Shopping: the best Christmas markets, fairs and pop-up shops

Let’s just say it: we have fallen out of love with pop-up shops. Too many have popped up! We’ve been to loads recently in a bid to root out the best ones, and would be happy if we never saw another screen-printed poster ever again. And yet the fact remains that though we all dread Christmas shopping, it still has to be done – and so it might as well be in pleasurable surroundings, with mulled wine and mince pies on hand and, crucially, unusual and beautiful things to buy. So here is our very careful selection of the pop-up shops and Christmas shopping evenings that really are really good.

We love the things for sale at Shelf. Their felt glove puppets, tin bird badges, embossed paper alphabets are all on our list of things to buy, and the shop is particularly good if you’re looking for quirky things for kids. How fab is Laurie the Lion for example? They’ve got their Christmas pop-up shop at 13a Boundary Street from 11am – 7pm on the weekends of 3rd, 10th & 17th December as well as on 22nd & 23rd – great for any necessary last minute forays. As well as their own stock, they’ve invited various friends to join them at Boundary Street. Paul Bommer (prints) will be with them on the 3rd & 4th December. Jo Gordon (we LOVE her knitware) will be there on the 10th & 11th and Beyond Thrilled (lovely screen prints) on 17th & 18th.

You can’t go much wrong with a market in a bar. If all else fails, you can always get quietly sozzled. We’re definitely heading to The Social, and its annual Social Christmas Market , which is open on Saturdays 3rd, 10th and 17th December (1pm – 6pm) at 5 Little Portland Street. Along side the fully stocked bar, there will be Bloody Marys, hot cider, mulled wine and delicious food from The Rose Kentish Kitchen. Plus, you can listen to live music and a DJ, but finally it’s the shopping we’re going for. We’ll be buying books and T-shirts from Caught by the River, stocking fillers at Pedlars, antique fishing ephemera from Andrews of Arcadia, but are most excited about visiting the latter’s wife, The Empress of Arcadia, a fashion insider who will be selling vintage treats and bespokery, including scarves by milliner Stephen Jones, jewellery from Erickson Beamon, bags and purses from Antoni and Alison, and her own brooches and lapel decorations.

On Wednesdays 7th & 14th December from 6 – 9pm there will be carols at Petersham Nurseries while you shop by candlelight. It sounds very festive, but if you can’t make either Wednesday evening, Petersham is open every day (9am-5pm except on Sunday, 11am – 5pm), and it’s worth getting a visit in before Christmas as the shop is full of really well chosen things for the house and garden, like these Sicilian ceramics, the best planters and pots in London, and loads of other lovely things, including great Christmas decorations.

A visit to Tom Dixon’s Christmas fair on the evening of Thurs 8th December (6-9pm), all day Fri 9th & Sat 10th (10am – 6pm) and the afternoon of Sunday 11th (12 – 4pm) sounds like a must. We always find things we love at the designer’s emporium, and his Christmas celebrations are really jolly. You get to drink champagne and munch on roasted chestnuts from the Dock Kitchen while watching various artisans make lovely things in front of you. The good folk of Lighthouse Knitware will be knitting stockings, for example, Wrap Magazine will be designing bespoke wrapping paper, Mr Smith from the Letterpress Workshop will create individual cards and prints, and on Sat 10th an ex-inmate from Fine Cell Workwill be hosting a stitching class. Plus, on the Sunday 11th there will be a Dock Kitchen food and wine market where you can pick up delicacies from the restaurant’s secret suppliers.

We regularly check in at Ben Pentreath’s shop for great pressies like this Slate Pencil Sea Urchin, and these salt and pepper shakers, and are definitely getting some of his Ravilious-paper wrapped crackers, so we recommend taking advantage of the Bloomsbury shopping evening on Thursday 8th December (4.00pm – 9pm), when the fantastic and unusual shops of Lambs Conduit Street, Rugby Place (Ben Pentreath is at no. 17) and Great Ormond Street will be offering mulled wine, festive food and, best of all, discounts to all shoppers.

And finally, we’ve been to every single one of designer and stylist Ros Badger’s Its Loveliness Increases pop-up shops, and have always come away with the best presents (some, we confess, we then found it impossible to part with), from contemporary shell work candlesticks and 1950s platters to 19th century samplers and French linen. Her sale takes place in her divine North Dulwich house at 79 Holmdene Avenue, on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th December, 10.30am – 5pm. A favourite treasure trove.

Best Pop Ups Shops and Fairs for Christmas
1 - 23 December 2011. Details of opening days and times of each shop are in our post
Shelf: 13A Boundary Street, E2. The Social Christmas Market: The Social, 5 Little Portland Street, W1W 7JD. Petersham Nurseries: Church Lane, Richmond, TW10 7AG. Tom Dixon: 344 Ladbroke Grove, W10 5BU. Ben Pentreath: 17 Rugby Street, WC1N 3QT. Its Loveliness Increases: 79 Holmdene Avenue, SE24 9LD.
— Daisy
1st December 2011