Whatever your thoughts on London throughout the rest of the year, it's hard to deny that Christmastime in the capital is pretty magical (unless you've left your Christmas shopping to last minute and are forced to hit Oxford Street, of course). And what better way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year than by exploring one of London's best Christmas markets, obligatory mulled wine in hand? Here a handful of our favourites...
Southbank Winter Market
What: It's a failsafe highlight of every Londoner's festive season. The Southbank Centre's famous Winter Market will once again be setting up shop in a series of traditional wooden chalets, with vendors serving up everything from comforting winter classics like raclette and mulled wine to Asian, Indian and Greek cuisines. This year, two new pop-ups have been added to the line-up: at Bar Under the Bridge, you'll find a cheese-themed menu (think baked camembert and croque monsieurs, while the Circus Bar is a cosy eating and drinking space warmed up by sizzling fire pits.
When: From 9th November
Where: Southbank Centre
What: For an alternative spin on the classic Christmas market set-up from the teams behind Field Day and Street Feast, head south-west. Winterville is back on Clapham Common for the second year on the run, bringing with it a staggering street food line-up, live DJ sets, a UV-lit crazy golf course and a pop-up festive cinema with a programme of seasonal classics (like Love Actually, Elf and erm, The Parent Trap) from Backyard Cinema.
When: 15th November - 23rd December
Where: Clapham Common
What: This annual festive extravaganza needs no introduction. This year’s Winter Wonderland is bigger and better than ever, boasting the UK’s largest outdoor ice rink, all-new ice sculpting workshops for those of a creative bent and even festive karaoke booths (perhaps best tackled after a helping or two of Gluhwein, we imagine), plus the classic Santa’s Grotto (this year, a new family entrance will help transport you directly into Santa Land).
When: 23 November 2018 to 6 January 2019 (closed on Christmas Day)
Where: Hyde Park
Taste of London: The Festive Edition
What: This wintery edition of the capital’s premier foodie festival will bring pop-ups from some of London’s most exciting restaurants (Bao, Barbecoa and fresh pasta from Nonna Tonda, to name but a few) to the Tobacco Dock. Plus, there’s also the opportunity to watch world-class chefs in live demonstrations, wine and craft beer tastings and interactive masterclasses, while the boutique food markets are the perfect place to pick up stocking fillers.
When: 15th to 18th November
Where: Tobacco Dock
What: The Christmas edition of SAMPLE, the seasonal pop-up market curated by Hemingway Design, is the biggest yet, promising food, fashion and design from emerging talents as well as a packed programme of events, from perfume making and lino printing to film screenings on a vintage cinema bus. Perfect if you’re in search of some more alternative festive fare.**
When: 1st to 2nd December
Where: Greenwich Peninsula
What: Why shouldn't dogs get in on the fun of Christmas markets, too? Pet lifestyle brand Fetch & Follow’s newly named Winter Waggingland is a market for dogs and their owners, promising an array of independent pet brands and artisan dog treats (plus some equally exciting gifts for humans, too). There’ll even be a pet photographer running a pop-up photo studio on site…
When: 25th November
Where: Netil Market