There’s something soothing about skipping the big box stores and opting for indie crafts, art shows and handmade gifts this Christmas. The gifts are unique, your dollars support a small businessperson and the shopping experience often includes fun extras like mulled wine, beer, live music, and entertainment to keep the youngest shoppers transfixed.
As an added bonus, you can usually meet the artists and makers to get the story behind the gift you’re giving and learn how it was created. We tend to think of items we buy as just things on a list, so it’s interesting to discover how they came to be.
So whether you shop at an affordable art gallery, a laid back gathering at a brewery, or a bustling outdoor Christmas or craft fair, these Midwestern events and festivals offer lots of cool indie crafts, original art, and a distinct holiday atmosphere that makes crossing items off your Christmas list way more fun. This list includes many of my own favorite events as well as ideas from other writers, bloggers, artists, and craft nerds around the Midwest.
Holiday Art Markets at Aptitude
Now through December 22
(Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays)
West Acres in Fargo (next to Best Buy)
Spoiler alert: I’ll be here selling my beer book and new postcards!! My fellow artists also offer handmade jewelry, pottery, photography, quirky cool mugs and prints, faux floral art and customized poems. (Yep, really. I want one.)
Pride of Dakota Fargo Holiday Showcase
Bismarck Events Center in Bismarck
This event is like a bridge between indie crafts and more traditional artforms and it’s a great way to see more than 120 vendors selling North Dakota-made products all in one go. It’s a great stop for purchasing giftable food and drinks, home décor, and fine art.
Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo
This is a festive stop for handmade, vintage and upcycled goods in a charming holiday environment curated by the mistresses of cozy over Eco Chic Home. There’s also live music, holiday decor workshops and a visit from Santa too.
Very Merry Holiday Craft Market
Drekker Brewing Company in Fargo
The creative minds behind Unglued Market attract some of North Dakota’s coolest crafters to this event. The historic building bursts with modern, funky and occasionally snarky indie crafts, from stickers and journals to pet gifts, clothing and accessories. All ages are welcome.
Minneapolis Craft Market at Holidazzle
Now through December 22.
Loring Park in Minneapolis
Heated tents hold treasures by local artists, including woodwork, prints, fiber art, and handmade clothing, accessories, and jewelry. This event offers tons of atmospheric entertainment like movie nights, live music, ice skating and of course, the Holidazzle parades.
Pryes Brewing Holiday Market
December 5, 12 and 19
Pryes Brewing Company in Minneapolis
Minneapolis Craft Market brings a new line-up of local makers and artists to the brewery every Thursday. The taproom along the Mill City riverfront has a laidback vibe where you can shop with a beer in hand.
41st Annual Landmark Center Old-Fashioned Holiday Bazaar
Landmark Center in St. Paul
Score handmade lotions and soaps, decor, painting and wearable art from 75 local artists and artisans. Attendees at the new Twilight Shopping sessions on Thursday and Friday evenings receive a free drink with admission and can listen to special while shopping.
St. Paul European Christmas Market
December 6-8, 13-15, 20-22
Union Depot in St. Paul
The capital bustles with holiday energy during this open-air, European-style Christmas market. Sip mulled wine as shop for blown-glass Christmas ornaments, holiday decorations, original artwork and clothing from local crafters surrounded by carolers, dancers, and Santa and his reindeer.
Betty Danger’s Bizarre Bazaar
Betty Danger’s Country Club in Minneapolis
Betty Danger’s is a gleefully quirky blast. (With a Ferris Wheel, how can it not be?) So you know their favorite regional artisans are going to be good. Look for silkscreened ties, knitted cacti (!), snarky needlework and other proudly kooky indie crafts.
A Handmade Holiday Market
December 7, 14 and 21
Lakes and Legends Brewing Company in downtown Minneapolis
Want a little Belgian beer with your holiday cheer? Then head to Lakes and Legends Brewing Company in downtown Minneapolis to meet the artists (who rotate every Saturday) for a chat and one-stop Christmas shopping.
Old St. Anthony Holiday Bazaar
Machine Shop in Minneapolis
One of Minneapolis Craft Market’s biggest largest indoor craft markets returns to the historic St. Anthony neighborhood. It offers two floors of products for babies and kids, body care products, clothing, and jewelry.
Renegade Craft Fair Chicago Holiday Market
The Bridgeport Art Center in Chicago
DJs spin, shoppers sip seasons cocktails, and gleeful holiday anarchy reins at the Renegade Craft Fair. The event showcases boundary-pushing work from more than 250 modern crafters and artists and also hosts craft workshops.
Winterfest Art Market at Water Street Studios
Water Street Studios
Water Street Studios in Batavia
Savor holiday nibbles, wine, and cocktails as you browse work from 25 resident artists and 20 craftspeople and artisans. You’ll find everything from fine art like affordable paintings to home goods and small gift items and stocking stuffers.
Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus
This sprawling craft extravaganza features a broad range of fine arts and crafts from artists across the nation. Vendors work in ceramics, wood, glass and photography. You’ll also find jewelry, hand-tooled leather, paintings, decor, woven rugs and more.
Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus
The website declares that this show is proudly uncensored, so revel in sassy, thought-provoking and possibly provocative metalwork, plush toys, magnets, ornaments, books, embroidery and more.
Art For The Holidays
Now through January 4
Richmond Art Museum in Richmond
Choose an original (and affordable) 8 x 8 painting by fine artists from Indiana and Ohio. Or opt for jewelry, ceramics or photography. Every piece is priced under $200, so owning a piece of original art is accessible for everyone.
Yelp’s Totally Bazaar
Indianapolis Central Library in Indianapolis
All six floors of the library burst with entertainment, food samples, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and more than 150 local businesses. Vendors will be selling everything from handmade pottery, woodcrafts and clothing to pastries, popcorn and fudge.
What about you?
Which indie craft events do you love?
What art galleries do a great job of supporting local artists?
Which events would you travel to?
What handmade or fine art items are you giving this year?
Which indie crafts or fine art pieces are on your Christmas list?
You won’t miss a single post when you subscribe to Prairie Style File. Just look for the “Follow Prairie Style File” sign-up on the right side of the page. Or follow my adventures across the Midwest, the prairie provinces of Canada and around the world on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Tag your pics and travel tips #PrairiePeople and #PrairiePlaces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You could inspire an upcoming post on Prairie Style File. Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved.