London enjoys any excuse to put on a show, not least at Christmas when the capital unleashes yuletide magic. London Christmas markets bring the seasonal atmosphere alive with the help of alpine chalets festooned with fairy lights, a soundtrack of choirs, and wafts of sweet chestnuts and cinnamon on the breeze. When you need a Christmas mood boost, a Christmas market in London is a banker.
There’s a big choice of London Christmas markets to deliberate over. Something crafty? Something dazzlingly huge? Or something that flies under the radar to pick up a one-of-a-kind gift? Before you book your car in London, we’ve picked the best Christmas markets for Christmas 2022.
Best for London views: Southbank Centre Winter Market
With pop-up bars selling festive fondues and sugared waffles, and alpine chalets touting the perfect finishing touches for your tree, a stroll along the Southbank Centre’s Winter Market is never time wasted. First stop: something warming to wrap your hands around (hot chocolate with ample toppings should do the trick), then take your time ambling around the stalls, and enjoy the yuletide atmosphere with a beautiful view of the London skyline.
When? 3 November – 26 December 2022
Best for an evening stroll: Christmas by the River
With alpine cabins adorned with fairy lights selling mulled wine and hand-made crafts for stocking fillers, Christmas by the River at London Bridge has all the must-have ingredients of a traditional Christmas market. Look out for free festive film screenings and soul-stirring choirs that add to the Christmas magic. Although it’s open from late morning most days, heading there after sunset promises the most sparkling atmosphere.
When? 15 November 2022 – 2 January 2023
Best for drinks connoisseurs: The Winter Warmer Festival
You’ve got a two-week window to get to The Winter Warmer Festival in Covent Garden. Showcasing an impressive selection of mulled wine, this is a chance for the non-driver to try unusual twists on the classic mulled wine, from mulled rosé to spiced punch. Driving? No problem – there are mocktails and non-alcoholic hot apple ciders, so no one misses out on the Christmas tipples.
When? 8 – 20 November 2022
Best for history lovers: Leadenhall Market
Beautiful Leadenhall Market, which famously inspired Diagon Alley in the first Harry Potter movie, feels particularly magical at Christmas when the 35 shops, bars, and restaurants compete in the best-dressed window stakes. Over the festive season, join a wreath-making workshop or take a guided walk to hear about Leadenhall Christmases over the centuries, from its Roman beginnings to splendidly decadent Victorian Christmases.
When? From 17 November 2022
Best for designer finds: The Drops Christmas Market
Handpicked by talent spotters at a leading design studio, The Drops Christmas Market showcases the work of 40 emerging UK designers. This impressive Christmas market is the place to find one-of-a-kind gifts, limited edition work, and sustainable presents for your favourite people.
When? 2 – 4 December 2022
Best for kids: Winter Wonderland
If you like your Christmas market with a helping of sideshow, head to the enormous festive bonanza that is Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Alongside a vast traditional Christmas market with the usual trinkets and decorations to buy, there’s a fairground (with nine rollercoasters), Santa’s grotto, an ice rink and a Magical Ice Kingdom created from 500 tonnes of sculpted ice.
When? 18 November 2022 – 3 January 2023
Best for foodies: Borough Market
Any self-respecting foodie knows Borough Market is the ultimate venue for artisan bites and local goodies. Christmas arrives at Borough Market when the illuminations are lit on 15 November, but savvy folk head here close to the Big Day to pick up the Christmas Day essentials – perhaps a delicious cheeseboard from Heritage Cheese with local condiments from Fitz Fine Foods. Pop by Bedales of Borough or Cartwright Brothers Vintners to find the perfect wine pairings for your selections.
When? 15 November 2022 – 9 February 2023
Best for crafters: Christmas Market at The Crossing, Kings Cross
Pick up beautiful gifts at a Christmas craft fair in the Granary Building next to Central Saint Martins. For one day only, 100 hand-picked traders sell their wares at the Christmas Market at The Crossing, including jewellery, interiors, and art. This is the place to find something a little different for that person that’s tricky to buy for and support local artists.
When? 11 December 2022
Best for community spirit: Pexmas Festive Market
What started as a boutique market in Peckham nine years ago has transformed into an impressive celebration of local and independent traders over a magically festive weekend in December. At Pexmas, shop for sweet ceramics, books by local authors, hand-poured candles, and handmade cosmetics – alongside a vast selection of festive food and drink.
When? 3 – 4 December 2022
Best for a date night: Skate at Somerset House
It’s not strictly a Christmas market (although you can buy delicious treats from Hotel Chocolat), but Skate at Somerset House is such a festive extravaganza that it’s worthy of a mention. Lace up some skates and twirl on the ice beneath an enormous Christmas tree, then slip into an alpine-themed restaurant for something suitably seasonal and a glass of crisp champagne.
When? 16 November 2022 – 15 January 2023
…or something else?
Looking for something to do before or after visiting a Christmas market in London? Extend the Christmas magic with our pick of Christmas activities.
Catch a festive performance at the Royal Albert Hall. Home Alone in Concert, where the festive favourite is screened with the score performed by a live symphony orchestra, gets our vote. There’s a matinee and an evening performance on 10 December 2022.
Another much-loved Christmas movie, Elf, also comes to London this Christmas with a limited run of Elf the Musical at the Dominion Theatre from 14 November 2022 to 7 January 2023.
Or try Christmas at Kew, a magical winter light trail where you can pick up warming treats from street food stalls as you walk through sparkling tunnels of light and see the gardens spectacularly lit. Don’t miss the mesmerising dancing flames in the fire garden. Book tickets on selected dates between 16 November 2022 and 8 January 2023.
Go like a pro
Before heading to a Christmas market in London, we’ve got six tips to make your visit go without a hitch.
- Check to see if you need to book in advance. Many Christmas markets don’t need pre-booking and are free to attend. But bigger attractions may need a ticket.
- Visit when it’s quieter. Christmas markets in London can get busy! Go early in the day or nearer closing time to avoid the busiest spells.
- Check the weather. Don’t let an ill-informed outfit ruin your day out. It’s London in December, after all.
- Ask questions. Get the lowdown on what you’re buying and dazzle your gift recipients with plenty of intel about the provenance of their pressie.
- Pre-book parking. Book a car on Turo to get yourself around the capital but think about where’s best to park before setting off.
- Take cash. Some independent stalls may not have the facilities to accept card payments, so it’s best to go prepared.
Not London-bound this Christmas? Check out our guides to the best Christmas Markets in Edinburgh and Manchester.