Nothing will put you in the Christmas spirit like spending a December day perusing handmade gifts, nostalgic carols drifting through vendor tents, mulled cider in hand. This is the experience guaranteed by the Downtown Holiday Market in Washington, D.C., where you'll find fine arts and crafts begging to be wrapped up and given to friends, ornaments for your own tree at home, and a smorgasbord of local food to munch on, including the traditional German Christkindlmarkt fare. Live bands doing their best Christmas carol renditions make the atmosphere even better.
Located in the heart of the capital city’s Penn Quarter neighborhood, the alfresco village typically features more than 150 exhibitors and artisans offering jewelry, clothing, accessories, pottery, photography, clothing, specialty foods, and more. Vendors rotate daily so you can go again and again throughout the season and always see something new.
Time & Place
The Downtown Holiday Market kicks off on November 20—just in time for Small Business Saturday shopping—and runs until December 23, 2020, from noon to 8 p.m. daily. It is normally located on the sidewalk of F Street, between 7th and 9th Streets, but in 2020, it will take over two blocks of the street itself to allow for social distancing. If using a GPS, set your destination as the adjacent Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. The Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro Station in Penn Quarter is conveniently located within steps of the market.
The little white tents that occupy F Street every December are quick to be claimed by local creators. In 2020, the number of vendors has been reduced to about 70, as opposed to the usual 150-plus, and will showcase Black- and minority-owned businesses from the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development’s (DSLBD) Made in DC program. Again, the exhibitors rotate frequently, so consult the schedule if you're looking for something specific. Otherwise, you might come across one of these exhibitors.
- Joyful Bath Co. (soaps)
- Kerri Henry Pottery (ceramics)
- New York Puzzle Company (crafts)
- Tom Rall (antiques)
- Geeda's Hand Poured Candles (candles)
- Turtles Webb (jewelry)
- Banner Bee Co (beeswax candles and body care)
- District of Fashion (clothing)
- Joy of Glass (glass art)
- Godet Woodworking (furniture and home goods)
The Downtown Holiday Market always has a band playing, whether it be jazz and swing, blues, reggae, bluegrass, a cappella, or brass. In 2020, these artists, among others, will be featured.
- King Street Bluegrass (bluegrass)
- Lilt (Irish)
- Alpha Dog Blues Ensemble (blues)
- Flo Anito (jazzy pop)
- Karen Collins & Backroads Band (honky-tonk)
- The Archives (reggae)
- The Sweater Set (folk pop)
- Washington Youth Choir (a cappella)
- The Honey Larks (soul)
No holiday market would be complete without something for the foodies. In addition to the gift-able food tents (chocolatiers and the like), there will be six food vendors providing tasty provisions this year, including The Taste of Germany, a kiosk for savory sausages, hearty pretzels, mulled cider, gingerbread, and more—exactly how they (probably) do it in the authentic Christmas markets of Germany. Old Blue BBQ and Bindaasx Rasika (Indian street food) offer more savory options while stands like Alexa's Empanadas, Migue's Mini Donuts, and The Capital Candy Jar have your post-dinner sweet tooth covered.