Texas has more craft artists than any other state in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and wares from several local and regional artisans will be featured along with other handmade goods at holiday fairs throughout San Antonio.
For those especially missing the now-defunct annual Tamales! festival at the Pearl, La Gran Tamalada has grown and moved to Historic Market Square, which also hosts a Winter Wonderland weekend (see below for details).
The Pearl offers a new holiday-themed pop-up shop and night markets, the San Antonio Museum of Art brings the San Antonio Potters Guild and local vendors to its Great Hall, Houston Street opens its annual pop-up shops in two locations, and Brick at the Blue Star Arts Complex offers a special Sunday market for the holidays.
Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise specified.
Saturday, Dec. 2
San Antonio Museum of Art’s Great Hall, 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The Museum shop joins with more than 35 potters and glassmakers from the San Antonio Potters Guild, and an array of local vendors to offer a variety of crafts and gifts. New Braunfels-based Uncommon Covers will be there, featuring “condensation coverage” (handcrafted drinkwear) custom koozies; San Antonio-based “one-stop Chicana shop” Very That will have T-shirts, coasters, stickers; and “Spirit-infused, handcrafted wearable art” available from Austin-based Las Ofrendas. A complete list of products and vendors is available here. From 10 a.m.-3 p.m., festival goers can get in on making embossed milagros, tin ornaments, and free gallery tours run 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Alamo Plaza, 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Time-travel back to holiday seasons on the Texas frontier with period crafts like corn husk dolls, and paper garlands and snowflakes. Visitors can learn to play period games, and make brooms and weavings while listening to live music by Dennis Riedesel, noted for playing musical bones. The Alamo will host Christmas storytelling in its Cavalry Courtyard at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2-3
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Galería Guadalupe, Noon – 6 p.m.
Select Latino artists from San Antonio will offer handmade holiday gifts. Admission is $2, or two cans of food to benefit the Inner City Development Food Bank.
Sunday, Dec. 3
Brick at Blue Star Arts Complex, Noon – 5 p.m.
Sip mimosas, wine and local beer while the regular Brick Sunday Market spruces up for the holidays. The market caters to niche gift seekers with vintage clothing, rare vinyl records, pet goods, artisan soaps and oils, and promises “out of the blue art performances.”
Lila Cockrell Theatre, 4-6 p.m.
New this year, the URBAN-15 performance group presents a free matinee performance for the holidays. The first half of the show features traditional holiday music with spectacular lighting and multimedia effects, while the second half is for “true laser show aficionados,” according to the City’s website, with “abstract visual and sonic expressions” by saxophonist Tim Walsh and composer George Cisneros.
Thursday, Dec. 7
A one-night event serving as a preview to the January San Antonio Cocktail Conference, and a gift-giving opportunity, with tickets to the conference on offer. While sampling cookies and holiday-themed craft cocktails by local bartenders, visitors can browse conference merchandise and ticket packages, gift-wrapping included. The conference donates 100 percent of its proceeds to children’s charities.
Friday, Dec. 8
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, Will Naylor Smith River Walk Plaza and Tobin Center West Campus, Noon – 8 p.m.
The Southwest School of Art offered its guidance in selecting local vendors for the Tobin’s holiday market, to include etched glass by Heidy Ashton, jewelry by Laura Quinones, and ceramics by Jennifer Ling Datchuk, among others. Lunch, snacks, and other concessions will be available on the plaza, and two free screenings of The Polar Express will be on view at 6 and 8 p.m.
Fridays – Sundays, Dec. 8-10, 15-17
The OPEN Holiday Market concept began in 2013 to activate vacant downtown properties with short-term retail stores. Two Houston Street locations will offer a selection of gift possibilities, including locally-inspired clothing and accessories from The Funky Soul, Barbacoa Apparel, Lulo Texas, and Fiesta Feet handmade leather huaraches from Mexico.
Some pop-ups go on to find more permanent locations, including the Huipil Market, Eye Candy Boutique, The Bird and Pear, and the Capistrano Soap Company at La Villita. B-Cycle will partner with the City to promote bicycling between the Houston St. and La Villita pop-up shop locations during the two OPEN Holiday Market weekends.
Saturday, Dec. 9
Brooks, Hangar 9, Noon – 6 p.m.
Another source for holiday tamales is Feliz Tamalidad, featuring Culebra Road’s Delicious Tamales, and Delia’s from San Juan, among other local vendors. Kids can keep busy with Santa and DoSeum activities, while bands including Los Texamaniacs provide free entertainment. Proceeds from the event benefit Southside First and Brooks Community Foundation, Inc.
Sunday, Dec. 10
Historic Market Square, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The popular La Gran Tamalada has outgrown its former home at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, and will be held this year at Historic Market Square in partnership with La Familia Cortez. Hands-on workshops will teach traditional tamale-making for the holidays, or they will be available for purchase by the dozens. The San Antonio Public Library sponsors corn husk-doll decorating for the kids, and a chance to be photographed with “Pancho Claus.”
Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16-17
Historic Market Square, Noon – 6 p.m.
Gift vendors, food booths and working artists will populate the plaza, with train rides and stage entertainment for kids. The Facebook page suggests that a certain Christmas-themed “special guest” might make an appearance…
Various Dates Throughout December
The Pearl has several holiday-themed events and a new pop-up shop for the season. During the Holiday Night Markets on Thursday evenings, Holiday Canciones will put a Tex Mex and Country twist to Christmas classics. Popmarte features national and local fashions curated by Nina McCandless and Ashley Clauss, including handcrafted perfumes by Boyd’s of Texas, Mignonne Gavigan jewelry, Uwila Warrior women’s underwear, and Bembien woven straw handbags, among others. A full list of brands is available here. Popmarte will be up through Saturday, Dec. 23.