You may not be decking your halls just yet, but for hundreds of local artists and vendors in the Fraser Valley the Christmas craft season is here. These markets bring together everything, from food and ingredients to ornaments and kids’ clothes, in one place for the season. From now until mid-December you can find these markets scattered throughout the Valley, and sometimes multiple on the same weekend. Looking for that perfectly unique gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list? Wanting to buy local and avoid the big-box Christmas rush? Trying to jump-start your Christmas spirit? Whatever your reason for taking part in the craft market circuit, one question remains: which one (or two, or five) do you attend?

We’ve collected some of the main markets around the valley, from Fort Langley to Chilliwack. You can pick your weekend, your city, or try to hit ‘em all with this handy guide. Consider this our holiday gift to you.

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Christmas Craft Market

Mission

November 5 and 6
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. / 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Clarke Theatre, 33700 Prentis Avenue, Mission
Host: Mission Arts Council
Years running: 35
Vendors: 100+
Admission: by donation (min. $1.00)

The 35th annual Christmas Craft Market in Mission is advertised as the largest in the Valley with a raffle, live entertainment, and a Christmas café. Hosted by the Mission Arts Council and located at Clarke Theatre, this is the main market for those living North of the Fraser River.


Christmas Market

Chilliwack

November 5
10 a.m. 4 p.m.

Location: Landing Sports Centre, 9145 Corbould St #1, Chilliwack
Host: Valley Markets
Years running: 3
Vendors: 90+
Admission: Free

The third annual Christmas Market hosted by Valley Markets in Chilliwack boasts raffle prizes and a kids craft table. Show up early to take part in a special pancake breakfast.


Plaza Christmas Market

Abbotsford

November 11 and 12
5 p.m. to 9 p.m. / 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Quality Hotel & Conference Centre (formerly Ramada Inn), 36035 N Parallel Rd, Abbotsford
Host: Plaza Craft Market
Years running: 4
Vendors: 80+
Admission: Free

The Plaza Christmas Market in Abbotsford is conveniently located at the Quality Hotel & Conference Centre just off Highway 1. The market will have food trucks on site, gingerbread house decorating, and a gift basket draw by donation to the Abbotsford Food Bank.


Christmas Market

Fort Langley

November 13
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: Fort Langley Community Hall, 9167 Glover Rd, Langley
Host: ThinkReferrals Business Network
Years running: 4
Vendors: 30+
Admission: By donation

At the Fort Langley Christmas Market, all proceeds from table rentals and admission donations go to sponsoring families in need over the Christmas season.


Christmas Craft Market

Chilliwack

November 18, 19, 20
12 p.m. to 8 p.m. / 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. /10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Chilliwack Heritage Park, 44140 Luckakuck Way, Chilliwack
Host: Chilliwack Community Arts Council (CCAC)
Years running: 42
Vendors: 175+
Admission: $3 (kids under 10 free)

CCAC Executive Director Patti Lawn highlights some highly anticipated changes to this year’s Christmas Craft Market.

“We have tried to change with the time, watching trends, adding new vendors and increasing our floor space,” Lawn says. “We want the market to be familiar but at the same time new and fresh.”
New this year, they’ve added a small selection of craft breweries and food vendor pairings to the list. The CCAC is a non-profit organization, and the Christmas Craft Market is their biggest fundraiser of the year. Proceeds support artists, arts programs, scholarships, and arts and cultural events throughout the year.


Handmade for the Holidays

Chilliwack

November 19
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: Main Street Church, 9325 Main St, Chilliwack
Host: Loving Local
Vendors: 60+
Admission: $3 (kids under 12 free)

The Handmade for the Holidays market focuses specifically on handmade items and offers gift bags including some of these items to the first 25 people through the door. You can also pick up breakfast or hot apple cider and take part in movies or craft activities for little ones.


Maan Farms Two-Day Country Christmas Market

Abbotsford

November 26 and 27
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Maan Farms, 790 McKenzie Rd, Abbotsford
Host: Maan Farms Country Experience
Years running: 2
Vendors: 60+
Admission: Free

Head down to Maan Farms in Abbotsford for their two-day country-style Christmas market. This market offers gifts for everyone on your list, free wine tastings, and family fun, including hay rides and carolling from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.


Coast Salish Christmas Market

Fort Langley

November 27
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Fort Langley Lions Hall, 23022 88th Avenue Fort Langley
Host: Coast Salish Arts & Cultural Society

This market blends the Christmas season with Aboriginal art, smoked salmon, and an array of work by local crafters and artisans.


Vancity Makers: Winter Chill Market

Abbotsford

December 2 and 3
5 p.m. to 9 p.m. / 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Show Barn, Exhibition Grounds, 32470 Haida Dr, Abbotsford
Host: Vancity Makers
Vendors: 90+
Admission: $5

The Winter Chill market is inspired with chilly holiday decor including string lights and Christmas trees in icy blues and greys. Jzabela from Vancity Makers says guests can expect free hot cocoa, Abbotsford’s Jack Coffee bar, and a Caribbean style food truck on top of holiday goods from local vendors.

“What sets this market apart is our passion to support the handmade community and our love for giving back to the community,” she notes. “Our vendors have generously donated items towards gift boxes that will be raffled off. 100 per cent of the proceeds will go directly to the Empty Stocking Fund.”

The market will also feature a children’s craft area and entertainment by a local dance school. Come for the vendors, stay for the entertainment!


Pop-Up Artisan Market

Abbotsford

December 2, 3, 4
5 p.m. to 9 p.m. / 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. / 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Highstreet, 3122 Mount Lehman Rd, Abbotsford
Host: Abbotsford Arts Council
Vendors: 25+
Admission: $2

This pop-up style market hosted by the Abbotsford Arts Council features local artisans, a gift raffle, and festive cider.


Abbotsford’s Bakers Market: Winter Edition

Abbotsford

December 10
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Highstreet, 3122 Mount Lehman Rd, Abbotsford
Host: Cookie Canister
Admission: $2 (kids 12 and under free)

This one’s for food lovers. The Abbotsford Baker’s Market showcases local food vendors from Abbotsford and around the valley. Looking for some exciting Christmas baking? This is the market to hit.


What do the vendors say?

As much as the Christmas market season benefits consumers looking for just the right, unique gift, it’s also an extremely important time of year for the vendors. Carmen West of Little and Lively, an Abbotsford-based children’s clothing retailer, shared her feelings about the season.

So obviously there are a number of markets around this season. How do you choose which to attend? What do you look for in a local market?

There are a few things that I consider and they don’t always have to do with being the most popular or most profitable markets. Around the Christmas season, there are often several markets scheduled on the same day, and when looking for which ones I’m going to participate in, I try to prioritize the ones closest to home. Not only because I love to support my local community, but also because it is simpler and easier for our family as they take less time away from our kids. I also try to be loyal to organizers who I’ve already had a previous good experience with because they are doing such a great job! Also, I really appreciate a well-curated market with pretty marketing.

What does the Christmas season mean for a local business like yours?

Christmas season means a very busy November. Even though Christmas is several weeks away, November is when we are working around the clock to build up inventory, organize, and promote. I’m a fairly well organized person so usually by the time Christmas shopping season is here, I’m well prepared. Late November and early December is filled with weekend markets. But the in last week or so before Christmas, there is usually a beautiful quiet time, since it is too late to ship anything prior to Christmas! I’d say that is my favourite part because it is like a little vacation right when you need it most!

Do you have anything special planned for the local markets?

We will be offering all of our fall/winter favourites including our graphic pullovers and pom pom beanies. But some things that you’ll find at markets that you won’t be able to find on our website are newborn gift sets (leggings and a pom pom beanie enclosed) and some special edition canvas banners and wall decal sets. Markets are a great venue to test out new designs before we launch them on a larger scale.

What should guests/customers expect from the market scene? Any insider tips for those looking to hit a few?

Look for markets that have taken the time to create an informative and enticing online presence. You should be able to get a good vibe as to what to expect by visiting their Instagram and Facebook page.

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Image by: Cyrielle Marlet