If there’s one way of spending their time that everyone loves in sunny weather, it’s browsing through markets. Whether you’re refuelling, looking for gifts or not even sure what you’re after yet, London has probably got a market for it. One of the newest and most talked about is the Druid Street Market in Bermondsey, South East London. A neighbourhood deviation from the bigger, more sprawling Maltby Street Market, the Druid Street offshoot launched in July 2015 and is open from 9am to 4pm every Saturday. Hosting numerous pop-up bars and eateries, choices range from seafood and grilled meat, Mediterranean oils, honeys, preserves and cured meats, sandwiches, cakes and organic goodness from all corners imaginable. A pretty delicious way to while away a summery Saturday, on the whole.
Brick Lane Market is an area in and of itself, but over the past few years has grown to encompass a whole array of shops and businesses around the East End. The original Market proper is the one to head to for furniture, household goods and bargain fruit and veg, before the more ramshackle stalls morph into bric-a-brac traders, clothes and accessories designers and you reach the Sunday UpMarket in the Old Truman Brewery. There you’ll find vintage stalls, quirky crafts by up-and-coming designers and stacks of old vinyl. For some respite, artisan food stalls offer everything from cupcakes to coffee, soba noodles, tapas and dim sum; some stalls also have lounging areas to kick back and recharge on.
Splash some colour with a trip to the Columbia Road Market, London’s foremost outdoors flower emporium dedicated to providing you with rare and regular plants and all manner of garden accoutrements at reasonable prices. Located in the East End of London, this street market is open every Sunday from 8am-3pm. The road itself is lined with over 60 independent shops and vintage clothes boutiques, as well as a number of art galleries and Italian delis. If you’d prefer to relax in one place and soak up the sights, smells, flowers and foliage while you watch the world go about their buying business, there are plenty of welcoming pubs, cafes and restaurants to sit back and do just that. For the day’s best bargains, turn up as things start to wilt around 2pm or as early as reasonably possible for a Sunday to take your pick of the bunch.
BBQ in a park
Islington in North London is for now the only borough to have completely lifted the ban on outdoors BBQs in public parks, and has more glorious green spaces than you could possibly choose between. At 29 acres, Highbury Fields is the largest of these and has a vast area complete with specific barbecuing facilities to cook your wares away from flying footballs or volatile canines. It also features a children’s play area, multi sport games facilities and even a swimming pool. In the shadow of the famous Arsenal football stadium, Gillespie Park has BBQ area available in addition to pretty bridged ponds and is even part nature reserve – so do be careful where you set up cooking shop…! Just down the road, Caledonian Park has grassy meadows, woodland areas and multi-sport facilities, plus a Darwin Trail, orchard, and a Grade II listed clock tower – so no more excuses for ordering take-away!
Between the listed buildings, majestic river and picturesque parks, London is something of an open-air art gallery without even trying. There are also a number of made-to-view outdoors installations of you to enjoy as you still around, one of the latest of which is the talented displays by graffiti artists in the Leake Street Tunnel. Global graffiti phenomenon Banksy launched the “Cans” festival in this tunnel in 2008, inviting 29 street artists friends to spray a section of the wall in their own style. Now pedestrianised, other artists have continued unperturbed to make their (legal) mark on the city’s underground scene just beneath Waterloo Station.
Further East, go for a wander or a cycle along the Greenwich Meridian with the new Line Art Walk, a 3-mile trail stretching from Stratford into Greenwich. A series of massive sculptures have been erected along the riverside and along up the River Lea to the Olympic Park. Martin Creed, Gary Hume, Damien Hirst and others have put their creativity to the greater good, so go for a walk and see the whole lot or pick and choose as you please – all in the open-air, all for free.
The Serpentine Galleries can be found in the midst of the vast Hyde Park, and every year the grassy space around and on the Pavilion is commissioned to be transformed by an architect. This year the task fell to selgacano – the collective name for Spanish duo José Selgas and Lucía Cano. A slightly crazed looking, multicoloured, transparent, magic-plastic construction of tubes, pillars and light, this is one you really have to see, walk inside of and gaze at for hours to even being understand it. Beautiful, bizarre and open for your viewing pleasure until October.
Once the air has chilled and you’re ready to head for some creature comforts indoors, every Hotel Piccadilly is within easy access of all these and more London gems hidden in plain sight.