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City Tips

The Best of London’s Christmas Festivals & Markets (2023)

July 21, 2023

For once Hollywood hasn’t let us down – Christmas in London is as magical as the movies would have you think. From the stunning lights strung through the city to whimsical storefronts, ginger snap cookies and steaming mugs of marshmallow decked hot chocolate, there really is something special about Yuletide in the city. With a wealth of creativity, years of tradition and throngs of people from the world over, London offers something special for everyone to enjoy – including a wealth of Christmas festivals and markets.

Let’s get the Santa spirit stirring, pick up a mince pie and explore the spectacular Christmas festivals and markets in London this year (2023).

London Christmas Markets Schedule 2023-2024

Christmas MarketStart dateEnd date
Southbank Winter Festival28 October07 January
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland17 November01 January
Leicester Square Christmas Market08 November07 January
Kingston Christmas Market16 November31 December
Covent Garden Christmas Market08 November03 January
Crafty Fox Christmas Market16 December17 December
The Finnish Church Christmas Fair09 October

Southbank Winter Festival

Oct 28th 2023 – Jan 7th 2024

Running for two months, the Southbank Winter Festival offers an exciting Christmas program with a community vibe. From a jazz adaptation of the Nutcracker to the Christmas Actually variety show, and performances by the Philarmonic and Philharmonia Orchestra, taking time to visit the festival is a must-do for any traveller in London this Christmas.

Southbank Centre Christmas market at night
Image courtesy: Southbancentre.co.uk

Southbank Christmas Market

As you can see, London’s Southbank really knows how to put on a show, and this Christmas is no different. Part of the larger Southbank Winter Festival, this market is full of delightful stores selling authentic winter wares. This Queens Walk event promises delicious pop-up food stalls, mulled wines, and handmade crafts from some of London’s favourite creatives and designers. You can expect all the usual Christmas trinkets to be on offer as well – wouldn’t it be lovely to hang a wreath from your hostel bed?

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Nov 17th 2023 – Jan 1st 2024

One of London’s best-loved Christmas experiences, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland pulls out all the stops to create a magical festive town for all. Family friendly and simply spectacular, head over to Winter Wonderland and step into a world of giant ice rinks, two extravagant circus tents – Christmas Circus and Cirque Berserk – and an 60ft observation wheel that offers a view over the lights of London. Let’s not forget the Magical Ice Kingdom, where you can wander through a forest of ice and snow, inhabitated by frozen mythical creatures and a real ice castle. Encourage the child in you to explore before retiring to one of the numerous bars and indulging in a glass of hot mulled wine. Entrance is free during off-peak times and you’ll need to pay to go on the rides.

Aerial view from Winter Wonderland in London
Image courtesy: Blogs.lse.ac.uk

Winter Wonderland Christmas Markets

There are around 200 quaint wooden huts at the Winter Wonderland Christmas Market – wrap up warm and wear comfy shoes. You’ll find every gift and stocking filler you could want here, from jewellery and crafts to handmade Christmas decorations – delightful baubles and nativity scenes. However, our favourite things about the market are the bars and food stalls – craft beers, smooth and creamy cocoa, the aforementioned spiced mulled wine served alongside fresh-baked pastries and a mix of Bavarian and English cuisine.

Top Tip – The best time to visit Winter Wonderland would be Monday – Wednesday to avoid crowds. If you plan to visit on the weekend don’t be put off, simply grab a drink and embrace the Christmas crowds with a smile.

Opening times:

Monday to Sunday from 10am to 10pm

Smaller London Christmas Markets & Fairs

Leicester Square Christmas Market

Christmas magic is in the air! Come and watch various international circus, cabaret and comedy performers from La Clique with a mulled wine in hands under the Spiegeltent. If this doesn’t put you in a festive mood, what will?

8th Nov 2023 – 7th Jan 2024

Kingston Christmas Market

This traditional European market won’t disappoint – expect Christmas decorations and festive gifts, perfect to fill your stockings, as well as live music and seasonal street food. Plus, if you enjoy winter sports, come and play curling with family and friends, how fun!

16th Nov – 31st Dec 2023

Covent Garden Christmas Market

Explore this renowned market, where you can discover unique handmade or antique items to fill your stockings. Indulge in some retail therapy at this internationally acclaimed shopping destination, featuring top-notch brands. And, after all the festive shopping excitement, relax and enjoy delightful dining and mulled wine.

8th Nov 2023 – 3rd Jan 2024

Crafty Fox Christmas Market

The hipster Christmas market gathers an unusual collection of hand-picked stalls featuring emerging designers and craftspeople. Crafty Fox is a family run company and promises to have you leaving with the most beautiful gifts to put under the tree. You’ll find them at The Crossing in Kings Cross, so come and join the festive fun!

Dec 16th and 17th 2023

The Finnish Church Christmas Fair

To travel to a Christmassy destination without leaving London, visit this Scandinavian Christmas fair in Rotherhithe! There, you’ll find many traditional goods such as toys and Christmas cards, and you’ll be able to taste Finnish traditional festive food such as reindeer stew and cinnamon buns.

From October 9th 2023

Borough Market at Christmas

Ok, you got us! This isn’t officially a Christmas Market, but a visit to Borough Market during the festive season is a must-do for all you foodies out there. This recently restored venue is a fabulous food market selling everything a food lover could desire. From fabulous cheeses (try the heavenly aged Gruyere!) to delicious cured meats, deli items from glorious olives to sun dried tomatoes, porcini mushrooms, home made pasta and oh yes chocolate to die for! You could do pretty much all your Christmas shopping here and all your friends and family would have very happy bellies! Insider tip: free samples abound at Borough so grab a mug of mulled wine, wander round and try a bit of this and a bit of that … festive perfection!

Opening times:

Monday to Friday: from 10 am to 5pm

Saturdays: 9am to 5pm except December 23rd: 8am to 5pm

Sundays: 10am to 4pm except December 24th: 9am to 3pm and December 31st: 10am to 3pm

Closed on November 27th from December 25th to 27th 2023

To Sum Up

There are many Christmas festivals and markets to choose from this year to keep you in the festive mood! If like us, you’re a Christmas fan, plan in advance to be able to visit them all. And for the best experience, taste a Christmas dinner in London and stay with us! Check out Clink261 Budget Hostel or Clink78 backpackers youth hostel in King’s Cross. And if you’re travelling as part of a bigger group, check out cheap group accommodation.