There’s something magical about London at Christmas time (probably because it reminds us of the set of Love Actually). And one of the best things about London at Christmas is the shopping. But we don’t mean Oxford Street and we certainly don’t mean Westfield. Instead, go off the beaten track to discover some of these secret (and not so secret) Christmas markets and fairs. You’ll find mulled wine to warm you up, delicious food and crafty gifts that will guarantee smiles on Christmas morning.
London’s best known Christmas fair comes to Hyde Park year after year, putting a smile on the faces of anyone that visits and a frown on the face of the locals (thanks to the crowds and constant noise). But really, you’d have to struggle to be in a bad mood once you’re in. Every year the crowds throng here in their droves to enjoy the scream-worthy funfair rides, extensive food and drinks stalls and wooden huts crammed with gifts.
Source: Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
We can never resist a stroll along Southbank and when the Wintertime Market is there, it’s all the more special. With views to St Paul’s on one side and Westminster on the other, you might be too busy taking photos to even get your shopping done. The riverside is filled with street food vendors and craft sellers for you to browse. And Southbank wouldn’t Southbank without an array of colourful performers keeping the shoppers entertained.
Source: Time Out
The historic Greenwich Market in south East London has long been known for its arts, crafts and delicious food. And at Christmas time it’s no exception. Take the riverboat from London Bridge for the quickest journey then spend an afternoon browsing the independent shops and cafes. The main part of the market is also covered, so it’s great for rainy days.
Source: I Love Markets
Hop on the Northern Line and travel down to Clapham Common where you’ll find the chicer alternative to Winter Wonderland. The street food will be one of the main draws with some of London’s best-loved vendors making an appearance and you’ll also be able to catch a film at the Backyard Cinema. Bring thick socks because there’s an ice skating rink and even a huge ferris wheel for sweeping views across South West London.
Source: Secret London
Kingston town centre is in zone 6 and technically in Surrey but it still counts as Greater London and it’s really not hard to get to. Take the direct train from Waterloo and alight at the train station where you’ll be a five minute walk to the town’s charming market square. Here you’ll find rows of wooden chalets selling a variety of Christmas-themed goods. There’s even a Santa’s grotto to keep the children entertained.
Source: Vist London
Located right in the heart of London, you won’t find many locals doing their shopping here, but you’ll still find plenty of people getting in the festive spirit. The market is crammed with food and drinks stalls selling everything from nutcrackers to German sausages. Also be sure to check the schedule for the Speigeltent where you’ll be able to watch hilarious and fabulous performances by some of the capital’s favourite entertainers.
Source: Secret London
Hampstead Village has to be one of the most picturesque parts of London and with fairy lights lit and Christmas trees up it really is quite a spectacle. On Hampstead High Street you’ll find vintage fair ground rides (no garish waltzers here), a Santa’s grotto and plenty of places to shop and eat. This is the market to head to for classy gifts and high-end food. The perfect place to take a date if you’re trying to impress.
Source: Hampstead Village
200 makers will fill up the iconic Truman Brewery on Brick Lane with crafty creations and arty bits. You’d be hard pressed not to find something you want here, with presents for everyone from teenagers to grandmas. After you’ve finished shopping, head outside to Brick Lane to sample London’s thriving street food scene and enjoy a mulled wine (or two).
Source: Alfred and Wilde
This year there’ll be no excuses for unimaginative gifts. With all of London’s Christmas markets just an oyster card tap away, it’s never been easier to discover weird and wonderful presents. Happy shopping!