Holiday craft fairs fill the weekends between Halloween and Christmas at churches, community centers, schools, and function halls all across New England. Offering food (for snacking and giving), handmade gift items, and a healthy dose of holiday cheer, they are often one of the earliest signs of the approaching holiday season.
Why not visit one (or two) this year and pick up a thoughtful gift, add to your own holiday decoration collection, or use the browsing experience to fuel your own creative energy? Here are our picks for just some of the biggest and best holiday craft fairs in New England, with selections for each state. The list of potential holiday fairs taking place each year is massive, so let us know if we missed your favorite — they just might make the list for next year!!
***Dates have been updated for 2016***
BEST CONNECTICUT HOLIDAY CRAFT FAIR
November 5-6: CraftWestport
Nearing its 41st year, this annual juried crafts bonanza features 175 metal, fiber, wood, paper, and clay artisans, with all admissions net profits to benefit local charities. A pop-up marketplace of local artists also includes some fun, budget-friendly items.
Staples High School, 70 North Avenue, Westport. 800-649-0279, 845-331-7900; www.artrider.com
BEST MAINE HOLIDAY CRAFT FAIRS
December 3-4: United Maine Craftsmen Holiday Arts & Crafts Show
Some 100 local artisans in varied media: fiber, silver, sea glass, clay, and cookie dough (there’s food, too) at this annual event with free gift-wrapping and hourly door prize.
Sullivan Gym, University of Southern Maine, 66 Falmouth St., Portland. 207-621-2818; unitedmainecraftsmen.com
BEST MASSACHUSETTS HOLIDAY CRAFT FAIRS
November 11-13: Annual New England Craft and Specialty Food Fair
This annual show, started in 1995, takes a something-for-everyone approach, with 250 artisans in categories from angels to wreaths to gourmet foods, including dip and bread mixes.
Topsfield Arena, The Topsfield Fairgrounds, 207 Boston Street (Route 1), Topsfield. 603-332-2616; castleberryfairs.com
November 19-20: Old Deerfield Christmas Sampler Craft Fair
More than 200 booths feature local, regional, and national artists. This show offers a wide selection of traditional crafts, with plenty of holiday decorations–carved Santas, ornaments, wreaths, and so on–on hand. Don’t miss the circa-1897 miniature Christmas village.
Better Living Center, Eastern States Exposition, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. 413-774-7476; deerfield-craft.org
December 2-4: Castleberry Faire New England Holiday Craft Spectacular
Celebrating 15 years, this craft “spectacular” features jewelry, glass, candles, sports-themed gifts, art, photography, food, and more.
Event Center at the Hanover Mall, Route 53, Hanover. 603-332-2616; castleberryfairs.com
December 10-11, 16-18, 21-24 Harvard Square Holiday Craft Fair
Celebrating nearly 31 years, this holiday fair at the First Parish Cambridge lures tourists and locals alike throughout the month of December from its prime location just steps from the MBTA. Inside: an underground bazaar, a riot of Indian textiles, painted silk, fused glass, and pottery, among some 40 stalls.
Upstairs at the Atrium, 50 Church St, Cambridge. December 18-23, St. Paul’s Church, 29 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge. harvardsquareholidayfair.com
December 2-4: CraftBoston Holiday
The Society of Arts & Crafts was founded in 1897, the first American organization of its kind, which in turn organized the first formal crafts exhibition on these shores. Now, more than 100 years later, it’s still running our region’s granddaddy holiday event, with 175 artists, a craft book seller, and informational booths promoting non-profit craft organizations and schools. Such prestige means high quality and generally higher prices, though SAC does highlight items under $100.
Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston Street, Boston. societyofcrafts.org
BEST NEW HAMPSHIRE HOLIDAY CRAFT FAIRS
November 12: Fine Arts & Crafts Shows in the New Hampshire Seacoast
The 17th annual show will feature dozens of vendors selling jewelry, art pieces, pottery, and more. Refreshments will be sold.
Great Bay Community College, 320 Corporate Drive, Portsmouth. 603-431-8531; www.seacoastartisans.com
BEST RHODE ISLAND HOLIDAY CRAFT FAIR
December 1-4, 9-10: Foundry Artists Association Holiday Show
For three decades, this show has selected wares from an impressive roster of artisans. Handmade items for sale include paintings, photos, jewelry, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, clothing, and accessories. Of course, it helps to have all those RISD grads in your backyard. Includes a silent auction.
Pawtucket Armory Center for the Arts, 172 Exchange Street, Pawtucket. foundryshow.com
BEST VERMONT HOLIDAY CRAFT FAIRS
November 18-20: Craft Vermont
Celebrating more than 60 years, this annual show is put on by the oldest and largest juried craft organization in the state of Vermont.
Sheraton Conference Center, 870 Williston Road, Burlington. 800-373-5429; vermonthandcrafters.com
November 25-27: Putney Craft Tour
An open-studios southeastern Vermont event for more than 35 years, with nearly 30 noteworthy artisans to visit. Printable map available online.
This post was first published in 2014 and has been updated.