It’s easy to get into the merry spirit of the Christmas season when the Kris Kringle Craft Market gets underway in Nanaimo.

There are plenty of reasons why more than 12,000 people from around Vancouver Island head to Beban Park to attend the four-day event, held this year from Nov. 16 to 19.

If the twinkling lights, festive décor and the smell of gingerbread don’t put you in the Christmas spirit, the buzz of dozens of activities each day surely will. More than 150 artisan vendors will be selling goods such as hand-crafted soaps, unique jewelry, wooden toys and woolen creations.

You might just have your Christmas shopping list completed before the fair is over.

Aside from the shopping opportunities, dozens of other activities for all ages are happening all day long. They include daily draws for door prizes from $50 to $1,000, strolling entertainers, horse-drawn carriage rides and hot cocoa, child-centric activities, a gingerbread house competition and festive foods.

Kris Kringle, of course, will be there to hear the secret wish lists of children, and have their pictures taken with the jolly fellow.

Back by popular demand is the Man Cave, featuring goodies that guys like – think fishing lures, barbecue sauces and tech gadgets. A shiny Harley Davidson will be on display and a local spa will pamper men with pedicures and manicures.

When you’re ready for a break from the craft fair, head to downtown Nanaimo for a coffee, a yummy lunch or dinner – and more shopping.

Here a few spots to check out in the Old City Quarter and on Commercial Street.

Javawocky Coffee House 

Image by Nancy Shields

Cosy up to a window seat that overlooks Nanaimo’s pretty harbour and enjoy an Island Fog, or one of the many other hot beverages the café is known for whipping up. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to check out the shops and boutiques of the Old City Quarter, home to gentrified historic buildings that now house an eclectic mix of locally owned businesses and restaurants.

Hartmann and Company

Antique lovers and décor enthusiasts will love browsing this massive showroom filled with hand-picked furniture, home accessories and fabrics. The 50-year-old family-run business specializes not just in traditional décor, but also contemporary, country, Victorian and Asian.

G.E.M. Fabrications

Image by Nancy Shields

You could spend hours browsing the hand-crafted metal creations here, and you’ll no doubt be able to check off a few more Christmas gifts from your list. Chimes, whimsical hooks, fancy gardening tools and candle holders are just some of the items for sale.

Damsel’s Fashions and Luscious Me

Amid all the shopping for family and friends, it’s OK to sneak in something for yourself. Maybe you need something for the office Christmas party – a pretty top or a colourful scarf? It’s likely you’ll find it at either one of these shops, known for a wide range of labels and styles and friendly service.

A Wee Cupcakery

Image by Nancy Shields

Pick up a dozen or two of this bakery’s sweet confections that come in so many flavours it’s hard to decide which ones to try. The witty names of some of the cupcakes – Miami Vice, Pucker Up, Double Trouble and Ebony and Ivory – will surprise your taste buds. Flavours are ever-changing and the bakery can accommodate vegan and gluten and sugar-free customers

Bistro Taiyo

It’s only fitting in a seaside town to tuck into some fresh fish – and at Taiyo you’ll be treated to chef-inspired creations. This popular, licensed restaurant serves up traditional sushi, sashimi and tempura. It also offers takeout platters, but be sure to call ahead.

Flying Fish 

Image by Nancy Shields

Find time to wander over to the corner of Bastion and Commercial Street to poke around this large and unique shop. Its tagline, cooking, living and giving, nicely sums ups its eclectic range of goods: gourmet cooking gadgets and cookware, spices, home décor and novelty items, perfect for gift giving.

When the weekend’s over, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your Christmas shopping is done and you can greet the season stress free.