It was all planned with military precision. Last Saturday, my friend Roxanne and I aimed to visit 5 Christmas markets, most held by churches throughout London, as well as an event in between (that’s for another blog post). I frightened people with our schedule but by sticking to it, I think we did pretty well! They’re a great cultural experience and I highly recommend them.
We were lucky to have three of the markets in roughly the same place. Along Albion Street near Rotherhithe were three of the markets on our list. First was the Finnish Church, the only one we’d also visited last year. They laid out all the Finnish groceries, Christmas products, decorations and gifts in a supermarket style and it’s jolly good fun to browse it all. Upstairs, there were also arts and crafts sold by individuals. This year, you could buy a little Christmas tree from Finland!
Food-wise, they offered coffee and tea and pastries upstairs and outside in a tent, grilled sausages and stew. As it was still morning and our empty tummies weren’t yet ready to deal with grilled meat, we opted to go upstairs and share a Karelian pasty with egg butter and a delicious layered cinnamon roll.
Along the street was also the Scandinavian Christmas Market which featured a variety of Scandinavian food, houseware and furnishings stalls. It was good to learn about various Scandinavian bakeries and delis around London (a couple near Barnes/Richmond) and I hope to visit them all. There was even an opportunity to have your photo taken with a Husky!
Escaping the rain, we then entered the Norwegian Church which was packed to the rafters. Unlike the Finnish church, groceries were laid out in old-fashioned shop style, with a counter and an assistant between you and the food. It made for difficult browsing but the assistants were very happy to answer any questions you might have; everyone was in a festive and friendly mood.
The back of the church was taken up with a sitting area and the catering. Open faced sandwiches! They had quite a variety of them on offer and we split two delicious ones (meatball and herring) with a cup of coffee.
After a separate event in the afternoon, we made our way to the Swedish Church (Ulrika Eleonora kyrka) near Edgware Road. This was another fantastic Christmas assault on the senses (I’m not sick of it yet). Things were laid out like the Norwegian market but with a bit more space, making browsing much more comfortable.
What was also good fun was this Lucky Dip which was unique to the Swedish Market. Pay a pound, swing over your “fishing line” and pull up a little bag of treats! One for the young and the young at heart.
We couldn’t leave without yet another snack and this time it was a Swedish hot dog. Sadly, there were no crispy fried onions but there was plenty of Swedish mustard and chopped gherkins in mayo.
We also trekked over to Camden Road and walked over to the borders of Regent’s Park, where the Danish Church is located. Unfortunately, the times on their website weren’t exactly correct and their market closed at 5pm rather than 7pm as stated. Oh well, we’ll try to make it to every Scandinavian country’s market next year.
We headed home that day laden down with groceries, Christmas decorations and even some gifts too. Now, the bad news is that you’ll have to wait a whole year for your chance to visit most of these markets. The good news is that the Finnish Church’s Christmas market is also on today until Saturday 1 Dec 2012 – see the top left hand corner of their website (Google translate helps!). Oh, and they each charge £1 to get in.