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 as well as Santa’s grottos. Whether you just want to wander amidst the happy shoppers with a mulled wine or hot chocolate and enjoy the seasonal feels or tick items off your Christmas shopping list, the winter markets in London are a must-do.

If you’re looking for a bit of sparkle, do check out our walking route of London’s Christmas lights, the 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 European-style market stalls, lots of food and drink offerings and Santa’s Grotto.

Head to the Spiegeltent for a Christmas show like no other; there’s a brand-new cast for 2023 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.

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, 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 rides for everyone from families to adrenaline junkies.

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. Christmas Under the Canopy is a covered market where you can shop for artisanal gifts and food under a canopy of stars, or spice up your festive shopping at the Mexican Christmas Market and browse Mexican clothing, accessories and crafts from independent designers.

Tick off your Christmas shopping list before celebrating at the après ski bar, which will be serving up a selection of festive hot chocolates, hot toddies and delicious alpine cocktails.

Trafalgar Square Christmas Market

Trafalgar Square Christmas Market
Photo by Amanda David

Over 30 cute wooden chalets with gifts, mulled wine and cider, and Christmassy food including, er, a whole range of German sausages. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the tree that is a gift from Norway every year and the pop-up winter bar behind St Martins-in-the-Fields for a warming mulled wine or delicious cocktail.

While we do our best to ensure it is correct, information is subject to change. This article was originally published in November 2019; last updated on 2nd December 2023.

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