Instead of trailing round the high street shops, buying the same boring stuff you did last year and having ‘Its Chrissstttmmaaassssssssssss’ perforate your eardrum, why not head down to the best winter markets London has to offer. As the rest of the world launches their own traditional, festive markets, we are lucky to have loads to choose from right on our doorstep. Have a mooch for unique presents, sample delicious food and drinks while seeing loads of christmassy stuff… all while getting tipsy on mulled wine. What could be better? Here’s our top 5:
Tate Christmas Market
What: German style Christmas market outside the Tate
Why: Situated between the the Tate Modern and the Thames you will see the beautiful flickering lights of these wooden chalet huts for miles around. You can find a wide range of handmade toys, bespoke jewellery, unique cards and loads of other one off gifts (beautifully wrapped to save time). For children and all the big kids among us, you can ride the Victorian carousel whilst smelling chestnuts roasting on an open fire – and hopefully not with Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Or bypass all that and get warm in the well known Moose Bar with a traditional glühwein and bratwurst sausage.
Where: Bankside, SE1 9TG
What: Scandinavian food market in the midst of a magical forest
Why: This isn’t just a few huts selling gorgeous food and warming drinks. Oh no. This whole yard has been transformed into an actual forest with fir trees, ivy covered pergolas, and woods brought in especially from Norway! If we suddenly hit a deep freeze and go into the minus figures, this is the place to head with its cosy, covered areas. Stock up on all your party must-haves from The Deli Shed with freshly baked breads, cheeses, smoked fish and meats. To really get into the festive swing, head down at the weekend to enjoy live acoustic sessions, choral choirs, carol singing and brass/jazz bands. If this place doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit then you’re beyond help!
Where: Alongside the arches of Shepherds Bush Market on Goldhawk Road
London Bridge City Christmas market
What: Impressive riverside Christmas market
Why: Since it’s success last year, this market has tripled in size and is one of the most popular in town. With over 100 independent traders selling every type of homemade craft you can think of, you can do all your shopping here in one hit. Our favorite stall is the ‘Beyond Food Foundation’, which serves home-made delicious puddings, biscuits and hot chocolate, to help raise money for people who are at risk of, or have experienced homelessness. Their philosophy is “bringing people together around food’ and we couldn’t agree more. Head down here for a bustly, feel good atmosphere.
Where: More London Riverside, SE1 2DB
What: An alternative to the quaint winter markets; this is a full on adventure park
Why: Amidst the foody and vintage craft stalls, this park has been transformed into a winter wonderland – a different one. There are thrilling rides, panoramic views of the city from the giant wheel, a circus, crazy golf and an ice rink to name but a few. For a truly magical experience, travel through the enchanted forest and wardrobe, yes wardrobe, into a secret little place where you can sit back and watch all your favourite films on a big screen. With craft beers, cava, venison burgers and winter hotpots, this place has thought of everything.
Where: Victoria Park, Bow, E3 5TB
Southbank Centre Winter Festival
What: Roller disco, craft workshops, cider lodge, theatre...
Why: Ok so lets just forget weaving round market stalls and canopies for a minute. Here you can see and do so much more. Go back to your youth and throw some shapes at the roller disco, watch some award winning theatrical performances including La Soirée (trust us it’s amazing, but be warned you will blush), see festive concerts, social dances, a choir, make stuff at the craft workshops… the list is endless. If you’re still trying to work out what to do for New Year (like most of us), go down to the Vintage New Year Party that has six pop up nightclubs and the best seats in town for the well loved fireworks. We can think of worse ways to see the New Year in.
Where: Southbank, SE1 8XX