Christmas in London is a magical time, there’s no doubting that. From the amazing light displays and elaborate shop front decorations to the numerous ice-rinks and London Christmas markets, it’s impossible to be in the capital during winter without getting into the festive spirit.
But with all of the festive activities and events spanning across London during November and December, it can be difficult to choose which ones to visit (or you could do what I do and try to get around them all). So to help you out I’ve put together a list of the best London Christmas markets and pop-ups of 2018…
The Best London Christmas Markets and Pop-Ups of 2018
WINTER WONDERLAND, HYDE PARK
If you’ve been in London during the festive period and don’t know about Winter Wonderland then you must have been living under a rock. Without a doubt the biggest and most extravagant of the London Christmas pop-ups, Winter Wonderland spans across Hyde Park with festive markets, thrilling fairground rides and even a Bavarian village with live music and mulled wine galore.
Winter Wonderland is back again for its 11th year, and as well as the usual large attractions such as the UK’s largest outdoor Ice Rink, the magical ice kingdom and the circus megadome, 2018 also sees plenty of new attractions including Peter Pan on ice, ice sculpting workshops and the Winter Wonderland comedy club.
WHY VISIT: Despite being the busiest of the London Christmas markets and events, Christmas in London is incomplete without a visit to the iconic Winter Wonderland!
Winter Wonderland Hyde Park will be open from 22nd November 2018 to 6th January 2019. The festive village is open every day from 10am to 10pm.
WINTERVILLE, CLAPHAM COMMON
Winter Wonderland’s quirky little brother Winterville heads down to Clapham Common once again this year. Branding itself as London’s ‘alternative Christmas village’, Winterville has its very own ice rink, fairground, big wheel, crazy golf, roller disco, backyard cinema, host of live shows and a variety of amazing street food from Street Feast.
WHY VISIT: Winterville is a great alternative Christmas event to avoid the crowds of tourists and families at Winter Wonderland and spend a festive evening out with friends in the lively indoor bars or at one of the unusual live shows including drag cabaret and Mexican wrestling.
Winterville Clapham Common is open from the 15th November to 23rd December, from 2pm to 10pm during the week (shut Mondays) and 10am to 10:30pm at the weekend. Entry to Winterville is £2 (or £5 after 6pm on Friday and Saturday), however, entry is free if you pre-book any of the events or activities.
During the summer this cute little riverside venue in Fulham is host to Neverland beach club, while during winter it is transformed into the festive town of Winterland. This year the pop-up takes inspiration from the slopes of the Alps in the 80s and 90s, with fur-lined sofas, heated lodges, fairy-light filled gondolas, warming firepits and even a funky sequin covered disco room.
You can enjoy mulled wine, fun winter cocktails and belly-warming festive food from Jimmy’s Lodge while enjoying live music from the live in-house band, trying your hand at curling, taking on your friends at beer pong or making the most of the private karaoke booths.
WHY VISIT: Winterland offers a cosy and chilled-out festive vibe where you can be curled up with a blanket on one of the sofas enjoying some live music with a glass of mulled wine.
Winterland Fulham launches November 8th and is open from 6pm to 11pm Thursdays and Fridays, 12pm to 11pm Saturdays and 12pm to 8pm Sundays. Entry costs £5 and includes one drink.
THE IGLOOS AT COPPA CLUB, TOWER HILL
Back for the third consecutive year in their iconic riverside location is one of London’s most popular winter pop-ups, the Coppa Club Igloos. Overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge, the fur-lined domes are fairly similar to last year (if you were lucky enough to go) except with an extra sprinkling of fairy lights giving the whole area an extra festive feel. The igloos are available for dinner or drinks and can be booked for groups of up to 8 people.
WHY VISIT: Is it really Christmas until there’s a photo of a festive igloo on your Instagram feed? And where better to go than where the igloo hype all began.
The pre-booked slots are now full, however, some igloos are kept back for walk-ins so if you really want to go it’s worth popping by and trying your luck.
WINTER AT SKYLIGHT, TOBACCO DOCK
Skylight is a year-round pop-up rooftop bar at Tobacco Dock in Shadwell, which hosts an urban lawn club with croquet and pétanque during the summer months while transforming into a winter wonderland during November and December. The pop-up is located in one of the coolest rooftop venues in the capital, with beautiful views across the city skyline.
Winter at Skylight features Europe’s only real rooftop ice-rink, ice hockey snap shots, cosy heated igloos to snuggle up into and a great food and drink offering. There are several bars serving a selection of drinks including mulled wine and winter cocktails, as well as international street food from Yiro and plenty of cheese covered goodness from The Raclette Brothers.
WHY VISIT: Ice-skating with a view over the city at night, what could be a better London Christmas experience?
Winter at Skylight launches on 1st November and is open from Thursday to Saturday each week, from 5pm to 11pm on Thursday and Fridays, and 12pm to 11pm on weekends.
CHRISTMAS IN LEICESTER SQUARE
Christmas in Leicester Square sees this iconic spot in the heart of London’s West End transform into a festive wonderland with traditional Christmas market stalls selling hand-crafted goods, festive food and drink stands and a host of live shows in the traditional 1920s Spiegeltent.
WHY VISIT: With its small size and central location, Christmas in Leicester Square is one of best London Christmas markets to pop by for a quick mulled wine and bratwurst while out doing your Christmas shopping in central London.
Christmas in Leicester Square is open from 9th November 2018 to 6th January 2019. The event is open from 12pm to 10pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 10pm on Saturday and Sunday.
SOUTHBANK WINTER MARKET
Sat on the banks of the River Thames is Southbank’s annual winter market, with an array of stalls selling handmade festive goods and plenty of international street food including winter favourites such as raclette and bratwurst. This year there will also be two new winter food and drink pop-ups, Under the Bridge serving cheese-themed food and The Circus Bar with sizzling fire-pits and festive drinks.
WHY VISIT: At Southbank’s Winter Market you can celebrate Christmas surrounded by some of London’s most iconic sites such as the London Eye and Houses of Parliment.
Southbank Winter Market is open Friday 9th November to Thursday 27th December 2018, Sunday to Thursday from 11am to 10pm and Friday/Saturday 11am to 11pm.
BROADGATE WINTER FOREST
This winter season Christmas comes to Broadgate, the largest pedestrianised neighbourhood in Central London, with 300 snow-covered pine trees, twinkling lights, wood cabins and plenty of festive fun taking over the already popular restaurants and bars of Broadgate Circle.
As well as special winter menus and cocktails from Mrs Fogg’s Winter Terrace, Broadgate Winter Forest will play host to live music from breakout artists, festive quiz nights every Monday, Christmas craft classes and even visits from Santa himself.
WHY VISIT: Located in the heart of the city, Broadgate Winter Forest is particularly popular with local workers from the surrounding businesses, meaning it’s a great option for after work Christmas drinks during the week.
Broadgate Winter Forest is open from 6th November to 24th December daily from 12pm to 11pm Monday to Saturday and 12pm to 7pm on Sundays.
WALTHAMSTOW WINTER WONDERLAND
Unfortunately Walthamstow Winter Wonderland was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
In celebration of the borough winning the London Borough of Culture 2019 award, Walthamstow has launched its very own Winter Wonderland this year. Located in the town square and Walthamstow High Street, the festive event will feature market stalls selling crafts and gifts, a small ice-rink, amusements, street food and live entertainment throughout the Christmas period. WHY VISIT: Walthamstow Winter Wonderland is a lovely local and community-focused alternative to the bigger London Christmas Markets. Walthamstow Winter Wonderland will run every Sunday in December from 10am to 5pm. Entry is free.
ALICE IN WINTERLAND, SOUTHWARK
Nestled within Southwark Park this winter you’ll find a magical illuminated trail with over 160 giant lanterns making up 29 interactive and immerse scenes from Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, from a 5 metre tall Alice to a life-size Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.
As well as the light show, there will also be numerous food and drink stalls, live entertainment on the bandstand and Santa’s Grotto at the end of the trail where children can meet the big man himself.
WHY VISIT: The combination of Christmas, giant lanterns and Alice in Wonderland makes for one of the most exciting and unique Christmas events in London.
Alice in Winterland is open from 28th November 2018 to 5th January 2019 and is open daily from 3pm to 10pm. Tickets are £15 for an adult and £9 for a child.
CHRISTMAS AT LONDON ZOO
This year, ZSL London Zoo is celebrating the festive season with a one-mile illuminated pathway winding itself through the zoo in a magical after dark experience. Grab a mulled wine and follow the trail of lights, snowflakes, sledges, stars, baubles and larger than life illuminated animals around the iconic London attraction.
WHY VISIT: Christmas at London Zoo is a unique London Christmas experience perfect for the whole family.
Christmas at London Zoo takes place from 22nd November 2018 to 1st January 2019. Tickets cost £16.50 per adult and £10.50 per child.