D.C. holiday markets “spruce” up seasonal shopping experience


Kate Rodriguez

Located in front of the National Portrait Gallery, the Downtown Holiday Market features more than 70 vendors and runs for five weeks each winter.

By Kate Rodriguez

Holiday markets are an age-old tradition during the holiday season in many communities. The themed markets serve as a space in which shoppers, sellers and passersby can share in the holiday spirit and connect in a fun and festive way. Here’s a rundown of three popular markets that set up shop in Washington D.C. this December:

Four Seasons Holiday Market

The Four Seasons Holiday Market sits in the heart of Georgetown, nestled within the courtyard of the Four Seasons on Pennsylvania Ave.

“It was a hidden gem,” junior Pedro De Bolle said. “From afar, you can’t really spot it, but once you get inside the Four Seasons, you really feel like you’re in a Hallmark Christmas movie with all the decorations.”

The decorations followed a gold color scheme and were a clear highlight of the experience, as was the layout of the market. Each business stall had its own individual building, a more permanent construction than the tents that populate most holiday markets. The collection of tiny buildings resembled a miniature village, transporting visitors out of the urban atmosphere and into a true winter wonderland.

Notably, this market had a charitable focus — the Four Seasons donates a portion of the market’s proceeds to Children’s National Hospital, in the spirit of giving.

The one thing this market lacked was customers. Given its secluded location, the market didn’t garner quite as much foot traffic as other destinations, making for a markedly less lively atmosphere. However, with more of a crowd, the Four Seasons Holiday Market has the potential to be one of the most magical markets in the D.C. area.

Van Ness Holiday Market

The Van Ness Holiday Market was a one-day event that took place on Connecticut Avenue on Dec. 10. The market featured 38 vendors — a majority of whom are small business owners. 

The market aimed to achieve two main goals, said Van Ness Main Street Executive Director Gloria Gomez. The primary goal was to give small businesses a platform to sell their products, while the market also sought to drive patrons to the establishments on the stretch of Connecticut Avenue known as Van Ness Main Street. 

Strolling through the market, a sense of the close-knit community was palpable. The artisans featuring their goods were friendly and made an effort to build personal bonds with shoppers. The turnout from non-local customers was especially impressive to market officials, Gomez said.

“I met people from Foggy Bottom, Hyattsville, Bethesda, Arlington,” Gomez said. “I think people come from all over because we’ve built a brand, and we’ve gotten a good reputation. I think they were really happy.”

Van Ness Main Street is a worthwhile destination for those looking to support local businesses or enjoy a sense of community. Although their next holiday market won’t take place until next December, Van Ness Main Street hosts other community events throughout the year.

Downtown Holiday Market

The Downtown Holiday Market has become one of the most prominent fixtures of DC’s holiday event circuit in its 18 years of operation. Located in front of the National Portrait Gallery, the market features more than 70 vendors and runs for five weeks each November and December, serving as the premier holiday market shopping destination in D.C. 

Diverse Markets Management President Mike Berman reflected on the unique aspects of holiday markets that have enabled their success over the years.

“[Markets are] fun,” Berman said. “They’re outdoors; they’re festive. People can shop, they can come together, they can be outside. We have music and entertainment and we have lots of lights and food. It’s a good way to spend time with family and friends.”

The combination of live music, unique products and delicious food made this seasonal shopping destination rise above the others. Despite the festive elements each market had to offer, the Downtown Holiday Market clearly emerged as the best D.C. holiday market of 2022.