A creative hub where London’s flair for the eclectic is center stage, Camden has long nurtured its reputation as the city’s most rock’n’roll district and its unique markets are as popular among London’s mohawked youths as they are with international tourists.
Camden Market first sprung up in 1974, as a weekly crafts fair set on the banks of the Regent’s Canal; today, a mass of stalls, clothing boutiques and vintage stores make up one of the capital’s biggest and most popular markets, sprawled along the famous Camden Lock and blending into the High Street’s mix of rock clubs and atmospheric pubs. The market is actually split into four individual markets, open daily from 10am until around 6pm, but it’s the weekends when the area really comes alive.
The biggest and most popular are the Camden Lock Market and the adjourning Stable Market, occupying a labyrinth of arches and viaducts running over and under the Lock, with stalls both indoors and outdoors. The Stable market is the bigger of the two, taking over the former Pickfords stables and the Grade II listed former-horse hospital that once served as a transportation hub for the canal’s barges.
The two markets are now the nucleus of London’s alternative fashion scene, hosting a vibrant array of Gothic attire, neon club gear, vintage clothing and handmade jewelry from some of the city’s most unique and quirky designers. It’s not only clothing and accessories on offer, either – a huge area is devoted to vintage furnishings, homeware and ethnic items, and a tunnel of food stalls serve up a vast range of cosmopolitan cuisine.
One of the most popular lunchtime haunts in the district, Thai, Chinese, Lebanese, Caribbean and Japanese all get a look in, with some of the cheapest prices in London and the crazed atmosphere of an Asian food bazaar.
Further along Camden High Street and closer to the Camden Town tube station, the more orderly Camden Market or Buck Street Market, offers up a range of clothing, souvenirs and second hand goods, more popular with tourists than locals. The neighboring Electric Ballroom market is more intriguing – a Sunday market held in a dimly-lit undercover den with stalls heaped with old vinyl, outlandish fashions and vintage rock t-shirts.