Famous for its alternative lifestyle, Camden Town, with the associated Camden Market, is considered by some to be one of the more trendy places in London. At the weekends, there are over 700 shops and stalls selling everything from the latest fashion to vintage clothing as well as countless arts and crafts. In addition to all this are the dozens of different food stalls offering a taste of the whole world. It is easy to spend the whole day browsing this small area.
The assault on the senses starts as soon as you leave the tube at Camden Town (Northern Line, zone 2). From here it is a short walk north up Chalk Farm Road to the markets and locks. The road is lined with shops and The Camden Market, selling all kinds of clothing. These shops are also famous fro the extravagant sculptures hanging off them, from giant boots to aircraft. Just beyond these you come to a bridge over The Regents Canal where the heart of the action is. Along the canal on both sides are various stalls. Many of these sell locally produced arts and crafts, from jewellery to paintings.
It can feel a bit of a warren to explore, with narrow walkways winding between the stalls. The going gets slow on the weekends when thousands of people are milling around the area. It is a vibrant atmosphere, full of sights, smells and sounds, often seemingly competing for each other.
Camden Market is actually comprised of several different market areas, all competing for trade, and several using Camden in the name. There is:
• Camden Lock Market – this is what most people think of when talking about Camden Market. The stalls are mostly under cover in converted warehouses with the main section focussing on arts and crafts. At the weekends, the courtyard is full of food stalls selling everything from watermelon juice to kebabs.
• Stables Market – adjacent to Camden Lock Market, has many shops selling the latest fashions as well as vintage clothing. It has recently been extended, with the Catacombs and Arches at the north end housing international traders in well-lit new shop units.
• The Camden Street Market –also known as 'Buck Street Market', this is the first encountered on Chalk Farm Road. It mostly sells clothing, some of which is designed by the stall holders.
• Camden Lock Village Market – the stalls here sell all kinds of arts and food. You are greeted by a lion sculpture at the entrance. From here you can also take a stroll along the canal.
Summer Cinema at Camden Lock Market For the very brave, given the vagaries of the British summer weather, Camden Market offers a series of out-door, Back Yard Cinema Nights.Based in Camden Lock Market with seating for over 200 on a variety of bean-bags, deck chairs and loungers make for a relaxed atmosphere. Usherettes meander throughout brining drinks and cocktails direct to your seat. All you have to do is sit back, enjoy the film and hope it does not rain.
Beyond Camden Lock Market As the name suggests, the markets are based around Camden Lock, one of the locks on The Regents Canal. If you want to escape the crowds, then, heading West, this canal will take you to Regents Park, London Zoo and Primrose Hill. For those not wanting to walk, there is a canal boat service.