Christmas markets, curling, light installations and a Candy Cane Forest… it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Kingston.
The historic town centre goes all out for the season, looking fantastic in its festive finery, which includes oodles of lights, a giant illuminated bauble, reindeer and candy cane hat, and two giant trees, as well as one decorated in neon lights bespoke to Kingston’s culture and heritage. Plenty to keep photographers and Instagrammers happy, then. But we’ve barely scraped the surface of Christmas in Kingston.
Enjoy the après-ski vibes at The Alpine Village, a mountain-themed area with snowy fir trees, a firepit, and two curling lanes. Get together with friends or family and go head to head in a 45-minute curling session, then relax with grill-cooked bratwurst rolls, Thai food and drinks from the Alpine bar.
Kingston Christmas Market takes over the town centre, including the Ancient Market Place, and is the ideal spot to get all your Christmas shopping done in one efficient trip. Stalls this year are selling everything from candles and soaps to silver, gold and semi-precious stone jewellery, ceramics, vintage maps, wooden music boxes and tree decorations, clothing, liqueurs and 32+ flavours of fudge.
Hungry yet? You’ll find plenty of market food stalls to keep you fed as you shop. Tuck into burgers, Ethiopian vegan food, griddled piri piri halloumi, mozzarella dippers with marinara sauce, Indian flatbread wraps, African-Caribbean fusion food and plenty more. For the sweet-toothed, Dutch pancakes and churros are on the menu.
For drinks, head to the Pyramid Bar, located in front of the main stage in Ancient Market Place. It’s fully stocked with all the hot, cold and festive drinks you could desire (mulled wine, hot chocolate and beers worthy of a German Christmas market). Live music, singalongs and open mic nights provide a lively atmosphere. Depending when you visit, you could be treated to an Oompa brass band, acoustic covers, country and Motown singers, pop tunes, or festive singalongs with local choirs.
If you’ve got kids in tow, the Candy Cane Forest (open 26 November-2 January) is the place to head. Watch their eyes light up in a world of snowy trees, candy cane decorations, twinkling lights and traditional fairground rides including a beautiful vintage carousel. Plus, from 15-23 December, keep them entertained with the free family Christmas Trail around businesses in the town centre — there’s a free prize at the end for little ones who find all the letters in shop windows and complete the Christmas word.
Don’t forget, Kingston is right by the river, ideal for a wintry stroll along the Thames, with the beautiful Kingston Bridge and cosy riverside pubs and restaurants with views over the water. Plus, the town is a huge retail centre with big brand and local independent stores to browse, including John Lewis, Bentall Centre and Fenwick’s — great for ticking off Christmas shopping lists, with plenty of restaurants to choose from afterwards. With a new Curzon just opened, Kingston is now home to two cinemas, and the Rose Theatre has a family production of A Christmas Carol this festive season — in a nutshell, there’s something for everyone in Kingston this Christmas.
At just 28 minutes by train from Waterloo, Kingston is very easy to get to. Head out and make a day of it, or pop over in the evening after work to enjoy — you could even schedule in a couple of evening trips between now and Christmas, to get away from the central London crowds, and soak up the atmosphere with a drink or two from the Pyramid Bar. Make ours a mulled wine.
Kingston Christmas Market is now open. Gift stalls are open until 24 December, while food and drink stalls stay open right through until 2 January. It’s free to visit. Curling lanes in the Alpine Village are £10 for up to four people for 45 minutes, and must be booked in advance. Discover what’s on in Kingston this Christmas.