If you want to get into the holiday spirit, there’s nothing jollier than London’s Christmas markets. Originating in Germany and other central European countries during the Middle Ages, these markets are a relatively recent addition to the U.K. holiday calendar, but they’re something the British — and Londoners in particular — have embraced wholeheartedly. Shop for holiday decorations, gifts and treats; kick back with a cup of hot glühwein (mulled wine); or even take a spin around a pop-up ice-skating rink. Here are our favorites:
Each winter, Hyde Park transforms into a fairytale holiday destination complete with a walk-through ice and snow palace, an enormous fairground, the U.K.’s largest ice-skating rink, and, of course, a spectacular Christmas market. Buy handicrafts, jewelry, decorations and traditional candies from more than 200 wooden chalets that take inspiration from classic European Christmas markets. There’s enough here for nearly a whole day of festive fun. Through January 5; closed on December 25.
More traditional wooden chalets line the south bank of the River Thames, meaning you can do a bit of holiday shopping before or after getting your culture fix at this strip’s world-leading arts center. The market has a particularly good selection of German fare, such as mulled wine, gingerbread and bratwurst; and there are even more treats on offer at the Real Food Christmas Market in the square behind the Southbank Centre (December 19-22). Through December 24.
The elegant neighborhood and shopping precinct of Marylebone hosts a weekly fashion and food market on Saturdays throughout the year. Drop by during the holiday season to peruse unique gifts, including accessories and jewelry from new designers, vintage clothing and hand-blown glass. On the last Saturday before Christmas (December 21), carolers will be in attendance and children can have their faces painted. Saturdays.
Photos Courtesy of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland