Forget about hectic holiday shopping this year and make it fun and unique! Instead of heading to the mall, head to one of the area’s local holiday markets with the fam! Turn something nerve-wracking into a good time for you and the kids. Below are some local markets that offer one of a kind gifts, fun entertainment, yummy treats, all in a festive atmosphere. Make this the year where you stop Scrooging and actually enjoy shopping!

Photo: Downtown Holiday Market

Downtown Holiday Market
This is truly the quintessential holiday market and it’s right smack in the middle of downtown DC. Over 150 vendors will be selling unique merchandise and vendor schedules rotate so you can keep going back over and over again to find new things! You and the kids will love the free live entertainment and, of course, the yummy treats you can purchase. If you feel like you have to throw in something educational after all the shopping, pop into the National Portrait Gallery and take in some art. The Downtown Holiday Market is charming and enchanting, and makes you feel like you’re in a small town even though you’re in the nation’s capital.

When: Nov. 24-Dec. 23
8th and F Sts., NW (Downtown)
Online: downtownholidaymarket.com

Christmas Village in Baltimore
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor becomes a traditional German Christmas Market between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. The distinctive ambiance boasts thousands of lights, a massive Holiday Tree, and the mouthwatering smell of waffles, gingerbread, bratwurst and mulled wine is sure to put you and your family into the holiday spirit. With over 50 vendors, you’re sure to check everyone off your list. There are plenty of fun activities for the kids as well! Santa will be taking a break from toy making and will visit with kids! And his pal, Gingy, will be strolling throughout the market even celebrating his 5th birthday party on December 9th and 10th. There will even be a Kids Corner with games and watch out for balloon artists, face painters and more!

When: Nov. 23-Dec. 24
West Shore Park, Inner Harbor (Baltimore)
Online: baltimore-christmas.com

Photo: Heurich House

Christkindlmarkt
If you haven’t been to Dupont Circle’s Heurich House, Christkindlmarkt is the ideal time to visit! Christkindlmarkt is a way to honor the Heurich family’s German heritage by designing a traditional outdoor German Christmas market in the home’s Castle Garden. Enjoy artisan vendors including jewelers, chocolatiers, and more. You can also take a self-guided tour of the historic mansion all decked out for the holidays.

When: Dec. 1-3
Heurich House Museum
1307 New Hampshire Ave., NW (Dupont Circle)
Online: heurichchristmas.org/tour

Swedish Christmas Bazaar 
D.C.’s Swedish Women’s Educational Association Christmas Bazaar is a fun, family-friendly event and always helps to kick start the holiday season! Brilliant artisans and vendors sell gifts such as Swedish artwork and textiles. Head into the Café and try delicious Swedish treats such as homemade breads, princesstårta” and “glögg.” There’s even a kid’s room to play in and for making decorations. When the bazaar ends, the festivities are taken outside for beautiful and traditional caroling by the Swedish St Lucia Procession.

When: Dec. 2
House of Sweden
2900 K St., NW
Online: washingtondc.swea.org/bazaar

Photo: Alexandria’s Holiday Market

Alexandria’s Holiday Market
This signature event converts the Carlyle District into a dynamic European Festival like the legendary Christmas Markets in Germany and Austria. Visit the children’s corner for kid’s activities that teach about European traditions and culture. Enjoy making a “Paint Your Own Christmas Ornament” as well as face painting, glitter and maybe even a visit from Santa! Shop for unique items, enjoy live entertainment, eat yummy food and sweets and drink hot wine and cocoa.

When: Dec. 1-3, 8-9, 10,18-19, 20-23
300 John Carlyle St. (Alexandria, Va)
Online: alexandriaholidaymarket.com

Do you have a favorite holiday market? Tell us all about it in the comments section below. 

–Guiomar Ochoa