People browsing and buying items at a festive outdoor market with decorated stalls and Christmas lights in the evening, reminiscent of one of the Top 10 Christmas Markets in California.

Top 10 Christmas Markets in California: Must-Visit Festive Destinations

Christmastime in California brings an array of vibrant markets that capture the magic of the season.

From small-town fairs to grand city festivities, there’s something enchanting about wandering through these winter wonderlands.

These markets offer unforgettable experiences, whether you’re looking for unique gifts, delicious treats, or festive entertainment.

Colorful stalls line the streets, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. Visitors browse through handmade crafts and sample seasonal treats, while the sound of carolers fills the air

California’s diverse culture shines through in the variety of holiday markets spread across the state. Each market boasts its own charm, reflecting the unique spirit of its community.

Prepare to explore the best Christmas markets California has to offer, and discover where you can make the most of the holiday season.

1) Union Square Holiday Market

The bustling Union Square Holiday Market features festive stalls and twinkling lights, ranking among California's top 10 Christmas markets

Union Square Holiday Market is a must-visit in California. It attracts both locals and tourists with its lively atmosphere and unique vendors.

In 2023, it was named the best holiday market in America. The market features 185 stalls selling gifts crafted by local artists and entrepreneurs.

Walking through the market, you’ll find handmade jewelry, scarves, pottery, and holiday treats. The air fills with the scent of roasted nuts and hot chocolate.

This place offers a perfect blend of shopping and festive fun.

Don’t miss the delightful illuminations and, if you’re lucky, a burst of magical snowfall. The market’s scenic Union Square location adds even more charm to your visit, making it an unforgettable holiday experience.

Nov 25 – Dec 24Union Square, San Francisco10am – 8pm dailyFree Entry

2) Great Dickens Christmas Fair

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is bustling with festive stalls, carolers, and Victorian characters. The air is filled with the scent of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine, creating a magical holiday atmosphere

Step into Victorian London at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. This event takes place annually in the Cow Palace Exhibition Hall and transports you to a bygone era with its stunning decorations and costumed performers.

From November 23 to December 22, 2024, you’ll find yourself wandering through cobblestone streets lit by gas lamps.

The fair offers music halls, old-timey pubs, and dance floors that take you straight to the 1800s. Wooden Christmas shops overflow with hand-made holiday treasures.

Delicious scents of roasted chestnuts and other seasonal treats tempt your senses.

This Christmas market has been a Bay Area tradition since 1970. It’s more than just a market; it’s a celebration of history and holiday spirit.

Whether you’re looking to shop, eat, or simply soak in the festive atmosphere, the Great Dickens Christmas Fair is a unique experience you won’t want to miss.

DatesNovember 23 – December 22, 2024 (weekends only)
AddressCow Palace Arena & Event Center, 2600 Geneva Ave, Daly City, CA 94014
Times10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Prices$30 – $45 (adults), $14 (children 5-12), Free (children under 5)

3) San Francisco Christmas Market

A bustling San Francisco Christmas market with vendors, twinkling lights, and festive decorations. People browse through stalls filled with holiday gifts and treats

San Francisco knows how to bring holiday cheer with its festive Christmas markets. One of the most beloved is the Winter Walk in Union Square.

Here, you can find delightful treats, unique gifts, and twinkling lights that transform the city into a holiday wonderland.

For those who crave a historic twist, the Great Dickens Christmas Fair is a must-visit. Held at the Cow Palace, this fair takes you back to Victorian London with actors, performances, and traditional crafts.

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Another gem is the United Irish Cultural Center’s Christmas Boutique in Parkside. Local artisans offer a variety of handcrafted gifts, from jewelry to baked goods, perfect for finding one-of-a-kind presents.

The German Holiday Market at the City Hall Plaza in Mountain View is another standout. This market brings a taste of Europe to the Bay Area with its authentic German food, decorations, and gifts.

Dec. 15-24, 2023Stockton Street, SFVaries by eventFree
Weekends, Nov. 18-Dec. 17Cow Palace, SF10 AM – 6 PM$25 (ages 5-12), $45 (13+)
TBA2700 45th Ave, SFVariesVaries
TBACity Hall Plaza, MVVariesVaries

4) Santa Barbara’s European Christmas Market

The European Christmas Market in Santa Barbara is bustling with festive stalls, twinkling lights, and the aroma of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts

Santa Barbara’s European Christmas Market brings a slice of European Christmas cheer to California. Located at 701 State Street, it promises a festive experience with a range of traditional treats, artisanal crafts, and more.

The market is inspired by the classic Christkindlmarkt of Germany and aims to recreate that same magical atmosphere.

Walk through the market and you’ll find an array of vendors selling unique items. From handmade ornaments to aromatic mulled wine, there is something for everyone.

The festive lights and holiday music create a charming ambiance perfect for an evening stroll.

You can enjoy delicious traditional foods such as bratwursts and gingerbread. The market also features local artisans, making it a great place to find one-of-a-kind gifts.

The market runs from November 23rd to December 29th, every Thursday to Sunday, from 4 PM to 10 PM. It’s a must-visit if you’re in the area during the holiday season.

Date RangeAddressTimesPrices
Nov 23 – Dec 29701 State StreetThu-Sun 4-10 PMVaried, Free Entry

5) Holiday Market at Angel City Brewery

The bustling holiday market at Angel City Brewery features festive stalls and twinkling lights, drawing in crowds to browse and shop

You find the Holiday Market at Angel City Brewery brimming with holiday spirit. Nestled in the heart of Los Angeles, this market offers a perfect mix of festive cheer and craft beer.

Expect an eclectic array of local vendors showcasing unique gifts. From handmade jewelry to artisanal foods, you won’t leave empty-handed.

The brewery setting adds a relaxed vibe, making it a delightful spot for holiday shopping.

Angel City Brewery also ensures you’re well-fed and hydrated. Enjoy food trucks dishing out tasty treats and, of course, indulge in some of their best brews.

Don’t miss the chance to catch live music performances. Bands and solo artists often play festive tunes, adding to the joyful atmosphere.

Dec 10 – Dec 12216 Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 900121 PM – 8 PMFree Entry

6) Solvang Julefest

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If you’re looking for a touch of Danish flair, make your way to Solvang Julefest. This month-long celebration transforms Solvang into a festive wonderland from late November to early January.

You’ll find charming lights, delightful events, and plenty of holiday cheer.

The festivities include a traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony from December 6-8, 2024. Make sure to be there early for seating at Solvang Park.

The tree lighting is a heartwarming event that officially kicks off the season.

Located at the corner of Mission Drive and First Street, Solvang Park hosts the bulk of the festivities.

The Julefest Maker’s Market is another highlight, held on December 6, 2024, from 5-7 PM. This open-air market under the stars features local artisans selling unique holiday gifts and treats.

For family fun, the event offers plenty of activities and entertainment to keep everyone smiling.

Seasonal music, holiday shopping, culinary delights, and even wine and beer make for an unforgettable experience.

Late Nov – JanMission Dr & First St, Solvang, CAVariesFree to attend
Tree LightingSolvang Park5-6:30 PMFree to attend
Maker’s MarketSolvang Park5-7 PMFree to attend

7) Los Angeles Christmas Market

The Los Angeles Christmas Market bustles with festive stalls, twinkling lights, and joyful carolers. A towering Christmas tree adorned with colorful ornaments serves as the centerpiece, while the scent of roasted chestnuts and hot cocoa fills the air

When December rolls around, Los Angeles gets transformed into a festive wonderland. The Renegade Craft Fair is your go-to if you love handmade items and indie crafters. It’s held at the Los Angeles State Historic Park and features booths with unique holiday gifts.

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You’ll also want to visit the Burbank Village for its magical holiday atmosphere. String lights, cozy shops, and food vendors create the perfect setting for an evening out.

Don’t miss the 626 Night Market, where you’ll find a mix of food stalls and holiday vendors. This market is perfect for those who want to enjoy both shopping and eating.

If you’re looking for an Instagram-worthy spot, check out Winter Wonderland at The Grove. This market features stunning decorations and a giant Christmas tree that lights up the night. It’s a must-visit for anyone wanting that classic holiday feel.

Here’s a quick rundown of essential info:

Market NameDatesAddressTimesPrices
Renegade Craft FairDec 2-3L.A. State Historic Park11 a.m. – 5 p.m.Free
Burbank VillageDec 8-10Downtown Burbank4 p.m. – 10 p.m.Free
626 Night MarketDec 15-17Santa Anita Park4 p.m. – 12 a.m.Varies
Winter Wonderland at The GroveNov 20 – Dec 24189 The Grove Dr.Various timesFree

8) Sacramento Holiday Craft Market

The Sacramento Holiday Craft Market bustles with festive stalls and twinkling lights, showcasing the top 10 Christmas markets in California

The Sacramento Holiday Craft Market is a must-visit for anyone who loves handmade goods and festive cheer. This market features a wide variety of artisans selling everything from jewelry to home décor.

You can find unique gifts for everyone on your list. The market bustles with local artists showcasing their talents. Each booth offers something special, so you’ll definitely find that perfect holiday gift.

Enjoy the festive atmosphere as you browse through the different stalls. There’s often live entertainment and food vendors, making it a fun outing for the whole family.

Here’s a quick look at the details:

November 29 – December 1, 2024Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H Street, Sacramento, CAVary by day$10 online, $10 at the door

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to support local craftspeople and take home something truly unique.

9) Winter Wonderland in Riverside

Snow-covered booths line the river, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. A towering Christmas tree stands in the center, surrounded by joyful visitors browsing handmade gifts and sipping hot cocoa

Winter Wonderland in Riverside is a charming holiday event that brings festive cheer to Southern California. The town square transforms into a magical holiday scene with twinkling lights and decorated trees.

You will find unique gifts and delicious treats at the market stalls. Local artisans and vendors offer handmade crafts, seasonal decorations, and tasty snacks.

The event features live music, creating a joyful atmosphere. Enjoy carolers singing classic Christmas tunes while you browse the stalls.

Kids and adults alike can take delight in various activities. There’s ice skating, a snow play area, and even a chance to meet Santa Claus.

Winter Wonderland is perfect for families looking for a wholesome holiday outing. The event runs daily from late November to early January, making it easy to fit into your holiday schedule.

Nov 25, 2024 – Jan 5, 2025Riverside Town Square4 PM – 10 PMFree admission

10) Temecula Holiday Market

A bustling holiday market in Temecula, California with festive stalls, twinkling lights, and joyful shoppers browsing for unique Christmas gifts

Temecula Holiday Market offers a delightful mix of festive lights, unique shopping, and outdoor fun. Located in the heart of Temecula, this market is perfect for families and anyone looking to soak in some Christmas spirit.

Explore booths filled with handcrafted gifts, delicious treats, and holiday decor. The market also features al fresco dining options, making it a great spot to relax and enjoy seasonal flavors.

You can expect live entertainment from local performers, adding to the cheerful atmosphere. When the sun sets, the whole market lights up, creating a magical experience that’s hard to forget.

Many local wineries participate, offering special holiday tastings and events. It’s an ideal blend of local culture and festive celebrations.

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The market is suited for all ages, with activities that cater to kids and adults alike. Whether you’re hunting for last-minute gifts or just want to enjoy a wintery evening out, Temecula Holiday Market is a must-visit.

Dec 1-31Old Town Temecula, Temecula, CA 9259010 AM – 8 PMFree entry

History of Christmas Markets in California

A festive California street lined with colorful stalls selling handmade crafts, twinkling lights, and the scent of hot cocoa and spiced cider in the air

California’s rich history is reflected in its diverse Christmas markets, which have evolved significantly over time. From humble beginnings to bustling events, these markets have become a seasonal staple attracting locals and tourists alike.

Early Beginnings

Christmas markets in California began as small community gatherings. Early settlers from Europe, particularly from Germany, introduced the tradition in the 19th century. Communities in areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles held modest markets featuring handmade crafts, local foods, and traditional decorations. These markets offered a way to bring a touch of home to the new world.

In towns with strong European immigrant populations, such as Nevada City and Huntington Beach, early markets often included singing carols, selling local produce, and exchanging homemade goods. This gave residents a sense of belonging. Markets were simple, mostly held in church courtyards or community centers. Despite their small scale, they provided a valuable opportunity for socializing and celebrating cultural heritage during the holiday season.

Modern Evolution

In modern times, Christmas markets in California have grown into large and festive events. Cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles host sprawling markets with numerous stalls offering a variety of gifts, foods, and crafts. The Cambria Christmas Market on the Central Coast is a prime example, featuring extensive light displays and attractions that draw visitors from all over the state.

These markets now incorporate themes from various cultures. The Swedish Christmas Fair in Huntington Beach, for instance, brings Swedish holiday traditions to life with unique foods and activities. This blend of traditions has enriched the experience, making Christmas markets a key part of California’s holiday season.

From simple European-inspired beginnings to elaborate modern celebrations, these markets continue to evolve, reflecting the cultural diversity and vibrant communities of California.

Cultural Significance

Colorful stalls line the streets, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. Visitors browse handcrafted gifts and sample traditional holiday treats. Music and laughter fill the air, creating a joyful atmosphere

Christmas markets in California are more than just places to shop; they are vibrant celebrations that bring communities together and keep festive traditions alive.

Festive Traditions

Each Christmas market in California reflects the unique cultural heritage of its community. For instance, the Nevada City Victorian Christmas revives the town’s 1800s charm with horse-drawn carriages and traditional costumed vendors. Meanwhile, the Swedish Christmas Fair in Huntington Beach showcases Scandinavian traditions, offering homemade crafts and authentic Swedish treats.

At Disneyland’s Christmas celebration, you can experience a mix of holiday themes from around the world. These events not only provide entertainment but serve as immersive history lessons, helping younger generations understand and appreciate their cultural backgrounds.

Community Impact

Christmas markets have a profound effect on local communities. Many of these markets support small businesses and artisans, providing them with a platform to sell unique, handcrafted items. For example, the Cambria Christmas Market is linked to the Cambria Pines Lodge, drawing hundreds of visitors who then dine and stay at local establishments, boosting the economy.

These gatherings also foster a sense of community. Families create lasting memories at these events, whether it’s skating at a temporary ice rink or singing along to Christmas carols. Additionally, several markets, such as the Swedish Christmas Fair, often fundraise for local charities, contributing to the welfare of the community beyond the holiday season.

Frequently Asked Questions

A bustling Christmas market with colorful stalls, twinkling lights, and festive decorations. Crowds of people browse and shop, while the scent of hot cocoa and roasted chestnuts fills the air

In this section, you’ll find information on some notable Christmas markets in California, including details on locations, special features, and overall ambiance.

What are some notable Christmas markets to visit in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles is home to several standout Christmas markets. The Holiday Market at Angel City Brewery is a popular spot. It offers a mix of local vendors, festive drinks, and entertainment. Another favorite is the Croatian Christmas Market, filled with unique gifts and traditional food.

Where can I find a traditional German Christmas market in California?

If you’re seeking a traditional German Christmas market, the Old World Huntington Beach event is a must-visit. Here, you’ll find German food, crafts, and festive decorations, creating an authentic holiday experience. The atmosphere is lively with music and traditional German treats like bratwurst and mulled wine.

What are the top-rated Christmas markets in California?

Some top-rated Christmas markets include the Union Square Holiday Market in San Francisco and the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. These markets are known for their festive setups, numerous vendors, and lively holiday spirits. They attract both locals and visitors looking for unique gifts and holiday cheer.

Can you recommend any Christmas markets with a European feel in California?

For a European-style market, visit Santa Barbara’s European Christmas Market. This market brings a slice of Europe to California with its beautiful lights, traditional crafts, and delectable foods. It’s an ideal spot for those looking to experience a European Christmas without leaving the state.

Which cities in California are known for their festive Christmas markets?

San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara are famous for their vibrant Christmas markets. In San Francisco, the Union Square Holiday Market is a highlight. Meanwhile, Los Angeles features multiple festive markets including the Angel City Brewery Holiday Market. Lastly, Santa Barbara’s European Christmas Market offers a quaint, yet festive holiday shopping experience.

Are there any unique Christmas market experiences in the Sacramento area?

In the Sacramento area, the Nevada City Victorian Christmas is a standout event. This market transforms the town into a Victorian-era celebration. It has period costumes, horse-drawn carriages, and traditional performances. It’s a unique experience that brings a historical charm to the holiday season.

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