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.

London Christmas markets and festivals

The best events if you’re looking for that specifically Christmas feel and you need to get a few stocking fillers too!

Leicester Square Christmas Market  |  Nov 10th –  Jan  6th  |  FREE

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.


Southbank Centre Winter Festival  |  Nov 1oth – Jan 4th  |  FREE

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 events including circus classes, knitting groups and even a choir.


Hyde Park Winter Wonderland  |  Nov 17th – Jan 1st  |  FREE

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).


Christmas by the River  |  Nov 30th – Jan 3rd  |  FREE

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 an Elpless Elves Trail, an interactive performance trail for the kids (requires reservations in advance but is free).


Winterville  |  Nov 23rd – Jan 1st  |  FREE

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!


E17 Designer’s Christmas Markets |  Dec 10th & 16th  |  FREE

Another great spot for your Christmas shopping, this market focuses on crafters and creators from E17. There will be two separate markets in two locations, part one and part two, 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!).


Greenwich Winter Time Festival  |  Dec 1st – 31st  |  £15.00 – £18.00

The Old Naval College in Greenwich lit up at night.
Photo by Andrea Vail used under CC

With plenty of non-festive attractions like the Cutty Sark and the Greenwich Maritime Museum, there’s already plenty to see here before you add the entertainment, ice skating and  Christmas market. With the Hackney Colliery Band,  The Puppini Sisters, Sons of Pitches ready to entertain and live screenings of the Snowman accompanied by a live brass band, you’ll be busy from open to close.


The St John’s Hospice Christmas Fayre  |  Dec 3rd  |  St John’s Wood  |  FREE

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 there are fair rides too!


Portobello Winter Festival   |  Dec 9th – 10th  |  FREE

This new-to-the-scene festival promises a lively environment for all your shopping needs this December weekend. With plenty of street entertainment from steel pans to calypso 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 ‘Made in London’ street market at Tavistock Square and a ‘Hamper and Stockings’ market on the Sunday.


Bonus Festive Events

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

Christmas at Kew  |  Nov 22nd – Jan 1st  |  £16.00 – £18.50

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.


Ice Skating at Somerset House  |  Nov 15th – Jan 14th  |  £7.50 – £30.00

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.

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