There’s no shortage of places to get into the Christmas spirit. But if you want more of a festive feel than a crushing mass of bargain-hunting, maybe even with some carols thrown in, then one of the many London Christmas markets might be more up your street.

There are plenty and they’re usually filled with independent craft stalls and artisan producers selling their goods, so you can get something a little bit different while supporting small businesses. The market is often only half the story too, with fairgrounds and festivities surrounding them as well as 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 items off your Christmas shopping list, the winter markets in London are a must-do in 2022.

If you’re looking for a bit of sparkle, do check out our top picks for London Winter Illuminations this year, or get your rom-com on with these outdoor ice rinks.

Leicester Square Christmas Market

The central London square gets a festive makeover that runs from early November until early January. Christmas in Leicester Square is filled with over 25 traditional market stalls, lots of food and drink stalls and Santa’s Grotto. Head to the Spiegeltent for a Christmas show like no other; there’s a brand-new cast for 2022 showcasing incredible cabaret performances and amazing circus skills. A decade on from winning the Best Entertainment Olivier Award and fresh from a sell-out run at Edinburgh Fringe, La Clique has wowed audiences around the globe and features the very best of circus, comedy and cabaret. Entrance to the market is free, but you’ll need to pre-book for ticketed events.

Winter Festival at the Southbank Centre

The Southbank is fairy-lit and beautiful all year round but it’s particularly twinkly and magical during the winter months; a big part of that is the Southbank Centre Winter Festival. It’s a seasonal highlight for Londoners and visitors alike, with plenty of outdoor and indoor activities. Traditional, wooden-hut market stalls festooned with lights line the river bank each year as well as food stalls and cute pop-up bars. Follow the scent of mulled wine to explore hand-made gifts, crafts and lots of street food.

Once you’re done strolling, head into the Southbank Centre for warmth and entertainment. While you’re in the area, be sure to check out our guide to cheap and free things to do in nearby Waterloo.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

With everything from ice skating and a ferris wheel to a bar where the tables, chairs and glasses are sculpted entirely from ice, this winter wonderland has everything you need to get in the festive spirit. There’s free music across the site, over 100 fairground rides as well as SantaLand for kids. Get tickets in advance to certain activities like ice skating and the ice bar to avoid missing out.

This year’s attractions include a huge observation wheel, Cirque Berserk and Zippos Christmas Circus as well as Magical Ice Kingdom sculptures and ice sculpting workshops. Highlights include Munich Looping, the largest transportable roller coaster, plus some new rides for 2022 – the Time Machine and Discovery.

Christmas by the River: London Bridge Market

London loves a riverside festive market and, while it doesn’t have a major cultural venue like nearby South Bank, the stretch of the Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge has all the ingredients you need for a Christmas market and festival. There will be cosy vibes at the wooden cabins and homemade gifts from more than 60 independent traders. You’ll also find bars selling mulled wine and cider, craft beer and festive cocktails. You can top that off with some craft workshops if you’re feeling creative.

King’s Cross Christmas Markets

Photo by Four Comms

This year King’s Cross will be ringing the changes with a line-up of amazing markets, each offering a huge array of unique gifts, festive street food, fashion from emerging brands, vintage vinyl, arts and crafts and much more. Tick off your Christmas shopping list before celebrating at the new après ski bar, which will be serving up a selection of festive hot chocolates, hot toddies and delicious alpine cocktails.

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Hackney Christmas Market

Hosted by the good folks behind Hackney Vegan Village and Ethical Emporium, Hackney Christmas Market returns triumphant and bigger than ever. With around 50 independent traders, you’ll find a wide range of gifts ideas with a decidedly environmentally-friendly vibe as well as some delicious food options. Come along and treat yourself to some ethical, vegan and sustainably sourced goodies.

Bonus Festive Events

If you’re all shopped out from London Christmas Markets, try these bonus events for those festive feels:

Christmas at Kew

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

Somerset Skating
Photo by iStock.com/anatoleya

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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