Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

With Halloween behind us, the upcoming December holidays bring on a full slate of arts and crafts fairs around the metro. These events take place all year long, but the pre-holiday season finds them at their peak. Here’s a sampling of what’s ahead.

This year marks the fifth-annual Eden Prairie Relay for Life Holiday Market. Besides a plethora of local vendors selling great gifts, many of the vendors also contribute to the Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Sunday, Nov. 10, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Eden Prairie Community Center

The Minnesota Center for Book Arts offers the 12th-annual Book Arts Festival. This is a unique event, with a variety of handmade books, papers, journals, and other gifts. There will also be artist demonstrations, hands-on activities for all ages, and refreshments. Saturday, Nov. 16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Open Book

Take in a traditional German approach to holiday shopping at Excelsior’s Christkindlsmarkt. It’s hard to imagine a more festive location than downtown Excelsior, especially when combined with reindeer rides, visits with Santa, and a children’s lighted lantern parade. Friday/Saturday, Nov. 29-30, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 1, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Of course, Stillwater is a spectacular place to visit this time of year, too. The month-long Hometown for the Holidays offers something for everyone: Santa brunches, carriage rides, men’s night out for shopping, free gift wrapping, and plenty of shopping opportunities along the way. Nov. 29-Dec. 31.

St. Paul’s lovely Landmark Center is host again for the Old-Fashioned Holiday Bazaar, with more than 70 local artists exhibiting and selling their wares. Thursday-Friday, Dec. 5-6, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Minneapolis’ Camden neighborhood hosts its 16th-annual Holiday on 44th. Besides a craft fair, enjoy wagon rides, face painters, magicians, music, and fire jugglers. Friday, Dec. 6, 6-9:30 p.m., 44th Ave. and Penn Ave. North.

Only in its eighth year, the No Coast Craft-o-Rama has become a huge local favorite, partly because of the innovative items you can find there that you don’t often see at other craft shows, and because it’s at the Midtown Global Market, a fun place to visit in its own right (and home to some excellent food options). Friday, Dec. 6, 3-8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 7, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

A favorite holiday tradition is the annual Auxiliary Holiday Sale at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. This showcase of beautiful gifts and décor made out of natural items found at the Arboretum is a fundraiser for the Arboretum Auxiliary. It’s also tremendously popular—if you want the best pick of items for sale, go early. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 6-7, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

St. Paul invites shoppers to Grand Avenue for the Grand Meander. Besides the permanent shopping opportunities, visitors will be able to peruse a juried art show, take in the Tangletown Art Crawl, and ride a trolley or a fire truck. Saturday, Dec. 7, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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