Forget retail chains, designer or not – you didn’t travel all this way to spend hours of precious vaycay time in H&M or M&S! Instead take your hard-earned, minted Sterling to these local haunts for a shopping experience that is distinctively British.
Credit: Giphy[Want the perfect 6D5N itinerary for your trip to London? Click here!]
Farmers’ MarketsCredit: Starseeds. The lightness of being on Facebook
In the UK, the Farmers’ Markets are the lifeblood of the local lifestyle. It’s all you’ve imagined it to be: quaint and colourful, with everything’s that’s on sale grown, reared, baked, caught or produced by the seller. Every product is top quality, sustainable (in London, farms must be within 100 miles of the M25 for a merchant to trade at a farmers market), honest and original and if you chat up the stallholders, you’ll be able to find out how the produce is grown and maybe a cooking tip or two!
Credit: @londonfarmers on Instagram
Even if you’re not buying, having a look at what’s on display provides great insight on what vegetables are in season and spot a root or two that you’ve never seen before! No matter where you are travelling in the UK, there is always a Farmers’ Market near you. Check out Information Britain
for a comprehensive list. Many are most commonly open on the weekends but there’s usually one on every day of the week.
1. Bloomsbury Market
My London favourite is always Borough Market
but I visit the one in Bloomsbury
the most, not just because it’s the closest to where I live but also for these to-die-for gluten-free chocolate brownies from an artisan bakery that makes the kind that’s crusty on the outside but gooey on the inside. If you’re hot for a meal, have a go at Seriously Italian
’s mouth-watering fresh pasta with some amazing vegetarian flavours. Best time to come is 11am just before the lunch rush where the lines can snake on for ages!
Any portion is £6 so try and half-and-half of at least one of their pumpkin gnocchi with sage, almonds and lemon zest.
Torrington Square, London WC1E 7JL
9.00am – 2.00pm Thursdays
Closest tube station: Russell Square (Piccadilly Line)
The Market is nearby the UCL and SOAS campuses as seen on the map below:
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3. Edinburgh Farmers' Market
In Scotland, the award-winning Edinburgh Farmers’ Market takes place on Castle Terrace with the magnificent Edinburgh Castle as its backdrop.
Credit: Edinburgh Farmers' Market on Facebook
Ranging from fresh fruit and vegetables to meat, seafood and dairy, the market also offers specialty foods such as slow foods and some guest producers displaying a range of different options such as bread, chocolate, honey and jams. There is the occasional halal vendor but always check before a purchase.
Castle Terrace, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH52 6RH
9.00am – 2.00pm Saturdays
Closest Rail: Edinburgh Waverley or Haymarket
Follow the directions to the Edinburgh Castle, the market is just outside its grounds.
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While the Americans have their Garage Sales and the French have their vide-grenier
(translates as empty your attic), the Brits literally rock up in their cars and pop their boots with second-hand goods for a steal! If you’re a bargain hunter on the lookout for vintage designer deals or quirky antiques, you will love what UK’s Car Boot Sales have to offer.
Credit: Team Fayson on Facebook
Unlike jumble sales and thrift stores, this experience lets you scrabble through someone else’s junk with the owner there to tell you an entire backstory of where your new treasure has come from. Car Boot Junction
tells you what’s going on where in your local area – but always call ahead to find out if they’re going through. Entry fees go from £0.50 to £5.00.
Credit: Selenarte Decoupage
4. Wimbledon Car Boot Sale
The Wimbledon Car Boot Sale is one of London’s largest with over 200 vendors with crazy collections ranging from crockery to crafts. Here’s the secret: loads of the vintage stalls you love in Portobello and Camden gets much of their goods from here! Hard-core vintage vultures pay more to come early and root through some of the best finds but doors open for everyone else at 10am.
The Wimbledon Car Boot Sale has some cool collectibles that aren’t just pretty but can be used for just about anything you can think up like storage, gift boxes or home decor.
Credit: Amnesty International Local Group - Wimbledon & Merton on FacebookAddress:
Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium, Plough Ln, Morden, London SW17 0BL
10.00am – 2.00pm Wednesdays and Sundays
Closest Tube: Wimbledon Park
Closest Rail: Haydons Road
Wimbledon is in London’s Zone 2 so it may be farther than the central city you’re more familiar with. It’s a 15-20 minute walk from the nearest tube or railway stations or 5 minutes by cab. Follow the map below to get to Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium.
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5. Battersea Car Boot Sales
For fancier finds, the Battersea Car Boot Sale
is much better organized and starts at noon unlike than the others. Buyers have been known to find pre-loved Givenchy, Marant and Mulberry pieces at designer sections while others find antiques, vintage fashion and other good quality collectibles. Expect higher end bargains as opposed to the thriftier ones you’d find at the cheaper entry car boot sales.
Credit: Londonita on FacebookAddress:
Harris Academy Battersea Park Road, London SW11 5AP
1.30pm – 5.00pm on Sundays
£5 for early entry at 11.30, 50p at 1.30pm
Closest Rail: Battersea Park or Queenstown Road
Find the Battersea Car Boot Sale here:
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6. Classic Car Boot Sale
Every year, London plays host to the awesome Classic Car Boot Sale
. This April, it's in King’s Cross where carefully chosen traders roll up in their pre-1989 vehicles – from cars, motorcycles, vans, even bicycles – with some amazing vintage clothing and accessories, old books and other classic collectibles. With music, food and dance, it’ll be a picturesque day out you will never forget!
Credit: Lodgeo on FacebookAddress:
Lewis Cubitt Square, King’s Cross, London N1C 4UZ
10.00am – 9.00pm; 16th
Closest Tube: Kings Cross (Circle, Hammersmith and City, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria lines)
Closest Rail: St Pancras
Exit the train station, cross the Regent’s Canal and walk along Stable Street to find Lewis Cubitt Square
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While giant retail fashion brands are forcing small labels into shut down everywhere else in the world, the English market finds more independent establishments setting up shop faster than they are closing down. So if there is one place in the world to find a piece of fashion statement that only you will have, that place is the United Kingdom. There’s a tireless list of individual independent shops carrying the most stylish designers and cult brands, but here are some places to start.
Credit: Gabriela Rose London on Facebook
7. Cabbages and Frocks Market
The independent sophisticated traveller will be pleased to discover the Cabbages and Frocks Market
, the brainchild of the fashion-hungry souls behind the popular London Fashion Designer Sales
. With an arcade displaying a mix of clothes, accessories, homeware and nibbles, it’s a regular showcase of some of London’s more subversive high end brands. Local jeweller Ana Verdun
’s designs is on weekly display; as is Okapi
and Okapi Home
– a brand that carries high-quality, luxury handbags, accessories and home décor products handmade by African artisans from ethical and sustainable, locally-sourced materials. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find some retro or vintage designer items for a steal!
St Marylebone Parish Church Grounds, Marylebone High Street, London W1U 5BA
11.00am – 5.00pm every Saturday
Closest tube station: Baker Street (Bakerloo and Jubilee Lines)
The Cabbages and Frocks Market is opposite the Conran shop on the North end of the Marylebone High Street. Find it on the map.
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8. Sunday Upmarket
If you’re up for a casual browse, Sunday Upmarket
features up and coming fashion gurus from creative entrepreneurs to indie labels – some fresh out of fashion school and others more seasoned. A treasure trove of clothes, jewellery, accessories, art, interiors, music, food and bakes, it hails as one of the best markets for new designers!
Credit: Sunday UpmarketAddress:
The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL
10.00am – 5.00pm every Sunday
Closest Tube: Aldgate East (Hammersmith and City and District Lines)
Walk down Commercial Street and take a right on Hanbury Street to find the Old Man Brewery.
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9. Seasonal pop-ups
There are some other fashion follows that comes seasonally like Dusty Fingers Sunday Thrift
and Fashion Sunday
but they’re usually run as Pop Up stores to look out for. It’ll beat battling the crazy crowds on Oxford Street any day!
London will surprise you if you go off-the-beaten path! While some are more tourist-y than others, they all exude a British charm and a long, proud history of independent trade which is a sight to behold if you’re looking for a truly local shopping experience.
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