Christmas Shopping in London. Amidst the gorgeous lights strung twinkling through the streets, the mulled wine on every corner and the enchanting winter fairs, you would think London already had enough festive goodness on offer. But no! The city steps it up by offering some of the world’s most glamorous shopping experiences. From old-school department stores to toy shops with five floors, London is the place to be to embrace your inner shopaholic.
Even if your budget (or interest) isn’t big, the entire experience, from the delightfully decorated store windows to the smell of roasting nuts and hot chocolate in-store, is worth experiencing. Despite the crowds, at times grumpy Londoners and excited tourists, Christmas shopping in London is still a lovely thing.
OK. It may not be what you were expecting, but the collection of Camden Markets really DOES have something for everyone. From silver spoon rings to hand-painted converse, vintage records, local art and everything in between, you’ll be able to find whatever it is you’re looking for.
Camden is also great for food and entertainment – head to the food market, then stop by the raving Cyberdog on your way through Stables market, before heading to Proud Camden for a mug of mulled wine and relax as you listen to live acoustic music. If you’re feeling the cold, Proud also has a hot-tub with swimming attire available for purchase (not rent) on site.
Another one you may not have expected, Primark on Oxford Street (West) is a great place for Christmas shopping – especially for those who are budget conscious but still looking for something special. Primarks’ items (they do everything from clothes through to trinkets and homeware) are incredibly well-priced for London, while maintaining relatively good quality and following the most recent styles.
If you arrive at Primark by walking straight down Oxford Street you can indulge your senses, taking in the beautiful Christmas lights and carol-singers – all without emptying your pockets. If you’ve come to London unprepared for the winter weather, Primark will also be your saviour.
Just off Oxford Street, among the bars, restaurants and side streets of Soho, you’ll find Carnaby Street. You’ll find DJ’s and live bands on the cobbled floor, and the Christmas decorations are some of the best in town. However the shops are fantastic too!
With eclectic stores selling hand painted crafts and crazy shoes sitting side-by-side high end designers, the fashion scene on Carnaby St caters for everyone. Not only does it boast 150 of these stores, Carnaby also has a delightful little courtyard (Kingly Court) that offers delightful food and drink to the weary traveller. Our top recommendation? Make sure you find Ben’s Cookies at the end of Carnaby St – they are some of London’s best.
One of our favourite stores in London all year round, Hamley’s really shines at Christmas time. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this five-storey toy store is just for children. Oh, no no no. With giant dancing bears, elves blowing bubbles and magical window displays, the spirit of the festive season comes alive and embraces you the moment you walk by.
Imagine being in a world where everyone is happy, there are delicious cupcakes and fun for all – that’s Hamley’s at Christmas time and we absolutely love it.
Everything mentioned above (except Camden Markets) is open from 9 until 10pm Monday to Saturday, and until 6 on Sundays. Most things are based around Oxford Circus/Soho area so you can head that way and explore from there. We recommend you make your visit at night, starting at 7:30/8pm – you’ll miss the worst of the crowds, be able to fully appreciate the dazzling lights and enjoy a nice glass of something delicious in the local pub afterwards (for a serious Christmas treat, head to the Hawksmoor on Air St for some of London’s best Cocktails).
Merry Christmas, and may the Clink be with you.
Written by Caitlin (A.K.A. The Indie Butterfly).