As we’ve observed many times before, Boulder is a city full of creative people. For such a smallish city, the number of artists, craftspeople, and other top-of-the-heap creators like chefs and designers of all kinds, is off the charts. As such, when it comes time for finding the perfect beautiful (and/or useful) gift for all your loved ones for the holidays? There are almost too many amazing and distinct arrays of artistic gifts to choose from. What’s a Boulder gift giver to do?
Year-round, many state-of-the-art galleries (see what I did there) in Boulder are always a place to find excellent work by Boulder’s bevy of local creative makers of masterpieces. R Gallery is one of the newest art galleries in Boulder that offers its works for sale, and they have rotating themed exhibits created by locals, as well as some works by their own talented staff! (Fun fact: my mom has a beautiful photograph on sale at R Gallery. Go check it out, and let me know if you buy it!-ed.)
Just pre-holidays, if you’ve got the jump on the season, you’d do well to visit Open Studios, where you can see how your friendly local artists do their thing, and can buy fresh off the presses, as it were. Open Studios usually happens around October, spanning a couple weekends, and there are fewer funner things to do on a Fall afternoon than to break out the Open Studios map and take an artsy tour around town.
It’s the holiday season now, though, and even more artist-centered markets pop up around this time, of course, it being the season of gifting. Here are some of the most important of the Boulder holiday art shopping biggies that we never miss:
Boulder Holiday Market & Winter Market
Now these two big outdoor festival markets are already done for this year–the next Boulder Holiday Market will be in November of 2020, and the Winter Market (the local holiday gathering aligned with the big Boulder Farmers’ Market) happened earlier this month. But a list of the biggest Boulder holiday arts markets just wouldn’t be complete without a mention, so if you missed these this year, make sure you’ve got them on your gift-shopping roster for next year.
Just like their cousins the Farmers’ Markets, the Boulder Holiday and Winter markets happen in Longmont, too. That reminds me: Speaking of big festival art markets in Longmont…
Last Chance Gift Fest
This festival style market is exactly what it sounds like: your LAST CHANCE to peruse over 175 local artists and artisans in their booths, in a family-friendly and hoppingly festive atmosphere, up north at the huge Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont.
Spanning one evening and one day, coming up fast: December 21st and 22nd, the Last Chance Gift Fest is seriously the giant Boulder County art market you do not want to miss! The festive atmosphere will include: live music, foods and bevvies, activities, and fun for all ages.
Firefly Handmade is one of the biggest and most popular festivals of shopping local artists in the Boulder area, and it’s easy to see why: A periodic and seminal gathering of booths showcasing (and selling) arts and crafts by local folks, Firefly is a whole event. You can spend the day enjoying the live music, food and drink, performances, etc. along with perusing usually around 200 local artists’ wares.
Firefly is a rigorously juried festival, too–it’s not just a matter of who pays for a booth space; the artists that end up getting to be involved with Firefly have gone through a rigorous vetting process, so you know you’ll be seeing only the very best when you go. It’s also a real festival atmosphere, what with the music, refreshments, and everything else, and these uniquely Boulder events pop up regularly and often, so check their website for when and where the next Firefly will appear.
Though the garden part of Harlequin’s Gardens’ ongoing markets is closed for the season, Harlequin’s Gardens currently has a huge Winter Market that’s still going strong, and will be, Wednesdays through Sundays, all the way through December 22nd.
Harlequin’s Gardens is a rare treat: it began when the fine folks tending to the plants and etc. that thrive during the warmer seasons (many of them being artists of all kinds themselves) found they needed a good venue to not only continue to supply Boulder with varying garden type additions, but ways to sell their art too. This is how the Winter Market at Harlequin’s Gardens came to be, and Boulder is fortunate to have a farmer’s market-type gifting opportunity in the winter months.
Make sure you make it to their Winter Market soon, though, as they’re done on December 22nd.
29th Street Mall
You know, it’s funny: We’re always talking about the Pearl Street Mall, but let’s not forget the state-of-the-art, open-air 29th Street Mall, home of Boulder’s big AMC movie theatre and all kinds of stuff to do within and without the plethora of shops all year, including: a beer garden that pops up frequently outside (with heat lamps for when it’s cold out), performances and fairs, and of course plenty of extra holiday shopping cheer around this time of year.
Right now at 29th Street there are a few festive events going on (let alone the multiple sales occurring within the stores themselves), but one you’ll want to make sure you attend is the Wonder Wonder Winter Wonderland event. Come to the plaza level of Wonder Wonder (right now all the way through the New Year!) to marvel at their holiday decorations, snap some selfies in Christmas themed rooms, and take a gander at the festive exhibits.
And of course, as always but especially now, there’s all kinds of things happening at the…
Pearl Street Mall
All through the holiday season, there are myriad sidewalk and other special sales across the various shops and restaurants all along the mall. Plus, there’s Saint Nick on the Bricks, which means all the surrounding stores are also in that level of holiday spirit, let alone the spectacular vision that is the light display all along the extent of the Mall (and beyond).
As far as art shopping goes, most of the biggest and best art galleries in Boulder are located on or very near the Pearl Street Mall, and most of them sell the works you’ll find in their exhibits. BMoCA, R Gallery, the seasonal popup of local artists called Pop!gallery, and more; all of these are opportunities not only to expand your knowledge of the arts and culture in Boulder, but to invest in its art yourself. And there are co-ops like the Boulder Arts & Crafts Gallery, as well as artist-centered gift shops like Art Mart, that have your local artwork gifting needs right there under one shopping trip roof. All of these options are normally stocked mostly with local artists, so it’s impossible to go wrong down on the Pearl Street Mall.
Here’s the cool and unusual thing about Boulder’s creative environment, though: you can make your own artsy and craftsy gifts at spots all up and down Pearl Street! Several shops along the Mall offer group creation sessions, classes, and more: POSHsplat and Color Me Mine (the fun party painting and pottery peeps), Fabricate (they sell you fabric and notions, and can teach you how to sew), and Foodlab (the stellar cooking school on Pearl), all have frequent and seasonal activities and classes, so you can go in and make your own art to give.
With all this artistic possibility, you’ll find the perfect and unique Boulder flavored gift for everyone on your list. Where’s your favorite art galleries to shop in Boulder? Let us know!