Market #1: Southbank Centre Wintertime Market
Nearest tube: Waterloo
Closing Date: December 30th 2017
The Southbank Centre Wintertime Market returned once again this year. It’s known to be one of the most famous London markets, as it sits along Southbank, giving a serene view of River Thames, London Bridge and the London Eye. It’s very family friendly, with a carousel set at the end of the stalls. Along the river sit mini gingerbread house-looking stalls, all decorated with fairy lights that compliment the lit up trees that run across Southbank. You can enjoy Belgian white hot chocolate, mulled wine, coffee, an assortment of cakes as well as regular food. The markets sell the usual festive gifts such as lights, scarves, ornaments and other trinkets, but a major change from last year is the cider lodge sponsored by Rekordelig. Inside, I felt some après-ski vibes, with the cosy wooden framework of the lodge, people dancing to live music, and of course, lots of cider. The market closes at 10pm but the lodge stays open until 11pm, so it makes for a great winter night out.
Market #2: Leicster Square Christmas Market
Nearest tube: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus
Closing date: January 6th 2018
In the midst of the busy, tourist-filled area of Leicester Square, emerges a festive market with a warm atmosphere that overtakes the area during this time of the year. The Leicester Square Christmas market is back for it’s second year running, proving its success from the first. Despite going on a Tuesday night, it was still quite busy although there weren’t many families, understandably. In the middle of the market Santa’s grotto, which allows children to come and receive gifts from Santa himself (although tickets do need to be bought for the grotto), as well as a wooden hut that holds Christmas shows and performances such as, ‘The Showstoppers’, ‘Black Cat Cabaret’ and ‘House of Burlesque: 2.0’. Although the space for the market isn’t immense and the stalls are packed together, I was still able to stroll around without feeling bombarded with food, drinks, and handicrafts all at once. There’s a ‘bar’ stall that served beers, ciders, wine, and of course the traditional, mulled wine, as well as multiple food stalls that sold crepes, hot dogs, angus beef burgers, katsu burgers, French cheese, and more. The food was very cultural, proving to be a major characteristic in London Christmas market. One of the Scottish men who worked at the burger stall told me how he decided to come back to London and work here because he loves the atmosphere, and the way that London embraces everyone from different cultures, which allows him to proudly showcase Scottish beef. Aside from food stalls, there were various traditional Christmas gift stalls. Despite this only being the second year running, Leicester Square seems to be a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike, which proves for it’s success this year, and in the future.
Market #3: Winterville in Clapham Common
Nearest tube: Clapham Common and Clapham South or Clapham High Street overground
Closing date: January 1st 2018
Price: Free, except for after 6pm on Friday and Saturday nights. £3 entrance fee.
I had never actually heard of Winterville before this year, but when I went I surely wasn’t disappointed. It was almost like a mini Winter Wonderland minus the overpriced tokens/food/games and it was definitely less crowded. Around the grounds were attractions such as ice skating, an outdoor cinema sponsored by Backyard Cinema, UV light plonk golf, a Ferris wheel and an assortment of fairground rides. I decided to buy a £7 ticket for the plonk golf in advance, and it was a little smaller than I expected but surely didn’t lack in entertainment. The bars were a bonus, serving the usual festive drinks, with live music and guest DJs bringing the vibe. To top it off, there was the traditional Christmas markets as well as the ‘Street Feast’ that includes food trucks lined up with Bao buns, churros, Greek souvlaki, pizza, and more foods from around the globe. If you’re looking to go on a cute date, or just a group outing to get in the festive mood, Winterville is one of the best options.
Market #4: Greenwich Market
Nearest tube: Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich
Closing date: 24th December 2017
The Greenwich winter market is one of the most kid-friendly ones around London, as the opening night includes the tradition of school children lighting up their home-made lanterns and releasing them. The atmosphere was lively and friendly, with the children running around and dancing to the live band playing Christmas songs. What attracts the children the most, is Santa’s grotto that comes alive on the 13-24th December, which costs £5 per child for a ticket. The stalls are there all year round, but in the winter it comes alive with fairy lights wrapped around each stall that showcases crafts, jewelry, fashion, beauty and antique gifts. The food was by far one of the best aspects of the market, with Indian food, falafel, Turkish and Chinese cuisine. I spoke to one lady at one of the food trucks who told me she’s been working in the market for 10 Years, and during Christmas the atmosphere truly comes alive, thanks to the excited children and families. If you’re looking for more of a local market, Greenwich is definitely one to check out.
Words and images, Ayla Mahmood