Give the West End a miss

Some people love Christmas shopping in London’s West End, somehow feeling that such a trial is ‘traditional’ and somehow validates the chore of buying gifts. Personally, spending a day squirming through the endless crush of bodies to get from the chill of Oxford Street into the subtropical temperatures inside the stores just so I can fight a tourist for the last (insert this year’s top toy) for a nephew I never see is not my idea of shopping for loved ones.

Instead, today we’re heading off towards Chatsworth Road (E5), home of Hackney’s oldest street market, to visit the 2004 Chartsworth Road Market Festival instead. Although this will be our first visit to the event, it comes well recommended by friends. I have managed to get hold of some details from the organisers, so here’s a taste of what’s in store.

There are 60 stalls selling everything from jewellery, hats, bags and homemade gingerbread men to candles, pottery and baby clothes. Children can see Sedek the Stiltwalker between 12 and 3pm and check out the kids zone that includes workshops, the Hackney Playbus and Hackney fire engines.

On the festival stage in Rushmore school, there will be a varied line up of acts including folk quartet The Drones at 12.20pm followed by
jazz outfit Mingus at 1pm and some Afro-Latin funk from Bushtaxi at 2pm. Poets Queen Khadijah and Akwafi Rondoh take to the stage at 2.45 and after that it

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