News / Opinions
No more West End Xmas shopping boredom!
It’s the time of year where we need to rush out and stock up on Christmas presents for our friends and families. Even though the vast majority of Londoners buy their presents online (do we?) – There still is a time and place for soaking up the spirit and hitting the streets.
And what is more, you don’t have to rely on the nightmare crowds (and tourists) of the West End – There are plenty of less populated, and probably more interesting places to visit. Here are a couple of destinations that have been tickling our fancy this month.
BOXPARK – Shoreditch High Street
Okay, admittedly this is right on our doorstep – But this is one hell of a shopping concept. Labelled as the “World’s first pop up mall” – This collection of shipping containers have been neatly constructed to offer a myriad of micro shops, literally one on top of the other.
The concept is the vision of Roger Wade, creator of Boxfresh in partnership with real estate developers Hammerson and Ballymore.
BOXPARK strips and refits shipping containers to create unique, low cost, low risk, ‘box shops’. Put them together with a unique mix of international fashion, arts and lifestyle brands, galleries and cafés and you’ve got the world’s first ‘pop-up’ mall – so named because its basic building blocks are inherently movable: they can, and will, literally pop up anywhere in the world. Find out more on the Boxpark website. – Or have a look at this accompanying video story:
Duckie Christmas Market – Barbican
The Duckie Christmas Market hosts a wealth of alternative gift ideas over the festive season.
Brought to you by the ever popular purveyors of progressive working class entertainment and culture, the indie market stalls in the Barbican foyer present a refreshing alternative to high street fare. The market is linked to the Christmas season production of Copyright Christmas, a satirical glance towards the consumer, capitalist orgy that has overtaken the festive season. Step inside the Duckie superstore and marvel at the decaying arcades of branded Britain, the 2011 Christmas show by Duckie at Barbican anticipates the demise of Western capitalism with anarchic glee. The promenade performance features everyone from supermarket sweepers to sweatshop Santas, with the odd saucy shopaholic thrown into the mix. Find out more on the dedicated microsite.
Satans Grotto at London Dungeon
What could quite easily be mistaken for a typo – Is actually a whacked out experience from the purveyors of poor taste, The London Dungeon in London Bridge. Strictly not a shopping experience, it still gave us a laugh in the studio, and gets our nod.
It doesn’t matter whether you have been naughty or nice, because you can simply ask the devil to guarantee you a special Christmas present – Instead of sitting on the knee of Father Christmas and promising you’ve been good, visitors to one of the top Londons tourist attractions can meet the Prince of Darkness himself in his grotesque grotto and hear a dreadful chorus from the Carol Sinners. Throughout December and over Christmas, the Prince of Darkness will be taking up residence in his very own Satan’s grotto, surrounded by gothic and gory decorations such as elves impaled on spikes, mounted reindeer heads, black Christmas trees, icy spiders’ webs and robins slowly roasting over an open fire. Created as an antidote to the commercial Christmas nightmare that is the festive season in the city, the Satans grotto at London Dungeon is the ideal place for those that want to get away from all the cheery Christmas scenes of Santa and his sleigh, and all the hassle of Christmas shopping. So there you go! – Find out more on the London Dungeon website.
The Circus – The tramshed, Shoreditch
Ok, so once again just down the road from the studio, but hey that’s where it’s all at baybeee. Circus is branded “a Christmas Shopping Festival of Unique British Labels”, and clearly ties into the artisan nature of the area.
Over five days in December CIRCUS will see a cherry picked selection of the most exciting emerging British design and fashion labels set up shop in the heart of East London in the theatrical setting of a disused power station. This dramatic venue will play host to a unique shopping experience of carefully selected labels ranging from homewares, ceramics, fashion, jewellery, taxidermy and art amongst many others. Each label will create their very own concept stall which pushes the standard boundaries of retail presentation; the more imaginative, the better! Also present will be a traditional Christmas bakery and cafe hosted by Lily Vanilli, a Bloody Mary bar by Little Devil Spices, florist by Rebel Rebel, spicy cider and mulled wine stand as well as a nitrogen ice cream and hot chocolate food experience by the Blanch and Shock culinary wizards. Over the weekend of the event, CIRCUS will also play host to The Fashion Trunk Show where fashion luminaries including Susie Bubble, Katie Eary, Fred Butler and Atalanta Weller amongst many others will sell their covetable wares, bric-a-brac and current collections with voluntary donations going to Crisis’s Christmas Dinner Campaign. Find out more on the Circus website
Albion – The Boundary, Shoreditch
For the most insane and delectable pastries that you can imagine. Just look at the picture… LOOK AT IT! This bakery, restaurant, deli shop and bar is probably the most “authentically London”, high quality outfit in the whole of the East End. It goes without saying that its a venture backed by Terence Conran and delivers superb food without burning a hole in your Hoxton hipsters.
The original building, a late Victorian warehouse, was carefully converted over a period of three years prior to the launch in 2008. On site you will find what they call humbly a typical British caff serving food, nothing challenging or complicated, just straightforward hearty ingredients and recipes. The menu includes breakfast served throughout the day, fish and chips, pies, sandwiches, puddings and fruit crumbles. Open all day for coffees, teas, English ales, juices, biscuits and cakes. The late-night menu includes Welsh rabbit, kedgeree and hot chocolate with shortbread. The bakery is open daily from 8am with an extensive selection of breads, including bloomers, French baguettes, sourdough and traditional bridge rolls. Cakes, biscuits, confectionery and breakfast pastries (OH YES!!! Did we say they were awesome yet?, together with takeaway coffees and teas, are also available. The shop specialises in great British food and drink products. From established English brands such as Maldon Salt and HP Sauce to Daylesford Organic. The shelves will be stocked with a range of everyday items such as jams, biscuits and teas, along with special occasion Prestat chocolate treats and cooks essentials like stocks and goose fat. Seasonal fruit and vegetables, some of which will come from the kitchen garden at Barton Court, Terence Conran’s country home, plus cheeses and creamery items from Neal’s Yard Dairy, together with a selection of pies and prepared meals, will also be available.Find out more under the Albion section on the Boundary website