London Christmas Markets that you must visit
by Kelly Henderson (@kellythekiwi)
It’s the time of year when we wrap up warm, sip on mulled wine and start panicking about our Christmas shopping. This year, instead of panicking, I recommend taking in the atmosphere of London’s many Christmas Markets. With so many to choose from, you will find a gift for everybody as you soak up the magical atmosphere and are dazzled by the amazing light creations. Here are my picks for the festive season:
#1 Hyde Park Winter Wonderland | 21st of November – 4th of January
Every year I count down to Winter Wonderland. It is one of my favourite London events each year. From the 21st of November until the 4th of January one corner of Hyde Park is transformed into a magical wonderland complete with ice-skating, a giant observation wheel, Zippos Circus and magical ice kingdom. There are two traditional Christmas markets at Winter Wonderland – the Angels and Yuletide Markets so there is plenty of opportunity to get ahead on your Christmas shopping! Whilst entrance into the park is free it will take someone with a lot more willpower than me to resist the temptation of the traditional Bavarian food and drink, mulled wine, funfair and novelty gifts. Maybe this year someone will get me a gingerbread heart?
When: 21st November – 4th January (excluding Christmas Day)
Where: Hyde Park
Cost: Free to enter
#2 Covent Garden at Christmas | 6th November – 2nd January
If Winter Wonderland is my favourite Christmas market then my favourite area at this time is Covent Garden. There is always something quite magical about the way it is decorated. The decorations this year include London’s biggest and brightest hand-picked Christmas tree, a giant 22-feet tall silver reindeer and 150,000 sparkling pea lights – a Santa made from 700,000 LEGO bricks. Every Saturday there are live reindeer for the young (and young at heart) to meet and pet as well as a wide range of other activities. As far as markets go, the Real Food Market gets a Christmas makeover and the Apple Market will be selling unique Christmas gifts.
When: 6th November – 2nd January
Reindeer Petting, every Saturday till Christmas, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Real Food Market, Thursdays, 11:00am – 7:00pm
Apple Market, 10:30am – 6:30pm
Where: Covent Garden
#3 Southbank Centre Christmas Market | 11th of November – 4th of January
If you’re looking for an authentic German Christmas feeling over the festive season then look no further than the Queen’s Walk on the Southbank. From the 11th of November until the 4th of January the walkway will be lined with 80 wooden chalets selling all sorts of Christmas goodies. There will be handmade items such as wooden ties and fake snow for you to fill the stockings with, mulled wine and traditional German snacks. The market is all part of the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival which also includes a Chocolate Festival, Real Food Christmas Market and a Designers/Makers Christmas Market. And, if that’s not enough, there will be two choir performances each day. Finally I would suggest you keep walking along the river to the Christmas Market outside the Tate Modern, it’s marvelous.
When: 11th November – 4th January
Monday – Thursday, 11:00am – 9:00pm
Friday & Saturday, 10:00am – 10:00pm
Sunday, 10am – 9pm
Where: Queen’s Walk, Southbank
#4 Christmas at Kew Gardens | 26th November – 3th January
If you want to escape the madness of the busier Christmas markets then head to the Illuminated Trail at Kew Gardens. Take a walk through the illuminated trail as it makes its way through the world-famous botanic gardens. There’s a garden of fire, Tunnel of Lights, sparkling giant snowflakes, Santa’s Snowflake Grotto and much more for the whole family to enjoy.
When: 26th November – 3rd January
Time: 5pm – 10:00pm
Where: Kew Gardens
Cost: £15 if you book in advance or £17 on the day
#5 German Xmas Weihnachtsmarkt | 13rd of December
For the third year running, the people behind the Dusty Fingers Market are giving their Christmas event a German Christmas theme. There will be gluhwein to get you into the festive spirit, tasty treats to fill your tums, German gifts, clothes swaps, cake decorating and the chance to buy your Christmas gifts by the kilo.
When: Saturday 13th December,12-6pm
Where: The Round Chapel Centre for the Performing Arts, 1d Glenarm Road, E5 0LY
Cost: £1 entry OTD
I hope that you manage to get to at least a couple of these but don’t forget there are many more. And, even from a Kiwi, there is something quite special about London at Christmastime.
You may also want to have a look at the Top 10 Christmas Things to do in London in 2014.