Christmas markets have been part of the Yuletide scene since the 16th Century. They originated in Germany and not only allowed people who lived in the countryside to come into town and buy all their Christmas presents and traditional foodstuffs, they were also fun and a great day out. They were more than just a market, with choirs to entertain them and hot puncih to keep them warm.
London Christmas Markets: Once were banned
They eventually became popular in most of Europe and in time found their way across the world to other countries. In England, however, in 1647 Oliver Cromwell came along and banned Christmas altogether. He was a Puritan and was determined to keep the population’s mind on religion.
Christmas disappeared and did not really get into full swing again until the Victorians were running the country in the 19th Century when Christmas flourished again. Even today you can hear people speak of ‘a real Victorian Christmas’ as being the most enjoyable and traditional. And, of course, the Christmas markets were soon back on the scene. Today there are Christmas markets all over London. Below are just a few to whet your appetite.There are many more.
Covent Garden Market: 12 – 23 December
Covent Garden is a popular all-round shopping area for visitors and Londoners alike. However, during this year’s Christmas period the theme is the 12 Days of Christmas Luxury Food Market. Should it rain, you will stay nice and dry under the beautiful 19th century glass roofs.
Camden Lock Market: (Ongoing)
Officially known as Camden Lock Market, this is the area that everyone thinks of as the Camden Market, where you can get your hands on a whole range of exciting, unusual and innovative gifts. There are many small stalls which specialize in handicrafts, paintings and jewellry. Officially known as Camden Lock Market, its venue is next to the Regent’s Canal and you will see colourful canal boats manoeuvre their way through the locks,
Greenwich Market: 10 – 28 December
As well as stalls overflowing with all sorts of arts, crafts, antiques and accessories, there’s a Santa’s Grotto, carol singing and characters from Greenwich Theatre’s performing Jack and the Beanstalk.
Greenwich is famous around the world as the place where, in 1884, the Prime Meridian was established.
A fun way to get to Greenwich is to take a boat from Westminster
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland: November 2008 to 4 January
This Christmas, Hyde Park will be home to London’s largest ice rink as well as an authentic German Christmas Market. This is the place for a glass of “Glühwein” or hot chocolate, as well as tasty German sausages. For children there’s a toboggan slide, helter-skelter and, of course, Santa Claus.
Borough Market (on the South Bank: 4 December -1 January
Great display of tasty fresh fare and delicious specialities. Farmers and butchers come from different parts of the UK, as well as France, to sell their local products. A great atmosphere. Several live Christmas performances will be taking place during December, including a BBC3 Choir of the Year concert on Saturday 6th December. Borough Market is not just for Christmas, it is here year round. But it has special appeal at Christmas.