A prime destination for pop-ups, an ever-evolving food scene, art, theatre and music everywhere you look, East London is bursting with new things to do and see. It’s just a matter of knowing what’s going on – our guide is here to help you fill your diary with fun.
Urban Makers Market
Urban Makers will be returning to the Ecology Pavilion in Mile End Park this November with over 200 different designers. Along with the candle and diffuser making workshops you’ll be able to make a garden in a teacup and start your Christmas shopping! Expect to find the high quality and exciting range of products that Urban Makers have become known for; from homewares, textiles, accessories, jewellery, ceramics, kid’s clothing, original prints and art, festive decorations and a whole heap more.
When? 25 & 26th November and 9th & 10th December 2023
Where? The Ecology Pavilion, Mile End Park, Grove Road, London E3 5RP
Wanstead Vintage Christmas Fair
Everything you need for your home and wardrobe, along with those last minute Christmas gifts. With over 30 independent stallholders you can expect to find all kinds of wonderful treasures – from amazing textiles, designer fashions, jewellery, silver cutlery, objects d’art, fabulous furniture, iconic posters and beautiful pictures to vinyl, haberdashery, books, lighting, kitchenalia and more…
When? Saturday 16th December 2023 2023
Where?Wanstead United Reformed Church, Nightingale Lane, Wanstead E11 2HD
Cheese & Wine
Wine and cheese, need we say more! Head over to this cosy wine bar and bottle shop, 56 WestSmithfield to discover incredible award-winning organic wines, including a selection from the family vineyard La Cômbe based in southern Provence. Production is small-scale and by-hand which retains their “quality over quantity” ethos, so we recommend ordering a couple of charcuterie boards to settle in for a couple of hours. If you glance up towards the ceiling you’ll see the ends of former oak barrels from the vineyard, adding to the authenticity of the experience, and if that’s not enough, Matt the owner can share stories about the Château (ask him about the wild boar), the winemaking process and what’s to come – they are opening a farm-to-table, nose-to-tail restaurant in February just around the corner which we can’t wait to try!
Black History Walks
Black people have been a feature of East London life since Roman times. Why not trace the steps of those individuals who made history in the East End – from poets to parlour-maids, revolutionary writers to runaways. Weave through the streets and alleys of Tower Hamlets and soak up the rich cultural mix of past and present.
Download the Black History Walks in Tower Hamlets here
Emirates Air Line
Emirates Air Line runs cable cars between Greenwich Peninsula to Royal Docks, just five minutes’ walk from The O2 and North Greenwich Underground station. This popular and cost- effective method of commuting provides the opportunity to have a largely unspoiled view of the city without having to pay for it through the nose. Great idea for date night, or for a family trip as it only costs £8 and is free for the under 5-year-olds!
Book tickets here
East London Dance
You’ll find a brand-new programme of Adult Street Dance Classes at East London Dance’s new state-of-the-art home, The Talent House. The termly programme of street dance classes will be a mixture of ‘beginner level’ and more technique focused ‘all levels’, providing dance enthusiasts and professionals alike the opportunity to work with incredible artists to take on the techniques and foundations of street dance styles and develop their craft. In partnership with Kloé Dean and Myself UK Dance Kloé has brought together a dynamic group of some of the capitals best dance teachers, specialising in street dance, hip hop and funk styles. First term classes include ‘beginner level’ Popping with AIM Collective and Hip Hop with Dominic Hamilton and ‘all levels’ Afro Dance with HomeBros and Breaking with Rain Crew.
Where? The Talent House, 3 Sugar House Lane, Stratford, London E15 2QS
Go East Vintage Flea Market
Have yourself a great 2023, by getting more people to purchase vintage gifts and items this year. Whether you’re looking for midcentury furniture, homeware, clothing or accessories, look out for Go East Vintage Flea market.
Dabbers has brought the beautiful game of Bingo back with a bang. Inspired by the glitz, glamour and hosts of game shows, the interactive experience is not like any other Bingo. Boasting incredible line ups featuring the best comedians, performers and musicians in the country, prizes and a one off custom built ball machine that must be seen to be believed. PLUS Dabbers food and drinks menu brings bingo theatrics to the plate through a playful spin on retro food classics. So what are you waiting for? Book your place now.
Where? Dabbers 18-22 Houndsditch, London EC3A 7DB
Wapping Docklands Market
If you have an appetite for anything organic and locally produced, this market is not to miss. The Wapping Docklands Market, recently opened at Brussells Warf by Wapping Wall, is home to a healthy stock of fresh produce, vibrant street food and work from ceramicists and live artists. Head down on a Saturday between 10am – 4pm, come rain or shine, for some sustainable shopping, a bite to eat and the chance to meet some of the area’s finest local traders.
Where? Brussels Wharf, Wapping, London E1W 3SG
If you thought bingo was a pastime reserved for your nan and your great auntie Shirley, think again. Dabbers Social Bingo, just spitting distance of Liverpool Street station, has reimagined the iconic British hobby for a younger generation. The venue swaps cups of tea with cocktails and bingo callers with comedians, offering up some incredible experiences as prizes. Head to Bar 22 every Thursday and Friday, from 8pm – 9.30pm, for an all-you-can-eat taco feast and a refreshing glass of bubbly, for only £15!
Where? 18-22 Houndsditch, London EC3A 7DB
Stepney City Farm
Once the location of the Stepney Congregational Church, but left as a wasteland for many years after receiving a direct hit from a World War II bomb, the site was given a new lease of life in 1979 as a farm. Today the 3-acre rural oasis is run as a charity where you can get up close and personal with the animals, learn how to grow food and try out traditional arts and crafts. There’s also an award-winning café that makes excellent use of the farm’s produce, as well as a popular farmers’ market every Saturday.
Where? Stepney Way, London E1 3DG
The bells of Stepney, as mentioned in the children’s nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons, are the ten that hang in the belfry here in this impressive medieval place of worship, also known as the mother church of London’s East End. If you think the well-tended churchyard looks especially spacious, that because it was enlarged to cope with the huge number of deaths caused by the Great Plague, with 154 buried in one single day in 1665. Today the church enjoys an active congregation and remains at the heart of the community.
Where? Stepney High Street, London E1 0NR
Having once been home to a music hall, where Charlie Chaplin topped the bill just before making it big in Hollywood, this fantastic independent cinema sprang up on what had been a decade-long derelict site in the late 90s. Recently beautifully refurbished, allegedly by guys who design film sets for a living, this place is effortlessly cool without being at all pretentious. There’s five screens showing both blockbuster and independent movies, a café downstairs (Rinkoff’s crodoughs are available), a bar upstairs and an all round great vibe.
Where? 93-95 Mile End Road, London E1 4UJ
The Ragged School Museum
Housed in a row of 19th century canal-side warehouses that once formed the Dr Barnardo-founded Copperfield Road Free School (also known as a ragged school as the pupils were among the area’s most destitute) lays this independent museum. As well as a recreated Victorian classroom, complete with a stern ‘teacher’ (an actor in period garb), there’s also a small exhibition offering an insight into just how tough life was in East London in the late 1800s.
Where? 46-50 Copperfield Road, E3 4RR
Stratford’s East Village Learning Hub
Pop-up learning hub in Stratford’s East Village challenges local residents to learn something new by offering 40 new classes and courses in a range of inspiring skills and activities, led by some of London’s finest teachers.The 1,000+ square foot space has been launched by Obby.co.uk, an education marketplace that’s rethinking the way people learn new things, offering a range of inspiring courses and classes from as little as £12.Choose from hundreds of classes across the city, from pottery to mindfulness, music, to dancing – including everything from Family Pasta Makingand a Terrarium Eco-System Masterclass with prosecco, to Yoga and Mindfulness, Beginnings of Photography and Intensive Jewellery Making.
For more information and to book, visit obby.co.uk
27-30 Victory Parade, Stratford’s East Village, London E20
Dalston Curve Garden
This magical green oasis is a true hidden glory, the entrance is located beside the iconicHackney Peace Carnival Mural on Dalston Lane. A glorious green space that has not just survived, but flourished in one of our great metropolis’ most built up areas, where avaricious developers continue to snap up land at an unseemly rate.
The garden is home to all manner of wildlife-friendly trees and shrubs, while raised beds are awash with flowers, herbs and vegetables, all looking resplendent on such a beautiful sunshiny day.
Roughly hewn wooden benches and assorted seating is judiciously placed among the shrubbery, upon which hangs the occasional idiosyncratic ornament and decoration, where people happily sat reading, chatting or imbibing in the delicious offerings from the on-site café that’s housed beside a quirky wooden pavilion at the entrance. Alongside the café is a heated greenhouse, known as the Pineapple House, for those chillier days, complete with a variety of squidgy sofas on which to loaf and lounge.
Among the usual suspects of tea, coffee and cakes that are baked daily on the premises (as well as Irish soda bread), the café also serves freshly made soup and seasonal vegetables from Hackney’s Growing Communities. Beer, cider and wine are available alongside a wide selection of non-alcoholic drinks, with everything sourced where possible from East London suppliers. Each weekend from spring through to late autumn the wood-burning oven is fired up, from which fantastic sourdough pizzas emerge.
Being a community space, volunteering is positively encouraged. There’s a roster of workshops and events, including regular art-based activities for children, cookery classes and gigs, with volunteers crucial to the success of the garden’s year-round programme.
13 Dalston Lane, London E8 3DF
William Morris Gallery
Your first introduction to William Morris’s work may well have been from the upholstery adorning your grandma’s house, but his work comprises more than amazingly intricate floral designs. To greater understand the designer, craftsman, writer, conservationist and socialist’s life, the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow offers a fascinating insight into his radical life and ambitions. Arranged thematically, each gallery centres around the museum’s internationally renowned collection of textiles, furniture, ceramics, paintings, designs and personal belongings connected not only with Morris but his Pre-Raphaelite artist associates. It’s a fascinating day out if you want to entertain the endless array of relatives that hang around in the hinterland between Christmas and New Year.
Where? William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Road, London E17 4PP
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm (closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day)