For me, a large part of Christmas is indulgence. I like to eat good food and I like to drink good wine and start my Christmas stomach training early. I have found that Christmas markets are a great place to begin: they only serve the kind of food that leaves you debating whether it's greed or hunger that’s making you want to go up for a second helping and the mulled wine is just warm enough to start melting the hearts of the biggest Scrooges.
London has some of the best Christmas markets in the UK, so we’ve picked out some of our favourites. They make for the perfect day out – whether you’ve travelled from a far or you’re a London local. We also spoke to Roux chef Didier Quémener about his favourite Christmas market in France.
1. Christmas by the River
30th November – 3rd January
The centre piece of this Christmas market is its fully stocked bar serving cocktails, mulled wine and craft beers. We quite like the idea of supping our spiced wine surrounded by such iconic views of The City, Tower Bridge and The Tower of London.
2. Real Food Christmas Market
14th – 23rd December
Kings Cross Station, N1C 9AL
We’re all for a Christmas market where the focus is on the food. With sustainable and ethical treats on sale from a plethora of amazing producers, this is a foodie Christmas dream. You’ll find us hoovering up festive doughnuts from the Bread Ahead stall.
3. Fortnum's Christmas Arcade
17th November – 1st January
Somerset House, WC2R 1LA
You can skate and shop to your heart’s content at the Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade but we’re more interested in Fortnum’s Lodge. Home to the Chocolossus Hot Chocolate, we recommend hanging up your skates for an afternoon of indulgence.
4. Hyper Japan Christmas Market
25th – 27th November
Somerset House, WC2R 1LA
If mulled wine and mince pies aren’t your thing, try the hot sake and wasabi cupcakes that the Hyper Japan Christmas Market has to offer.
5. Clapham Lights Christmas Market
Friday 27th November
Old Town Square, Clapham, SW4
This one’s just on our doorstep so we’re pretty excited. We’ve heard the mulled wine is going to be top notch so we’ll definitely be there (plus we’ve heard Santa is due to making an appearance).
We spoke to Roux chef (and Christmas enthusiast) Didier Quémener about his love of Christmas markets in Europe.
What’s your favourite Christmas market?
“I must say that my favourite Christmas market to visit is in Strasbourg! Don’t get me wrong, the one in Paris is nice but having the chance to visit Strasbourg is just magnificent. When you visit this market, you not only get all the traditional Christmas products that we have in France during this period but also the German influence is so strong that it makes it so much fun to visit. It’s been located in front and all around the city's Roman Catholic cathedral since 1570 and holds more than 300 wooden chalets. And what’s not to love about Alsace? Food, wine, beer… The place to be right before Christmas!”
What’s your favourite thing to buy at a Christmas market?
“I try to look for local products. Usually at the end of the day my shopping basket is full of cheese (fresh Munster is my weakness!), fresh foie gras, honey, jams, wine, and poire & mirabelle eau de vie (colourless fruit brandy).”
What are your favourite things to eat and drink at a Christmas market?
“I cannot leave a Christmas market without a ‘verre de vin chaud’ (hot spiced wine)! I also like brioche made with Montbéliard or Morteau smoked sausages, and a flammkuchen (the original ‘tarte flambée’ made from crème fraiche, onions and bacon) cooked in a wood-fire oven… It’s to die for! I like to wash it down with beer and wine.”