Top 7 Christmas Markets in London
London is shining bright with its newly lit Christmas lights, ice rinks and charming markets that look straight out of a fairytale. Since the beginning of November, London starts the festive preparations and venues across the entire city open their doors to start the Christmas celebrations. This is one of my favourite seasons of the year and can’t hide my excitement for what’s already going on here. If you, like me, rejoice in all things Christmas, continue reading.
As the atmosphere builds up and the capital gets closer to December, we’re going to be sharing a number of articles about the many things you can enjoy doing during the holidays. Today, I’ll start by sharing with you one of my favourite Christmas activities: Markets.
Whether you’re looking for festive food such as mince pies, classic decorations, mulled wine or that last-minute gift, you can find all you need for Christmas at these superb markets in London. However, with so much choice, it can be hard to choose which locations are best to spend your time in. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of the top Christmas markets in London, to help you check off your seasonal shopping list in the best of locations.
To make it more relevant, I’ve organised this list chronologically. Markets that are already open are at the beginning, whilst the rest are arranged based on date. Make sure you add the opening times to your calendar.
Without further ado, let’s rejoice in this Christmassy list of wonderful Christmas Markets across London:
Southbank Centre Christmas Market, located just outside the 1951 building by Robert Matthew and Leslie Martin, is one of the venues that opens the earliest. Since the second week of November, traders from around the world offer an array of handmade gifts and delicious street food. Each trader brings their own spin to the feast, with stalls offering Asian, Indian and Greek cuisines, traditional winter favourites like raclette and bratwurst, and sweet treats.
Don’t miss other Christmas activities organised by Southbank Centre, such as music shows and the New Year’s Eve party called ‘New Year’s Eve Spectacular’. If you’re actually spending the last day of the year in London, this event is really worth it as you’ll be able to have a front-row seat to London’s iconic New Year’s Eve fireworks (which have currently sold out already).
When: 8 November to 5 January
Where: Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XX (Google)
Nearest Tube: Waterloo
Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday (11am-10pm), Friday to Saturday (11am-11pm)
Another early Christmas Market, Christmas in Leicester Square, opened on the second week of November. It includes traditional Christmas markets with hand-crafted goods and delicious food and drinks, a Santa’s Grotto where children can meet the man himself, plus a whole host of fantastic shows inside the 1920s spiegeltent. The latter is worth a visit alone as it is quite a sight. The multi-award winning La Clique (an original and trailblazing Spiegeltent cabaret show) will be performing a special show on 31st December: NYE Spectacular!
Literally located in the centre of Leicester Square, you should expect this market to be busy at all times. However, during the week days – especially in the early afternoon – you should be able to enjoy the atmosphere without the crazy crowds.
When: 8 November 2019 to 5 January 2020
Where: Leicester Square, WC2H 7LU (Google)
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday (12pm-10pm), Saturday to Sunday (10am-10pm)
For the first time ever, Trafalgar Square has its own Christmas Market. Located on the North Terrace of the square — just in front of the National Gallery — the market consists of 34 wooden chalets decorated with twinkling lights and ornaments. There is plenty of delicious festive food and drink on offer, with stalls selling mulled wine and mulled cider. You can also sort out your Christmas shopping, with many stalls selling plenty high end gifts.
Trafalgar Square, best known for its Christmas Tree (From 5 December 2019, at 6pm to 5 January 2020) and Carols (from Monday 9 to Tuesday 24 December) has become the number one location you need to check this Christmas.
When: 8 November 2019 to 5 January 2020
Where: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN (Google)
Nearest Tube: Charing Cross
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday (10am-10pm)
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is one of the biggest, and most well-attended events in the world since its debut in 2007. With a variety of new and returning attractions each year, Winter Wonderland is only increasing in visitors and popularity every year. What makes it so special then? Hyde Park’s annual tribute to festive fun include over 200 Bavarian style chalets for unique gifts, treats and decorations, an observation wheel (the tallest in the world) and an ice rink.
Admission to Winter Wonderland is free but for access to the other festive activities, attractions and themed bars you’ll need to book tickets. Whether you are looking to spend a day or an evening out with friends and family, Winter Wonderland has plenty on offer to entertain all ages. However, planning what you’re going to do will help, as it can turn to be an expensive evening out. Also, expect large crowds, especially the first week.
When: 21 November 2019 to 5 January 2020
Where: London W2 2AR (Google)
Nearest Tube: Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday (10am-10pm)
This big Christmas market with over 70 twinkling wooden cabins expands on the south river banks from Tower Bridge to Hay’s Galleria. With stunning views of Tower Bridge, The Tower of London and the iconic City skyline, Christmas by the River is the perfect setting for shopping while having an amazing architectural background to make you happy (as an architect, yes, this matters to me).
Explore the delightful wooden cabins, savour seasonal fare or enjoy a hot toddy at the ski-themed bar at The Scoop. You can also get hands on with free craft workshops at the pier’s pop-up station, make a wreath or do some Christmas jumper decorating. Keep an eye out for further information on these in the run up to December.
When: 26 November 2019 to 5 January 2020
Where: The Scoop at More, SE1 2AA (Google)
Nearest Tube: London Bridge
Opening Hours: More info soon
Though it’s a relatively new custom, Christmas Under the Canopy has already become a much-loved holiday tradition in the area. The annual event, organised by Saint Martin’s University, invites you to join them along students, faculty and community members. Christmas Under the Canopy is a collaborative event between the campus ministry office, the music department and campus life office.
Expect carol singers, live jazz, special events, seasonal master-classes, workshops and tastings, plus all the festive food and unique gifts you can dream of. From unique craft gift ideas to a winter craft beer festival. The free, family-friendly event will begin with a vespers evening prayer service in the Trautman Union Building (TUB), at 6.30pm. Then a candle-lit procession, tree blessing, and lighting will follow, culminating with a Christmas choir concert under the tent on the TUB lawn.
When: 29 November 2019 to 22 December 2019
Where: 1 Wharf Rd, N1C 4BZ (Google)
Nearest Tube: King’s Cross / St Pancras
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday (12pm-7pm), Friday (12pm-8pm)
Saturday to Sunday (11am-6pm)
Christmas might be the most wonderful time of the year, but unfortunately it’s also one of the most wasteful times of year. As every little helps, you might want to do some of your shopping at this one-day event that connects you with the best seasonal gifts from local zero waste brands dedicated to the planet. They run several events across the UK.
Find ethical alternatives at London’s Zero Waste Christmas Market where you can shop and browse sustainable, ethical and high-quality brands. Over 50 unique zero waste brands, zero plastic packaging and wrapping and profits from the event being used to reforest our beautiful countryside – make sure you check out this one! Booking in advance is advised.
When: 7 December 2019
Where: The Boiler House, 152 Brick Lane, E1 6RU (Google)
Nearest Tube: Aldgate East / Whitechapel
Opening Hours: Saturday (10.30am-8.30pm)
I hope you enjoyed this list and are able to visit some of these wonderful Christmas markets across London. Please note that opening times are a reference and most venues close during specific days such as Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve.
Admission to these markets is free other than London’s Zero Waste Christmas Market. However, you’ll need to separately book activities and shows. Typically, Santa’s Grottos are also a paid activity within some of these markets.
Stay tuned for more Christmas plans, shows and activities in London.