How about adding some fun to your holiday shopping? What’s often a stressful activity for many this time of year, can actually be good time for you and the kids — if you know where to go. Here are some local markets that offer more than the standard browse-and-buy, where live entertainment, yummy treats, fun activities, and the chance to shop outdoors in a festive atmosphere will keep your inner-Scrooge at bay as you pick out perfect gifts for all. Happy Shopping!
Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW
When: Daily through 12/23, 12-8pm
This one, to me, is the holiday market in DC. It’s not even so much about the merchandise for sale (though there’s always a great variety of gift items – I never leave empty handed). There’s something about the usually bustling block in the middle of Penn Quarter transforming into an open air market for a few weeks that is so charming and kind of magical, making our big city seems feel like a small town. A bonus is the free live entertainment along with treats and coffee drinks available for purchase. And after you’ve done your shopping and enjoyed a snack and music, you can pop into the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum that are literally right next to the market.
Where: 7th Street SE, between South Carolina & Penn Aves.
When: Year-round Saturdays & Sundays
The outdoor flea market at the centerpiece of the Capitol Hill community is practically a year-round weekend institution for locals. And during the holiday season, it’s a go-to for shoppers seeking unique gifts along with a fun outing. Nearly 200 vendors are there, selling everything from original artwork to fun T-shirts, to handmade jewelry and accessories, to colorful Turkish rugs, to home décor to custom-made and used furniture – and much, much more. If you’re cooking up a holiday meal, you can get fresh produce from farmers’ stalls outside and butchered meats, fancy cheeses, baked goods, pasta, fresh produce, and more inside the actual Eastern Market. Even more, there is often live music courtesy of buskers around the area, and if the kids want some play time afterwards, you can hit one of several parks or playgrounds in the neighborhood (Lincoln Park, at 11th and East Capitol, is the largest and most popular among them).
Harbor Holiday Market
Where: National Harbor
When: Saturday & Sunday through January 5
National Harbor invites you to deck the halls with ideas from their Holiday Market, located on American Way, featuring handmade holiday ornaments and decorations, tasty holiday treats such as cookies and roasted chestnuts, and much more. Regional vendors will be offering holiday goods and specialty foods every weekend throughout the holiday season. Kids will love carousel rides with Santa on Saturdays from 12-2pm ($3/ride), and live entertainment by local school choirs will get everyone in a festive mood on Saturdays at 3pm & 6pm (also Fridays at 6pm).
Sugarloaf Craft Festival
Where: Dulles Expo Center
When: December 13-15
This seasonal fair showcases works by more than 300 top artisans. Pottery, sculpture, glass, jewelry, fashion, home and garden décor, furniture and home accessories, and photography will be on display — and for sale. The best part is that the award-winning festival is a family affair. Parents can shop, and children can enjoy an interactive puppet theater and watch live-demonstrations of iron forging, papermaking, stone sculpting, and other media by the master craftspeople themselves. Not to mention, gourmet goodies hand-made by specialty food vendors always leave everyone wanting more. Tickets are $10/adults at the door $8 in advance online (free for children under 12), and are good all three days of the Festival.
Where: Canal Park
When: Through December 22
Head to the small market at the Navy Yard to enjoy the sights, sounds and flavors of the Holiday Season. Enjoy a hot cup of cocoa, go ice skating (when the rink opens – it’s currently still closed for maintenance), buy holiday décor, or pick out a fresh Douglas or Fraser Firs and have it delivered directly to your house!
Gifts That Give Hope
Where: Calvary United Methodist Church
When: December 14, 10am – 2pm
Instead of giving another tie or candle this year, how about boxing up hope and happiness? Gifts That Give Hope Arlington is holding their 3rd annual Gift Fair, capturing the holiday spirit in a way that redefines the notion of meaningful, alternative gift giving. This year’s fair will feature 15 local and global nonprofit organizations, many of them based in Arlington. Shoppers will have the opportunity to peruse the tables hosted by each organization and purchase alternative gifts that will directly benefit the mission of those organizations. There will also be refreshments, face painting, and kids activities.
Holiday Gift Market
Where: National Museum of Women in the Arts
When: December 18-20
So, this market may not be ideal for a family affair, but it sounds like a nice one for moms (or someone looking for a present for mom) to check out. Five fabulous women will be featured at the Holiday Market: Diane Ginsburg, Keithley Pierce, Meena Tharmaratnam, Cindy Hornaman, and Melanie Ferrara. Selling their jewelry, textiles, and home and personal accessories, all of them will attend the trunk show for a meet-and-greet event with shoppers held on Wednesday, December 18, through Friday, December 20, from 10am – 5pm with extended hours on Wednesday until 7pm. Museum members will receive double discounts (20%).