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The Holiday Markets to Visit This Season

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.


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 shops offering freshly baked pies and artisans creating one-of-a-kind decorations with the words "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

Whenever you go shopping, you may as well buy one of everything and then go home with a sack full of trinkets to impress your BFF, roommate, or lover.

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.

It is all bright and cheery with twinkling lights at seasonal markets. Spending all of our money on chocolate-covered pretzels and ornaments!

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.

Disinterested in the holiday season? We should visit the Christmas market. Here we are completely content, so you better believe it!

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 

Warm weather for Christmas markets and hot chocolate. The Christmas market is anything you make it. May all of your vibes say "Fa la la."

Cambria Christmas Market

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

Nestled along Highway 1, just north of San Luis Obispo, this charming seaside village remains untouched by the typical tourist crowds and commercial chains that populate other coastal destinations. Yet, when the holiday season arrives, it transforms with its genuine German-style Christmas market, becoming a highlight not just locally but far beyond. On any given visit, you might stumble upon outdoor booths showcasing handcrafted treasures by local craftsmen, alongside a selection of imported German delights, including traditional ornaments and nutcrackers. The market offers a feast for the senses with its array of German culinary treats, live music, cozy fire pits, and festive atmosphere, all illuminated by the glow of countless twinkling LED Christmas lights. This event is celebrated as one of the premier holiday markets in California, inviting a magical exploration under the stars.

Put your Grinch face away while you rest. There's a town Christmas market. An event market and the Christmas season are a great pair. Let's wait.

Alpine Village Torrance

Location: 833 West Torrance Boulevard, Torrance
Admission: Free

Opened in 1958, this enchanting village evokes the spirit of Bavaria, offering a European escape close to Los Angeles. Within its bounds, the Alpine Market presents a vast selection of European delicacies, featuring a resident master sausage maker who crafts award-winning sausages, alongside a variety of baked goods and German beverages. As the holiday season approaches, the village amplifies its charm by hosting a complimentary Christmas fair, inspired by the festive markets of Bavaria. This month-long celebration, taking a pause on Christmas Day, invites visitors to an indoor-outdoor wonderland adorned with a myriad of decorations perfect for gifting. Attendees are also treated to an array of vendors peddling holiday ornaments and the chance to savor culinary delights from food trucks dotting the venue.

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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