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 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 Markets.
Let’s get the Santa spirit stirring, pick up a mince pie and explore the spectacular markets and festivals in London this Christmas.
Southbank Winter Festival
Nov 1st 2015- Jan 1st 2016
Running for the months of November and December, the Southbank Winter Festival offers an exciting Christmas program with a community vibe. From live burlesque shows and circus acts to roller discos and performances by London Philharmonic Orchestra, taking time to visit the festival is a must-do for any traveller in London this Christmas.
Top Tip – Don’t miss Slava’s Snowshow and the indoor blizzard it brings with it (really, we’re talking LOTS of snow).
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. Comprised of 50 mini wooden chalets, 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 20th 2015 – Jan 3rd 2016
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, but you’ll need to pay to go on the rides.
You’ll find around 200 quaint wooden huts make up the Winter Wonderland Christmas Market. 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 Sunday – 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.
Smaller Markets & Fairs
Tate Modern Christmas Market
A traditional Christmas market, a visit to the Tate Modern Christmas Market leaves you feeling like Santa Claus is real and the bells you hear might really be his reindeer. This market has a cheery atmosphere, festive music and riverside view- head here for a Christmas market without the excessively large crowds.
Nov 20th- Dec 23rd 2015
Angel Christmas Fair
Fifty designers across all creative fields will be showing off their skills and products at the Angel Christmas Fair– with typical treats like mince pies and Christmas cakes available and just around the corner from Clink, this is a go-to fair for those who love creativity and crafts.
5th/6th Dec 2015
The hipster Christmas market, this collection of day and night markets in locations across the capital are 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. Alongside the usual festive market offering you can also enjoy the live DJ’s and even get stuck into some crafting workshops – why not learn how to make your own pressies this year?
Day markets – 11am to 5pm, Dec 5th/6th/12th/13th 2015
Night markets – 4 to 9pm, Dec 8th/17th 2015
Regardless of where you end up, make sure you wrap up warm and pretend you’re on the set of Love Actually ay one one of London’s Christmas Markets this winter