Free Christmas markets to stuff your stockings

Christmas is less than a month away, and that means the holiday craft market scene is heating up faster than Santa's beard after an ill-timed chimney descent.

Many choices this coming weekend

This weekend's Christmas market at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que., is just one of a handful taking place across the region over the next few weeks. (Canadian Museum of History)

Christmas is less than a month away, and that means the holiday craft market scene is heating up faster than Santa's beard after an ill-timed chimney descent.

We've come up with a list of local markets in the Ottawa-Gatineau region we think should provide gift-givers with an expansive choice of artisanal, locally-made and one-of-a-kind items.

Even better — none of the markets charge admission.

The Museum's Christmas Market

Where: The Canadian Museum of History

When: Nov. 30 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Dec. 1 and 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This one actually kicked off on Thursday but it runs all weekend, with more than 80 vendors taking over the history museum's Great Hall.

Many of the vendors are from western Quebec, offering goods ranging from chocolates and maple products to jewellery and wooden crafts.

The museum itself is also open, so visitors can pair their holiday shopping with exhibits on medieval European history or 19th century Canadian photography.

Carp Farmers Christmas Market

Where: Carp Fairgrounds

When: Nov. 30 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Dec. 1 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Some 75 vendors will be spread across two buildings at the annual Carp market, which runs today and tomorrow.

The food-forward vendor list includes dozens of eastern Ontario producers offering up delicious-sounding treats like organic honey, hot sauces and Syrian desserts.

There will also be soaps, candles, wool products and other non-edible items for marketgoers to stuff into those Christmas stockings this year.

While the market itself is free, visitors can offer a donation to the West Carleton Food Access Centre.


Where: Carleton University Fieldhouse, 85 University Rd.

When: Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hosted by the folks who oversee the eclectic 613flea markets the rest of the year, 613Christmas is their holiday-themed spin on the same concept.

Roughly 150 vendors are expected to descend upon the Carleton University Fieldhouse this Saturday, including bakers, local artisans, and antiques dealers.

So if you're envisioning a retro-themed Christmas this year, this one may be up your alley.

The Good Companions Christmas Bazaar

Where: The Good Companions Seniors' Centre, 670 Albert St.

When: Dec. 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

As suggested by one of CBC Ottawa's Twitter followers, this Saturday's market offers up handmade crafts and baked goods produced by local senior citizens.

Expect high-quality quilts, knitting, hot chocolate and what the Albert Street centre — a non-profit that offers programming and support services for older Ottawans — bills as its "famous tourtière pies."

Santa's also expected to put in an appearance.

Merrickville Craft and Vendor Fair

Where: Merrickville United Art Centre, 100 Main St., Merrickville

When: Dec. 1 from 12 to 6 p.m.

If you fancy a shop and stroll by the Rideau River in picturesque Merrickville, we have a craft fair for you.

More than 30 vendors will be set up at the newly-renovated centre, which doubles as the Merrickville United Church.

There will also be breakfast with Santa and a parade, all part of the community's Christmas in Merrickville celebration.

Woodroffe High School Craft Fair

Where: Woodroffe High School, 2410 Georgina Dr., Ottawa.

When: Dec. 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It's the fifth year the school's parent council is welcoming local crafters to help raise funds.

Cumberland Christmas Farmers' Market

Where: Five locations: Two halls at 1115 Dunning Rd., one each at 2620 Market St., 2557 Old Montreal Rd. and 565 Old Montreal Rd.

When: Dec. 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

That's right — five different options!

Wakefield Christmas Market

Where: 38 chemin de la Vallée de Wakefield

When: Dec. 8 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Around since 2013, this one-day-only holiday showcase in western Quebec bills itself as a "European-inspired outdoor holiday market."

Roughly 70 vendors will be hawking their wares in the quaint riverside community about 40 kilometres north of Ottawa.

There will also be horse-drawn sleigh rides, photos with Santa, and — perhaps befitting the town's socially-conscious reputation — an Amnesty International letter writing campaign at the local library.

The Ottawa Farmers Christmas Market

Where: The Aberdeen Pavilion at Lansdowne Park

When: Saturdays and Sundays in December until Dec. 23, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

The Ottawa Farmer's Market's annual holiday showcase takes place throughout the month of December inside the appropriately rustic Aberdeen Pavilion.

It's a good thing, too, since the heritage site — it was built in 1898 to house agricultural fairs, and is now a national historic site — is easily large enough to fit the 100-plus craft and food retailers.

This year's market also features live Christmas music, horse-drawn wagon rides on certain dates, and a "kids craft corner" for families who want to make their own holiday accessories this year.

And for those procrastinators among us, good news: the market's final date is Dec. 23rd, a mere two days before the Christmas deadline.