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 my Vancouver Christmas Guide website this year––we’re now in our sixth 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 2022 favourites. Need more info? Keep tabs on our ever-changing Events page for updates, giveaways and more.
The Famous Ones
The wildly popular Vancouver Christmas Market at downtown’s Jack Poole Plaza isn’t just about shopping. Running from November 12 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––look out for honey, craft cider and traditional German Christmas ornaments this year.
Also save plenty of perusing time for the return of Yaletown’s Portobello West Annual Roundhouse Holiday Market. It’s on November 26 and 27 this year, and you can expect a cleverly-curated array of 60+ regional vendors––with everything from jewellery to skincare and from fashion to gourmet treats on the tables.
The giant Dunbar Holiday Craft Fair is also back for its 38th edition on November 26. Live entertainment and more than 140 vendors lure the crowds here––arrive early to avoid the crush. And if you’re keen to browse in opulent splendour, the University Women’s Club of Vancouver will be opening the doors of its festively decorated Shaughnessy mansion for Hycroft for the Holidays. Running for three days from November 18, there will be 40 stands here.
Vancouverites are a highly crafty bunch, with countless artisan markets staged around the city throughout the year. But 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.
Consider the weekend-long Got Craft? Holiday Market at the Croatian Cultural Centre. Running from November 19, it features 90 vendors, food trucks and a special selection of junior craft entrepreneurs selling their clever creations. Can’t make those dates? Head to the PNE Forum between December 7 and 11 for the 265-booth Make It! Show––the perfect place to polish off your gift-buying a couple of weeks before the big day.
Also back for 2022 is the Eastside Flea at the Eastside Studios Building on Malkin Avenue. Arguably Vancouver’s hippest market, they’re staging three weekends of holiday events from December 3 onwards. You’ll find locally made items, vintage goods and a party-like atmosphere complete with music and food trucks.
Keen to keep shopping? Consider the holiday editions of Made in the 604––artisan-forward pop-ups running at Heritage Hall on Main Street and at North Vancouver’s Pipe Shop––see their website for dates. Alternatively, three Crafty Affaire markets will also be running in Vancouver, Richmond and South Surrey this year––visit their website for details.
There are also some intriguing under-the-radar events this year. For unique handmade creations, check out the 35 stands at the November 26 and 27 West End Holiday Craft Fair. And don’t miss the intriguing Very Victorian Christmas Market at the nearby Roedde House Museum on December 4, complete with vintage-feel pressie ideas.
And if you want to avoid the crowds of some holiday events, consider South Vancouver’s charming Tugboat Landing Artisan Market on December 3 and 4, with its 20 or so vendors and family-friendly Christmas 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 until December 22.
And There’s More!
There are also a couple of decidedly quirky options this year. Head to Strange Fellows Brewing for the Krampus Markt opening night on Friday December 9, followed by a weekend-long bacchanalia of delicious brews, 30+ artisan vendors and the chance to meet the mythological goat-horned demon of Yule himself.
Also returning in 2022, the fantastic Weirdos Holiday Market is planning two weekend-long events (December 9 to 11 and December 16 to 18) at the Russian Hall in Strathcona. Expect an eye-popping array of idiosyncratic creations for every discerning coolster on your gift list.
And if you want to enjoy a taste of how other cultures see the holidays, there are two more options to try. Burnaby’s Scandinavian Community Centre is hosting its warm and festive Swedish Christmas Fair, complete with traditional crafts and baked goods, on the weekend of November 19. And the Japan Christmas Market is back at UBC Robson Square on December 3 and 4, complete with the kind of brilliant gift ideas you’ll never find anywhere else.
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 2022 holiday happenings. The site was co-created with Christmas Cat Max, who pens its gift reviews and often appears on its @MyVanChristmas Twitter feed.