The holidays are here, and with them come the scramble of Christmas shopping. Mall shopping has never been a luxurious or relaxing endeavour — harried moms, long line-ups of over-excited children waiting for a picture with Santa… isn’t there another way to holiday shop?

The answer is: yes. There are many Christmas markets across Alberta that not only have unique gifts, but also offer hearty meals and warm drinks. Here are some of our favourite markets you can’t miss this Christmas:

Market Collective
Do you love art, food and cocktails? Well, who doesn’t! Market Collective Cheer is amping up for their most festive holiday season yet with four weekends celebrating local artists, mixologists and food connoisseurs.

With 60 different vendors supplying food and drink for eager marketgoers, you can find anything from holiday cocktail creations by Sugar War Cocktail Bar to sweet and savoury pies from The Pie Hole and Bakery.

Market Collective Cheer is the perfect place to pick up unique Christmas gifts, while maybe enjoying a little personal shopping yourself. Make your way through crowded stalls with a fresh Rosso coffee in hand, or take a breather and treat yourself to some hot ramen from Eats of Asia.

What: Market Collective Cheer
Where: Chinese Cultural Centre, 197 1 Street SW, Calgary
When: November 25 – 27, December 2 – 4, December 9 – 11, and December 16 – 18

Banff Christmas Market

Freshly roasted coffee, sticky jars of honey and artisan cheeses are a few of the many fine food attractions at the Banff Christmas Market.

Bringing together the best in handcrafted décor and festive treats, the Banff Christmas Market is one of the most scenic spots to do your holiday shopping. Warm up and rest your tired feet in the Banff Hot Springs, or if food is your thing, pay a visit to one of the many award-winning restaurants in town. Open only for one weekend, start your Christmas early in one of the most beautiful spots Alberta has to offer.

What: Banff Christmas Market
Where: 100 Sundance Road: Warners Stables, Banff
When: November 25 – December 27

Make It Edmonton!
With a Christmas market this large, it really is like being at Santa’s workshop in the North Pole.

Get lost amongst Christmas lights, carols and mouth-watering baking as hundreds of exhibitors (275 to be exact) present their best Christmas offerings. True to its name, Make It is just that: a market filled with handmade art and designs.

If shopping isn’t your thing, you can still join in on the Christmas cheer and enjoy the market’s beer garden, live music and variety of snacks from food trucks on site.

What: Make It Edmonton!
Where: Edmonton EXPO Centre, 7515 118 Avenue NW
When: November 24 – November 27

Canmore Christmas Artisans Market
What’s Christmas without a good cause? In support of children in the community, the Canmore Christmas Artisans Market is using market admissions to raise funds for the Canmore Preschool Society.

Enjoy a day in the Rockies, where more than 80 artists and fine food aficionados will be showing off their holiday wares and best Christmas baking. Whether you’re searching for unique gifts for the family or just want to window shop, the Canmore Christmas Artisans Market is not to be missed!

What: Canmore Christmas Artisans Market
Where: Canmore Collegiate High School, 1800 8th Avenue
When: November 19 – November 20

Calgary Christmas Market
One of the city’s busiest local food markets, the Calgary Farmers’ Market is transforming from farmer to festive for the holiday season. With 90 different vendors on site, you can find everything from homemade Christmas baking to holiday gifts and décor.

If you’re strapped for ideas on what to laden your Christmas counters with, the Calgary Christmas Market has it all. Whether it’s a gift for under the tree or some decadent baking to stuff the kitchen full, there’s something from everyone this holiday season.

What: Calgary Christmas Market
Where: Calgary Farmers’ Market, 510 77 Avenue SE
When: November 18 – December 11

Millarville Christmas Market
Yee-haw! Lace up your Christmas boots, saddle up and head off to The Millarville Christmas Market, one of the longest-standing Christmas traditions in rural Alberta.

Held in November, this four-day holiday extravaganza features everything from hayrides to glassblowing to even roasting your own chestnuts (there really is nothing quite as special as a freshly roasted chestnut). A great spot to do some early Christmas shopping, The Millarville Christmas Market offers all types of handcrafted knitting, painting, pottery and — of course — the best varieties of homemade fudge, caramel corn and Christmas cookies.

What: The Millarville Christmas Market
Where: Box 68 Millarville, Alberta
When: November 10 – November 13

Cochrane Christmas Market
A famously scenic spot for weddings and special events, the Cochrane RancheHouse will be welcoming the public in for their annual Christmas Market.

Featuring homemade baking, Christmas decorations and local art, the trip to Cochrane is well worth it. With a $2 admission fee to enter, the market will also be accepting donations for the Cochrane Food Bank.

For locals or overnighters, November 19 is Cochrane Light Up, which features a festival of Christmas lights, fireworks and free hotdogs, and hot chocolate.

What: Cochrane Christmas Market
Where: 101 RancheHouse Road
When: November 20

The Ranch Christmas Market
All the year-round hustle and bustle of Calgary’s Symons Valley Ranch Farmers’ Market is expanding for the Christmas season, inviting 30 specialty vendors to show-off their holiday wares.

Unlike the many local craft markets seen around town during the Christmas season, Symons Valley is focusing on a gift market; more than 50 gift-specific vendors will be selling Christmas-themed clothing and art in the Lower Level Ranch Hall.

Of course, a whirlwind day of Christmas shopping will work up an appetite — the Farmers’ Market on the main level is free of admission, and offers hot drinks, fresh food and some tasty Christmas treats.

What: The Ranch Christmas Market
Where: 14555 Symons Valley Road N.W., Calgary
When: November 25 – 27 

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