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Sex toys, demons and vinyl: 10 alternative Christmas markets in London

Alexandra Sims

Ice skating and mulled wine have been ditched for tarot readings and sex toys: Christmas markets have finally got some edge, and we love them!

1. Satanic Flea Market: Anti-Christmas Fayre

Gothic Grinches can browse stalls filled with spells, zines, witchy clothing and Satanic artefacts in between tarot card readings at this anti-Christmas market. It’s themed around Krampus – the Austrian Christmas goat demon, who swats kids with sticks. So, no tinsel, no mince pies and not a single Cliff Richard track in earshot. Millennium prayers won’t help you here. Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. Bethnal Green. Dec 10. £3.

Satanic Flea Market

2. NarnE8 Christmas Market

Make like Lucy and stumble through the wardrobe into this Narnia-inspired market in London Fields. You won’t find any talking fauns here, but you can shop, listen to tunes from an eight-piece brass band and eat mince pies. London Fields Primary School. London Fields Overground. Dec 17. Free entry.

3. Vegan Christmas Market

If tofurky sounds more appealing than oven-roasted bird at your Christmas dinner table, then this is the market for you. Think twinkling lights, jolly tunes and festive treats – but with one big twist: everything’s vegan. And there’s a festive bar on a double-decker bus. Blue House Yard. Wood Green. Dec 9. Free entry.

Female Founders

4. Female Founders Presents: Christmas

Sex toys, silk pyjamas and salvaged jewellery. Buy it all and more at this patriarchy-smashing shopping weekend packed with female-founded small businesses. The 50 boss-lady traders include a granddaughter-grandmother duo. Shop around for everything from ceramics to vibrators. Better yet, donate your entrance fee to Women for Women, a charity helping female survivors of war and conflict. Eccleston Yards. Victoria. Dec 9-10. £5 donation.

5. British Library Christmas Shopping Evening

If the British Library’s festive cheer is as vast as the number of books it holds – that’s more than 150 million – then this literary evening will be something pretty special. Visitors can nab a 20 percent discount in the library shop, visit the outdoor market, knock back hot booze and line-up to meet author Martin Edwards, who will be signing copies of crime thriller ‘Portrait of a Murderer’. British Library Entrance Hall. King’s Cross. Tue Dec 5. Free.

London Illustration Fair

6. London Illustration Fair

This doodle-filled fair is back, and this year it’s themed around play and interaction. As well as artists selling their prints, books and scribbles there’ll be a packed programme of activities and workshops to keep creative hands busy. Watch Mr Doodle cover an entire floor with ‘graffiti spaghetti’, play ping pong on an artist-designed table and create your own graphic novel. Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf. Blackfriars. Fri Dec 1-Sun Dec 3. £8, free under-12s.

7. Ethical Christmas Market

Christmas and mass-consumerism tend to go hand-in-hand, so this market is cutting through all the tinselly trappings and calling on your conscience. Stuff your stockings with animal-friendly and cruelty-free gifts from ethical traders. Learn about the work of animal charities and snack on vegan treats. While you’re there, join the Screen4Paws Film Fest, and swap saccharine Christmas movies for sombre documentaries like ‘Blackfish’ and ‘Lion Ark’. Chelsea Old Town Hall. Sloane Square. Sat Dec 9. £5.98.

Insta Gift Market

8. Insta Gift Market

You know those small businesses who try and flog you their stuff on Insta? They are run by IRL people, and you can meet 50 of them at the first ever Insta Gift Market. No need to double tap the sellers on the nose, you can just TELL them you love their stuff, using your mouth. Then go and take a Boomerang in the Instagram Christmas ‘snow scene’, and show all those Insta-haters you can have it both ways. Old Spitalfields Market. Liverpool St. Sat Dec 2. Free entry.

9. The Social Christmas Market

Stock up on those liquorice pizzas with the vinyl stalls at The Social, the Little Portland Street music venue launched by legendary London indie label Heavenly Records. But it’s not just about the crate-digging. Find original illustrations, vintage fishing tackle from oddball stallholders like Andrews of Arcadia and esoteric books about wild swimming from Caught by the River. So many good eggs in one room, you’ll think it’s Easter. The Social. Oxford Circus. Dec 16. Free entry.

10. Stepney City Farm Christmas Market

Get the full Nativity-style stable experience by doing your Christmas shopping with a bunch of farmyard creatures. Once you’ve roamed the three-acre working farm and met the pigs and donkeys – George and Dunstan – load up on crafts and local produce from 25 stalls. Have a few mulled wines, listen to a performance from Evoke choir and share your troubles with a sheep. Fleece Navidad, everyone! Stepney City Farm. Stepney Green. Dec 15-16. Free entry.

More amazing things to do in London? Plan a great December with out pick of the best events. 

Or check out our guide to celebrating Christmas in London, from festive ice rinks to winter markets

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