27 Nov 2023
The roofs of SUVs are topped by netting-wrapped pine trees, twinkly lights are up and sparkling, shops are bustling. There’s no doubt about it - we are fully in the throes of the holiday season.
Tis the season to hunt for gifts for loved ones. One of the best places to find unique, creative goods is in holiday markets.
While there are some large national traveling markets that come to nearby convention centers and fairgrounds, the very best holiday markets are local.
I’ll give you the scoop on three of the best. Two are the festive holiday installments of beloved area farmers markets. And one brings the Old World charm of a German Christmas market right here to the Lowcountry. All three of them are guaranteed to put you in the Christmas mood.
And lastly, I’ll let you in on a special Christmas gift, brought to you by the City of Charleston.
But first, the holiday markets…
Charleston Farmers Market: Holiday Edition
Charleston’s Farmers Market has been named one of the top ten in the nation, for good reason. Here you can connect with some of the best farmers, growers, vendors, craftsmen and artisans around.
The setting is the heart of the downtown peninsula - the ample greenspace of Marion Square, between Meeting and King Streets.
The regular Farmers Market runs on Saturdays from the spring through November. But when December rolls around, it transforms into the Charleston Holiday Market with live music, festive foods, activities for the kids, and special appearances… plus it expands hours and dates for the holidays.
This year, the Holiday Market takes over Marion Square on these dates:
Saturday, December 2nd: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 3rd : 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 9th: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 10th : 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 16th : 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Read more about it on our Events page.
Mount Pleasant Christmas Market
The other great farmers market in the Charleston area is on Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. It takes place on Tuesdays during the warmer months of the year.
But on a Saturday in December, they pull out all the holiday stops and host a hoppin’ holiday market.
This year will be the 24th installment of the Mount Pleasant Holiday Market & Craft Show. It’s happening Saturday, December 9th from 11:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m.
Here you’ll find a huge array of locally grown produce, artisanal products, gourmet treats both savory and sweet, crafts in every genre imaginable, plus plenty of live holiday music. There’s loads of fun for the kids, with activities like caricatures, balloon art, and visits with the big man himself, Santa Claus. He’ll even hand out special treats for those who tell him their Christmas wishes.
The Mount Pleasant Holiday Market & Craft Show will take place under the pavilion at 645 Coleman Boulevard, next to Moultrie Middle School.
The third holiday market is a magical option. Located just up Highway 17 in Awendaw, CHRISTkindlmarkt feels like stepping back in time.
Germany is famous for its Christmas markets, with good reason. They’re thoroughly enchanting, filled with wafting aromas of warm spices, mulled wine (gluhwein) and hot pretzels, twinkling lights, train sets, village scenes and intricate woodcarvings.
A local mother and daughter have brought all this to the Lowcountry, inspired by their close friendship with a German exchange student and au pair.
Dates are Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the first two weeks of December (December 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and Dec. 8th, 9th and 10th). They have both afternoon (2:00 – 5:00) and evening (7:00 – 10:00) markets. The afternoon markets are for all ages, and the evenings are adults only, due to safety issues with all the water features located on the grounds. Tickets are required, and they sell out fast.
A Nifty Christmas gift from the City of Charleston!
Each year, the City of Charleston offers the community a gift that’s practical, never the wrong size, and always appreciated.
It’s two hours of free parking in any of eight different city garages around the downtown peninsula.
Just print out the voucher which is linked here, and scan at the machine as you check out. (Each voucher can only be used once, and there’s a limit of one per vehicle.)
The free parking offer is good anytime between November 24th and December 31st, 2023.
You can use your voucher at the following city garages:
Majestic Square (211 King Street)
East Bay / Prioleau (25 Prioleau Street)
Queen Street (93 Queen Street)
Midtown (558 King Street)
The Visitor Center (63 Mary Street)
SC Aquarium (24 Calhoun Street)
Concord / Cumberland (1 Cumberland Street)
St. Philip Street (34 St. Philip Street)
So check out a holiday market, and be sure to take up the City of Charleston on their gift of free holiday parking while you’re at it.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger