Horse-drawn carriages decorated with garlands and lights, parked on a busy street lined with festive buildings and trees, with a crowd of people in the background.

Christmas Markets in California: Discover Festive Holiday Shopping Spots

California is home to some of the most enchanting Christmas markets in the country.

From bustling city squares to charming small towns, these markets capture the magic of the holiday season.

Whether you’re looking to buy unique artisan crafts or simply soak in a winter wonderland atmosphere, California has something special for everyone.

Colorful stalls line the streets, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. The air is filled with the aroma of spiced cider and roasted nuts, and joyful music fills the air

Discover festive celebrations in locations like San Francisco’s Union Square and Daly City’s Great Dickens Christmas Fair.

Each market offers a mix of holiday cheer, family-friendly activities, and cultural traditions.

For those looking for a white Christmas, spots like Nevada City’s Victorian Christmas provide a cozy escape with its vintage charm.

Plan your visit to these magical markets and create unforgettable holiday memories with your family.

Key Takeaways

Union Square Holiday Market, San Francisco

Crowds browse festive stalls at Union Square Holiday Market, surrounded by twinkling lights and colorful decorations

The Union Square Holiday Market in San Francisco is a vibrant celebration featuring local art, unique crafts, and festive decorations.

This market offers a distinctive holiday shopping experience amidst the iconic Christmas tree and joyful atmosphere of Union Square.

History and Significance

Union Square has been a central holiday gathering place for decades.

It started as a modest event but has grown to be one of San Francisco’s quintessential Christmas markets.

This market brings together the community and tourists, offering a blend of holiday cheer and local culture.

The market’s historical charm lies in its enduring presence.

From its earlier days, the event has consistently showcased local vendors and artists, becoming a staple of the Bay Area’s holiday traditions.

Unique Features

What sets the Union Square Holiday Market apart are its unique features.

The towering Christmas tree, often more than 80 feet tall, is a breathtaking centerpiece adorned with lights and decorations. It stands proud, capturing the holiday spirit.

You can explore a variety of handmade arts and crafts, from jewelry to holiday ornaments.

Vendors from across the Bay Area come here, offering you exclusive pieces you won’t find anywhere else.

Additionally, the market includes live entertainment, ensuring your visit is filled with festive music and joy.

Finally, the location in Union Square adds a magical touch. You can enjoy the surrounding attractions like the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink, making it a full holiday experience packed into one picturesque spot.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, Daly City

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The Great Dickens Christmas Fair in Daly City brings Victorian London to life, featuring historical elements, unique attractions, and an immersive experience. Here’s what you need to know about its rich history, distinctive features, and must-see highlights.

Historical Context

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair started in the 1970s and has grown into a beloved annual event.

Held at the Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, the fair takes you back to the 19th century, recreating the atmosphere of Victorian London.

This event pays tribute to Charles Dickens and his iconic characters, making you feel like you’ve stepped into his novels.

Significantly, the fair has weathered many changes, including a relocation after the 1989 earthquake.

Now firmly established in Daly City, it continues to attract visitors from all around, celebrating everything Dickensian.

The historical setting immerses guests in what many consider an authentic Victorian holiday experience, complete with cobblestone streets and period costumes.

Distinctive Elements

One of the standout features of the Great Dickens Christmas Fair is its attention to detail.

You’ll find winding lanes that mimic the old streets of London, making it feel like you’re truly in that era.

The event spans over five weekends, starting from late November and running through December.

Actors in costumed characters portraying Dickens’ famous figures roam the streets, engaging with visitors.

The fair boasts various music halls, theatres, pubs, and dance parties.

The atmosphere is filled with enticing aromas from street vendors selling roasted chestnuts and other seasonal treats. This immersive experience makes it a unique holiday outing.

Top Attractions

There are several attractions you’ll want to check out.

First, the music halls present Victorian-themed performances that include carols, plays, and even magic shows.

Themed shops overflowing with hand-made holiday treasures are perfect for unique gifts, and you’ll find plenty of items inspired by Dickens’ works.

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Food stalls offer traditional Victorian treats, including mince pies and mulled wine.

There are also dance parties where you can join in and learn Victorian-era dances.

Another highlight is the fair’s dedication to arts and performances, ensuring that there’s always something entertaining happening around you.

For a truly memorable experience, don’t miss the costumed characters who bring the world of Dickens to life.

You might even encounter Ebenezer Scrooge or Tiny Tim as you wander through the busy streets of this magical fair.

Los Angeles Christmas Market, Los Angeles

Crowds browse festive stalls at the Los Angeles Christmas Market, surrounded by twinkling lights and fragrant evergreen wreaths

Los Angeles offers a diverse mix of holiday markets. You’ll find everything from historic traditions to unique gifts and festive activities for the whole family.

Historical Background

Los Angeles Christmas markets have roots in European holiday traditions brought over by immigrants.

These markets began as small, community events. Over time, they grew into popular destinations for locals and tourists alike.

In the 20th century, these markets began to gain prominence.

They became a significant part of the city’s holiday celebrations. Key locations like The Grove and the Westfield Century City Mall have become staples.

Today, these markets blend tradition with modern flair. The influence of Hollywood and the diverse culture of L.A. ensure a unique holiday experience.

Special Features

What sets the Los Angeles Christmas markets apart is their range of activities and entertainment.

From live music to Santa Claus visits, there’s something for everyone.

You’ll often find ice skating rinks and light displays.

At Angel City Market, for example, you can enjoy a winter wonderland setting. Meanwhile, Unique Markets showcase handmade goods and local artistry.

Food is also a highlight. Traditional treats like hot cocoa and gingerbread are readily available.

Some markets even feature international cuisine, catering to L.A.’s diverse population.

Recommended Stops

To get the most out of your visit, there are a few must-see spots in Los Angeles.

The Renegade Craft Fair offers unique, handmade gifts. It’s a great place to find one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

The Burbank Village is another must-visit spot. Known for its charming atmosphere, it features local vendors and festive decorations.

Lastly, don’t miss out on Hollywood Christmas Parade. This market includes a parade with floats, performers, and Santa Claus himself, making it a favorite for families.

Downtown Holiday Market, Sacramento

Colorful stalls line the streets, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. Shoppers browse through an array of artisanal goods, while the scent of hot cocoa and roasted chestnuts fills the air

The Downtown Holiday Market in Sacramento is a vibrant event where local artisans showcase unique gifts and delicious food and drink.

You can explore beautifully decorated stalls filled with Christmas lights reminiscent of a traditional German Christmas market.

The Story Behind

The Downtown Holiday Market is a beloved tradition in Sacramento.

Established to support local artisans and small businesses, this market allows creators to present their handmade goods to the community.

Each year, it offers a festive atmosphere complete with twinkling lights and holiday decorations.

The market runs every weekend in December.

Vendors eagerly prepare, ensuring each stall offers something special.

From holiday crafts to gourmet treats, you’ll find many items made with care and creativity.

This market highlights Sacramento’s diverse culture and talent, embracing the holiday spirit.

Key Attractions

One of the main attractions is the open-air stalls that line the streets.

These stalls feature a variety of products, such as handmade jewelry, unique home decor, and one-of-a-kind art pieces. It’s easy to find a perfect gift here.

The market also hosts food and drink vendors serving seasonal delights like hot cocoa, mulled wine, and roasted nuts. These vendors help create a cozy, festive mood.

Christmas lights adorn the entire market, enhancing its magical atmosphere.

You’ll also find live music performances, adding to the excitement.

Children and families can enjoy special activities, making it an ideal outing for all ages.

Visitor’s Guide

If you plan to visit, here’s what you need to know.

The Downtown Holiday Market operates from 12 PM to 7 PM on Saturdays and Sundays in December. It’s located at 1030 K Street, right in the heart of Sacramento.

Parking can be limited, so consider using public transportation. Buses and light rail have stops nearby.

Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress warmly, as the event is outdoors.

Bring cash and cards since not all vendors may accept electronic payments.

Arriving early can help you avoid the crowds and enjoy a more leisurely shopping experience.

Don’t miss out on seeing the beautiful Christmas lights after sunset.

Solvang Julefest, Solvang

Snow-covered village square with festive stalls, twinkling lights, and a towering Christmas tree. Half-timbered buildings adorned with wreaths and garlands. Joyful atmosphere with carolers and holiday decorations

Solvang Julefest is a magical celebration that highlights this Danish-American community’s rich heritage and vibrant holiday spirit.

You can experience both the cultural charm and the festive cheer of Solvang during this unique event.

Cultural Heritage

Solvang Julefest is deeply rooted in Danish traditions. Founded by Danish immigrants in 1911, Solvang means “sunny field” in Danish.

The town’s architecture and customs reflect this heritage, especially during Julefest.

During the festival, you can see traditional Danish activities like the Santa Lucia parade, which showcases children dressed in white gowns and crowns of lighted candles.

There are also Danish folk dances and songs that bring the town’s old-world charm to life.

Additionally, many vendors sell Danish foods such as æbleskiver (pancake balls) and gløgg (mulled wine). This dedication to maintaining Danish customs makes Solvang Julefest a unique cultural experience.

Noteworthy Features

One of the main highlights of Solvang Julefest is the Christmas Tree Lighting. This event, scheduled for December 6-8, 2024, transforms the town into a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights.

The festival also features a lively parade, which includes floats, music, and dancers. The parade is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

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Live music performances throughout the event add to the festive atmosphere, creating a joyful scene for all ages.

Another noteworthy feature is the Maker’s Market, held on December 6. It is styled after traditional European night markets and offers handmade crafts, local goods, and delicious holiday treats.

This open-air market is perfect for finding unique gifts and enjoying the festive cheer under the stars.

Solvang Julefest also includes a beer and wine garden, adding a modern twist to the traditional festivities. You can sample local wines and craft beers while enjoying the holiday lights and entertainment.

For more details about the event, visit Solvang’s official page on Solvang Julefest.

Holiday Ice Rink and Christmas Market, Pershing Square, Los Angeles

A bustling holiday ice rink surrounded by festive Christmas market stalls in Pershing Square, Los Angeles. The scene is filled with cheerful visitors enjoying the holiday spirit

At Pershing Square, you can enjoy ice skating under the sun and stars while also exploring a festive Christmas market. This combination makes for an unforgettable holiday experience in downtown Los Angeles.

Highlights and Background

The Holiday Ice Rink at Pershing Square is an iconic winter attraction in Los Angeles. Open daily starting in November, it lets you skate outdoors in the heart of the city, surrounded by artistic installations and the city skyline.

Over the years, this ice rink has become a go-to spot for both locals and tourists. Fire pits are available for warming up between skating sessions, adding to the cozy winter atmosphere.

You might also see Santa Claus making an appearance, adding extra magic to your visit.

Must-Dos for Visitors

Start your visit at the ice rink. It’s the centerpiece of the holiday celebrations, offering a classic winter activity that’s perfect for all ages.

Whether you’re an experienced skater or a beginner, the rink welcomes everyone.

Next, take a stroll through the Christmas market. Vendors offer unique gifts, tasty treats, and holiday decorations.

It’s an excellent place to find something special for your loved ones or to get a warm drink.

Don’t miss the chance to sit by the fire pits. They are perfect for warming up and spending time with friends and family. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of Santa Claus while you relax.

For more details, visit the official website. This holiday hotspot has something for everyone, making it an essential stop on your Christmas adventure in Los Angeles.

Winter Fest OC, Costa Mesa

Colorful stalls line the streets, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. Visitors browse through a variety of holiday goods, while the scent of hot cocoa and seasonal treats fills the air

Winter Fest OC is a popular event that transforms Costa Mesa’s OC Fair & Event Center into a winter wonderland, featuring snowy activities, festive displays, and family-friendly entertainment. Here, you can experience the magic of the holiday season with attractions like snow play zones and ice tubing.

Historical Insights

Winter Fest OC began as an effort to bring the cozy charm of traditional winter festivals to sunny California. Over the years, it has grown into a major event in Costa Mesa, attracting families and holiday enthusiasts from all over the state.

The festival includes a giant ice rink, making it perfect for those who love to skate.

For thrill-seekers, the six-lane Snowflake Summit ice slide offers exciting ice tubing adventures. There are also snow play areas where you can build snowmen and make snow angels.

The event’s holiday market features a variety of vendors selling unique gifts and festive foods. Strolling carolers add to the holiday atmosphere, and Santa himself often makes appearances, delighting children and adults alike.

For more information on Winter Fest OC, including ticket prices and dates, you can visit the official website or check out more details on Enjoy OC.

Mountain View Christmas Market, Mountain View

The Mountain View Christmas Market bustles with festive activity, adorned with twinkling lights and colorful stalls selling handmade crafts and delicious treats

The Mountain View Christmas Market offers a unique blend of German holiday traditions right in the heart of Mountain View, California. From delightful shopping opportunities to festive food and drinks, visitors can enjoy a true holiday experience.

Background and Importance

The Mountain View Christmas Market, also known as the German Holiday Market, is an annual event organized by the German International School of Silicon Valley.

This market brings a slice of German culture to California, reflecting strong German influence with traditional foods, crafts, and entertainment.

Held at the Mountain View City Hall Plaza, this event showcases the local community’s commitment to cultural diversity. It offers residents and visitors a chance to immerse themselves in German holiday customs without having to leave the country.

The market enhances the festive spirit and is a significant cultural event in Mountain View.


One of the standout attractions of the Mountain View Christmas Market is the array of traditional German foods. You’ll find bratwurst, pretzels, and mulled wine that transport you straight to a German Weihnachtsmarkt.

There are also stalls selling German-inspired crafts, from handmade ornaments to unique holiday decorations.

Live performances, including traditional music and dance, add to the festive atmosphere.

The event is designed to be family-friendly, with activities that cater to both kids and adults.

The market usually operates from 11 AM to 9 PM, allowing ample time for visitors to explore and enjoy every bit of the festivities.

Visitor Highlights

Visitors rave about the authenticity and charm of the market. The German Holiday Market often tops lists of must-visit Christmas markets in the area.

Shoppers can find unique gifts and ornaments, making it a perfect place to pick up holiday presents.

The event is free to attend, making it accessible to everyone. It attracts a diverse crowd, drawn by the promise of good food, shopping, and entertainment.

The market effectively captures the essence of German Christmas traditions, making it a highlight of the holiday season in Mountain View.

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Victorian Christmas, Nevada City

Victorian Christmas market with festive decor, horse-drawn carriages, and carolers in Nevada City, California

Victorian Christmas in Nevada City is an annual event filled with rich history, festive markets, and engaging activities. Set in a historic town, this event invites you to experience Christmas as it was in Victorian times.

Historical Significance

The Victorian Christmas in Nevada City has roots in the 19th century gold rush era. Nevada City was a bustling mining town, and its Victorian architecture has been preserved.

During the event, the entire town transforms with decorations and costumes that hark back to this period.

You’ll find carolers in Victorian attire singing classic Christmas songs, adding to the historical ambiance.

Walking through the streets feels like stepping back in time, offering a unique blend of history and holiday spirit.

Market Features

The market at Victorian Christmas in Nevada City is both diverse and vibrant. You’ll find street vendors selling handmade crafts, holiday decorations, and unique gifts.

Food trucks and booths line the streets, offering seasonal treats and warm beverages.

Make sure to bring cash, as many vendors only accept cash payments. There’s also an ATM available at Bonza Market if you need it.

The market provides a rich opportunity to shop for one-of-a-kind items and support local artisans.

Activities Overview

There’s no shortage of activities at Victorian Christmas in Nevada City. From musical performances to horse-drawn carriage rides, there’s something for everyone.

Carolers fill the air with festive tunes, while kids can enjoy face painting and meeting Santa Claus.

If parking in town is a challenge, you can park at the Nevada County Government Center and take a shuttle.

This event runs on two Wednesday evenings and three Sunday afternoons in December, ensuring you have plenty of chances to join in the fun.

Whether you’re there for the history or the holiday cheer, there’s always something to make the experience memorable.

Winter Wonderland at California’s Great America, Santa Clara

Snow-covered landscape with twinkling lights, festive stalls, and a towering Christmas tree. Families ice skate, sip hot cocoa, and enjoy holiday music at California's Great America, Santa Clara

California’s Great America in Santa Clara transforms into a magical Winter Wonderland during the holiday season. You’ll find festive holiday displays, ice skating, family rides, and enchanting live shows.

Event Overview

WinterFest at California’s Great America kicks off in late November and runs through December.

The park converts into a winter wonderland filled with twinkling lights and festive decorations. You can enjoy the charm of the holiday season with themed attractions and live entertainment that capture the spirit of Christmas.

The event features more than 60 rides, all dressed up for the holidays. The park’s iconic Carousel Columbia sparkles brightly, offering a perfect holiday photo opportunity.

Unique Attractions

One of the standout features is the ice-skating rink set up in front of the Carousel Columbia.

Ice skating under a canopy of lights is a must-do during WinterFest. Be prepared for a separate admission fee for skating, but it’s worth the experience.

You can marvel at the gigantic Christmas tree, which serves as the centerpiece of the park. This tree is adorned with thousands of lights and ornaments. Don’t miss the chance to see it lit up at night.

The park also offers a variety of holiday displays, including Santa’s Workshop where kids can meet Santa Claus.

These displays provide a perfect backdrop for holiday photos and family memories.

Activities for Visitors

There are numerous activities for visitors that add to the holiday cheer.

Try some of the crafted hot chocolate available at various stands around the park. These drinks are rich, delicious, and perfect for warming up on a chilly evening.

Various live shows are performed throughout the day and evening. These shows feature Christmas carols, festive dance numbers, and other holiday performances that keep the spirit high.

Family rides are available and are themed for the holidays, providing fun for all ages.

Whether you’re with family or friends, Winter Wonderland at California’s Great America offers a wide range of activities and attractions to create a magical holiday experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

A bustling Christmas market in California, with colorful stalls, twinkling lights, and festive decorations. Visitors browse through various vendors, sampling holiday treats and admiring handcrafted gifts

California’s Christmas markets offer festive cheer with unique gifts, delicious food, and fun activities for all ages.

What are the top-rated Christmas markets in California to visit?

Some of the top-rated markets in California include Winter Fest OC, Sawdust Art Festival, and the Cambria Christmas Market.

How can I get tickets to the Cambria Christmas Market?

You can buy tickets for the Cambria Christmas Market online through their official website. Prices may vary by date and ticket type, so it’s best to check early for availability.

Where in Los Angeles can I find a festive Christmas market?

In Los Angeles, you can visit The Grove or the Los Angeles Farmers Market for festive Christmas markets.

These markets offer holiday-themed goods, decorations, and great food options.

What are the highlights of the Solvang Christmas market?

The Solvang Christmas market showcases Danish-style decorations, traditional food, and unique handcrafted items.

You can enjoy festive activities like the Nisse Adventure and the Solvang Nativity Pageant during your visit.

Are there any notable Christmas markets in Sacramento?

Yes, Sacramento hosts several notable markets, including the Sacramento Downtown Holiday Market.

This market features a variety of local vendors, holiday foods, and fun activities for families.

How do I find promo codes for Christmas market events in California?

To find promo codes for Christmas market events, check the official websites and social media pages of the markets you’re interested in.

Sometimes, local tourism boards and online deal sites also offer discounts and promotions.

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