Christmas Fairs & Markets in 2021
This story first appeared on Inside Vancouver in November 2021
Boring Christmas gifts are easy to find. But if you want to add some sparkling originality to your pressie-giving this year, check out some of the brilliant holiday crafts fairs and artisan markets in and around the city.
As I discovered when researching the events section of my 2021 Vancouver Christmas Guide––now in its fifth year and currently seeing record-breaking traffic––almost every pop-up shopping event that was cancelled in 2020 is returning this time around, and there are even some new ones to add to your itinerary.
Ready for a fun season of in-person Christmas gift hunting? Read on for a full serving of local fairs and markets––and keep tabs on our ever-changing events page for updates and ticket giveaways. And, of course, don't forget to check the essential Covid safety measures required by each venue.
The Big Ones
A tree-topper of the holiday shopping scene for almost 50 years, the gigantic Circle Craft Christmas Market returns at the Vancouver Convention Centre West from November 10. The five-day extravaganza will showcase around 200 coast-to-coast artisans––including 40 new ones in 2021––and they’ll be offering everything from artisan soaps to children’s apparel to Métis beadwork. Give yourself plenty of perusing time here!
Also save plenty of time for the Vancouver Christmas Market, the German-style alfresco event at Jack Poole Plaza that’s a must-do for many festive-loving locals. Running from November 13 to December 24, it offers plenty of opportunities for glühwein-glugging and treat-eating (chimney cakes recommended). But don’t forget the dozens of gift-tastic vendor stands––including those authentic German Yuletide crafts––and be sure to add a carousel ride to your visit.
Vancouverites are a highly crafty bunch, which is why there are so many popular artisan markets staged around the city throughout the year. Many of these events operate their biggest and best happenings during the holidays––and they’re typically stocked with a huge and hip selection of unique pressie possibilities.
Start at Yaletown’s Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre on November 20 and 21, where the annual Portobello West Holiday Market will be studded with 80 or so cleverly curated stands. You’ll find a tempting selection of jewellery, fashion, treats and much more here––with DJs and food trucks adding to the festive vibe.
Another hotly-anticipated 2021 comeback is the Eastside Flea at the Eastside Studios Building on Malkin Avenue. Arguably Vancouver’s coolest market, they’ll be staging three weekends of holiday happenings from December 4 onwards. Expect locally-made artisan items, brilliant vintage goods and a highly sociable atmosphere complete with music and food trucks.
Still have some stubborn holdouts on your gift list? Add the two-day Got Craft? Holiday Market at the Croatian Cultural Centre from December 18 to your calendar. They’ll be a brilliant selection of artsy creations from local and regional creatives here. Can’t make the event? Got Craft? is also hosting an online virtual holiday market from November 17––check their website for details.
Face-to-face shopping is what many of us have missed, though. And if you want to add some more in-person events to your schedule, consider another Croatian Cultural Centre option: the popular Crafty Affaire Market takes place on December 4 and 5.
There are also some highly intriguing under-the-radar events this year. Curious about Krampus, the mythological goat-horned demon of Yule? Head to East Vancouver’s Strange Fellows Brewing for the Krampus Markt opening night on Friday December 3, followed by a weekend-long bacchanalia of delicious brews, artisan vendors and the chance to meet the naughty festive fiend in the flesh––you’ll likely need another drink after that particular encounter.
Also back this year is the fantastic Weirdos Holiday Market, which is planning two weekend-long events this time around (December 4 and 5 plus December 11 and 12) at the Venables Hall just off Commercial Drive. Expect an eye-popping array of quirky creations for every discerning coolster on your gift list.
There are also some enticing cross-cultural events to consider. The delightful Japan Christmas Market is back at its subterranean UBC Robson Square venue on December 4. And Burnaby’s Scandinavian Community Centre is again hosting a warm and welcoming Swedish Christmas Market, complete with traditional baked goods and treats, on the weekend of November 20.
There are lots of other events taking place outside Vancouver during the holiday season. Head to the Museum of Surrey on November 20 for the stɑlə̓w̓ Christmas Craft Market where 30 highly creative vendors will offer everything from intricate jewellery to hand-thrown pottery. You’ll find a similar number of vendors a week later at the Port Moody Christmas Craft Fair at City Hall.
Need more? Hop on the SeaBus to North Vancouver for a great gift-buying option just steps from the Lonsdale Quay terminal. This year, the area’s heritage Pipe Shop venue is hosting the Shipyards Christmas Market on the weekend of December 11. It will once again be brimming with a kaleidoscopic array of vendors in a family-friendly setting––complete with a full-on Christmas glow.