Several shopping tours in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors feature beautiful handcrafted items, such as these beautiful mugs from Pine Springs Pottery.

By Danielle Taylor

Christmas is only two short months away, which means it’s time to get shopping! In addition to a wide range of stores you can visit all year long, the holiday season brings a number of exciting shopping events to the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region. These showcase the best of the area’s talented artists and craftspeople, and they provide a great opportunity to find something for everyone on your list.

The holiday shopping season here kicks off with the Homes for the Holidays Christmas Craft and Gift Show, held November 1-3 throughout Sligo in southern Clarion County. The main event is held at the Sligo Recreation Center, where a variety of vendors will offer a wide range of arts, gifts, and handcrafted items for sale, but many homes and shops in Sligo will also be open for business. Look for the green shamrock sign at participating locations.

From November 2-4, check out 20 miles of stores between Brookville and Leeper all decked out for Christmas and the Gingerbread Tour. Fifteen shops and seven restaurants are participating this year, and you can find door prizes, refreshments, special deals, and a variety of interesting treasures by local artists and crafters. Along the route, Quiet Creek Herb Farm and School of Country Living will offer a whole foods luncheon on Saturday, and Evergreen Cabins and Mercantile will host a two-day Open House event featuring gifts, candles, and holiday items for sale, plus Christmas cookies and refreshments. A four-foot-tall gingerbread man will mark participating businesses, so keep an eye out!

Several shops throughout the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region specialize in primitive home decor and offer quaint Christmas items to inspire some seasonal nostalgia.

In Forest County, the charming Tionesta Market Village will hold their Christmas in the Village event on November 3, which will feature live entertainment, a visitor from the North Pole, and a variety of food and drink tastings in addition to the items for sale by merchants in the village’s miniature 1800s-style storefronts.

For the weekend of November 16-18, take a trip to Knox in western Clarion County for the 29th Annual Once Upon a Christmas, when crafters, artists, artists, businesses, and service organizations host pre-holiday open house activities to promote their various talents.

Twenty-eight businesses participate in A Christmas Gathering in Brockway, which runs November 16-26 throughout northeastern Jefferson County. Shoppers can find handmade crafts, holiday decor, antiques and collectibles, baked goods, furniture, and more. Brockway also features Fay’s Christmas Village, which offers trees, wreaths, garlands, greens, ornaments, and more for the Christmas season as well as decorations for holidays all year round. Until Christmas, the shop will be open from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays in addition to their regular Monday through Saturday hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., so you have plenty of opportunities to stock up on all your seasonal necessities.

Just down the road, the Jefferson County Fairgrounds will hold a one-stop shopping Holiday Extravaganza over Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, November 23 and 24. In southern Jefferson County, Punxsutawney hosts its Mistletoe Madness on November 24, featuring craft booths, artisans, wine tasting, music, in-store specials, refreshments, a Historical Society luncheon, holiday photo booth, food vendors, and specials at local shops. Make sure to stop by Stello Foods for their Small Business Saturday Open House at their Punxsutawney outlet store. Find gourmet product specials, order your custom gourmet holiday gift baskets — they make great gifts! — and indulge in delicious product samples.

Communities here go all out for the holiday season, as shown here with Punxsutawney’s Barclay Square. Photo by Kyle Yates.

Shoppers will have plenty to keep them busy in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors as November gives way to December. In Cook Forest, head to the Sawmill Center for the Arts for the annual Festival of Trees on November 30 and December 1, where you can enjoy live entertainment while you peruse homemade crafts and Christmas gifts, including decorated Christmas trees, available for purchase from area craft vendors. In Brookville, travel back in time from November 30 to December 1 for Victorian Christmas and take in historically attired characters and activities, delicious specials at the local restaurants, wine tastings, extravagant craft and vendor sales with unique gifts and décor, a live nativity strolling down Main Street, Victorian Christmas carolers, and more. Elk County will hold the much-anticipated Shop Benezette Weekend December 1-2, and shoppers can find unique gifts, treats, refreshments, raffles, giveaways, make-your-own ornaments, gift baskets, and more at participating stores. Don’t miss the soul-warming bonfire and a visit with Santa!

Santa hangs out at his workshop by the Jefferson County Courthouse in Brookville each December. Photo courtesy of the Brookville Area Chamber of Commerce.

The following weekend, take in three last shopping events to finish off your list. On December 7, the Ridgway-Elk County Holiday Cheer Tour gives you a chance to explore this historic town while discovering interesting holiday specials at local retailers and enjoying wine and beer tastings. Next door in Cameron County, Christmas in the Wilds brings a holiday house tour the evening of December 7 and breakfast with Santa, vendors lining downtown, and a parade on December 8 in Emporium. Finally, round out your holiday shopping season and take part in the season’s spirit of giving on December 9 at the Christmas Open House and Children’s Hospital Bags of Hope Fundraiser, held in Fairmount City near New Bethlehem.

Learn more and find other interesting places to visit in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region by going to VisitPAGO.com or calling (814) 849-5197.

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