by Nancy Macy
Get into the festive spirit this season with a visit to these great holiday markets in the Berkshires. You’ll find everything you need for gift-giving, holiday feasts, and decking the halls of your home!
In the weeks leading up to the December 3-4 holiday marketplace at Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, the horticultural staff is busy forcing flowering bulbs and preparing holiday plants for sale. Berkshire floral designers and members of the Lenox Garden Club lenoare creating more than 120 fresh, handmade natural wreaths for sale at the event’s popular main draw, the Gallery of Wreaths. Their time and talents are all donated, with proceeds from sales benefiting the Garden’s educational and horticultural programs.
The Garden’s holiday marketplace held the same weekend as the nearby Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas festivities, is a huge draw on its own. “It’s a good idea to get here early,” says Executive Director Mike Beck. “We always sell out.”
Beck adds that in this season of cooking, entertaining, and sharing, the Garden’s holiday marketplace is also a showcase for Berkshire artisans and the local food scene. You’ll find baked desserts, farm-fresh produce, cheeses, and other sweet treats for sale alongside distinctive gifts, toys, and handmade ornaments. Twinkling lights and the aroma of fresh evergreens and holiday spices linger in the air.
If you want more of that festive feel while you’re in Stockbridge, head over to the Norman Rockwell Museum to see the original ‘Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas’ painting. You may hear one of the museum’s docents sharing some of the subtle details Rockwell included in this eight-foot painting, which illustrates the life and people of this lovely New England town he called home.
Also this same weekend, Naumkeag has an open house and Lenox hosts its annual Making Spirits Bright celebration, featuring late-night shopping and a holiday stroll with carolers as well as the town’s holiday tree lighting.
You’ll find even more Berkshire foods and gifts at the Berkshire Grown Holiday Farmers’ Markets in Great Barrington and Williamstown. Many of the same Berkshire farmers and artisans who sell at the summer markets are here, with local cheeses, baked goods, honey, ferments, maple syrup, jams and preserves for you to taste and take home. Plus, the December markets add more craft and gift vendors to the mix, giving you a variety of delightful options for your holiday table or gift list.
Everything sold at the Berkshire Grown Holiday Farmers’ Markets is made or grown here. In fact, whatever you’re buying was likely produced by the person selling it to you.
“What’s wonderful is that every dollar spent at a farmer’s market grows the local food economy,” says Berkshire Grown Executive Director Barbara Zheutlin. “It helps us put money into a farmer’s pocket and keeps the Berkshires the pastoral place we love.” At the heart of the region’s vibrant farm-to-table scene through its support of local farms, Berkshire Grown and its non-profit mission to ‘Keep Farmers Farming’ truly benefits us all.
This year’s Berkshire Grown holiday markets in Great Barrington will be held on November 19 and December 17 at Monument Valley Middle School. The Williamstown markets are scheduled for November 20 and December 18 at the Williams College Towne Field House. All markets run from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and admission are free. Enjoy live music, lunch fare, and fun activities for the kids as you shop local!
The Berkshires is the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit. See you soon.
Nancy Macy is a freelance writer and editor based in the Berkshires.