When it comes to holiday shopping, chain stores and online outlets will try to pull in customers with quantity of items and deals.
But to find that unique gift — one specially and limitedly created by local artisans, bakers and craftsman — you have to look locally. And that’s where the multitude of holiday markets in communities around the Denver metro area come in.
“We’re a place where you can shop and savor the season,” said Natalia Wobst, executive director of the Colorado Chamber of the German American Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the annual Christkindl Market in Denver’s Skyline Park. “There’s a real feeling of community effort at this market, and vendors really get to know the customers. And customers know we’re a reliable place for good Christmas finds.”
There are dozens of markets to choose from heading into the holiday season, so we picked a handful from our coverage areas to highlight.
Adams County Holiday Bazaar
WHERE: Adams County Fairgrounds, 9755 Henderson Road, Brighton
HOURS: Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 3, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The bazaar features more than 300 booths in two buildings, all focused on handmade crafts. Corporate vendors and home-based franchises are not allowed.
The event also doubles as a benefit fundraiser for the Adams County Historical Society and Museum.
WHAT MAKES THE MARKET SPECIAL: “What makes a good market is new inventory and a variety of merchandise, and our vendors are personable and lovely to talk with,” said Marilyn Fingerlin, one of three co-organizers of the Adams County Historical Society bazaars. “They are always looking for new crafts to make to sell, and you will find quality handcrafted items for your home and all-occasion gifts.”
Arapahoe Ceramics Guild Holiday Sale
WHERE: Arapahoe Community College, 5900 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton
HOURS: Thursday, Nov. 30, 1 to 8 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 1, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The guild is composed of people who are students or former students in Arapahoe Community College’s ceramics program.
Items on sale include functional and decorative pieces made by all skill levels. There are limited amounts of each piece, which means shoppers will see a rotating stock of new pieces, said Melanie Unruh, the guild’s vice president.
WHAT MAKES THE MARKET SPECIAL: “Some of the proceeds go back to the department to fund workshops, equipment and everything else we need to teach our students,” Unruh said. “There’s a broad range of handmade art here at an excellent price and everything is unique.”
Denver Christkindl Market
WHERE: Skyline Park, 16th Street Mall and Arapahoe Street, Denver
HOURS: Nov. 17 through Dec. 23, Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The market sets up a German town square in the park at the base of the Clock Tower, similar to the traditional markets found in Germany. The market features everything from glass-blown ornaments, hand-carved wooden figurines, children’s toys, lanterns, Alpaca scarves and authentic dishes, such as European pastries and chocolate to savory chestnut soup.
You’ll also find live music in the festival hall and cultural performances, as well as collectible mugs and biersteins. These two items have been collector’s items for annual visitors, said Natalia Wobst, executive director of the Colorado Chamber of the German American Chamber of Commerce.
WHAT MAKES THE MARKET SPECIAL: “What we see every year is an increase in the authenticity of our offerings, and an increase in an interest from shoppers,” Wobst said. “We have people come for brunch, lunch and happy hour. And in addition to our local vendors, we have German, European and international vendors who bring an old world flair to the market.”
Fine Art Market and ACES show
WHERE: Arvada Center, 6901 Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada
Fine Art Market Show
Nov. 30 through Dec. 17: Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Sunday and Monday, 1 to 5 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, Noon to 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 30 through Dec. 17: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The 31st annual market features all original works in a wide range of media, size and price by more than 90 artists throughout Colorado, while the 10th annual ACES (Arvada Center Education Studios) show features the work by the Arvada Center’s instructors and students.
Items range from jewelry, ceramics, handwoven pieces, woodworking, metalsmithing and handmade notebooks and cards to painting, prints, drawing, photography and mixed media works.
WHAT MAKES THE MARKET SPECIAL: “The Fine Art Market stresses quality and originality when selecting artists for this show,” Bebe Alexander, ceramics program manager, said. “The Arvada Center houses one of the best ceramics studios in the area, and the ACES show gives us the opportunity to show the works of our very talented staff, who are all professional artists, as well as showcasing what our students have been able to learn.”
Highlands Ranch Community Association’s Winter Market
WHERE: Town Center North, 1100 Sgt. Jon Stiles Drive, Highlands Ranch
HOURS: Dec. 1, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The Highlands Ranch Community Association is partnering with Metro Denver Farmers’ Market to bring shoppers an outdoor market full of unusual gift ideas, handmade items and foods like meats, pastries, breads, fudge and more for holiday meals.
Local farmers and crafters will set up booths for shoppers to peruse.
WHAT MAKES THE MARKET SPECIAL: “The market is part of Highland Ranch’s holiday celebration, and something we’ve talked about for years,” said Sara Walla, marketing and special projects coordinator with the association.
“The market enhances our holiday events and gives people more options to be excited about.”
Holiday Art Market
WHERE: Foothills Art Center, 809 Fifteenth St., Golden
HOURS: Nov. 10 through Dec. 30; Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, Noon to 5 p.m.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND: The 43rd annual market features creations from 106 Colorado artists, including fine ceramics, fiber, glass work, jewelry, paintings, woodworking, photography and other holiday items. It is one of the longest-running markets in the state.
WHAT MAKES THE MARKET SPECIAL: “Buying a gift from the market is meaningful because you find one-of-a-kind artisan gifts and you support Colorado artists,” said Foothills Art Center executive director Hassan Najjar. “It’s one of our most popular events due to the high quality and wide range of artwork and handicraft.”
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