Whether it’s for gift inspiration as the Christmas season fast approaches, or to tuck into the best local food producers, North London certainly comes up trumps when looking at the street market scene. Here’s 11 of the best
1 Old Spitalfields Market
When Old Spitalfields Market first began, life around East London was very, very different. In 1893 the Horner Buildings – named after Robert Horner, a former market porter and the ‘largest speculator in the potato trade in England’, who purchased the market lease in 1876 – were finished and Old Spitalfields was transformed into one of the finest markets in England.
It quickly became a mecca for artists, fashion designers and creative start-ups and, today, is a Grade II-listed piece of London history and a resounding commercial success. The market (pictured at the top of the page) now trades seven days a week, attracting over 20,000 people on a Sunday.
2 Archway Market
From one of the biggest markets going to the smallest – but in this case size definitely does not matter. When we went along to Archway Market recently, plenty of traders caught our eye for varying reasons. There’s Ted’s Veg, grown in Boston in Lincolnshire in the finest soil nurtured over generations of Ted’s family without pesticides; O Toma O Marte and their spectacular display of seasonal artisan cheeses from Britain, France and Italy; Montadito’s chorizo hamper featuring sweet or spicy specialist sausage (and we probably took far too much advantage of their try before you buy); The Celtic Bakery is a market favourite with their range of organic artisan breads; and, perhaps best of all given the humongous queues, Neriman’s Hog Roast, free range hog marinated in rosemary and fennel, slow cooked for nine hours and served with rocket and a choice of home-made apple sauce or chilli sauce. All for £4 too.
3 Camden Passage markets
There’s not one, not two, not three or even four markets that we love down Camden Passage – count them on one hand, there are five great street markets. There’s the biggest of the lot, Camden Passage Sunday Market, Charlton Place Market, Pierrepont Market, Camden Passage, and – our personal favourite – Annie’s Antique & Vintage Market.
Annie Moss is something of a local legend and her vintage shop is one of the highlights of a trip to Camden Passage. On Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, she hosts her own vintage market offering an array of decorative antiques from the 18th to 20th centuries, collectables, vintage and costume jewellery, vintage handbags and hats. The old stuff is the best.
4 North London Vintage Market
Run by seasoned vintage dealers Lucy Welsh and Ali Winstanley, North London Vintage Market has established itself as one of the top destinations for affordable vintage home wares and interiors. Their regular events in Crouch End have a rotating selection of 23 hand-picked vendors selling an eclectic mix of 20th century kitchenware through to curiosities and ephemera, all in a cosy village hall atmosphere.
5 Islington Farmers’ Market
Originally starting life on Camden Passage, Islington Farmers’ Market can now be found along Chapel Market. As local residents know, Chapel Market has for many years been filled with quirky stalls offering a real bargain, so the addition of a farmers’ market on a Sunday always sounded appetizing. They celebrated their 15th this year and show no signs of slowing down, becoming one of the shining stars of the London Farmer’s Market organisation.
6 Exmouth Food Market
Our first experience of Exmouth Market was visiting Moro – we’ll never forget that tantalising first taste of what Sam and Sam Clark could do and have been back many times since. Imagine our excitement, then, when we realised they also played a part in the food market along the quirky North London street.
From Monday to Friday, 12-3pm, you can experience a whole host of foodie artisanal stalls, which means lunch is never boring with so much to choose from. Yes, Moro’s own stall is a favourite, but you are spoilt for choice here.
7 Nags Head Indoor Market
Open Monday to Saturday, 8am-5pm, and Sundays 7am-2pm, this indoor market has something going for it from the off: it doesn’t matter a jot what the weather is like. So with that worry banished, head inside to delve through a whole host of trinkets and original buys. We never tire of the busy vibe here.
8 Alexandra Palace Farmers’ Market
Arguably London’s most famous farmers’ market sits in one of the finest settings too. Every Sunday from 10am-3pm, over 30 stalls congregate on the grounds of Ally Pally offering a whole host of fab produce: hand-made pies, cakes and biscuits, relishes and sauces, smoked meats and fish, freshly marinated olives… We are getting hungry just writing about it. So it’s a good job you can eat on the go here, with the ready to eat food on offer including BBQ sausages, cheese toasties, crepes and pastrami sandwiches, as well as freshly brewed tea and coffee on hand too.
9 Duck Pond Market
Great name and certainly one that’s spread all over London and beyond: you can find their markets at Black Park, Pinner, Richmond, and Ruislip, but for us Highgate is best. Look out for their special Christmas market on 14 December, where you’ll be able to find and meet a whole host of craft-makers. There’s something about buying a Christmas present from a local, independent small business who champion an ethical approach and produce stunning original gifts in the process.
10 Hampstead Christmas Festival
Keeping things festive, mark 23 November 2014 on the calendar – the Hampstead Christmas Festival returns. We are already fans of the Hampstead High Street market, but this is the crowning glory in the area where the village’s eclectic mix of boutique shops, international brands, independent cafes and pubs will all be open for browsing, shopping, eating and drinking. Another favourite of ours, the Chickenshed Theatre Company, will be providing entertainment with a difference.
We started with one of the oldest street markets and we end with a relative newbie. KERB King’s Cross takes place at Granary Square every Tuesday-Friday from midday until 2pm, with an ever-changing roster of street food traders. So you can not only discover some new businesses before anyone else, you can enjoy some of the best street food going while doing it. Granary Square is becoming a North London destination in its own right and the likes of KERB certainly doesn’t do its street cred any harm at all.