Downtown Holiday Market festive, fun winter destination

By Julia Pearl-Schwartz

Instead of purchasing the same boring socks from Macy’s for Christmas gifts this year, head to the Downtown Holiday Market to find beaded giraffes, pottery, or even a pecan pie-shaped candle, which emits a nutty odor when burned.

jps story 2
Customers walk through the Holiday Market. The flea market is a great place for unique, festive gifts. Photo by Julia Pearl-Schwartz

The market consists of numerous white tents stretched along the sidewalk, with each tent featuring crafts from a different vendor.  The two rows of tents face each other, creating an aisle through which customers walk.  The combination of live music and horns blasting through the streets create a vivacious, festive atmosphere.

The seasonal flea market, which has been held each winter for the past nine years, is located on F Street, between 7th and 9th Streets.  This year, the market opened Nov. 29 and will remain open from 12-8 p.m. daily through Dec. 23.

Michael Berman, a local artist, runs the market.  He is the president of Diverse Markets Management, which co-produces the Downtown Holiday Market.

“The goal of the market is to activate downtown and promote a public space,” he said.  “It’s also to promote these very small, independent, entrepreneur businesses and have them have some great Christmas-time sales.”

Candace Marsella, a 39-year-old jeweler, enjoys the winter sales each year.

“It’s a great opportunity for local artisans to get out and sell their wares in a really pleasant environment,” Marsella said.  “They have wonderful live music, it’s very well run, and it’s a great atmosphere to sell one-of-a-kind pieces.”

This energetic environment has been known to attract a diverse agglomeration of customers.  Matthew Parker, 36, who has sold photograph collages at the market for the past eight years, said he enjoys the variety of customers he encounters.

“My favorite part is that D.C. is sort of a mixing bowl,” he said.  “There’s a lot of international people, so it’s really cool talking to the customers.”

jps story 3
Soy candles shaped like desserts are included in the unique merchandise available at the flea market. The market is designed to promote local artists and small businesses. Photo by Julia Pearl-Schwartz.

Valerie Berstene, 28, said her favorite part of the market is its exclusive occurrence during the holiday season.

“I like that it’s festive and it changes up what’s happening on the street,” she said.  “It’s the darkest time of the year so to have something special and with lights I think brings a nice atmosphere to the city.”