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Woman holding tons of gifts.
(Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

These 6 holiday markets bring glee to L.A., San Francisco and in between

Improvisation reigns this holiday season. In Europe, many traditional German Christmas markets are staying closed because of COVID-19 rates there. Meanwhile, many European-style markets, fairs and festivals in California are moving forward in adjusted form.

As a result, visitors will find some traditions intact like the Christmas gnomes of Solvang. But we also have pandemic oddities such as a drive-through tour of Dickensian London on the outskirts of San Francisco (Daly City, actually).

And in Los Angeles, we have a wealth of choices, including three strong options downtown — one at Union Station, one at 7th and Figueroa streets and one on Alameda Street.

Here’s a sampling of markets in Southern California and beyond, all opening in coming days and weeks.

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LA's Union Station Holiday Market.
(Union Station Holiday Market)

Union Station Holiday Market

Downtown L.A. Eclectic
The market happens from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on the train station’s South Patio.

Artists and artisans include the Glass Studio, Alpaca Love, Rock & Sock, Hulma, the Poster List and Zazu Faure. Entertainers include the Top Shelf Brass Band and the Joy Machine. Family activities, food and drink are promised as well.
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Shoppers at Unique Markets, which operates the L.A. Holiday Market at Row DTLA.
(Julie Shuford)

13th Annual L.A. Holiday Market

Downtown L.A. Eclectic
Unique Markets is the organizer of this sale, which will happen at Row DTLA over the weekend of Dec. 11 and 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

Along with art, clothing, furniture, jewelry, toys, snacks and other goods from a promised 150 local makers and small businesses, the event will include lawn games and family portraits. Admission is $13.65-$32.64.
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Come Up Markets feature Black artists, artisans and entrepreneurs.

Come Up Markets Holiday Market

Downtown L.A. Eclectic
Come Up Markets, which puts together events for Black artists, artisans, brands and entrepreneurs, will stage an outdoor holiday market at downtown L.A.’s FIG@7th, Plaza Level, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

As many as 50 vendors and brands are expected, including Gilded Grotto (jewelry), LA RAW (clothing), People of Color (cosmetics and personal care items) and Strange Fame (clothing).
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Solvang's Julefest Christmas Celebration.
(Central Coast Pictures /

Solvang Julefest

Solvang Eclectic
This winter’s version of this Solvang tradition, inspired by the town’s Danish heritage, goes through Jan. 1.

The Julefest festivities include a Santa’s Village on Saturdays, tree-lighting ceremony (Dec. 3), parade (Dec. 4), a Solvang Nativity Pageant (Dec. 11) and food tours on Dec. 4, 11 and 18. There’s also an ongoing children’s search for many Nisse hidden downtown — mythic figures, roughly the size of garden gnomes, that often wear red hats, play good-natured tricks and embody seasonal spirit.

Most of the events are free. Saturday night candlelight tours are $25 each.
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Cambria Christmas Market.
(Staci and Michael Photography)

Cambria Christmas Market

Cambria Eclectic
The Cambria Christmas Market runs through Dec. 23. Its organizers promise 2 million Christmas lights, fire pits, Santa visits, food, drink and a German-style Christmas Market with crafts and ornaments (including nutcrackers).

The event is affiliated with the Cambria Pines Lodge, and guests who dine or sleep at the lodge get priority in access to the market.
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Visitors can sing along with the Paddy West School of Seamanship as they navigate past the London Docks at "Drive Thru Dickens' London."
(Rich Yee)

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Daly City Eclectic
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, a longstanding Bay Area tradition inspired by the author’s “A Christmas Carol,” has been converted into a drive-through-only event, transforming an occasion that was already quirky into a true pandemic phenomenon.

The fair is on Saturdays and Sundays only, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 4-18. The venue, the Cow Palace Lower Exhibition Halls, stands just outside the San Francisco-Daly City border. Cost is $25 per car.
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