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 fourof 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. 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 25-27; Dec 2-4; and Dec 9-11
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 and that 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. Eighteen booths are set up for three weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as the Saturday before Thanksgiving. On those Saturdays they share space with the Farmer’s Market. For an extra treat, drop by around 6pm on Dec 2. That evening there will be a special event to celebrate Sinterklaas, the benevolent Dutch St. Nicholas. Children are invited to follow Sinterklaas around the Eighth Street Market Place, learn about the tradition of Sinterklaas, pose for photos and even get a special surprise from his helpers.
Dates: Nov 19; Nov 25-26; Nov 29; Dec 2-3; and Dec 9-10
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 seven additional markets geared toward holiday shopping. The Tuesday market focuses primarily on food vendors and is a perfect place to find everything for your holiday meals. Whereas, the Sunday markets feature plenty of Michigan-made gift options including clothing, art, jewelry, beauty products, and more. On Christmas Eve, the Saturday Market will be open from 6am-1pm, for last-minute gift shopping and holiday meal ingredients. Christmas tree vendors will be in the parking lot outside of Shed 5 seven days a week starting around Thanksgiving.
Dates: Nov 20; Nov 22; Nov 27; Dec 4; Dec 11; Dec 18; Dec 24
If you’re headed to Detroit, make time for more than Eastern Market. Be sure to experience Campus Martius and Cadillac Square. The Downtown Detroit Markets 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, including popcorn, nachos, and hot dogs will also be available. You can also wander a few more blocks to Beacon Park for more pop-up shops and holiday fun.
If you’re looking for other holiday joy around the state, check out our 9 memorable ways to kick off the Christmas season.