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Christmas Wednesdays at Columbia Road Market

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by Sian Gwilliam (subscribe)
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Who will buy my beautiful Christmas Trees?
For the eighth year running, the shops of Columbia Road will be opening on the three Wednesday nights in December, the 3rd, 10th and 17th from 6pm to 9pm and a special Saturday opening on 20th December from 12pm.
Columbia Road Christmas

For those in the know, the Flower Market & surrounding independent shops are always open on Sundays from 8am until 3'ish during the year, and it is an institution for all types of gardeners from balcony lovers, to those with large estates to plant up some bargain blooms. (There are also some shops that are also open during the week, though you have to check before you go).

View from the Royal Oak

For the thirsty, there are also a few warm, and traditional East End pubs around the market. Bang in the middle of the market is the very popular gastro-pub The Royal Oak, which itself is famous having featured in a few films and TV shows. The whole area around E2 is a Location Managers dream. A quiet trading area during the week, with understanding independent traders, and a good boozer to nip into when the shoot has wrapped.

Market shops
Independant Shops

Columbia Road began its life as a pathway along which sheep were driven to the slaughterhouses at Smithfield. Like much of the land in East London it was finally built on to serve the needs of a growing London which resulted from the explosion of Empire during the Victorian era.

Columbia Road Christmas
Them old days

Even if you aren't after a terracotta pot, victorian iron, or hydrangea you will always have fun down at Columbia Road come rain or shine. You can feast on hot calamari for a couple of £, enjoy decent coffee, bagels galore, and pull up a stool at the bar, and read the side bar of shame over a pint of Bitter.

Here are 7 facts about the market, to drop into conversation whilst you are wandering around..

Christmas Tree Time

1. Columbia Road was named in honour of the heiress and philanthropist Angela Burdett Coutts.

2. Wood turning and milling factories peppered the area until the late twentieth century. The buildings which house the Fleapit Café and Milagros, being two of the largest.

3. The Flower market began as a Saturday trading market, but as the Jewish population grew a Sunday market was established.

4. The Saturday market lapsed, but the Flower market evolved. Initially this serviced the local population many of whose houses have small gardens.

5. Plants were brought by handcart from nearby market gardens in Hackney and Islington and market pitches were claimed on the day on the blow of a whistle.

6. The whole area went into a decline in the 1970's. Indeed demolition was mooted, but the locals fought back and the area and market were saved.

7. Since the 1980's the market has grown into one of international repute. Today a wide range of unusual shops complement it, turning the whole area into one of the most interesting shopping experiences in Central London.

Pretty Blooms
Bloomin Lovely

Transport and Stuff

Parking : You can now park free for 2 hours in any pay and display or mixed use bay in the areas surrounding Columbia Road Flower Market. Please check signs and road markings or see the links below for more information.

Tube : Bethnal Green or Liverpool Street
Overland : Shoreditch is a walk away near Brick Lane
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Why? Because it smells nice there
Where: Columbia Road Market
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