spirit

The Los Angeles Area’s Best Christmas Markets

Without fail, you may pick up one of everything before rushing home with a bag of goodies to show your best friend, roomie, or significant other.

Echo Park Craft Fair

Location: Mack Sennett Studios (outside on Effie Street) and the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center, Los Angeles
Admission: $15 general admission, free for children under the age of 13

The Echo Park Craft Fair is entering its 10th consecutive year and continues to serve as a gathering space where local creatives can connect and inspire—holiday season or not, this is the place to be. Filled with 150-plus artisans, this two-day event is the perfect way to find your next favorite artist and to meet your neighbors. Savor snacks and coffee from nearby eateries as you support the Makers Movement. Take your support a step further by attending the preview party on Friday, December 6, to mingle with the artists, enjoy some food, and listen to music in support of Inner-City Arts.

Twinkly lights and holiday market nights, everything is snow merry and bright here. Buying every ornament and chocolate-covered pretzel we see!

Unique Markets at Santa Monica Pier

Location: Santa Monica Pier
Admission: $12, free for children ages 12 and under

Unique Markets takes advantage of Santa Monica’s sand and sunshine with a holiday experience like no other. Enjoy a day full of ocean breezes and amazing finds as you peruse the 100-plus vendor booths, munch on food-truck fare, sway to DJ beats, and indulge in free drinks from Califia Farms, Revive Kombucha, and Harmless Harvest coconut water. Make sure to pick up Unique Markets’ exclusive Apolis bag to support these Los Angeles artisans and keep your new treasures safe. 

Wrap all of your gifts right there on the spot, but don’t leave right away—you’ll miss the chance to take your holiday portrait and play a few outdoor games before heading to the shoreline.

Not in the mood for Christmas? Let's go shopping at the holiday market. You'd better believe this is our happy place!

Union Station Holiday Festival and Artisan Market

Location: Union Station (South Patio), Los Angeles
Admission: Free

Join 40-plus artisans, live bands, and food trucks at the third annual Union Station Holiday Festival. This pop-up event is ideal for a day of family fun; finish up your Christmas list before you visit Santa, join the elves in their workshop, and watch puppets come to life in the marionette theater before finishing up your holiday shopping. Featuring everything from woodwork and home goods to skincare products and jewelry, this market has something for everyone. 

Other Favorite Holiday Markets in California 

Hot chocolate and holiday market weather. The holiday market is whatever you bake of it. May all your vibes say, 'Fa la la.

Cambria Christmas Market

Location: 2905 Burton Drive, Cambria
Admission: Ranging between $15–$25, depending on the night

This pretty seaside town along Highway 1—only a little north of San Luis Obispo—doesn’t usually get floods of crowds or chain names that flock all the way to other coastal towns. However, come the holiday season, and its authentic, German-style Christmas market becomes the talk of the town (and a lot of other towns as a matter of fact). Depending on the day, you may find open-air stalls that sell handcrafted items from local artisans, imported German goods like ornaments and nutcrackers, as well multiple takes on the traditional German dining experience (live music, fire puts, festive grub, and all that jazz). A trip to one of the best holiday markets in the Golden State is a must, especially since it takes place under a few million sparkling LED Christmas lights.

Put away your resting Grinch face. There's a holiday market in town. What's a better duo than the holidays and a market? We'll wait.

Alpine Village Torrance

Location: 833 West Torrance Boulevard, Torrance
Admission: Free

This year-round, Bavarian-style village opened in 1958 and offers up a slice of Europe anytime you’re in the Los Angeles area. Its own Alpine Market sells an impressive assortment of European groceries, including award-winning sausages—there’s a master sausage maker in house—baked goods, and German drinks. But during the four weeks leading up to Christmas (it’s closed on Christmas Day), the village takes everything a step further by putting on a free Christmas faire modeled after the traditional markets found in Bavaria. The indoor-outdoor festival boasts plenty of decorations you can take home to family alongside vendors who sell holiday trinkets; don’t forget to check out the food trucks while you’re there. 

In need of a little extra holiday cheer? Add these Christmas fairs and a trip to the “Merriest Place on Earth” to your to-do list.

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