Christmas is coming, and it brings with it a plethora of festive opportunities and events, all of which we’re somehow expected to squeeze into our diaries amidst frantic dinner planning, smash-and-grab-approach shopping and deciding on what we’re wearing to the work do.
There’s nothing worse than rushing around like a mad thing, only to find that you’ve somehow managed to miss all the Christmas markets and events you had your eyes on back at the beginning of December. But not to worry, for today in place of my usual Wild Place Wednesday feature I’ve decided to share five Christmas market recommendations for anyone living in London. Whether it’s indoors, outdoors, retro or contemporary you’re after, I’ve a suggestion to fit every taste, and not a hint of Hyde Park’s overpriced Winter Wonderland in sight…
Southbank Centre Christmas Market
One evening last week, when I decided to walk to Waterloo station instead of getting the tube, I crossed the bridge over the Thames and dropped down onto the South Bank. Then it hit me: rows of Bavarian-style market huts festooned in twinkling lights, rosy-cheeked folks in scarves and thick coats with their hands wrapped around cups of hot cider, and a spinning carousel illuminating the crowds for miles around. Christmas had come to the South Bank!
I do have a bit of a soft spot for this part of London. Whatever the season, you can be sure that something exciting is going on, and Christmas is no exception. Completely free to enter, and running up until 24th December, the Southbank Centre Christmas Market has eighty chalets crammed with festive food, drinks, gifts and treats. It’s perfectly situated along the riverside for festive views of the best London sights, and an excellent choice if you’re looking for somewhere to really soak up the atmosphere.
The Winter Experience at Kew
Now this is one I’m very excited about. The Winter Experience at Kew is the outdoor lover’s ultimate winter wonderland. A completely new experience for 2013, the famous gardens are opening their doors after dark and allowing visitors to follow a mile-long illuminated trail through the trees. Guiding your way by torchlight, you’ll be greeted by tree-top canopies and rippling water on the lakeside, all bathed in twinkling, shining lights. And when you’ve finished your twilight trek, you’re spoilt for choice by the Christmas village, ideal for for festive nibbles and last minute gifts.
It’s advisable to get your tickets for the Winter Experience as soon as possible, as numbers are strictly limited and tickets are selling fast. Adults can enter the gardens for £12.50, and discounted rates are available for children.
Handmade Christmas Fair at the O2
Feeling underwhelmed by high street gifts and online retailers? Tearing your hair out over what to get that special person who is always impossible to buy for? Never fear, the Handmade Christmas Fair hosted by the O2 at North Greenwich has you covered!
Running over three days from 13th to 15th December, this unique collection of Britain’s best and brightest designers, crafters, hobbyists, and food and drink merchants will be sure to solve all your present-buying woes. The event is even running in tandem with concerts at the venue across those three days, so if you have a ticket to see someone between 13th and 15th December you’ll get to browse the market for free! The standard entry ticket price is £5.
Camden Lock’s Christmas Night Market
Love it or hate it, Camden always seems to know how to put on a good party. A dedicated radio station with live DJs on site, a pop-up bar and market opening hours from 10am ’til 10pm, if you’re after the quirky, the original and the downright unbelievable, Camden’s your place.
“The People’s Republic of Christmas”, as it’s being dubbed, is “an enjoyable alternative to the generic high street crush usually associated with Christmas shopping”. Running over one long weekend from 12th to 14th December and alongside a whole host of other activities, be sure to check out the People’s Republic of Christmas site for full details on everything that’s going on in the heart of London’s alternative community.
Mid-Century Christmas Market at the Hammersmith Club
And if you fancy something really different and just a touch self-indulgent to get yourself in the festive mood during December, why not try this vintage offering of 1940s and 50’s clothes, jewellery and accessories from Bettina Scarlett Presents? This independently organised offering comes complete with a vintage hair and makeup parlour on site, as well as a quaint tea room and a whole host of renowned DJs spinning Rockabilly classics.
The Mid-Century Christmas Market is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself (and your vintage-loving besties) in the run up to 25th December. The Hammersmith Club is on Rutland Grove, 5 minutes walk from Hammersmith station. Entrance to the market is £2.