A person arriving at the Original Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax for the first time, especially during the holidays, can be forgiven for searching for some sort of turnstile or employee taking tickets.
After all, the landmark public market is decorated and cheerful as all get-out; surely there's an admission to pay to experience the live bands and holly-corsaged carolers and crafty workshops and other convivialities of the most gingerbreadian season of the year?
Nope. That's a big nada. It's always free to visit the founded-in-1934 market, regardless of the date on the calendar, and you'll never find a turnstile blocking any of its charming, warren-like entrances. So not spending a lick while enjoying songs of the season and other cheerful sights/sounds is easy as plunking down in one of the market's iconic green chairs and wiling away a December afternoon.
What to do, where to go and what to see
The festivities kicked off on Friday, Dec. 19 and they'll warble right through Wednesday, Dec. 24. There's a full schedule to peruse, and each day is a little different, but you're apt to find brass quartets, pinecone decorating workshops, a Hawaiian Christmas hula show, and an afternoon of Hanukkah goings-on, including the building of a balloon menorah, on Dec. 21.
Do not pay anyone admission. In fact, use the money you'd normally give someone else for a ticket to something fun and purchase a cocoa to sip as you admire the swag, boughs, bows, and other adornments gracing the market's stalls.
It's pretty cheerful stuff, capped by carols played the clocktower, now and then. Also, if you're a fan of the Farmers Market green basket -- the wooden shopping trolley that's been around for decades -- check out the big tree to the north of the market: It's laden with smaller versions standing in as ornaments.
Cuteness aplenty. And, speaking of cuteness, calling Farmers Market's entrances "warren-like" is a total compliment. It's one of our city's few storied structures that sprung up fairly organically, over the years, which means that how you get enter, and how you wander among the stalls, is a little quirky.
It's not a place that's been overly tested nor marketed, something that's rather refreshing come the holidays, if you like your festive with a side of funky. And who doesn't?