by Robin Catalano
The days of packing on the layers, piling into the station wagon, and schlepping to the local department store the day after Thanksgiving to do all of your holiday shopping in one marathon swoop are over. (And thank whatever higher power is in charge for that one. Nobody really wanted those Christmas-tree sweaters with light-up ornaments, monogrammed towels, nose-hair trimmers, or jumbo boxes of Whitman’s Samplers, anyway.)
That doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to the tedium of the mall, or endless, mindless scrolling through thousands of Made in Sweat Shop Du Jour listings on Amazon, either. Instead, head out to one of these handmade festivals — all hand-picked by us, and within one hour’s drive of Pittsfield. You’ll be giving your friends and family something fun, distinctive, and memorable, and support the local economy while you’re at it.
November 23 — 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m
North Adams, Mass.
$5 individual | $10 family | kids under 12 free
If you haven’t yet visited Greylock WORKS’ stunning renovated space in a former North Adams mill, this event is the perfect introduction. FESTIVE is the Berkshires’ largest handmade market, with more than 70 makers in 30,000 square feet.
Choose from fresh food, wood crafts, jewelry, organic body care, clothing, and more. Little shoppers will get a kick out of their Kids’ Zone space, with trains, dinosaurs, and drawing stations.
November 23 — 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
November 24 — 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
With its mix of the affordable and the higher-end, the unique and the accessible, Makers Market is a lively spot for finding holiday gifts for them or for you (and why not? You work hard for the money). An invitational craft show, Makers Market features, among its many categories, jewelry, metal work, ceramics, accessories, home décor, and woodworking.
November 29 – Dec. 23 — 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
73 Main Street, North Adams, Mass.
Common Folk is expanding their store at 73 Main Street to welcome members AND the public to sell work side-by-side. Shop anytime between November 29 and December 23 to find the perfect gift – handmade or consignment. Opening day: Sleep In SALE
Tammi Lee Oak
Things by Bri
No Aesthetic Quilts
Christina King Expressive Arts
November 29 — 12:00 to 7:00 p.m.
November 30 & December 1 — 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
$5 adults; free for children 12 and under
Yes, it’ll take you a little while to get to this one. Yes, the parking lot gets busy. But no, you won’t find a single barcode or scrap of plastic, and yes, it’s totally worth the effort. With more than 100 vendors—including 25 that are brand-new to this year’s festival—Basilica Farm & Flea is back for its eighth year. Billing itself as the “anti–Black Friday,”
Basilica Farm & Flea is one of the region’s largest and most varied showcases for artisans, vintage collectors, farmers, and food producers. (You can also take your snacks to go and have lunch or dinner in one of Hudson’s many excellent restaurants.)
November 29–December 24 — 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
December 27–30 — 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Hudson, New York
A pop-up collaboration between Hudson River Exchange, a regional tastemaker and tireless supporter of handmade goods, and creative studio Drop Forge & Tool, this fixed market showcases more than 40 artisans in two different spaces. Special guest vendors will appear on several days, starting on November 30.
November 30 & December 7 — 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
December 1 & 8 — 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Shop for textiles, housewares, organic skin care, leather goods, jewelry, ceramics, felted toys, and more from more than 25 vendors in the creative hotspot of Salisbury in northwestern Connecticut. Some of the proceeds from each day benefit a different regional nonprofit.
Sundays, December 1–December 22 — 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Troy, New York
This is a brand-new market, but if it’s half as good as the stellar Troy Waterfront Farmers Market, it will be well worth the trip. A collaboration between the Farmers Market and the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District, this event will feature a variety of makers, artists, farms, and food and beverage purveyors from around the Capital Region.
December 6 — 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Albany, New York
Sweet treats, grown-up beverages courtesy of the local favorite Nine Pin Cider, live music, and, of course, plenty of holiday gifts can be found at this small, curated makers’ market. Gifted will also have a photo booth for your holiday-snapping pleasure, plus a gift-wrapping station.
December 6 — 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
December 7, 8, 14 & 15 — 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Another intimate market with a few fun add-ons, the SVAC Holiday Craft Market will host nearly 30 artisans of handmade, one-of-a-kind crafts. December 6 is the early bird preview, with drinks, snacks, and live music by the Burr & Burton Academy student band.
December 6 & 13 — 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.
December 7 & 14 — 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Albany, New York
A smaller market, Fort Orange offers a rotating selection of up to 30 vendors, from the accessible to the quirky, each week. Go for the locally made and sourced products and gifts, and stay for the craft beverage tastings, live music, and art exhibits. (Park for free in the Park Albany Riverfront Garage.)
December 7 & 8 — 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
With its focus on food, farming, and keeping local dollars, well, local, this festival (hosted by Roots Rising at the Stationery Factory), will have more than 60 artisans, farmers, and food producers. The Handmade Holiday Festival will also offer food, children’s crafts, and live music. Proceeds support Roots Rising’s mission to empower youth and build community through food and farming.
December 8 — 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Albany, New York
Hosted in the lovely, light-filled New York State Museum, this festival is all about made-in–New York foods. You’ll find craft beer, wine, and spirits, as well as cheese, chocolate, apple and maple products, and dozens of other giftable goodies. The museum will also be open for touring, and there will be demonstrations of vintage recipes.
December 14 & 15 — 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
$3 adults; free for children 12 and under
It’s hard to believe the Holiday Shindy, a mainstay of the handmade-market scene and the Berkshires’ longest-running showcase of all things artisanal, is more than a decade old. The festival has taken a strategic approach to keeping vendor numbers slightly smaller—this year’s will feature 40—by choosing those with a commitment to high-quality, distinctive gifts, jewelry, fiber arts, skin-care products, foods, and more.
December 21 — 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
December 22 – 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Great Barrington, Mass.
Locally made fine arts, crafts, food, and drink from 37 makers and producers in and around the Berkshires. Held at St. James Place, the renovated church on the corners of Main Street and Taconic Avenue in Great Barrington, the market is going full-on festive this year, with a wide variety of handmade goods, hot meals, and giftable treats. Stay for a performance by Olga Dunn Dance Company.
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Robin Catalano believes in the power of storytelling to connect communities and cultures. She’s applied her creative approach to writing for magazines, books, blogs, websites, and a wide variety of marketing projects, and has published more than 75 articles and 1,000+ blog posts. As an editor, she has worked on more than 350 books for publishers including Penguin Random House, Workman, and Simon & Schuster. She has also served as a book coach for independent authors, helping them take their ideas from concept to print. An avid traveler and travel writer, Robin lives, reads, and writes voraciously in upstate NY.