Maybe it’s because I grew up near an outdoor shopping mall that featured a Salvation Army band playing every Christmas, not just a bell ringer, but I love an open-air holiday market. One of the best ways to find creative gift ideas is to shop pop-up markets filled with local goods. Plus, the brisk air, hot drinks, and festive music make for a tremendously fun shopping experience. You never know where you’ll find the perfect gift, but you can have a great time looking, and maybe even find some treasures for yourself. Here are some of the best holiday markets in Michigan this season.
ChristKindlMarkt – Frankenmuth
Home to the world’s largest Christmas store, it’s no surprise that Frankenmuth would make anyone’s list of fun destinations during the holiday season, but you can find much more than décor. Put on by the Frankenmuth Farmers Market, the annual ChristKindlMarkt is a holiday shopping village, styled off the nostalgia and tradition of those in Germany. Expect to find over 40 vendors with food, gifts, and clothing, lining the pavilion. This open-air market is a wonderful way to put yourself in the holiday spirit. The hours are 11am-8pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 11am-4pm on Sundays. Of course, while in town, don’t forget to stop by Bronner’s, get yourself some of that famous chicken, or take the family to Michigan on Main for scrumptious food and beverages that are locally-sourced.
Dates: Nov 24-26; Dec 1-3; and Dec 8-10
Kerstmarkt – Holland
If you want to experience a Dutch take on a European market, then naturally, Holland is the place. Kerstmarkts (Dutch for Christmas markets) pop up all over the Netherlands during the Christmas season. In keeping with Holland’s Dutch heritage, the local convention and visitor’s bureau began researching European Christmas markets, even sending representatives venturing across the pond. They came back with a great enthusiasm and drawings for wooden booths that consist of four walls and a roof, which can be dismantled, stored and reassembled for the new season. These days Kerstmarkt is set up at the 8th Street Market Place in front of the Civic Center. On Saturdays they share space with the Farmer’s Market. For an extra treat, drop by around 6pm on Dec 1. That evening there will be a special event to celebrate Sinterklaas, the benevolent Dutch St. Nicholas. Lanterns will be given away from the Holland Civic Center market area, while supplies last, so families can join the processional. Children are invited to follow Sinterklaas, learn about the tradition, and pose for photos.
Dates: Nov 18; Nov 24-25; Dec 1-2; Dec 8-9; and Dec 15-16
Winter Market & Cadillac Lodge – Detroit
If you’re headed to Detroit, be sure to experience Campus Martius and Cadillac Square. The Detroit Winter Market features 18 local small businesses in glass huts. Each year, it’s an excellent place to discover companies you may not have heard of before, selling anything from apparel to décor. Nearby, you can see the city’s massive Christmas tree and take a spin (or a tumble or two) around the ice rink. When it’s time to warm up, head into the Cadillac Lodge. The comfy couches and cozy fireplace give you a warm welcome. Chat with friends, play some board games, sip on cocktails, cocoa, or cider. Light bites are also available, or pop into fantastic local eateries like Parc or Central Kitchen. You can also wander a few more blocks to Beacon Park for more pop-up shops and holiday fun. Marketplace hours are 11am-8pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11am-11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 11am-7pm on Sundays.
Dates: Nov 9-Jan 7 (excluding Mondays and Tuesdays)
Holidays at Eastern Market – Detroit
The holiday season is a really special time to visit Detroit’s historic Easter Market. The atmosphere is wonderfully festive and the smell of fresh Christmas trees floats through the air. In addition to the Saturday Market that operates year-round, there are four additional markets geared toward holiday shopping. The market on Tuesday, November 21, focuses primarily on food vendors and is a perfect place to find everything for your Thanksgiving and other holiday meals. Whereas, the Sunday markets feature plenty of Michigan-made gift options including clothing, art, jewelry, beauty products, and more. Christmas tree vendors will be in the parking lot outside of Shed 5 seven days a week starting around Thanksgiving.
Dates: Nov 21; Nov 26; Dec 3; and Dec 10
Christkindl Market – Grand Rapids
At the Downtown Market they take their lighting as seriously as their vendors, making for a beautifully festive atmosphere. The Christmas Village is lined with over 30 artisan gift and food vendors. Plus, there’s live holiday entertainment, and lots of festive family fun. Guests can also warm up inside by visiting the year-round market vendors, and/or enjoy scrumptious food and drinks at one of the eateries like Aperitivo or Fish Lads.
Dates: Nov 17-Dec 23 (excluding Mondays and Tuesdays)
Kindlefest – Ann Arbor
The Kerrytown District of Ann Arbor is always a unique and fun area of town to visit, but especially on December 1, 2023. After a pandemic-related hiatus, the Kindlefest market is finally returning. This year, artisans and vendors will be selling food and gift items, plus hot mulled wine, in a festive outdoor setting. Local shops and restaurants will also offer extended hours so you can make a full night of it. The event runs from 5pm-10pm.
Date: Dec 1
If you’re looking for other holiday joy around the state, check out our 9 memorable ways to kick off the Christmas season.