Arts and Culture

Twelve Great Holiday Markets for Shopping Small on the Front Range

The lights begin twinkling this weekend at the Denver Christkindl  Market.
The lights begin twinkling this weekend at the Denver Christkindl Market. Denver Christkindl Market
Gift-giving shouldn’t be a chore, and when you really get into it, it becomes an exhilarating challenge of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Or not: With some serious thought about the people you are gifting, you get to know them a little bit better, and that’s a good thing. As we keep lecturing, if you can do that and help out a struggling artist or maker, you’re also being a good community member. Hop on board: Here’s a mix of holiday markets both old-fashioned and fashion-forward. All events are free unless noted.

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The Denver Botanic Gardens Winter Gift Market is open for business.
Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens Winter Gift Market
Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street
Friday and Saturday, November 16 and 17, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

Wares at the Winter Gift Market don’t have to fit into a garden theme, but many of the gift items at the Denver Botanic Gardens' annual high-quality market do, beginning with the Gardens Guild’s homemade herbal vinegars and seasonings using the most local ingredients of all: herbs and spices grown on the gardens' grounds. Add to that a variety of donated antiques and collectibles that benefit the DBG, jewelry, small-batch food items, handmades and more, plus free gate admission over the weekend, and you might be able to finish all of your shopping in one day. The gorgeous year-round gift shop will also be open for business.

Castle Clay Artists Winter Sale
Jefferson Unitarian Church, 14350 West 32nd Avenue, Golden
Friday, November 16, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, November 17, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Castle Clay, a co-op for clay artists sharing studio space in north Park Hill, is a warehouse rounded out by an open kiln yard that includes soda and raku kilns in addition to several workaday clay ovens. Support your local potters, who have been hard at work preparing for the holiday show. We recommend getting there early for the best selection.

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Mariya Zvonkovich, "Red Cypresses Six."
Mariya Zvonkovich, Commonwheel Artists Co-op
Commonwheel Artists Holiday Market
Commonwheel Artists Co-op, 102 Canon Avenue, Manitou Springs
November 16 through December 31, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Artist Reception: Friday, December 7, 5 to 8 p.m.
Commonwheel, a Manitou Springs mainstay for more than forty years, boasts a juried co-op-style membership of makers and fine artists that keeps a balanced variety of work on the shelves and walls: pottery, jewelry, paintings, sculptures and wearable art: Anything goes, just not in excess. The holiday market will be around until the end of the year, stuffed with seasonal bounty, making it an important stop on any shopping stroll through charming downtown Manitou — this time of year, it’s worth the drive. And should you choose to visit during the First Friday reception on December 7, you can also mosey over to the Manitou Art Center, 515 Manitou Avenue, for the Manitou Community Holiday Market, from 5 to 8 p.m.

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Shopping with a giant pretzel in hand — only at the Denver Christkindl Market.
Denver Christkindl Market
Denver Christkindl Market
Skyline Park, 1515 Arapahoe Street
November 16 through December 23
Sundays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Thanksgiving Day, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Extended hours to 9 p.m. daily, December 17 through 23

The Christkindl Market brings its own brand of cheer — the kind that reddens your cheeks and nips your toes — to downtown Denver every holiday season. The market’s old-world vibe — with oompah music, food and brews; sparkly ornaments and warm knitted wares; twinkling lights and European Christmas lore come to life — renders it a hybrid of winter wonderland mixed with popcorn and pretzels, offering something to engage people of any age. Best-kept secret: Christkindl is open on Thanksgiving Day, giving you a jump on Black Friday and a chance to walk off a few calories.

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Shop Foothills' 44th Holiday Art Market, through December 30.
Foothills Art Center
Holiday Art Market
Foothills Art Center, 809 15th Street, Golden
November 16 through December 30, except Christmas Day
Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.

Another market with a time-honored past, the market at Foothills is celebrating its 44th anniversary with a spread from more than 100 vendors selling handcrafts of every ilk through the end of December. And just outside the center’s doors, you’ll have direct access to the restaurants and jingly streets of downtown Golden, all fancied up in holiday dress. Free weekly Christmas parades traverse Washington Avenue at 10:30 a.m. on three consecutive Saturdays, from December 1 through 15, to keep little ones happy, and hayrides and carriage rides are also available on weekends beginning December 1. See details online.

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Handmade wares in the foothills at the CAE Holiday Show and Gift Shop.
Center for the Arts Evergreen
Center for the Arts Evergreen Holiday Show and Gift Shop
Center for the Arts Evergreen, 31880 Rocky Village Road, Evergreen
November 16 through December 26
Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m.
Closed Sundays
Opening Reception: November 16, 4 to 7 p.m.

The Evergreen Center for the Arts invites folks to avoid the malls and head for the hills for a six-week holiday market peddling art, crafts and gift items by more than fifty local and regional artists. Choose a perfect day for a foothills drive; at the reception this weekend, the Evergreen Conservatory of Music will perform in the background.

Mercado de Navidad
Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Drive
Saturday, November 17, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Museo’s annual holiday mercado is back in 2018 for one grand afternoon, with twenty-plus local vendors of clothing, jewelry, accessories, food, chocolate and other goodies to browse, plus free admission to the current exhibition El Infinito rolled into the deal. Viva la cultura!

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Nab a Jane Roberti hand-etched metal flask or wallet for your favorite guy at the Firefly.
Jane Roberti, Firefly Handmade
Firefly Handmade Holiday Market
Embassy Suites Boulder, 2601 Canyon Boulevard, Boulder
Saturday and Sunday, November 17 and 18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Boulder’s premier artisan bazaar, the Firefly Handmade Holiday Market, is an all-inclusive, immersive shopping experience that bends over backward to provide a relaxed atmosphere. Firefly’s 100 handpicked vendors are chosen for the modern appeal of their well-crafted handmades, vintage finds and other sophisticated gift offerings, from decor items to artisanal foods.

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Slap a lucky hamsa hand by Marie Gibbons on your wall.
Marie EvB Gibbons
EvB Studio Art Brunch and Studio Sale
EvB Studio, 3735 Ames Street, Wheat Ridge
Saturday, November 17, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Marie Gibbons builds her own community as a ceramics artist and teacher, bringing people together in intimate groups at her studio to get their hands dirty with wet clay. She’s her own business manager, sole professional artist and gallerist at EvB studios, too. That means there’s no middleman when Gibbons throws a studio sale for the holidays, which is a great thing for an artist. This year’s event includes brunch bites and sips from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and some partners in crime — clay artist Cora Bracho, Haley Mariah of Brazen (perhaps best known for her “Fuck You” sleep masks) and Craig Robb, who will contribute shadow-box wall sculptures. Shop small: That’s four local artists benefiting from selling their work in one fell swoop.

Jefferson Square Holiday Affair
Jefferson Square, 2900 West 25th Avenue
Saturday, November 17, 1 to 6 p.m.

Jefferson Square merchants, led by Sarto’s, are bringing back the holiday affair to greet the holiday season with European-style outdoor conviviality, roasted chestnuts and hot toddies, a beer garden, live music, Santa photo ops and even a visit by Frozen’s Elsa from 1 to 3 p.m. But at the heart of it all is a solid group of food and vendor trucks selling fine art, clothing and grilled cheese sandwiches. Get together with neighbors for a holiday jump-start.

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The Mishiwaka Makers Market offers the perfect music lover's gift.
Mishawaka Amphitheatre
Mishawaka Makers Market
Mishawaka Amphitheatre, 13714 Poudre Canyon Highway, Bellvue
Saturday, November 17, noon to 6 p.m.

It might be getting chilly in the Poudre Canyon, but you’ll be warm and cozy at the Mishawaka Makers Market, which goes down in the Mishawaka Amphitheatre’s indoor venue, the SpokesBUZZ Lounge, with a folksy, mountain-man aura that emanates only from foothill hideaways like the Mish. Inside, there’ll be a Mish-mash of local artist and artisan vendors, a free Odell’s for the first sixty customers, and door prizes at 2 p.m. If you’re looking for a great stocking stuffer for your favorite rocker, try the Mish’s local beer can topped with concert and shuttle gift certificates.

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Find jewelry treasures, vintage to contemporary, at the Denver Woman’s Press Club Annual Jewelry Sale.
Denver Woman’s Press Club Annual Jewelry Sale
Denver Woman’s Press Clubhouse, 1325 Logan Street
Saturday, November 17, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, November 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Supporting scholarships for young women.
Sat., Nov. 17, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sun., Nov. 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Need a good excuse to explore inside the charming Denver Woman’s Press Club headquarters? The DWPC’s annual jewelry sale is a beautiful enticement, stocked to the gills with a donated selection of vintage, contemporary, estate, costume and ethnic trinkets to dress up your jewelry box. Proceeds benefit club scholarships for young women in journalism, and you get to see inside the brick cottage and then, perhaps, take home something you love. Free parking is available in the lot north of the clubhouse.

Do you have an event you want included on this list? Send the details to [email protected]
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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd