The time has come. Our Secret Santas have been drawn. Facing the masses to do our Christmas shopping may conjure nightmarish scenes for some, but the yearly shop can actually be fun (we promise). Ditch the shopping centre, stop the click frenzy and, this year, do all your Christmas shopping at one (or all) of these locally focused, design-driven and – most importantly – food-filled Christmas markets. From native spices to handmade ceramics to Australian craft spirits, do your family a favour and pick up some unique gifts, all while getting to know the people who make them.
The Blak Markets are heading to Redfern. Photo: Supplied
Twilight Blak Markets
Thursday, November 28
Feast your way through the heart of Australia at the Blak Markets' first-ever nighttime edition in Redfern. Pick up some native bush chai as a gift for the folks (a tea made with wattleseed, native pepperberry and other spices), stock up on boab nut ginger beer for Christmas Day and snack on crocodile spring rolls at the one-night-only markets held in Redfern's National Centre of Indigenous Excellence. As well as authentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander food, expect original artworks, bush-ingredient beauty products, traditional music and dance performances, plus native cooking demonstrations with Indigenous chefs Aunty Beryl and Dale Chapman. It's the gift that keeps on giving: everything you spend will go straight back to Indigenous communities across Australia.
Free entry; 5pm–8pm; National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, 180 George Street, Redfern; blakmarkets.com
Chippendale Christmas Market. Photo: Supplied
Chippendale Ethical Christmas Markets
Sunday, December 1
The streets of Chippendale will play host to the suburb's first ethical Christmas market, showing off local tastemakers who create their products with quality and sustainability in mind. Pick up modern ceramics and handmade stoneware for your Christmas Day spread, shop for stocking-fillers such as vegan-friendly perfumes and ethical beauty products, plus get to know local artists and designers from around the 'hood. Early birds will get the (vegan) worms – local cafe Something for Jess is offering the first 100 visitors a free vegan Christmas hamper, which includes house-made chai, organic granola, a brownie, a free coffee and one of their secret recipes.
Free entry; 10.30am–2.30pm, Sutherland Lane, Chippendale, somethingforjess.com.au
Finders Keepers' snack line-up is coming in hot. Photo: Supplied
The Finders Keepers
Buy your gifts straight from the makers themselves at popular design market, the Finders Keepers. The art-and-craft fest will settle into Barangaroo for a full three days with more than 200 independent stall-holders selling their wares. Shop for handcrafted ceramics and homewares, vegan beauty products, sustainable straws, organic teas, locally made fine foods, craft spirits and much more. The food line-up is coming in hot, with stroopwafels by StroopBros, empanadas by Pipi Cucu, gluten-free doughnuts by Nutie, deep-fried bao by Slow Head Boy, plus take a well-earned shopping break with natural wines by the glass (and the bottle) by P&V Wine and Liquor Merchants.
Entry $5 (free for kids under 12); Friday, December 6, noon–9pm; Saturday, December 7, 10am–7pm; Sunday, December 8, 10am–5pm; The Cutaway, Barangaroo Reserve, Hickson Road, Barangaroo; thefinderskeepers.com
The Craft Drinks Market will feature local distillers. Photo: Supplied
Craft Drinks Market
Sunday, December 8
This new player in the city is set to spike the wholesome farmers' market with a shot-glass of Christmas cheer. The inaugural Craft Drinks Market will feature a boozy line-up of Australian artisanal gin, whisky, rum and vodka distillers, craft beer and cider brewers, winemakers, plus snacks to soak it all up. It's a chance to chat to the makers while you taste, and discover new products that are soon to be the next trend: we're looking at you, pink gin. Some bottles to look out for: Otter Craft Distilling's cocoa vodka, Brix's limited-release citrus rum, Manly Spirit's Lilly Pilly pink gin and inner-west Batch Brewing Co.'s Campos milk stout. If you can't make the pre-Christmas date, the market is slated to become a monthly event every second Sunday of the month.
Entry $10 (with $5 redeemable on your first purchase), 10.30am–5.30pm, Moore Park, Entertainment Quarter, craftdrinksmarket.com.au
The new Green Square precinct will host its first Christmas fair. Photo: Supplied
Green Square Christmas Fair
Saturday, December 14
The first Christmas fair to take place at the new Green Square precinct brings more than 30 stalls to the inner-west hub, all with a focus on home-grown and handmade goods. There will be Christmas puddings, organic chocolate, home-style relishes and even festive-themed pet treats. Food trucks will be parked and ready to refuel you as you shop, plus an outdoor licensed bar, live DJs and a Father Christmas appearance will keep everyone feeling merry.
Free entry; 6pm–10pm; Green Square Plaza, 355 Botany Road, Zetland; sydneychristmas.com.au
Santa drinking a coldie at the Cannery Christmas Markets. Photo: Supplied
The Cannery Christmas Markets
Sunday, December 15
Get your hands dirty at these markets at the Cannery, Rosebery's revived warehouse space filled with providores, restaurants, bars and producers. More than 40 stall-holders will be setting up shop on the day, with workshops and cooking classes for both kids and adults, plus artisanal food and handmade crafts and gifts to take home. The Cannery is getting into the festive swing all month; you can also join a sausage making class at Argyle Smokehouse & Butchery on December 2 or a traditional Christmas pudding class hosted by Black Star Pastry's Christopher The at VIVE Cooking School on November 30.
Free entry; 10am–3pm; 61 Mentmore Ave, Rosebery; canneryrosebery.com.au
Praline nuts are a staple snack at European Christmas markets - try some at The Rocks Christmas Market. Photo: Anna Kucera
The Rocks Christmas Market
Thursdays–Sundays, December 5–22
Follow the sound of sizzling gozleme to get to this month-long market in the Rocks' historic harbourside laneways. Pick up award-winning gingerbread by Adri, organic herbal teas by Neo, handcrafted chocolate and fresh licorice, as well as eco beeswax food wraps, handmade linens and sustainable wooden homewares.
Free entry, Thu–Sat 10am–8pm, Sun 10am–5pm, Jack Mundey Place, Playfair Street, Sydney; therocks.com
Photo: Jacquie Manning
Carriageworks Christmas Markets
Saturday, December 21
As the big day nears it's time to stock the kitchen with all the fresh seasonal produce you'll need for Chrissy lunch. Carriageworks Christmas Markets are on for four days before the 25th, just in time to pick up fresh turkey, hams, seafood, fruit, regional cheeses and last-minute designer gifts. Look out for seafood by Josh Niland's Fish Butchery; oysters from Mimosa Rock Oysters; hams by Linga Longa Farm and Melanda Park; poultry from Thirlmere Poultry Supply; festive drinks from Headlands Distilling Co, Wildflower Brewing & Blending, Seedlip and more; blooms from Jonima and Mayfarm flowers; and Christmas desserts by Flour and Stone. You can also book in for a cherry-pickling workshop with Cornersmith co-founder Alex Elliott-Howery to make your own jar for this year's ham.
Free entry; 8am-2pm; 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh; carriageworks.com.au
Shopping for prawns at Sydney Fish Market. Photo: James Horan
36-hour Seafood Marathon
Witness the long-held tradition of 36 hours of utter frenzy as the Sydney Fish Market stays open in the two days before Christmas. Retailers will be hawking their haul round the clock from 5am on Monday, December 23 through to 5pm on Christmas Eve to cater to the 10,000 shoppers who heave through the Pyrmont marketplace to pick up their super-fresh, Australian-sourced seafood. Get in, get out, and chuck another prawn on the barbie.
Free entry, 5am Monday, December 23 until 5pm Tuesday, December 24; Bank Street, Pyrmont; sydneyfishmarket.com.au