Online Christmas shopping isn’t nearly as much fun as browsing independent vendor stands––and enjoying the warmly festive vibe––at a well-curated local holiday market. And they’re always a great way to find brilliantly original pressies for absolutely everyone on your gift list.
Researching our Vancouver Christmas Guide website this year––we’re now in our seventh season––I discovered that Metro Vancouver is crammed like a bulging Yuletide stocking with a massive array of enticing festive fairs and markets.
Some are large and well known. Others are much smaller but just as rewarding. The trick is to know when and where they are, and to plan your shopping excursions accordingly. Luckily, we’ve made it easier for you with a handy round-up of some of our 2023 favourites.Check out our Events page for additional markets as well as late-breaking happenings––and keep an eye on this story, which we will update as more markets connect with us and announce their details for this year.
The Famous Ones
The wildly popular Vancouver Christmas Market at downtown’s Jack Poole Plaza isn't just about shopping. Running from November 16 to December 24, this twinkling annual attraction includes a carousel, selfie-ready illuminations and lots of tasty food stands. But we particularly love exploring the dozens of little wooden vendor huts––especially if we can find some traditional German Christmas ornaments.
Also save plenty of perusing time for the gigantic, five-day Circle Craft Holiday Market at downtown's Convention Centre West, where almost 300 artisan vendors await. And don't miss the return of Yaletown’s Portobello West Annual Roundhouse Holiday Market. It’s on November 25 and 26 this year, and you can expect a cleverly-curated array of 65+ regional vendors––with everything from jewellery to skincare to gourmet treats on the tables.
Metro Vancouverites are a highly crafty bunch, with countless artisan markets staged around the city throughout the year. But the holidays sees the highest concentration of market happenings––and they’re typically stocked with a great array of unique pressie possibilities.
Consider the 40-vendor Deer Lake Winter Festival in Burnaby or the Cloverdale Christmas Craft Fair, where more than 100 vendors will be offering everything from aromatic soaps to cute kids clothing. And we can't wait for this year's edition of the First Pick Handmade Holiday Pop-Up Market––as well as its brand new sister event, Good Stuff Market. In fact, we recommend visiting both!
There are also some intriguing under-the-radar events this year. For unique handmade creations, check out the 35 stands at the November 25 and 26 West End Holiday Craft Fair. And don’t miss the old-school Marpole Christmas Fair, a fundraiser for the area's Historical Society and a reminder of how yesteryear community festive fairs and events used to feel (homemade baking included).
And if you want to avoid the crowds of some holiday events, consider South Vancouver’s charming Tugboat Landing Artisan Market on December 2 and 3, with its 20 or so vendors and family-friendly vibe. We’ll also be hopping on the SkyTrain to Port Coquitlam, where the PoMo Arts Centre is again hosting its Winter Treasures Artisan Market every day from November 9 to December 20. And if art is your bag, you'll also find plenty to explore at Vancouver's ever-friendly Pacific Arts Market, where a busy series of seasonal events starts with their November 12 Holiday Bazaar.
For more information on the festive events, shows and attractions in the city and beyond, visit the Vancouver Christmas Guide. Written by Lonely Planet travel writer John Lee, it’s the best online guide to the area’s 2023 holiday happenings. The site was co-created with Christmas Cat Max, who pens its gift reviews and often appears on its @MyVanChristmas Twitter feed.