Christmas comes early to the capital, and you’ll find a wealth of events and activities in the run-up to the festive season. In particular, there’s an exciting line-up of Christmas markets where you can really get into the festive spirit.
We’ve taken a look at what’s going on across London in the build-up to Christmas. There are loads of events to choose from, each with its own character and theme. As ever, we suggest you do some research of your own and try to support a Christmas market that’s close to you – as well as venturing further afield to get the best of produced, gifts and festive spirit from all across London.
For more inspiration, check out www.ilovemarkets.co.uk, which celebrates London’s markets and all of the wonderful things that can be found within them. No market is the same and the organisers want to help you discover the unique experiences that each one has to offer.
Find all you need to know about the festive season in the capital, from Christmas markets and London shopping to sparkling Christmas lights and trees at www.visitlondon.com
Southbank Christmas Market
Dates: 27 October to 17 January
The ‘Winter Festival with NatWest’ returns, transforming the Southbank Centre into a seasonal wonderland. Browse traditional German festive markets stuffed with delicious treats and unusual gifts. Enjoy live music or see a performance by Slava’s Snowshow and La Soirée. There are lots of opportunities to join in with free activities and a twinkling atmosphere of cheer to enjoy with family and friends.
The majority of the Winter Festival’s outdoor attractions (including the cafés and bars) will be open from 10am-10pm daily, with the market closing at 9pm Sun-Thurs.
Covent Garden Christmas Market
Dates: Weekends from early November to Christmas
Covent Garden’s cobbled piazza and market buildings are irresistible at this time of year. A huge Christmas tree glows with red and white lights on the west side of the square, and a 22-foot tall silver reindeer stands on a pile of gifts on the east side. Joining him every Saturday afternoon in December from midday until 4pm will be some live reindeer which you can help to feed. From the first weekend of November, the area is decorated with 150,000 sparkling pealights.
The London Youth Choir marks the switch-on moment with a free, open-air performance featuring traditional festive carols with a modern twist.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland
Dates: 20 November to 3 January
Winter Wonderland is big, extravagant and fun for all the family. It’s open from 10am to 10pm every day (except Christmas Day). Indulge in the annual gathering of winter markets, festive fairground rides, ice skating, grottos and glühwein galore.
Winter Wonderland is free to enter but some activities require a paid-for ticket. Book ahead to secure tickets for popular attractions such as ice skating, the observation wheel, Zippos Circus, Cirque Beserk and the Magical Ice Kingdom.
Festive Shopping Days at Chelsea Physic Garden Shop
Dates: 1 to 11 December
The perfect day out for green-fingered gifts and festive treats at Chelsea Physic Garden. With seasonal discounts and a host of gifts to browse, there is bound to be something for your friends and family. Enjoy free entry to the gardens; and the Tangerine Dream Café will be serving a special Christmas menu during the day.
Guildhall Christmas Market
Date: 1 December only
Enjoy shopping for Christmas gifts and tuck into festive fare at The Guildhall Christmas Market. Featuring more than 100 stalls selling unique gifts, foodie treats, jewellery and craft items, there will be plenty of chance to find the perfect present. You can also get hands-on in a basket-making workshop; watch a fashion show from designers Kelly Simpkin and Daniel Blake; or be pampered at the “relaxation station”. Come lunchtime, head into London’s largest medieval crypt and sip mulled wine. Entry costs £5, with all proceeds going towards the British Red Cross charity.
Duke of York Square, Chelsea
Dates: Saturdays from 7 November
Every Saturday, Duke of York Square has its open-air Fine Food market, offering artisanal and locally produced meat, game, fish, bread, cakes, cup-cakes and much more. And the Duke of York Square’s annual Christmas Lights Switch-On takes place on Saturday 7 November. The all-day annual event is a fun and festive family occasion, including the arrival of Father Christmas to his grotto and the chance to meet him and his friendly elves, culminating in the beautiful festive lights switch-on at 4pm.
Greenwich Christmas Market
Dates: 25 November to 24 December
Stocking everything from vintage fashion and one-off jewellery to handmade toys and original artwork, there should be something to catch your eye on the stalls while you’re shopping for Christmas at Greenwich. Whatever you’re searching for, there is bound to be something that suit your requirements. The festive season really gets underway at Greenwich Market from 25 November, when the Christmas lights are switched on amidst carol singing and a special appearance by Father Christmas. You can also catch the charming lantern parade by local schoolchildren.
Kew Gardens Christmas Market
Dates: 25 November to 2 January
Once again, Kew’s breath-taking winter landscape will be combined with a new, glittering mile-long trail to create a magical Christmas experience. Now in its third year, the winter light experience will allow visitors to wander beneath bewitching tree canopies drenched in Christmas hues, and gaze at glowing waterside reflections as clusters of illuminated fountains dance in an explosion of colour. For the little ones, there’s a chance to catch a glimpse of Santa and his elves putting the finishing touches to their Christmas preparations on the stage behind the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
More details: www.kew.org
For more inspiration, check out www.ilovemarkets.co.uk, which celebrates
London’s markets and all of the wonderful things that can be found
within them. No market is the same and the organisers want to help you
discover the unique experiences that each one has to offer.
all you need to know about the festive season in the capital, from
Christmas markets and London shopping to sparkling Christmas lights and
trees at www.visitlondon.com
For even more Christmas market ideas, see our pick of the best Christmas markets for 2015 here.