Southbank Centre Winter Market

in a nutshell

You’ll find tourists and local alike thronging the crowds at this fun, contemporary seasonal market, which breaks the traditional Christmas market mould. Less about the wooden chalets, Bratwurst and baubles you’ll find elsewhere, this market ties in to the innovative cultural themes of its setting. Its location in the heart of the South Bank means you can sit with a festive drink at a cosy outside bar and indulge in a spot of people-watching by the river, before watching a show, strapping on skates or taking in an exhibition or play.

about the market

This popular winter market is back for its eighth year by the Thames, and forms part of the Southbank Centre Winter Festival, running until 25 January 2017. This year, the the Centre has been working with leading designer Wayne Hemingway MBE to “create an immersive experience to capture the magic of Winter", so you can expect something pretty special.

Food and drink are a real focus: alongside stalls offering international street food, you’ll also find gourmet and artisan goods, and plenty of treats for the sweet-toothed. A big draw this year is the Rekorderlig Cider Lodge, a two-storey pop-up bar in typical Scandinavian style where you can warm up with a tot of something strong and nibble on Scandi street food. Or you might prefer the Hop Locker with its covered outdoor seating, whose selection of craft beers changes daily.

But the festival isn’t just for adults. There’s a lot to keep the kids occupied, too, from catching all the “Gonks" (mythological Scandinavian creatures resembling Wombles in tall hats) to skidding around the Bump rollerdisco, costing £15. Adults can strap their skates on, too, and special weekend club nights see DJs taking the helm.

There are more thrills to be had with contemporary Welsh circus outfit No Fit State, who are bringing their Bianco show to the festival over the winter. They describe it as “an all-consuming theatrical explosion blending sensational circus and physical theatre with untamed elegance and a subversive edge", and with the acrobats performing in and around you, it should be immersive.

things to do around the southbank

You’re spoilt for choice in this location, just a few minutes’ walk from the London Eye, Bankside, and the Millennium Bridge, to mention just a few. But assuming you’ve been to one or two of these before, what else is there to do before you hit the market?

If you’re a fan of musicals, The Million Dollar Quartet is a show imagining a dream collaboration between Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Part of the Southbank Centre Winter Festival, it runs until 25 January 2017.

More of a movie monster? You’re right on the doorstep of the BFI IMAX - the biggest big screen in Britain! On this winter are Doctor Strange, a Marvel Comics flick starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and the latest thrilling instalment of the Harry Potter franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Or you could take advantage of the riverside setting and hit the water - pick up a boat from Festival Pier to Greenwich to get an alternative view of London at night. For a more adrenaline-filled adventure, take a 50-minute ride in a RIB boat, passing London icons at a rate of more than 30 knots.

Alternatively, Hidden City offers walking tours with a difference. Their “Cryptic Covent Caper", running daily, takes you on a self-guided hunt following clues from the South Bank to the West End - and ends at a friendly pub. Best of all, it’s only £25 per team.

With so much to see and do in the area, why not make a weekend of it? Find great hotels near Waterloo, or discover more exciting activities in London .