While the cooler weather begins to roll in over the southern region of the Okanagan Valley, adventurous shoppers explore the numerous — indoor, so it’s nice and toasty — winter markets of Penticton. While some are annual events not to be missed, others are regular weekend happenings, complete with warm cider, unique gifts, and often, a nod to a local charity.

Think it’s too late in the season for farm-to-table shopping? Think again. The Penticton Farmers’ Market, a fixture outside in downtown Penticton in the warmer months, moves inside in the late fall, occupying part of the historic Shatford Centre, former home to the local high school, now a vibrant centre promoting arts and culture. You may happen upon an art show while picking up winter greens, squash, and farm-fresh eggs.a

Of course, wine is on your shopping list, right? Each year the BC VQA Wine Information Centre, currently in a charming temporary home while a new one is in development, hosts its annual holiday open house. Stock up on bottles, not to mention a vast selection of books for gourmands, “table-scaping” items from retro-themed napkins to centrepieces, and sample bites from local chefs and food artisans. Most winter weekends you’ll find a winery or two on site pouring, perhaps right next to a local cheesemaker.

The SS Sicamous is that iconic stern-wheeler at the north entrance to Penticton, often photographed, and a starting point for a walk along Okanagan Lake to work off a hearty lunch at a nearby restaurant. Come aboard for a craft market, pick up some glassware, jewelry, or perhaps a stern-wheeler t-shirt for a history buff. The entire ship is full of vendors; get your holiday shopping done in one visit. The ship hosts numerous special events throughout the year, from craft fairs to theme parties.

Each autumn, Rancho Vignola hosts a harvest sale, taking over part of the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, with a room full of nuts, dried fruits, cereal blends, seeds…and gift baskets with many chocolate-covered delights (try the chocolate-covered banana chips). An annual event that can be a one-stop-shop to supply your pantry.

And winter markets would not be complete without a visit to a local school’s gymnasium to see a few local vendors, drop a donation for home baking or apple cider, and support a local school. Our favourite find? Skull-themed leggings from a local entrepreneur, Sweetlegs Penticton with Shannon. Perfect for cozying up with a new book and a cookie after an afternoon of hitting the markets.

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