Christmas is about to hit London in serious foodie fashion. We’ve put together our top 10 places to eat, drink and be merry, from food festivals and fairgrounds to street-food vans and rooftop haunts. Who said it’s all turkey and stuffing?
Alice won’t skate, Ben hates the Circus and Dan won’t go on any fairground rides. We hear you: step into East London’s Winterville with something to suit everyone. We say start at Bar Humbug – Winterville’s own East End pub. Next, stock up on warming food at the Food Hall: think slow-smoked meats from Smokestak; Crabbie Shack’s seafood; Mother Clucker’s fried chicken; traditional Taiwanese Bao from La Bao; and more – the list goes on!
Then there’s the entertainment. There’s the Winter Night Garden from Backyard Cinema for festive film screenings, Frozen anyone?; the Fairground; the Spiegeltent hosting pantomime, burlesque, music and cabaret acts; the Circus; an ice rink and a Bizarre Bazaar – Christmas market, plus more! You really can’t go wrong for group outings on this one.
Top tip: Enter our competition here
Winterville | Free entry | Tickets range between £5 to £16.50 for the Spiegeltent, cinema, circus and ice skating. See website for more info | 26 Nov-23 Dec
Borough Market at Christmas (South East)
The Dickensian charm of Borough Market makes it the ideal Christmas hot spot, and from 10 December you can visit every day of the week if you are so inclined, with its new Christmas and New Year opening hours letting you stock up on festive essentials (and not-so-essential treats). At the end of November, the usual crew are joined by McLaren’s Christmas Puddings and The Christmas Cake Co (oh yes). And the all-important mulled wine can be fetched from Cartwright Brothers while New Forest Cider have got spicy, mulled cider covered.
Top tip: Don’t miss the Evening of Cheese event on 9 December from 6-9pm, where all the cheese traders will come together in one happy cheese-filled spectacle. Cheeseboards at the ready.
South Pole Saloon (South West)
Christmas comes to Brixton in a newly transformed, covered rooftop Saloon. Get started with Christmas cocktails including exciting sharer cocktails served in smoking barrels for fun. Go for a fruity Hendricks Gin punch or a Hot Tennessee Toddy, while choosing between exciting food traders including Dip & Flip, The Crust Conductor, Butchies, Papi’s Pickles and The Pastry Girls. But that’s not all. Immerse yourself in live performances brought to you by the team behind Heartbreak Hotel, as well as enjoy music throughout the evening.
South Pole Saloon | Entry is £3 after 7pm and tickets can be purchased on the door or in advance HERE | Valentia Place, Brixton, London SW9 8JH | 20 Nov-23 Dec | 6pm-11pm Thursdays and Fridays | 2pm-11pm on Saturdays.
Little Feast (West)
Head to a Scandi forest in Shepherd’s Bush with six sheds serving street food, from the likes of slow roasted Vietnamese pork from Sticky Beak, paleo food from Feed Me Primal, Wagyu burgers from Cheeky Burger, Poptata’s hand-cut fries served with their signature dips, Redneck Smokehouse’s brisket, and waffles from Butter & Scotch. Take a trip down to the Norwegian-style fishing cabin on the water, aka the Cabin Bar, for craft lagers, ales, cocktails and mulled ciders and wines!
Visit The Deli Shed on the weekend for freshly baked breads, cheeses, smoked fish and meats for Christmas, whilst getting in the festive mood with live music, choirs and brass bands.
Top tip: From 23 November each day will see a door opened on the Giant Advent Calendar – with food and drink offers!
Little Feast | Shepherd’s Bush Yard, Goldhawk Road | Free entry | 5 Nov-23 Dec Nov | Mondays and Tuesdays are closed | Wednesdays-Friday: 6pm-11pm | Saturday: 12pm-11pm | Sunday: 12pm-8pm.
Winter Rooftop at Queen of Hoxton (East)
In the Queen of Hoxton’s most ambitious rooftop yet, Once Upon a Wigwam will take you to a land of fairy tales and magic. Designed by the festival production team Mad Ferret and inspired by the Grimms’ brothers fairy tales, look out for interpretations of well-known stories like Hansel and Gretel, The Lambkin and the Little Fish, and Rapunzel as you get lost in its fantastical forest and magical menu.
The gingerbread-themed bar is serving drinks like The Golden Apple hot gingerbread and apple toddy, and The Big Bad Buttered Rum – The Queen’s famous hot buttered rum. You can roast marshmallows on the fire pits, lit at 4pm each day, or grab something a little juicier like The Three Little Pigs pork loin, sausage meat with sage and orange, crispy crackling and spiced apple sauce; while vegetarians can tuck into the Magic Bean Burger three bean burger with sweet potato, peas, fresh herbs and tomato chutney.
Top tip: Tickets are selling fast for The Queen of Hoxton Gingerbread Making Workshop on 5 December with Bee from renowned Bee’s Bakery. Grab yours now, £30.
Once Upon a Wigwam at The Queen of Hoxton | Open until March 2016 | 1 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3JX| Free entry. Cover charges may apply on Fridays and Saturdays during whole venue events | Monday-Saturday 4pm-10pm
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland (West)
Once you’re done on the walzers (pre-dinner always wise) you’ll want to grab some grub. New for this year, Mossiman’s Swiss Chalet will be serving traditional Swiss favourites, including cheese fondue; bratwurst; apple strudel; and hot chocolate (booking advised). There’s the Bavarian Village for food stalls or head to the Fire Pit if you want to cosy up with marshmallows, mulled wine or hot cider, while singing along to the 70s-themed bar. Duh. Enter the Victorian haven of Mr Fogg’s, for Tanqueray No TEN infused afternoon tea, cocktail masterclasses and one-on-one session with mixologists.
If you’re getting your skates on at the ice rink, then don’t miss the street food nearby, including favourites Smokestak for juicy ribs; US diner meets French Bistro at Le Bun; and Mac Factory‘s comforting mac n cheese; and wash it down with some vino from Wondering Wines.
Top tip: Try something different at Bar Ice, where you can make like an eskimo! £14/£15 includes complimentary drink.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland | Hyde Park | 20 Nov-3 Jan (closed on Christmas Day) | Free entry | 10am to 10pm every day (on 20 Nov 2015 only opens at 5pm).
Rekorderlig Cider Lodge and Winter Market (Central)
The Southbank Centre Winter Market will line the River Thames with festive stalls once again, as part of Winter at Southbank Centre with NatWest, which puts together a host of entertainment, charity events and literary happenings. It is also home to The Rekorderlig Cider Lodge, a cool Scandinavian house serving winter drinks and Scandi food.
Southbank Centre Winter Market | Along the River Thames | 20 Nov-24 Dec | Sunday-Thursday: 11am-9am | Friday-Saturday: 11am-10pm | The Rekorderlig Cider Lodge | Southbank | 20 Nov-17 Jan.
The Scandinavian Christmas Market (South East)
It’s not all about the reindeer and huskies: head to The Scandinavian Christmas Market taking place at the Finnish and Norwegian Churches in Rotherhithe to find presents, food and more. Wander through stalls full of beautiful decorations, presents and Nordic treats for Christmas dinner parties. Don’t miss Scandinavian food to feast on with mugs of Glögg.
Top tip: Shake hands with a moomin troll.
The Scandinavian Christmas Market | Albion Street, Rotherhithe, London SE16 7JG | Free entry | 20-22 Nov | Friday: 11am-8pm | Saturday: 10am-7pm| Sunday:10am-5pm.
Find out the top restaurants to visit from Taste of London…
This November, Taste of London transformed Tobacco Dock for its festive edition so that budding foodies could eat their way through taster size dishes from some of London’s most innovative and successful restaurants.
Take a look at our round of Taste of London’s top dishes and the chefs behind the inspiration…
Photography: Queen of Hoxton (Graham Turner); Southbank Centre (Belinda Lawley)