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Top five things to do in London: Christmas Markets

18 December 2012 | Emma Wright

Do you like festive cheer, warm fuzzy feelings, and/ or laughter and happiness? If so, you’ll love London’s Christmas markets! I feel a Top 5 coming on...

It’s ‘ChristmAAAAAAAS’ (Slade, 1973) in a week, and not the barrage of festive treats in the office, the endless mulling sessions or the prospect of snow can induce this ‘festive spirit’ within you. No problem. For struggling Londoners and London visitors, London Calling has the answer! Like a doctor of culture, spreading festive cheer is all in a day’s work. We prescribe one or all of the following:

 

1. If you’ve not seen Winter Wonderland illuminating the entirety of Central-West London like an alien crash-landing, you’ll have heard about it. Each year Hyde Park plays host to London’s largest and most commercial Christmas market. A great one for the kids, Winter Wonderland includes a Giant Observation Wheel, not one but two circuses, the biggest outdoor ice rink in the UK, and snappily titled ‘The Magical Ice Kingdom experience’- sculpted from 200 tonnes of ice and snow. Most activities are ticketed, but access to the Christmas Market is free, as well as to Santa Land! In the Market, find open fires, and warming beverages and food.

 

2. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? You’ll find them at Portobello Market’s winter Sundays markets. The last is on 23 December and with around 40 stalls, you won’t struggle to find those last minute gifts that we all know you still haven’t sorted. Into the bargain, there’s entertainment in Tavistock Square, including lunchtime opera from Adam Music and… Santa (who will provide regular entertainment as opposed to the operatic type). This year the market benefits from its first ever Christmas tree and an exclusive wrapping paper, designed by The Notting Hill Shopping Bag Company and based on the drawings by local children; all proceeds of which go to the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation.

 

3. Find all the German tradition you could desire of a Christmas between the Southbank Centre and the London Eye (the ever-stunning Queen’s Walk). As usual, the Southbank Centre Christmas Market is back in force with wooden huts selling toys, gifts, and food and drink including Glühwein, Bavarian Beer, Bratwurst and gingerbread. For the little ones, there's a carousel, Santa's secret village (which is obviously not so secret now, in case that’s a factor for you), a stall to make Christmas cards, and a ‘pocket money stall’ of affordable pressies. To seal the deal, twice a day choirs will sing carols and Christmas songs.

 

4. Christmas is the one time of the year when it’s acceptable to eat and drink for a number of days with neither pause nor remorse. This is factually proven (by this London Calling reporter’s stomach) to be because Christmas food and drink stuffs are more delicious than food and drink stuffs at any other time of year. Prepare for your period of feasting by heading to year-round favourite, Borough Market. London’s oldest food market and still well-reputed today, this market avoids the gimmicks and unabashed commerce of other Yuletide experiences, and focuses on delivering to you, the freshest of seasonal produce.

 

5. Covent Garden is one of London’s slickest Christmas markets. This year you’ll find a 32 foot topiary reindeer and enormous baubles which should appeal to the Borrower in each of us. Find also craft and food stalls, and for the kids (or big kids) a reindeer petting enclosure, candlelit storytelling and craft workshops. Choirs will form the soundtrack to your experience and there’s also the return of ‘Super Busking’, entailing chart-toppers (like Keane or the Saturdays in 2011) turning up unannounced to perform in aid of Crisis, the national charity for homeless people who will welcome nearly 2000 people in need across London this Christmas.

 

Until next week’s tips on how best to rein in 2013, London Calling wishes you the Merriest of Christmases, Londoners and visitors, one and all!

 

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