From early November to mid-January, the Southbank Winter Festival brings holiday festivities to London’s riverside, complete with the Southbank Christmas Market.
This guide lists the market’s confirmed 2023 start dates and opening hours. Entry to this part of the festival is free.
Southbank Christmas Market 2023
Set against the backdrop of the Thames, Southbank is a cultural hotspot featuring the London Eye and National Theatre.
The market is an open-air shopping experience amidst Alpine chalets. Expect a vibrant mix of market stalls, live performances, and diverse street food.
For those travelling to London, planning ahead is crucial at this time of year. Below, you’ll find all the necessary details to organise your visit.
Dates and Information
Southbank Market dates: 2nd November to 26th December 2023.
Winter Festival dates: 28th October 2023 to 7th January 2024.
Location: The Queen’s Walk, not far from the London Eye.
Opening times: Sunday to Thursday: 11am to 10pm. Friday and Saturday: 11am to 11pm.
Christmas Eve: 10am to 4pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Boxing Day: 11am to 3pm.
Christmas lights: Switch on date: 2nd November.
Ice skating: No.
Ferris wheel: Yes.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, some options.
Pet-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on a lead.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Unique performances, street food, hot toddies, cosy wooden chalets and pop-up bars. River Thames location and city views.
Recommended tour: While you’re in the area, take a river cruise on the Thames or skip the line to go up the London Eye.
Specialties: Mulled wine, dutch pancakes, Duck wraps, chocolate fruit, gourmet burgers, traditional mince pies.
Where to stay: CitizenM London Victoria is excellent value for money in this area.
Finding a hotel in London can be difficult if you don’t know the city well and the best areas to stay in. This studio is a great option if you want to be near the London Eye.
But I generally wouldn’t recommend staying in this part of the city if you’re visiting as a tourist. Where to stay obviously depends on why you’re in London. But if you want to be fairly central with shopping, theatre and museums at your door, I think Covent Garden or Soho are great options.
I suggest staying at the Covent Garden Hotel for its location and lovely rooms.
If you’re looking for somewhere more affordably priced, then CitizenM London Victoria is a great choice.
There many interesting UK Christmas markets in 2023. Read my guide to discover where to go, things to do, and the best ways to experience UK food, history, and culture.
Or if you’d prefer to stay in London, this list of the best London Christmas Market 2023 locations can help with your planning.
What to Expect
Lining the Thames, you’ll find street food stalls selling interesting meals and snacks, catering to different dietary preferences and tastes, including these local specialties.
Warm drinks: To combat the chilly London weather, pick from one of the following warm drinks. Mulled wine, hot cider, hot chocolate, unique teas, and sparkling wines. These are perfect for warming up while enjoying the holiday atmosphere.
Cheese and sweet fondue: You could enjoy both savoury cheese and sweet fondue, which are traditional Swiss dishes perfect for sharing. Cheese fondue consists of melted cheese served with bread, while sweet fondue is melted chocolate with a selection of fruits and marshmallows for dipping.
Swiss-style raclette: Another Swiss favourite is raclette, where a round of Raclette is melted and then scraped onto bread with accompaniments such as potatoes, pickles, and cured meats.
Dutch pancakes: Known as poffertjes, these small, light pancakes are a Dutch specialty often served with toppings such as powdered sugar, chocolate or butter.
Cheese toasties: A local British favourite, gourmet cheese toasties at the market combine different types of cheese with ingredients such as caramelised onions, chutneys, and cured sliced meats. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan toastie fillings.
Truffle burgers: One of the stalls sells gourmet truffle burgers, which combine high-quality beef patties with truffle-infused ingredients.
Duck sandwiches: These sandwiches and wraps are made with slow-cooked duck, either as confit or shredded, and served in sandwiches or wraps with accompanying sauces and vegetables.
Lobster rolls: British lobster rolls consist of freshly prepared lobster served in a buttered and toasted roll, often accompanied by a side of chips or salad.
Choco fruit: For a sweet treat, you can enjoy choco fruit, which is simply fresh fruit, such as strawberries or bananas, dipped in melted chocolate and sometimes decorated with various toppings.
Toasted marshmallows: A classic winter treat, they are available on their own or as part of an American s’mores-inspired dessert.
Jewellery: Local artisans create handcrafted jewellery sold at some of the stalls. These pieces often incorporate British hallmarks and traditional designs.
Artisanal Chocolates: Chocolatiers present a selection of fine chocolates. These range from classic truffles to inventive flavours, often using locally sourced and Fairtrade ingredients.
Books and Prints: Vendors sell books and prints, many featuring work by local illustrators and authors. These make for thoughtful gifts, especially for those who appreciate London’s literary and artistic culture.
Ornaments: Christmas ornaments, including hand-painted baubles, are commonplace. Many celebrate London’s landmarks and are a popular choice for holiday decor.
Gourmet Foods: The market is a destination for gourmet food items. You can find everything from fine teas and spices to luxury preserves, perfect for adding a touch of sophistication to any holiday meal.
Winter Skin Care: The cold London winter necessitates good skin care. Stalls have locally made lotions and balms, using natural and often organic ingredients.
Southbank Centre has a dedicated website detailing things to do at the festival. This includes winter exhibitions, live music, comedy shows, art exhibitions and Christmas pantomimes. Visit them for the best ways to experience Southbank.
As residents and visitors to Southbank and London, many of us are increasingly concerned about climate change and sustainability. To help lower our impact at this time of the year, consider taking these small actions:
Eco-friendly Hotel: If you’re visiting London, stay at a hotel committed to sustainability. In London, several hotels use renewable energy sources and have policies to reduce energy consumption, water use, and waste.
Mindful Eating: When you indulge in market foods, order only what you can eat to minimise waste. Many stalls serve dishes in compostable containers and practice portion control to reduce leftovers.
Conscious Shopping: Purchase gifts that are meaningful and useful. Southbank’s markets often feature handmade goods by local artisans, supporting the community and reducing the environmental impact of mass-produced items.
Plant-based Options: Choose plant-based foods where possible. The markets have delicious vegetarian and vegan options with a lower environmental footprint.
Public Transport: Use London’s extensive public transport network. The city’s buses, trains, and bikes are efficient ways to get around, especially in the Southbank area, reducing your carbon emissions.
Reusable Containers: Bring your own reusable bags, water bottles, and food containers when visiting the markets to cut down on single-use plastics.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Southbank, London. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.