We love the flower market at Columbia Road and try to go there a few times a year. It’s always open on Sundays from 8am until 3pm.
Some of the vendors are real characters and shout out the best deals at the volume of a Boeing 747 during take-off or involve in hilarious banter with the shoppers, sometimes forcing parents to cover their kids’ ears. The prices are fair, even though not cheap, unless you manage to get a good deal during the last hour before closing, when many of the traders half their prices.
We also like the many independent small boutique shops, food stalls, and cafes in the area. There is none of the big-chains-trying-to-look-cute atmosphere, the tourist rip-off and compromise on quality you find at some of the more popular markets in London, it has a genuine home-grown East London vibe, and it’s nice to watch some old ladies who obviously know their stuff haggle with the traders for a few pounds off on their Azaleas or Begonias.
It’s a good mix of people with probably half of all visitors being below thirty, many young families with kids. Despite the fact that it is incredibly crowded throughout most of the day, it still feels reasonably pleasant and relaxed.
It’s also a great celebration of Englishness. What’s more English than gardening! We always end up buying a few pot plants and keep talking about getting an allotment.