Skate at Somerset House

in a nutshell

Although outside of the main London drag, this Christmas gem is easy to get to on the Northern Line, and is just one stop from King’s Cross. However, the trendy and affluent neighbourhood of Islington feels a world away from the grittier streets of the centre. As you’d expect, the market’s popular with North London residents, but it’s definitely worth a visit even if you’re travelling in from south of the river.

about the market

The market prides itself on quality festive shopping, with specially selected traders offering something a bit different to the standard seasonal trinkets and fare. More than 60 stalls will offer fine food (including chocolate and cheese) and quirky, hand-crafted fashion and accessories - plus, of course, Santa’s Grotto. Now its in fifth year, the market opens later than some others - 21 November - and moves this year from Islington Green to the Angel Central shopping centre. Entry is free.

things to do around islington

Catch a concert at the Union Chapel, one of London’s most glorious small venues. The eclectic list of acts over the festive period include a Nashville trio, a prison-themed night of rap, hip hop and R&B, the frontman of I Am Kloot, a charity evening curated by Ed Harcourt featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor among others, Midge Ure and the London Community Gospel Choir Christmas Special.

Or simply sample some of the local restaurants and pubs along Islington’s Upper Street. Highlights include seasonal produce at legendary Ottolenghi, and Meat People, where the carnivorous can chomp down on kangaroo steaks.

If you’re feeling adventurous, get a group of friends together and challenge yourselves to complete a mission against the clock at the clueQuest Live Escape Game. It’s ranked #1 for Fun and Games in London on Tripadvisor, and if you book for the Christmas period, you get free memorabilia. Expect to pay around £30 per person; older children would enjoy it too.

For something more sedate, the British Library, a short walk from Islington, has a fascinating exhibition on Maps and the 20th Century (£12 for adults).

With so much to see and do around this part of London, why not make a weekend of it? Find great hotels near Islington, plus discover more activities in London