London’s Best Winter Festivals and Christmas Markets

Lily Crossley-Baxter

If you’re hoping to add some festive cheer to your days, head over to one of the many London Christmas markets and festivals for shopping, mulled wine and more!

london christmas markets
Photo by Valters Krontals used under CC

There’s no shortage of places to get into the Christmas spirit in London, but if you want more of a festive feel than a crushing mass of bargain-hunting, with some carols thrown in, markets might be more up your street. There are plenty, and they’re usually filled with crafty stalls and creators selling their goods so you can get something a little more unusual. The market is often only half the story too, with fairgrounds and festivities surrounding them, not to mention ice rinks and Santa’s grottos, with reindeer rides even making an appearance at some. Whether you just want to wander amidst the happy shoppers and enjoy the seasonal feels or tick off your shopping list, the winter markets in London are a must-do this Christmas.

Leicester Square Christmas Market

Leicester Square Christmas Market
Photo by Paul Hudson used under CC

New to the Christmas Market scene, this event is only in its second year but is back with all the bells and whistles. Take your pick from over 25 stalls offering seasonal gifts as well as food and drink from a variety of vendors. There are lots of shows to attend (requiring tickets) like Al Murray’s Festive Saloon and classics like A Christmas Carol, as well as a cabaret and baby disco.

 Leicester Square Christmas Market

Dates:9th Nov–6th Jan, 2019
Entry:Free

Winter Festival at the Southbank Centre

southbank centre covered in lights
Photo by Hans Dinkelberg used under CC

Add some charm to your frantic Christmas shopping this year by avoiding the usual masses and heading to the South bank. There will be a market with stalls selling local and handmade items as well as a whole range of free and paid events including a feminist, festive cabaret from Glittery Clittery, live music nights and a new-years bash as well as a Snow Ball for kids and puppet circus to be amazed by whatever your age.

 Winter Festival at South Bank Centre

Dates:9th Nov–6th Jan, 2019
Entry:Free

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

With everything from ice skating to a ferris wheel to an ice bar, this winter wonderland has everything you need to get in the festive spirit. There will be free music across the site, over 100 fairground rides  as well as Santa Land for kids. Tickets for certain elements should be purchased in advance (like ice skating and the ice bar) to avoid missing out.

 Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

Dates:23rd Nov–6th Jan, 2019
Entry:Free

Christmas by the River – London Bridge Market

A Christmas tree with Tower Bridge in the background
Photo by Sheep "R" Us used under CC

London’s most picturesque Christmas market is back this year with even more stalls and delights for all the family. There will be workshops run at the chalet-style event space as well as plenty of entertainment for the kids.

 Christmas By the River - London Bridge Market

Dates:29th Nov–2nd Jan, 2019
Entry:Free

Winterville

Winterville
Photo by Laurie Nevay used under CC

Calling itself London’s alternative Christmas experience, Winterville is filled with some of the regular: ice rinks, markets and food, as well as some of the irregular: Backyard Cinema, kid-raves and Mexican wrestling. Not everything is free though, so check tickets before you go!

 Winterville

Dates:15th Nov–23rd Dec, 2018
Entry:Free

E17 Designer’s Christmas Markets

Craft market
Photo by Garry Knight used under CC

Another great spot for your Christmas shopping, this market focuses on crafters and creators from E17. There will be three separate markets in two locations so do check which date you want to attend. You can peruse the stalls, enjoy cake and tea as well as meeting the makers of your new gifts (always helps to have a backstory!).

 E17 Designer's Christmas Markets

Dates:2nd Dec–15th Dec, 2018
Entry:Free

The St John’s Hospice Christmas Fayre

Stockpiling for your Christmas stockings while listening to carols and sipping on mulled wine—if that’s not your perfect festive Sunday, I don’t know what is. At the St John’s Fayre you can enjoy browsing through stalls run by locals, kids can ride reindeer and visit Santa’s grotto and you’re supporting a local charity too!

 The St John’s Hospice Christmas Fayre

Dates:Early Dec, 2019
Entry:Free

Portobello Winter Weekends

Portobello Market
Photo by Garry Knight used under CC

This year portobello market have decided to run Winter Weekends: four market-filled slots in December. With plenty of street entertainment and street food too, you might get distracted from all the stalls if you’re not careful! The market has a variety of smaller themed markets including the New Youthquake market at Tavistock Square that focuses on young stallholders.

 Portobello Winter Weekends

Dates:1st Dec–23rd Dec, 2018
Entry:Free

Bonus Festive Events

If you’re all shopped out then try these bonus events for those Christmas feels:

Christmas at Kew

Christmas at Kew
Photo by Mary Shattock used under CC

Enjoy London’s favourite Gardens at their most beautiful. The illuminations here are tasteful and create a magical trail with millions of flickering lights. You can see singing trees, giant flowers and kaleidoscopic projections on the palm house.

 Christmas at Kew

Dates:22nd Nov–5th Jan, 2019
Entry:£16.00 – £18.50

Ice Skating at Somerset House

Ice Skating Somerset House
Photo by Pedro Figueiredo used under CC

Skate, slide and try not to slip at Somerset House this winter as they open up the ice rink again for everyone from professionals to beginners. There will be special music events in the evenings called Skate-Lates with well-known names providing the soundtrack to your skating.

 Ice Skating at Somerset House

Dates:14th Nov–13th Jan, 2019
Entry:£11.00 – £17.00
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Filed under: Shopping, Things to Do
Tags: Christmas, Fairs, Family Friendly, Featured, Festive, Free Events, Ice Skating, Market, Winter
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