Grey matters

All we want for Christmas: where we’re heading this December

‘Tis the season to be jolly. If you’re anything like us, though, streets saturated with panicky shoppers and their sizeable goods evoke anything but merriment. As Christmas is the season of goodwill, we thought we’d share our favourite – and much less crowded – places to soak up the Christmas spirit.

BaUJIFDCcAEtyWFStarting with the shopping, there are a few places that always provide a refreshing alternative to the high street. While the Columbia Road flower market flourishes every weekend, Christmas Wednesdays on the street don’t disappoint either. For the eighth year running, the shops of Columbia Road will be opening on Wednesday nights in December. Around 40 independent outlets display vintage fashion, off-beat artwork, original homewares, quirky trinkets and delicious deli goods. An almost Dickensian atmosphere is created with the street’s luminous shop windows and carol singers.

If you’re after something more design-related, head to the Barbican’s Design Market.

download (1)If you’re after something more design-related, head to the Barbican’s Design Market. Open for four weeks over Christmas, no two days will be the same here, as the selection of designers showcasing their work changes daily. The market presents a handpicked selection of London’s finest designers, showcasing independent makers to collectors and artisans. Spiced sloe gin, mulled wine and cider will also be served, to be consumed with traditional festive cakes. For the children, drop by the Christmas Toy Shop. Right next to the Design Market, this pop-up is packed with vintage-inspired stocking fillers, board games, wind-up toys and collectables.

Maybe you prefer the Christmas of yesteryear? Maybe you prefer the Christmas of yesteryear? If so, a trip down memory lane to Christmas Past at the Geffrye Museum is a must-see. Tucked into a cleverly converted alms-house building, the Geffrye Museum in East London traces changes in middle-class taste in interior design from 1600 to the present day through a series of period room settings. At this time of year, a few subtle festive touches are added to each space: a spray of greenery here, a bauble there; nothing very flashy. In fact, nothing much at all until the Victorian room where the Christmas tree and Christmas cards make an appearance. Modest though it is, this front room certainly evokes the homeliness of Christmas time.  Fans of the museum tend to make an annual pilgrimage to stock up on Christmas cards from the museum shop and savour the show’s seasonal charm.


Running alongside the festive exhibition is a series of family-friendly events at the museum.  ‘An Edwardian Christmas’ invites all ages to enjoy a talk by candlelight, with a greenery demonstration, decoration-making session and sing-a-long. There are workshops for children involving carol singing and for adult audiences, vocal group Bocca Aperta perform live a capella by candlelight in the reading room.

If you’re in need of something more than Christmas carol singing, head to the Spitalfields Winter Festival. The event hosts 27 performances from world-class artists during 10 days in December. The festival offers something for everyone with its eclectic mix of early masterpieces and contemporary pieces.

WinterWonderLand-Roof-2514After all of these activities, you’ll be looking for somewhere to quench your thirst. This December, our after-work socialising is taking place at new rooftop bar Golden Bee. With a rooftop set against the backdrop of East London and an absinthe “Bee Venom” beverage, this bar’s not one to miss. Our after-work socialising is taking place at new rooftop bar Golden Bee

For something delectable, try Fabrique bakery. Next to Hoxton station, this stone oven bakery from Stockholm boasts a variety of enticing treats. Head of Digital Sam and Designer Ale grab a lunchtime bite from here on a weekly basis and continually sing its praises.  Sam raves about the feta, walnut and fig baguette: “The walnuts are actually baked inside the bread, which remains surprisingly light and fluffy”. And if Sam’s word isn’t good enough, Fortnum and Mason have recently started stocking the bakery’s bread. For Ale, it’s the cinnamon buns that win every time – “These are best dipped in the foam of your cappuccino – try it.” Also to try are the cardamom and saffron buns.


Put it in your diary for next year:

They may have passed, but these Christmas markets are not to be missed next year.

Crafty Fox Market: PR and Marketing Executive Hannah went to the Brixton market this year: “The Doghouse pub was packed out with artsy types, desperate to get their hands on screenprinted cards, handmade jewellery and quirky animal-themed calendars.” The market will also take place in Peckham on Saturday 14th December.

The Secret Emporium Christmas Market on the 14th and 15th December is also one to make a note of. Presented by the creators of the Secret Garden Party, this market features the very best of British independent designers. From fashion designers to jewellery makers, artists to ceramicists, this Christmas market believes you won’t find a better selection of the future’s talent anywhere else this Christmas. And if you’re not in the mood for buying, go along if only for the live music from The Secret Garden Party’s resident DJs.

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