It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, seriously. It may feel harder to get in the festive spirit, but holiday music already abounds, Christmas decor is filling our Insta feeds and gift giving is firmly top of mind. And although we’re unable to partake in our favourite holiday pastime—attending every Christmas market within a reasonable driving range, that is—the show must go on. Holiday festivals across Canada have embraced the circumstances and have transitioned to online events you can shop from the comfort of your own home, while supporting local businesses and artisans. (There is also at least one curb-side option available to Torontonians: Stackt is offering curb-side pickup from the 20 vendors that were planning to participate in its Holiday Hills marketplace.)
Here are some of the best virtual—and free!—holiday markets to check out this year.
The One Of A Kind Show
When: October 22 to December 20
The lowdown: For Canada’s trademark craft show, going digital didn’t mean going smaller. More than 700 makers from across the country have virtual booths at the winter iteration of the One Of A Kind Show. You can find everything from luxe handcrafted candles to cozy loungewear you’ll never want to change out of. It’s also running over eight weeks—longer than its usual 11-day event—to give local artisans as much support as possible.
Browsing tip: With so many options to choose from, clicking through the event’s online portal can be overwhelming, to say the least. After you spend a bit of time browsing, take advantage of the site’s MatchMaker feature, which automatically generates personalized recommendations based on the vendors you’ve been engaging with.
Read this next: 50+ Gifts from Local Makers
The Eco Lifestyle Market
When: December 7 to December 21
The lowdown: Your sustainability goals may have been slightly neglected this year given the…2020 of it all. (Us too.) Get them back on track at the Eco Lifestyle Market, a biannual event that brings together a curated selection of Toronto’s best lifestyle and wellness products in green living.
Browsing tip: Log onto the eco-friendly marketplace’s site or social media accounts regularly, because organizers will be putting the spotlight on different vendors and offering exclusive discount codes daily.
Read this next: Cute Treasures Under $25 to Surprise Your Friends With
Indigenous Women’s Holiday Market
The lowdown: Organizers of the Facebook-only group set out to create a positive space for Indigenous makers whose businesses had been impacted by cancelled trade shows and declining sales during the pandemic. Now, a month in, the group has expanded to include over 500 vendors, with around 23,000 members joining the forum.
Browsing tip: Individual vendors have been charged with setting up their own photo albums to sell their products, so check back for new additions frequently. And, because of the positive feedback, organizers plan to keep the group running past the holidays, so keep it in mind into the new year as you continue to look for local businesses to support.
Idée Cadeau Québec’s Virtual Christmas Market
The lowdown: The team at Idée Cadeau Québec understands a basic truth: Gift giving is hard. Their ethos is to make it simple, compiling an easy-to-browse list of all the covetable, locally-made items your loved ones would be thrilled to receive. Their special holiday portal makes it even more simple, breaking down category ideas (think kids, DIY spa-day essentials, gourmet snacks and more) before linking you directly to the Quebecois brands.
Browsing tip: Think of Idée Cadeau Québec as the facilitator for your holiday shopping. They highlight a wide array of amazing products, but they’ll send you to the brand’s own website to complete your order. Keep this in mind when ordering, because that means shipping methods and times will vary.
Read this next: 40+ Holiday Gifts That You Can Feel Good About Buying
When: November 25 to December 15
The lowdown: Winnipeg’s Christkindlmarkt is the longest-running German Christmas market in Canada. It may be missing the in-person cultural offerings—like Glühwein, a warm mulled red wine—this year, but there’s still plenty of traditional fare to choose from, with both imported German goods and locally-made crafts available to shop.
Browsing tip: Going virtual hasn’t sacrificed the Christkindlmarkt’s selection of delicious German treats. Gingerbreads, festive cookies and, of course, German chocolate are all included in the online market and are just calling to be indulged on.
Got Craft? Holiday Pop-Up Virtual Market
When: November 25 to December 6
The lowdown: One of Vancouver’s staple artisan marketplaces started holding online events earlier this year in the face of COVID-19 so organizers are well-adjusted to running the show virtually. For the 2020 holiday-themed pop-up, 70 makers and small businesses from around Canada are selling handmade goods, like adorable enamel pins from B.C.’s Craftedvan (including a hot dog walking a dachshund!).
Browsing tip: Because the marketplace can only take place digitally, there’s no admission free. But you can still support the Got Craft? team by purchasing a limited-edition branded tote bag, which will contribute to the show and also donates proceeds to the Hogan’s Alley Society, a non-profit that advocates for Black Vancouverites.