Top 10 Canadian Christmas market fairs

November 18, 2016

by Gene Kosowan

What’s old is what’s new again. Before mega-malls and monolithic box stores, there was a more community-minded form of exchange to celebrate the holiday season. And even during the most rampant waves of Yuletide commercialism, Christmas market fairs have more than held their own. Here are 10 such events taking place across Canada. [Image credit:]

Top 10 Canadian Christmas market fairs


What could be more rustic and romantic than rubbing shoulders with the locals within plain view of the majestic Rockies?  Every year at this time, the Warner Stables morphs into the Banff Christmas Market, a Yuletide, community-oriented event with more than 60 vendors selling everything from art and furnishings to health foods and cleaning products, with live entertainment to suit the mood of the season. An outdoor bar and fireside lounge will be serving up specialty hot beverages. (Nov. 24-26, Warner Stables, $5 admission, kids 10 and under are free)


Listed as a Buzzfeed International 10-best and bolstered by a hearty thumbs up from USA Today, the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery Heritage District greets patrons with a blend of traditional and modern mindsets about the spirit of giving. It’s the accent on the Old World that garners the most attention, whether it be gingerbread, fudge, poutine, shortbread, Oktoberfest sausage, woodcutter works, furnishings or interior decorations. As for more modern twists, for openers check out wax candles made from soy. (Nov. 16 to Dec. 23, Distillery Heritage District, Free admission during the week, $6 on weekends) [Photo courtesy of Toronto Christmas Market]



Spruce Meadows, Canada’s mecca for everything equestrian, converts its jump-laden field of competition into the International Christmas Market, with activities that include Candy Cane and Reindeer Alley. In the riding hall, take a gander at the wares courtesy of more than 300 vendors and choose from an assortment of seasonal foods and unique gift items. Or take a break with your buds and indulge in a hot chocolate in the fire pits area. (Nov. 17-19, Nov. 24-26 and Dec. 1-3, Spruce Meadows, $12 admission at the gate, $10 for online ticket purchases)


Most of the year, the University of Alberta’s Universiade Pavilion, which locals call the Butterdome, is a training ground for some of the country’s best athletes. But for one weekend, the spacious interior is transformed into the Butterdome Craft Sale, featuring some 275 artists and vendors from across Canada. You’ll find loads of art here, with some practical gift ideas and even some stocking stuffers. (Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, Universiade Pavilion, $7 admission, kids 17 and under are free)


Just look for the Olympic cauldron and you’ll come within a stone’s throw of the Vancouver Christmas Market, a German-inspired way for Lotusland folks to get into Yuletide mode. It’s meant as a mix and mingle affair, complete with traditional food and drinks, but is still very family-friendly. Take advantage of the Christmas Carousel or check out the merchant booths throughout Jack Poole Plaza that offer such crafts as wood carvings, homemade toys, knitted apparel, nutcrackers and pottery. (Nov. 22-Dec. 23, Jack Poole Plaza, $10 admission, seniors $9, kids 7-12 $5) [Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver/Rishad Daroowala]



Some of the best creator of crafts in the Atlantic province converge at the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council Christmas Show for unique takes on visual art, glassware, metal works, wood works and much more. Also check out how some of these items are made as a rotating schedule features workshops and demonstrations by artists throughout the event, which takes place at the Cunard Event Centre. (Nov. 17-19, Cunard Event Centre at Pier 23, $7 admission, $6 for students and seniors, kids under 12 free)


The popular Holiday Street Market has a new location this year, moving from Mississauga to Milton. A pop-up affair to generate some Christmas spirit, the market sees vendors selling holiday gift items plus delicacies from hot apple cider to gingerbread. Featured events and activities include a poutine festival, a scavenger hunt race with a $1,000 prize, plenty of how-to workshops, a marshmallow fire pit and live music performances, as well as a big Christmas tree light-up. (Dec, 2, 9 and 16, Downtown Milton, Free admission)


Look for a giant inflatable tent, where le Grande Marché de Nöel in Place des Arts allows the youngsters to pay a visit to Santa in his igloo and wander through the Enchanted Forest, while the grown-ups stock up on gift items for the holiday season. There’s a ton of options at this market running the gamut from cheese kits by U Main cheese kits and Tabacc Candles to CBC paraphernalia and wine and spirits by Boutique SAQ. Live entertainment also varies with each day. (Dec. 1-24, Free admission)


The nation’s capital hosts its perennial Ottawa Farmers’ Market’s Christmas Market in Lansdowne Park where about 120 vendors place an emphasis on local products and produce. Expect a wide variety of items from nifty gift ideas to fresh food to fulfill any outstanding ingredients you need for Christmas dinner. A rotating event schedule offers an eclectic array of live entertainment and kids’ activities. (Dec. 2-3, Dec. 9-10, and Dec. 23, Aberdeen Pavilion, Free admission; Dec. 16-17 at the EY Centre)


Saskatchewan’s self-describe premier festival of handcrafts pulls out all the stops for the Sundog Arts & Entertainment Faire, which has been adding vendors to its lineup the last 40 years to the point where the event now boasts more than 200 exhibitors. With a special emphasis on handmade crafts, stocking stuffers galore are up for sale here inside SaskTel Centre. While mulling over what to get, take advantage of a mainstage of non-stop live entertainment or a multi-ethnic food court. (Dec. 1-3, SaskTel Centre, $10 admission, kids under 12 free)

One of the best things about the wares you purchase at these fairs is the fact that they’re not assembly-line items, but one-of-a-kind gifts made from the heart by artists. Adding that extra element of passion goes a long way into getting more out of the spirit of giving.

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