Forget the High Street for Christmas shopping this year as London has Christmas markets aplenty. Grab a hot chocolate when you arrive, and then start browsing to find the perfect gifts at these festive markets.
South Bank Markets
One of the most well-known Christmas markets is the Southbank Centre Winter Market. Wooden chalets line the riverside outside the Southbank Centre with festive food, handmade crafts and lots of gift ideas. The huge sweets stall always attracts a crowd and the golden carousel and lights in the trees add to the atmosphere. The market is just one part of a Winter Festival so there’s always something going on here. Being permanently traffic-free, the South Bank is a good area for a stroll but come in the evening this winter to get in the Christmas spirit. The market is open until 9pm most days, and until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Dates: Friday 20 November to Thursday 24 December 2015
Address: Southbank Centre, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 8XX
Keep walking along the riverside to Bankside and you’ll reach the Christmas Market at Tate Modern. In more wooden chalets there are handmade decorations, jewellery, wooden toys and much more. This location was first used in 2014 and was a huge success hence the return this year. Look out for the excellent churros and chocolate to warm you up and give you a sugar rush to keep on shopping, plus the festive music will raise a smile. This market also stays open until 9pm most days with shopping available until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Dates: Friday 20 November to Wednesday 23 December 2015
Address: Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Don’t give up yet as you can get to another Christmas market on the same day. Follow the riverside walk towards Tower Bridge to reach a Tudor Market. This is a another location that first appeared in 2014 and it’s good to see it returning. This year will be an even bigger market as it will stretch from The Scoop (by City Hall) to Hays Galleria, covering most of the riverside walk between London Bridge and Tower Bridge with over 100 German-style log cabins.
Dates: Monday 30 November 2015 to Sunday 3 January 2016
Address: The Scoop, Queen’s Walk, More London, London SE1 2DB
Markets & Fun Fairs
One of the most festive venues in London is Hyde Park Winter Wonderland which has Christmas markets and much more. As well as the 200+ chalets selling jewellery, accessories, clothing and handmade crafts you could go ice skating, see Zippos Circus, go on the giant wheel, visit the Ice Kingdom or enjoy an open-air drink with live music, plus lots of fun fair rides too. It’s open daily from 10am to 10pm.
Dates: Friday 20 November 2015 to Sunday 3 January 2016
Address: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London W2 2ET
East London has a similar event in Hackney with Winterville where there’s an ice rink, circus, pantomime, comedy and even crazy golf. The Christmas market has more of the popular wooden chalets selling cool stocking fillers. Plus there’s the Pop Shop too with independent designers selling their wares. And The Bizarre Bazaar which is described as a “Vaudeville-Victorian marketplace and veritable emporium” so that should be the place to shop for someone who has everything. Open from 3pm in the week and from 11am on weekend, Winterville stays open until 10pm daily.
Dates: Thursday 26 November to Wednesday 23 December 2015
Address: Victoria Park, London E9 7JH
Best of North London
A one day only event, Hampstead Christmas Market has well chosen traders to really help with your Christmas shopping. It’s a fun day out as there are reindeer and two stages with acts such as Björn Again doing Abba covers. As this is a neighbourhood of foodies there’s a new Street Food Alley on Shephards Walk added this year and the Christmas lights are being switched on by a BBC TV presenter too.
Date: Sunday 29 November 2015
Address: Hampstead High Street, London NW3 1PR
The Islington Christmas Market is run by the same people but stays for two weeks on Islington Green. This market has some cover so can be a good choice on wet days. It’s still free to visit and browse around the 60+ stalls selling gifts, crafts and food products.
Dates: Friday 4 to Sunday 20 December 2015
Address: Islington Green, London N1 0NY
Best of South London
Greenwich Market is good all year round but it turns festive after the Christmas lights are switched on in the evening on 25 November. There are over 100 stalls in the covered market selling crafts, jewellery, fashion, antiques and more, as well as festive street food and drinks too.
Dates: Wednesday 25 November to Thursday 24 December 2015
Address: Greenwich Market, London SE10 9HZ
If you want to embrace a Scandinavian Christmas then head to Rotherhithe where there’s a Scandinavian Christmas Market outside the Finnish and Norwegian churches. If this wasn’t enough you can go inside for the Finnish Church Christmas Fair where you can meet Moomin Troll (a huge cuddly white character the kids love). You have to buy a bottle of glögg to take home and the Finnish food in the church is always worth the trip. Reindeer stew, anyone?
Dates: Scandi Market: Friday 20 to Sunday 22 November 2015
Finnish Fair: Wednesday 18 to Sunday 22 November 2015
Address: Albion Street, Rotherhithe, London SE16 7HZ
Best of East London
The British Red Cross hosts the one-day Guildhall Christmas Market. There is a entrance fee (£5) but, of course, you are supporting a worthy charity, and they say thank you by offering a complimentary glass of wine. The shopping includes over 100 stalls selling gifts and foodie treats but there is also a basket-making workshop, a fashion show and the “relaxation station” for pampering. If you visit at lunchtime you can go into London’s largest medieval crypt and sip mulled wine.
Date: Tuesday 1 December 2015
Address: Guildhall, Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HH
Another one-off event that also looks good is over at the Museum of London Docklands. The Crafty Fox Night Market will be a good chance to meet the makers of the unique gifts on sale. There’s a Scavenger Hunt throughout the evening, a festive barbecue at the docks, plus there’s a grown up’s grotto so you can still meet Santa. The fun is from 4pm to 9pm.
Date: Tuesday 8 December 2015
Address: Museum of London Docklands, No.1 Warehouse, West India Dock Rd, London E14 4AL
Best of West London
For another chance to buy direct from the makers, head to the Royal College of Art Christmas Fete. This indoor market is in the RCA’s students’ union and has handmade gift ideas from current and former students. It’s family-friendly on the Sunday and prices start from just £1.
Dates: Thursday 3 December to Sunday 6 December 2015
Address: Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU
If you find yourself on Oxford Street but need to buy a Fairtrade gift the Fair Christmas Fayre is the place to go as it’s unexpectedly right on Oxford Street, near Oxford Circus. Here you can find handmade and eco pressies to make ethical shopping simple.
Date: Saturday 12 December 2015
Address: The Regent Hall, (Opposite BHS), 275 Oxford Street, London W1C 2DJ
If you want Christmas with a Japanese pop culture theme then the Hyper Japan Christmas Market at Tobacco Dock if the place to go. There’s food, drink, music, fashion, art, crafts, films and even origami-style gift wrapping.
Dates: Friday 27 December to Sunday 29 December 2015
Address: Tobacco Dock, Wapping Lane, London E1W 2SF
That’s it – 7 Christmas markets to make your student living in London that much more festive, and they’re great spots if you are just visiting the capital.