Winter in London paints a picture of crisp, cool air and the city illuminated by a myriad of festive lights. Leicester Square, one of the city’s most vibrant spots, brims with energy, pulling in crowds with its annual Christmas market spectacle.
A stone’s throw away from iconic sites like Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square Christmas Market forms a key part of London’s festive highlights.
In this article, I share essential details, including when to visit, where to find the best stalls and what local specialties to look out for in 2023.
Christmas time in central London sees the city wrapped in a festive blanket of lights and decorations.
Ice rinks pop up in places like Somerset House and the Natural History Museum, drawing crowds for festive skating, while renowned department stores like Harrods and Selfridges captivate passersby with their elaborate window displays.
Leicester Square Christmas Market 2023
Leicester Square Christmas Market, known officially as ‘Christmas in Leicester Square’, is the festive heart of central London.
With over 25 wooden cabins decorated with fairy lights, it brings a touch of traditional charm to this bustling city.
Adding to its allure, the market also houses a ‘Spiegeltent’, a mirrored tent that hosts an array of festive shows, from family-friendly performances to late-night cabarets.
Dates and Location
Leicester Square Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: 8th November 2023 to 7th January 2024.
Location: Leicester Square, London.
Opening times: 10am to 10pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Free. Tickets required for Spiegeltent shows.
Ice skating: No.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten-free: Yes, but limited.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Bustling London location; unique artisan gifts; mulled wine; festive food; lively street performers.
Recommended tour: London walking tour with a local guide.
Specialities: Hot chestnuts; mince pies; local craft ales; roasted hog; traditional Christmas pudding.
Where to stay: The Londoner is a popular hotel located on Leicester Square.
Hotels near Leicester Square
The Covent Garden area serves as an ideal base, ensconced in the heart of London and within a stone’s throw of the Leicester Square Christmas Market.
This area is brimming with historic charm, peppered with restaurants, theatres, and shops, making your stay convenient and lively.
I highly recommend The Londoner for your stay, given its favourable ratings and prime location close to the Christmas market.
Location of the Market
Christmas in Leicester Square
There are many Christmas markets in London this year or if you don’t mind heading out of the city, choose one of these destinations, which are considered the best Christmas markets UK, to add to your winter holiday itinerary.
But if you’d prefer to stay in London, read my vote for the best London Christmas Market 2023 and where else to go this year.
Food at the Christmas Market
Pimm’s Winter: A warm, spiced version of the classic British summer drink, Pimm’s Winter is a festive favourite in London. It’s typically served hot with apple juice and contains a blend of Pimm’s, orange slices and a mix of warming spices.
Mulled Wine: A traditional Christmas market staple, you’ll savour the rich, warming flavours of this spiced, heated wine. Perfect for chilly winter evenings, the spices infuse the wine with a distinct, aromatic taste that’ll keep you warm while you explore the market.
Mince Pies: A British Christmas wouldn’t be complete without these sweet treats. Filled with a mixture of dried fruits and spices, these petite pies offer a burst of festive flavour.
Roast Chestnuts: Vendors roast these seasonal nuts over open fires, providing a nostalgic aroma that’s unmistakably associated with winter. Crisp on the outside, sweet and soft on the inside, they’re a warming handheld snack.
Bratwurst Sausages: Paying homage to the German Christmas market traditions, you’ll encounter large grills cooking these hearty German sausages. Often served in a bun with a dollop of mustard, they make a satisfying, savoury snack.
Cheese Toasties: The British love their cheese toasties, and at the Christmas market, you’ll find them filled with a variety of local and international cheeses. Often served hot off the press, they are delightfully melty inside and perfect for a quick, comforting bite.
Eccles Cakes: Originating from the North of England, these sweet pastries are filled with currants and have a flaky, buttery crust. Often sprinkled with sugar, Eccles cakes provide a sweet end to your Christmas market food tour.
Poffertjes: Another nod to the continental influence at the market, poffertjes are mini Dutch pancakes served with a dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of butter. Their fluffy texture and sweet topping make them an irresistible treat.
Roasted Hog: A traditional British delicacy, a roasted hog sandwich is a popular choice at Christmas markets. The meat, slow-roasted to tender perfection, is typically served on a fresh roll with apple sauce and stuffing, offering a savoury bite that’s deeply satisfying.
Toffee Apples: Classic toffee apples are a sweet treat you’ll spot at many stalls in the Leicester Square Christmas Market. An apple is dipped in hot sugar syrup until it becomes a glistening jewel, then left to harden, providing a perfect balance of sweet toffee crunch and tangy apple.
What to Buy
Christmas Decorations: Hand-painted glass baubles, wooden ornaments, and intricately crafted decorations are among the festive favourites you’ll find at Leicester Square. Often, these decorations encapsulate the British Christmas spirit with traditional symbols and designs.
Christmas Jumpers: Known for their bold designs and a touch of British humour, festive sweaters make a fun and warm gift.
British Teas: A wide selection of premium British teas, ranging from classic Earl Grey to festive blends, makes an ideal gift for the tea-lover in your life.
British Cheeses: Many stallholders sell a selection of locally made cheeses. A selection of British cheeses makes a delightful gift for the foodie in your life.
Illustrated Prints and Postcards: Artists from the region showcase their work at the market, making it possible for you to gift a piece of London to someone special.
Artisanal Soaps and Bath Products: Handmade with natural ingredients, these delightful stocking fillers are often created with a focus on sustainability. With a variety of scents and ingredients, they’re ideal for those who appreciate a little indulgence.
British Wool Products: A number of stalls in the market offer products made from British wool, such as knitted scarves, gloves and hats. These make for practical gifts that carry a touch of British craftsmanship.
Vintage Prints: For those who appreciate art, you might come across stalls selling vintage prints of London landmarks and landscapes. These can make for unique gifts or souvenirs, evoking the city’s timeless charm.
Homemade Jams and Chutneys: A taste of Britain to take home, you can often find stalls selling homemade jams, marmalades, and chutneys. Made from locally sourced fruits and spices, these add a festive flavour to your breakfast or cheese platter.
Locally Brewed Craft Ales: A selection of locally brewed craft ales could be the perfect gift for beer enthusiasts. With their unique blends and festive flavours, these ales offer a taste of London’s thriving craft beer scene.
Artisan Chocolate: If you’re seeking a gift for a sweet tooth, you’re likely to find artisan chocolates at the market. Handmade using high-quality ingredients, these chocolates come in a variety of flavours and beautifully crafted shapes.
For handy tips and valuable information as you explore the city, check out Visit London; it’s a resourceful site dedicated to helping visitors make the most out of your London visit.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are a few tips on how we can travel more responsibly at Christmas in Leicester Square and around London.
- Choose Public Transport: Reduce your carbon footprint by using the city’s extensive public transport system to reach Leicester Square. London’s network of buses, trains, and tubes provides an efficient and sustainable means of getting around, reducing the need for personal vehicles.
- Mindful Eating: Reducing food waste is a significant part of sustainable tourism. When sampling the various treats at the Leicester Square Christmas market, try to only buy what you can consume to avoid unnecessary waste.
- Ethical Shopping: Opt for locally made crafts and goods when shopping at the market. Not only does this support the local economy, but it also reduces the carbon footprint associated with shipping goods from afar.
- Sustainable Diets: Consider sampling some of the vegetarian or vegan options available at the market. These choices often require fewer resources to produce, making them a more sustainable dietary option.
- Walk More: Leicester Square is in the heart of London, surrounded by many attractions within walking distance. Choose to explore on foot where possible; it’s good for your health and the environment.
Incorporating these simple actions into your visit can significantly promote sustainable tourism in the UK and beyond.
The Leicester Square Christmas Market starts from 8th November 2023 to 7th January 2024.
Leicester Square Christmas Market is located in the heart of Leicester Square, which is in Central London. It’s easily accessible by public transport.
The Leicester Square Christmas Market generally opens around 10am to 10pm.
The easiest way to reach Leicester Square is by taking the tube to Leicester Square station, which is served by the Northern and Piccadilly lines.
Absolutely, Christmas at Leicester Square is a family-friendly event, with plenty of attractions and activities for children, including Santa’s Grotto and a carousel.
Yes, the market is quite diverse and caters to different dietary preferences, including vegetarian and vegan options.
Leicester Square is surrounded by a variety of attractions, including the National Gallery, Covent Garden and the West End theatres. It’s a vibrant area with plenty to see and do.
If you would like to leave a review of Leicester Square Xmas Market, comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Leicester, London. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.