Black Friday. Yikes. Holiday shopping makes you think of mobs at the malls, doesn’t it? With locally sourced everything being the hottest trends, the holidays should be, too. And that goes for those one-of-a-kind presents you can’t wait to give to your loved ones.
Here’s where your nearby holiday markets come in. From now through Christmas and surrounding West Villages, bustling markets feature handmade crafts, artisanal creations from jewelry to greeting cards and Insta-worthy photo opportunities, along with food trucks you generally don’t find in the mad rush to the mall.
Here are a few popular places where you can pick up the perfect homemade gift to make the season even more special:
Visual Arts Center’s Annual Market: The three-day market showcases such holiday goodies as handmade décor, art, jewelry and more. Sixty-plus vendors’ tables are chockablock full of homemade treats, including foods, from noon to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 7-8.
Englewood Fine Arts & Handmade Crafts Festival: Just 10 miles from West Villages, Olde Englewood Village’s West Dearborn Street transforms into a pedestrian-only market from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 7. Fine arts and crafts vendors line the main drag of the historic fishing village. Make a day of it: start the day with some heavy browsing and shopping, then enjoy a picturesque winter’s afternoon, with plenty of tasty treats along the way.
Paradise Christmas Fair at Laishley Park: In Punta Gorda’s Laishley Park, you’ll find custom crafts and all manner of artistry from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 15. Santa Claus appears from noon to 2 p.m.—the big guy’s busy—and food trucks will be on hand. The park’s only about a 20-minute drive from the nine stunning neighborhoods of the award-winning West Villages community.
Lakewood Ranch Holiday Pop Up Market: A bit farther afield, in Lakewood Ranch, just 30 miles from West Villages, the Holiday Pop Up Market fills Summerfield Park with an array of arts, crafts, foods and fun. The free event takes place 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 23, Dec. 7 and Dec. 14, so you have several chances to enjoy some leisurely shopping before it’s too late.
Atomic Holiday Bazaar: Packing the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, just a 40-minute drive from home, the holiday extravaganza goes where most holiday markets don’t: alt-crafts. That is, you’ll find DIY-style gifts, such as silk-screen skirts and handbags, upcycled jewelry, vintage and vinyl and artworks with a decidedly offbeat flair. In other words, give the gift that shows just how hip you are. The event runs from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 14-15.
Siesta Beach Seafood & Music Festival: Shopping makes you hungry. The fourth annual event is a tantalizing reminder that you can shop ’til drop, but then you have to get your seafood on, along with plenty of great tunes. Fresh seafood and homegrown music are available from noon to 9 p.m. Dec. 6 and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 7-8., only about a half-hour’s drive from West Villages.
To learn more celebrating the season and Life Your Way at West Villages, shop for a new home for the holidays with a visit to visit West Villages’ Model Home Centers, listed here. Or call the Home Buyers Information Line at 941-960-7805.