Winter Markets

Modern day Frost Fairs

Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.

Edna Ferber

The capital’s love of bustling festive gatherings dates back centuries. London’s earliest Christmas fetes were known as frost fairs and were held on the River Thames on five occasions when it froze over between 1683 and 1814. They were said to be a cross between a Christmas market, a circus and a raucous rave.

While there’s no sign of the Thames freezing over again any time soon, here are five of our favourite markets where some of London’s frost fair spirit lives on.

Winter Wonderland

21 November 2019 – 5 January 2020

This huge festive pop-up returns to Hyde Park with a Bavarian-style Christmas market of wooden chalets, laden with jewellery, crafts, street food and mulled wine. You can also explore the Santa Land fairground, spectacular musicals on ice, an immersive cinema and the country’s biggest open-air ice rink.

Hyde Park, London W2 2UH

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Southbank Centre Wintertime Market

8 November 2019 – 5 January 2020

If you’re seeking festivities with an artisanal twist, stroll along the south bank of the River Thames to this picturesque market. It features Nordic-inspired wooden stalls filled with global street food, craft beers, gifts and treats for all. Warm up beside a fire-pit in The Circus Bar which has popped up outside Royal Festival Hall or indulge in an alpine-inspired feast at Jimmy’s Lodge and igloos by the river.

Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX

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Christmas in Leicester Square

8 November 2019 – 5 January 2020

The glittering heart of London’s West End pulls out all the stops for the festive season. Fill up on Christmas goodies in the traditional market and book one of the spectacular cabaret shows in the 1920s Spiegeltent. Children can also meet Father Christmas himself at the enchanting grotto.

Leicester Square, Covent Garden WC2H 7DE

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Christmas by the River

26 November 2019 – 5 January 2020

On the south side of London Bridge is a more intimate cluster of winter cabins full of cosy accessories and delicious food. This year it is also playing host to a series of workshops, tastings and storytelling events, all framed by stunning views of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 7SP

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