Christmas Markets are a German tradition dating all the way back to the 14th century. Merchants would use it as an opportunity to showcase regional and local specialities, and the arrival of the stalls would mark the start of Advent. Well, hundreds of years later Christmas Markets springing up in every corner of the Capital signal the same. Residential Land bring you the best of the best.
Leicester Square Christmas Market
A pint-sized Christmas market has popped up in the bustling heart of central London. Food traders, bars and gift shops housed in 25 traditional wooden chalets congregate under the watchful gaze of the statue of the bard himself, William Shakespeare. Keep yourself warm with a Glühwein or a piping hot Raclette on toast (as he serves our lunch, the chef explains the name comes from the French ‘racler’ meaning ‘to scrape’; the traditional method is to cut a wheel of Raclette in half and melt the surface before using a knife to dollop a delicious layer of gooey cheese on top of potatoes, ham and gherkins).
Visit Santa’s Grotto where children face judgment on whether they’ve made the nice list, whilst by night cabaret entertainment takes place in a traditional Belgian Spiegeltent (a large canvas tent decorated with mirrors – popular in the late 19th century). Organised by Edinburgh Fringe Festival favourites ‘Underbelly’, the eclectic mix of music and comedy is not to be missed and tickets can be booked in advance via their website.
Winter Forest Broadgate
Broadgate’s Winter Forest is an atrium of twinkling lights and cosy Christmas-ness nestled between Liverpool Street’s grey office buildings.
Dreaming of a White Christmas, or just the perfect Instagram? Visit the forest of snow-covered pine trees – its proximity to the Circle and Central line is far more convenient for a photo-op than deepest Lapland.
Visit after office hours to snuggle up under a fluffy blanket and sip on cocktails, or catch a Christmas classic at the Tipi Cinema – tickets can be booked in advance here. Work in the area? Pop out on your lunch break to pick up thoughtful gifts from independent traders. We spoke to Lauren, a trader selling beautiful homeware and quirky stocking-fillers from The Wonderland Collective. Her favourite activity in London at Christmas time is visiting Christmas Markets and either ice skating at Somerset House or admiring the lights on Oxford Street. She says her favourite festive food is Mulled Wine – hopefully it can keep her warm after a long day at the Winter Forest!
Winterville Clapham Common
Clapham Common has been commandeered by the masterminds behind Street Feast London foodie night markets (locations including Shoreditch Dinerama and Canada Water’s Hawker House). The food is mouth-wateringly excellent. Winterville carries on Street Feast’s tradition of showcasing the capital’s most exciting up and coming traders. From traditional live-fire Swedish barbecue, to fluffy Taiwanese bao to ice cream that is nitro-frozen to order: prepare to be amazed, whatever you’re in the market for.
As if the enticing dishes weren’t enough to justify a trip to South-West London, Winterville has an extravagant agenda of entertainment guaranteeing something for everyone. Maybe grab a Hot Chocolate (with or without a nip of Baileys) and snuggle down for a festive flick at the Backyard cinema. Enjoy a not-so-leisurely game of Plonk Golf – the day-glo product of raves plus mini golf. For younger guests, there are fairground rides – just don’t let them indulge too much in sweet treats from the SE Cakery before braving the big dipper. Get your skates on for the Ice Rink – or, if you can’t bear to face the cold, the Roller Disco. That’s a lot to cram in before the 1st of January; we’re exhausted just listing it all – check out their webpage for more!
Wintertime on the Southbank
The Winter Market on the Southbank is part of Southbank Centre’s Wintertime festival. Many Yuletide events label themselves as ‘Nordic’ due to the popularity of kitsch (or ‘hygge’) Scandinavian designs and their tasty treats ( think sugar, gingerbread, and lots of cinnamon). But the Southbank Centre have upped their commitment to the theme with an exhibition about ABBA – the greatest Pop band of all time – narrated by Jarvis Cocker, and a rooftop Finnish Sauna overlooking the Thames.
Grab something to eat from a street vendor; whether Steak and Chips is your thing, or you would prefer a vegan-friendly Dosa waffle, you can find it here. Rekorderlig Cider lodge, also pioneered by the wacky and wonderful events team at Underbelly, offers live music acts to enjoy alongside scrumptious Swedish cider. Maybe wander along while admiring the view and catch a show at the National Theatre, or if you’ve got time to kill perhaps stop for a drink in the grungy-but-comfy Bar under the Bridge – it’s one sure-fire way to stay warm.
The mini-market at London’s iconic Cheesegrater building has packed an impressive amount into a tiny space: pick up a tasty fresh lunch or indulge in a tack-tastic Christmas jumper to don at your office do.
There are food and gifts from all over the globe, not to mention a pop-up Champagne and Prosecco bar. We spoke to Solène who has popped over from France to spin crêpes and sell tasty home-made macaroons – we thought she’d put them in baubles to protect them from hungry hands before the 25th, but they make delightful decorations! She also provided Residential Land’s roving reporters with the fudgiest brownie they’ve ever had.
Solène’s favourite Christmas food is French pastry – but that answer stays the same all year round – and she loves the French tradition of eating Foie Gras on Christmas day (if any Londoner’s want to adopt that particular tradition, Harrods’ food halls is the place to go). Her favourite place to feel festive in London is looking across the twinkling lights from Primrose Hill.
There’s always one person on your list who just won’t accept a voucher, who loves vintage and unique pieces and is almost impossible to buy for! Well, you just might be able to pick up something truly darling and one-of-a-kind at Camden Passage antiques market.
This pedestrian passage tucked away from the roaring traffic of Upper Street will transport you back in time. Famous for its antique shops, many an afternoon can be spent rifling through the surprising and charming treasures rescued by traders for their stalls. Pop into Annie’s Vintage to get lost in a trove of vintage gowns that will make you the belle of any Yule Ball.
Greenwich Winter Time Festival
Step away from the hustle and bustle of the city to come and visit the historic and idyllic village South of the river. In the shadow of the famous Cutty Sark ship, the Greenwich Winter Time festival has taken over the serene gardens of the Old Royal Naval College, where you can look up at the domes and admire Sir Christopher Wren’s extraordinary architecture.
This ticketed festival has food trucks lining the banks of the Thames, and plenty of pop-ups selling charming gifts – and don’t fear, there are heated tents to huddle in! The Winter Time Festival is hosting a range of fabulous one-of-a-kind events – highlights include a screening of The Snowman with a live brass band performing the score. Enjoy the festival, then wander around the park and enjoy the views of London, or mosey on to one of Greenwich’s fantastic riverside pubs. Our favourite is The Cutty Sark.