The Best Food at London’s Christmas Markets
Continental-style Christmas markets are one of the best things to happen to December in recent years. The sight of Christmas trees, gingerbread, sparkly lights and a lot of mulled wine is one to lift the Scroogiest of hearts.
This year in London, you can find everything from small markets that run just a few days to vast festive parties with rides, skating and performances. But let’s not forget the true meaning of Christmas: the food and drink. Here’s a run-down of what you can expect to stuff your face with at London’s Christmas markets this year.
Photo: Belinda Lawley
Southbank Centre’s Winter Market
Those wooden chalets lining the south bank of the Thames are back, and they’re packed with hearty street food. Gingerbread, German sausages and mulled wine sit alongside less Christmassy, but still tasty, buttermilk fried chicken, raclette, pad Thai and waffles.
Two pop-up bars are also on hand to keep out the chill. Rekorderlig’s Cider Lodge is open until 6 January 2018, serving Scandinavian food, cider with botanicals and a delightfully seasonal cocktail featuring spiced plum cider, honey, port and orange juice. If craft beer is more your bag, the Hop Locker-run Bar Under The Bridge is back and if that isn’t enough, it’s teamed up with ParmStar for a taste of North East England: breaded chicken and cheese (veggie and vegan options available). ParmStar doesn’t come down from t’North that often, so grab some while you can.
Winter Market, Queen’s Walk, Royal Festival Hall Riverside, SE1 8XX
Open until 30th December 2017
The annual extravaganza in Hyde Park is more Christmas theme park than market, but you could easily spend a day just enjoying the food and drink. There are stalls dotted around selling waffles, chocolate treats, crêpes and more. The Bavarian Village serves wurst, schnitzels, dumplings and vast amounts of pig, all sloshed down with steins of beer. Over at The Fire Pit there are marshmallows to toast, or snuggle into a Viking-style tipi for BBQ and craft beer. And as you’d expect, there’s mulled wine and hot chocolate everywhere.
There are also a few options where you pay a bit more for something special. Bar Hütte is a mini alpine village with your own hut for up to ten people, which comes equipped with karaoke machine. Enjoy with pizza and cocktails. The Ice Bar is even more chill, with everything (including the glasses) carved out of ice. This year it’s in the shape of a Greek temple, a concept we’re having problems getting our heads round (sunny Greece/icy vodka palace), but it’s still fun.
Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, W2; free entry, certain attractions ticketed
Open until 1st January 2018
Christmas in Leicester Square
Leicester Square is trying really hard, isn’t it? For so long it’s been somewhere that hardened Londoners have avoided at all costs but now it’s sprucing itself up. This Christmas, Underbelly has erected its Spiegeltent at the square’s heart and put together a full programme of shows, but the surrounding market is free to everyone. Fuel up with raclette, mini pancakes and, of course, mulled wine.
Christmas in Leicester Square, Leicester Square, WC2
Open until 8th January 2018
Street Feast – the team behind Dinerama, Giant Robot, Hawker House and Model Market – has gathered a crack team of street food vendors for this winter festival on Clapham Common. There are 15 outlets to choose from, including Born and Raised’s wood-fired pizzas, Rola Wala’s delicious mini-naan sliders, Up In My Grill’s succulent steak and chips, and chicken options galore from White Men Can’t Jerk, Mother Clucker and Thunderbird. Dessert is taken care of with Love Churros, Chin Chin Dessert Bar’s gorgeous nitro-frozen ice cream and SE Cakery’s gooey brownie delights.
While there are bars scattered throughout the site, the main venue is a big wooden lodge at Winterville’s heart. You can enjoy the view on the heated terrace without huddling into your big coat, all while imbibing craft beer, seasonal cocktails and – natch – mulled wine.
Winterville, Clapham Common, Windmill Drive, SW4 9DE; free entry / £3 after 6pm Friday and Saturday
23rd November 2017 – 1st January 2018
Scandinavian Christmas Market
The Finnish and Norwegian churches in Canada Water are next door to each other, and for three days every year they take over the street with a splendidly Scandi Christmas market. Pop-up supper club Nyborg^London will be on hand, as will Proper Piirakka with their traditional Finnish Karelian pies (pastry ‘boats’ with a filling). Mouse Tail provides the coffee and of course there will be meatballs, made by Swedish Street Food.
Scandinavian Christmas Market, Albion Street, SE16 7HZ
24th – 26th November 2017
Danish Christmas Market
We may have moved on from hygge (it’s all about lagom now) but Danish Christmas foods are still so lovely that the dedicated market in Hampstead deserves a mention. Run by the Danish YWCA, you’ll get smørrebrød (rye bread layered with toppings for an open sandwich), hot dogs and æbleskiver (spherical pancakes filled with jam). And don’t forget the Gløgg mulled wine!
Danish Christmas Market, 43 Maresfield Gardens, NW3 5TF; admission £2
25th – 26th November 2017
Cheesegrater Christmas Market
The 28-metre-high atrium of the Leadenhall Building (to give it its Sunday name) is home to a new market for this year. As you’d expect in the City, there’s a pop-up champagne and oyster bar, but the food gets a little more eclectic: Punjabi street food, German chocolate kisses, French macarons and what’s being described as ‘exotic’ burgers. This market is just for weekdays and only until 7pm, so perhaps better to head over for lunch if you work nearby.
Leadenhall Building Christmas Market, 122 Leadenhall Street, EC3V 4AB
27th November – 22nd December 2017
Christmas By The River
68 stalls will be proffering a little of Christmas on the South Bank of the Thames, between Hay’s Galleria and The Scoop in More London. Among the ways to keep refreshed will be Jim and Tonic’s G&T van (a G&T with marshmallows? Yes please) and The Lambassadors with their charcoal BBQ’d British meat.
Christmas By The River, More London, SE1
30th November 2017 – 3rd January 2018
Novikov Mayfair Christmas Market
This is Christmas with style as Mayfair Place gets closed off for two days. Try a taste of acorn-fed Iberico ham from Cinco Jotas, nibble on dishes provided by Novikov restaurant’s chefs and quaff a glass of Louis Roederer champagne at the ice bar. And since no Christmas is complete without gingerbread you should head to the stall of Metzger and Söhne, which has been making gingerbread and lebkuchen in Vienna for over 300 years.
Mayfair Christmas Market, Mayfair Place, W1
1st – 2nd December 2017
If you have a sweet tooth, you’re well catered for by this market in Crystal Palace. Waffles, crepes, churros, doughnuts, chocolate – and a hog roast for when you really need something savoury. Alongside the standard beers and mulled wine, you can also load a hot chocolate up with marshmallows, whipped cream and flakes. Good job there’s skating and reverse bungee to work off all that sugar.
WinterFest, Crystal Palace Park, Ledrington Road, SE19 2GA
8th December 2017 – 2nd January 2018
African Christmas Market
If you’re fed up of freezing winter, the Africa Centre’s three-day Christmas market is the place to go. Browse craft, fashion and jewellery stalls to a soundtrack of gospel choirs, and stuff your face with delicious African and Caribbean food, washed down with warming and spiced drinks.
African Christmas Market, Africa Centre, 66 Great Suffolk Street, SE1 0BL
8th – 10th December 2017