London’s Best Christmas Markets, Fairs & Ice Rinks 2016
We went to a pretty underwhelming Christmas party last year. The decorations were up, the presents were wrapped, but the guy dressing up as Santa had dropped out last minute.
It was just a revel without a Claus.
And with our resolve firmly strengthened never to be the victims of such a festive let-down again, we’ve decided to compile a list of the best winter markets, fairs, and skating rinks popping up around London this year, to make sure your bells are jingled all the way and your halls are thoroughly decked.
And so, without further ado…
Southbank Winter Market
If you haven’t already visited the scenic Southbank Winter Market, with its mini chalets offering mulled wine, street food and Christmassy wares, garnished with a healthy dollop of fairy-lights, then literally drop everything and go now. Because this year they’ll also feature craft beer bar The Hop Locker, as well as the return of the Rekorderlig Winter Lodge (feat. fire pits) and the BUMP pop-up roller disco.
You must have been very good this year.
Details: 11 November 2016 – 8 January 2017, 11am-10/11pm | Southbank Centre Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | Free Entry
Leicester Square Christmas Market
Rumour has it that the Underbelly team behind the newest large-scale festive market in town came up with the idea over a friendly snow fight last year.
And things just snowballed.
So what you’ll find is a clutch of Bavarian market stalls, Santa’s Grotto, a shower of glitter and fairy lights and the mighty Spiegeltent, home of the jaw-dropping, Olivier Award-winning circus and cabaret show, La Soirée, for the next 8 weeks.
Details: 11th November – 8th January 2017 | Leicester Square, W2 | Free Entry; tickets for La Soirée are available HERE.
Islington Christmas Market
Last year we got lost on our way to this market, and accidentally ended up at a snowman convention.
We got a frosty reception.
Luckily, the market has relocated this year to the Angel Shopping Centre, where you’ll be met with a very warm reception in the form of market stalls in festive chalets selling Christmas décor and gifts.
Details: Monday November 21 – Saturday December 24 | Angel Shopping Centre, Upper Street, N1 0PS | Free Entry
Also popping up in Islington in the run up to Christmas is this traditional market run by a German team, who have followed the recipe of cosy wooden chalets, festive lighting and plenty of gingerbread to the letter. But they’ve also added a generous helping of authentic German Christmas food and drink, including Feuerzangenbowle – which you’ll no doubt immediately recognise as a drink where you burn a sugar loaf over a glass of mulled wine, and let the melting sugar drip in…
Weihnacht give it a try?
Details: 3rd, 4th, 8-11th, 15-18th, 22nd and 23rd December, 12-10pm | Islington Green, N1 8DU | Free Entry
Camden Christmas Market
Fun facts about Camden:
1) It was the setting of a pretty miserable and meagre Christmas day dinner at Tiny Tim’s house in A Christmas Carol; and
2) It’s now the setting of an EXTREMELY FESTIVE AND CHEERY Christmas Market, which will be popping up every Thursday until Christmas.
Each week will have a different theme showcasing the best gift ideas in that category; from ‘Deck the walls’ for art-lovers, to ‘Alter-nativity’ for something a bit different. And, of course, you’ll also be able to swing by the KERB market for a staggering array of street food that would make the Ghost of Christmas Past proud.
Details: Every Thursday, from 17th Nov to 22nd Dec inclusive | Camden Market, Camden Lock Place, NW1 8AF | Free Entry
Tate Modern Christmas Market
As if you needed an excuse to visit the new Caravan Bankside, you can now combine it with a trip to the market popping up for a third year outside the Tate Modern, selling mulled wine, crafty bits and bobs, and fun, in the form of an olde fashionede carouselee.
Details: 19th Nov – 23rd Dec | Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG | Free Entry
London Bridge Christmas By The River
London Bridge, hitherto known only for falling down and other various misdemeanours, has only gone and organised a ruddy charming Christmas market and an even more ruddily charming pop up bar, serving craft beers, mulled wine and festive cocktails.
Details: 30 November 2016 – 3 January 2017, 11am-7pm | London Bridge City, SE1 | Free Entry
Sutton House Christmas Market
If you like your mulled wine to stay warm right down to the last drop, you can either:
1) Be a total Scrooge and avoid all Christmas markets
2) Stick it to the man and go to an INDOOR market instead.
Luckily, Tudor mansion Sutton House has stepped up and is hosting a Christmas market bonanza in the rooms of the National Trust property. Each room will be themed around a different pantomime, and will feature artisan products for sale, from ceramics to jewellery, high-end food and drink stalls and a programme of film screenings and carol singing.
And your days of nursing a lukewarm cup of mulled wine?
They’re behind you.
Details: Saturday 26th November – Sunday 18th December | 2 & 4 Homerton High Street, E9 6JQ | Free Entry
Kingston Christmas Market
They say you are what you eat, and if you’re a fan of German sausage, that officially makes you the wurst.
But it also means you’ll have a whale of a time at the Kingston Christmas market, where German street food will be served up alongside mulled wine and a sprawling colony of market stalls, an Alpine Village and the annual Eden Craft Fair.
Details: 19th Nov – 31st Dec | Kingston Market Place, Kingston-Upon Thames, KT1 1JS | Free Entry
Given the out-and-out insanity of Japanese culture, to call this festival Hyper Japan is, if anything, an understatement. And when the festival itself has cosplayers, manga artists, J-pop bands, sake tasting, wasabi demos (trust us, your mind might just be blown) and more, it begins to make sense.
Details: 25th-27th November | Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, E1W 2SF | £15-43
Columbia Road Christmas Wednesdays
It must be fete that after 150 years of operating as a sheep and cattle byway, a Victorian-era shopping arcade and London’s most famous Sunday morning flower market, Columbia Road’s 65 tantalising trinket and tidbit shops will open late on Wednesday nights throughout December, offering up vintage fashion, off-beat artwork, quirky home wares, carol singing and mulled wine.
Details: Wednesday 30th Nov, and 7th, 14th and 21st of December, 5pm to 9pm | Columbia Road, E2 7RG | Free Entry
Crafty Fox Markets
Popping up all over London in the run up to Christmas, Crafty Fox showcases a motley bunch of independent designers, artists and makers, selling everything from unique illustrations to pottery and textiles. There will also be interactive workshops like screen printing, so you can make personalised gifts too – you crafty fox, you.
Details: Various dates and locations | Free Entry
Hackney Flea-Mas Market
If you feel there’s no cheer like yesteryear, look no further than the festive edition of the Hackney Flea Market, which will be brimming with all manner of vintage goods, from clothes and accessories to atomic age electronics and mid century furniture. Also mulled wine.
Details: Old Dalston Christmas Market – 27th Nov, 11am-6pm | EPIC Dalston, 3-15 Stoke Newington Road, N16 8BH | Free Entry
Hackney Flea-Mas Market – Dec 17th & 18th, 11am-6pm | Abney Public Hall, 73a Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0AS | Free Entry
Urban Makers Market
They say that the best thing about Christmas is giving. This isn’t always true for the people receiving your presents. So make sure you get it right by browsing the Urban Makers Market, which this year features over 100 independent vendors over the weekend, offering anything from wall art to quirky jewellery and fashion.
Details: 10th & 11th December | Mile End Ecology Pavilion, Haverfield Road off Grove Road, E3 5TW | Free Entry
BEST FAIRS AND POP UPS
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
A 10th anniversary is usually associated with plain ol’ tin. Winter Wonderland, however, have decided to celebrate with a kingdom of ice sculptures made from 500 tonnes of ice, an observation wheel, skating rink, over 100 rides and games, a Bavarian beer garden, street food, Christmas market stalls, a fire pit and an ice bar.
Let’s hope those last two aren’t next door to each other.
Details: 18th Nov – 2 Jan 2017, 10am-10pm | Hyde Park, W2 | Free Entry, with some ticketed events HERE
Winterville in Victoria Park
is NOT happening this year, because they’re busy planning a spectacular comeback in 2017…
Christmas at Kew
Kew Gardens literally has the world’s largest collection of living plants… but apparently that’s not quite impressive enough for some people, so they’re adding a mile of insanely pretty lights, plus lasers, installations, a fire garden, vintage rides, and more. Hopefully, that should do it.
Details: 23rd November-January 2nd | Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, W9 3AB | £7-18
Mac & Wild’s Festive Rooftop Pop Up
This year, we’re not just dreaming of a white Christmas.
We’re dreaming of a Christmas spent on a rooftop with sweeping views across London, snuggled up in tartan blankets in a private, fairy-lit chalet, where we can hook up our own music. Come to think of it, we’d also like a bell to ring for hot toddy deliveries; venison steak and beef burgers from Mac and Wild, and seasonal warming cocktails like smoked fig whiskey sours from Background Bars.
…Oh wait, it wasn’t a dream at all. We were at The Gardening Society’s festive rooftop pop-up at John Lewis. And you can read more right HERE.
Details: 7th November – 31st December | 300 Oxford Street, W1C 1DX | Free Entry
Vauxhall Winter Village
If you’re wondering where your nearest alpine street food market with cosy mini chalets dolled up with retro ski posters is, it’s in Vauxhall. Their winter pop up will be hosting stalls making everything from gourmet sausages and hot carved meat sandwiches to fondue, festive burgers and roast chestnuts. And as an extra stocking filler they’ve added in some mulled wine and hot cocktails to boot.
Details: Open Mon-Fri, 11.30am -10pm until 13th Jan 2017 | 6a South Lambeth Place, SW8 1RT
Now in its second year of excellent popups, LF’s latest winter iteration will see them transform Shepherds Bush Market into a “quirky English winter garden” (with Christmas trees, fairy lights, mulled wine, and blankets, etc.), complete with the customary popup restaurants from CLAW, Cheeky Burger, Nanny Bills, La Bao, and more.
Details: 4th November-December 23rd | Shepherd’s Bush Yard, Goldhawk Road, London, W12 8HA | Free Entry
Taste of London Festive Edition
Taste of London is back with their Festive Edition, and they were kind enough to give Nudge readers a discount on tickets. So here’s, well, a taste of what they have in store… READ MORE.
Details: 17-20th November | Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, E1W 2SF | £12-15 for Nudge readers
BEST ICE RINKS
Natural History Museum
It’s one of the classics for a reason – now in its 12th year, the rink with its magnificent museum backdrop will, as usual, be accompanied by a carousel and rinkside cafe and bar to fulfill all your hot beverage needs. It will also, unlike usual, have a nine-foot Christmas tree decked out with 6,000 fairy lights and over 1,000 glittering Swarovski ornaments.
Details: Nov 27th – Jan 8th, 11am-9pm | Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD | £12.65
If you don’t want crowds cramping your style (obviously the only reason you’re usually unable to bust out a few backwards pirouettes), this is a good option for weekends, when it tends to be quieter. This year it’ll feature a rinkside bar and street food stalls courtesy of Urban Food Fest to satisfy those post-skate rumblies.
Details: Nov 14th – Feb 2nd | Exchange Square, Primrose Street, EC2A 2BQ | £13.50
It’s the ultimate rink, with beautiful surroundings, DJ nights from Ministry of Sound and Ibiza Rocks and a pop-up Fortnum & Mason with tea caddies, hampers and stocking fillers. Pop into the F&M Lodge, and you’ll find cocktails, fondue for two and welsh rarebit.
Which is a rare bit of decadence for an ice rink menu.
Details: Nov 17th – Jan 15th | Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA | From £7.50
If you’re after something less traditional and a little more Rockefeller, head to Canary Wharf’s rink, nestled between soaring skyscrapers that look all the more impressive and imposing if you’ve fallen over on the ice. This year they’ll have LED lights installed underneath the ice, which will create 16 million different colours (apparently a thing) under the ice as you skate, as well as a heated viewing deck to host the Bambis of your group.
Details: Nov 4th – Feb 25th | Canada Square Park, E14 5AB | £9.95
If the weather outside is frightful, you can always rely on Westfield’s expansive 160 capacity rink, which has the added draws of a Christmas jumper night and occasional live music.
Details: Nov 24th – Jan 8th | Westfield Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, W12 7GF | From £10.50
It’s London’s biggest outdoor rink, built around a Victorian bandstand centrepiece which will host live music to speed you on your way. The ice is illuminated by more than 100,000 lights – but then, frankly, anything less would be an embarassment to London’s most twinkly festive pop-up.
Details: Nov 18th – Jan 2nd, daily from 10am-10pm | Hyde Park, W2 2UH | From £9.50
Tower of London
The Tower of London rink is impressively nestled within the moat, so you can skate as the Tudor royals might have done, only without the unnerving risk of breaking through the ice. Nearby is the Eis Haus Ice Bar, where everything including your glass is made out of ice. Just don’t order a B52.
Details: Nov 16th – Jan 3rd, daily 11am-10pm | Tower of London, EC3N 4AB | From £13.50
Winterville at Victoria Park
The “alternative” Christmas park (in every sense) boasts a 600m squared rink, surrounded by all the other Winterville attractions – shows at the Spiegeltent, warming food and drink, and pop-ups which have previously included Plonk crazy golf and an enchanted forest screening classic Chrimbo flicks.
Details: Dates & Prices TBA | Victoria Park, Grove Road, E3 5SN
If Henry VIII hadn’t been so mercilessly riddled with gout, no doubt he would’ve enjoyed a spin on the ice rink now perched outside his majestic abode. The mandatory mulled wine and mince pies can be found at the nearby cafe, alongside other delights of the palace grounds, including a cracking maze.
Details: Nov 25th – Jan 8th | Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, KT8 9AU | From £11.50
Brimming with old school festive cheer, Wembley’s rink, right by the London Designer Outlet, is overlooked by a 9m high Christmas tree and is showered with snow every hour.
Details: Nov 18th – Jan 2nd | London Designer Outlet, Wembley Park Boulevard, HA9 0QL | From £5
JW3’s piazza is transformed to become home to their ice rink, which is surrounded with warming seasonal food, mulled wine and hot choco. It also plays host to Chanukah on Ice on the 21st, with cocktails and candle-light, and is open on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Details: Dec 3rd – Jan 8th | 341-351 Finchley Road, NW3 6ET | £12
Although it’s home to an ice rink all year round (it’s where the Dancing On Ice stars train), Ally Pally steps it up a notch around the festive season, and this year it’s hosting Vanilla Ice. On Ice.
Details: All year round | Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, London, N22 7AY | From £9.50
Okaaaay, technically not an ice rink for humans, more an ice rink for tiny metal weights that you encourage along with brooms. But it’s amazing. And on a rooftop. And there’s karaoke and cocktails.
Details: Until 23rd December | Roof East, Stratford Shopping Centre, Level 8, E15 1XE | Free Entry, curling tickets from £10 HERE.
The Nudge: The Best Of What’s On In London
(Main Image Credit: Andrew West. Image has been modified)