Coming from a small town on the East Coast of the US, you can imagine my surprise when I spotted a row of festive stalls in Trafalgar Square around this exact time last year while wandering the city, the glowing strings of lights catching my eye from the hustle and bustle. As I started to wander around, I grew increasingly enchanted, it was like a mini Christmas convention!
Stalls were set up in little rows and people sold home made goodies, Christmas decor, mugs and wreaths. There were food trucks and huge vats of chocolate to dip brownies and other delicacies. After wandering around and buying a few early gifts for my family that I was certain they couldn’t find anywhere else, I realized these markets were common throughout the city, and ticked off a few to visit this year.
The amazing thing about Christmas Markets in London is that they can be affordable, if you just want to stop off to grab a bite to eat or you’re browsing for gifts, here’s a few you don’t want to miss this year. These markets have been confirmed to open with COVID secure guidelines, so social distancing will be encouraged.
1.) Leicester Square Christmas Market
The market mentioned above runs from the 8th of November to the 9th of January, joint with the Leicester Square market, which are both free for the public. Located right outside the National Portrait Gallery and lit with the iconic green Christmas tree, it’s the perfect place to shop around for some London themed gifts, mugs, tote bags and to check out the many food cards. Sipping hot chocolate piled high with whipped cream under Nelson’s Column is a great way to stay warm on a chilly evening. They also serve traditional mulled wine and cider.
2.) Kew Gardens Christmas Lights
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park might be cancelled this year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still amazing Christmas lights all over London that you can glimpse while wandering around! Kew Gardens has been open to the public through lockdown and in December, it will transform into a glittery snowscape. Other pop-up displays in central London include the Fortnum & Mason 2020 decor, the Regent Street Christmas lights, Peggy Porschen’s Nutcracker land of sweets parlor, and over 90 outrageously decorated Christmas trees on The Churchill Arms pub. These are all free, and make for great Instagram photos!
3. Hackney Christmas Market
Over in Hackney, entry is free for this market starting from the 29th of November. It can be tough as a vegan or vegetarian to find a filling snack at these events, so head over to Hackney to find plenty of street food options. Pubs and bars are also opening to a limited number of guests. Here you can find Christmas decorations, mulled wine, craft beer, and attend a present wrapping workshop.
4. Selfridges Christmas Market
Hidden behind the expensive shopping center, Selfridges is launching their Christmas market on December 2nd from 4-9 pm on weekdays and 12-9 pm on weekends. For all the foodies, stalls and trucks include burgers and barbeque, fresh egg pasta and a Cheese Wheel cart. Ideal for the family or just a day out, this market includes fairground rides, gift stalls and a place to shop for Christmas trees or to find a wreath for your dorm room.
5. Greenwich Christmas Market
Running every Wednesday until Christmas, the Greenwich Christmas market lies south of the River Thames by the Cutty Sark and National Maritime Museum. This one is indoors, so be sure to wear a face covering. This market is more arts and crafts focused, with sellers trading handmade jewelry, eco friendly home decor, and of course, traditional prints and drawings of London. There’s also loads of antiques and fashion stalls. Don’t miss some of the best Christmas lights in London or a visit with Santa as you sip on hot chocolate from the food trucks!
6. London Bridge Christmas Market
If you want some of the best views in London, the area by Southbank is tough to beat. It’s got prime viewing areas for Millenium Bridge, The Tower of London and cozy pubs for a warm drink all across the River Thames. Date and times are still to be confirmed after lockdown ends, but it stretches all the way from The Queens Walk to London Bridge, so you’ll be sure to burn off a few calories. This is the place to go for stocking stuffers, free arts and crafts workshops offered by vendors, decorated with German styled, fairytale lodges.
7. Peckham’s Christmas Market
Opening on the 12th and 13th of December and continuing the next weekend from 11 am to 6 pm, PEXMAS is coming to Peckham with over 50 traders selling Christmas goodies. Here you’ll find candles, tea, crafters and artists. Festive packs like the self care soothing set including bath and body products sound perfect for de stressing after the holidays. Also on offer are Christmas themed teas, stationary and adorable art prints for children. This market is free to the public and located at Copeland Gallery in Peckham.