Thursday, 14 November 2013

All's Fair in Love and Markets: Christmas Special

There's many things the I Love Markets team loves about this time of year: bonfires, hearty food, woolly hats... but something that gets us really excited is the sudden explosion of Christmas Fairs. London and the world are eager to show us what delights they want to sell to us this Christmas and here at ILM we are more than willing to oblige... so much so we went to a whopping THREE fairs in one week. Here's some of the wonders we stumbled across...

Country Living Christmas Fair
We literally did not know where to start when we entered this magical maze of an event which housed hundreds of stallholders, all calling to customers ready to not just start but finish their Christmas shopping. Some of the fabulous people we met included...

Henry Arlington. We felt his shirts first hand and can agree they are made of the finest silk! We had lots of lolz with this dazzling shirt and accessories expert.

Henry Arlington at Country Living Christmas Fair
Henry Arlington

Joe Butler from Croglin Designs. We loved hearing the story behind his beautiful chopping boards - and his Christmas decorations made us pretty happy too! If these aren't an excuse for bread and cheese, what is.

Croglin Designs at Country Living Christmas Fair
Croglin Designs

We spent at least ten minutes cooing over Turquaz' pyjamas for babies. They had all sorts of things for grown ups too!

Turquaz at Country Living Christmas Fair
Turquaz at Country Living Christmas Fair

Real Four Leaved Clovers - all these clovers are real and snapped up from the founder's back garden! Lucky for some...

Real Four Leaved Clovers at Country Living Christmas Fair
Real Four Leaved Clovers

From ice-cream soaps to vegan mud pies, Country Living had treated us well. After three and a half hours meeting these wonderful entrepreneurs it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Luckily a couple days later saw the start of...

The Spirit of Christmas Fair

The Spirit of Christmas Fair
The Spirit of Christmas Fair

ILM went West to Kensington Olympia, where the Spirit of Christmas was getting into full, seasonal swing. Greeted by the essence of spice and pine, we were once again subjected to the dilemma of which path to take first! It turned out a slightly more food and drink related one.

Crowded stalls were not hard to come by at this fair, but perhaps none were so crowded as Thunder Vodka. They unsurprisingly had flocks of customers swarming around their toffee flavoured vodka, which makes for a very creative cocktail ingredient... tempted, us?!

Thunder Vodka at Spirit of Christmas Fair
Thunder Vodka

After a bit of alcohol it was a good job Equalitea were around to tell us about their Christmassy teas. We got to sniff the leaves that went into the various festive flavours, such as First Flakes, a blend of raspberry, cocoa and cinnamon, and Oriental Light, which oozes scents of tangerines and spices. The business has been budding now for about a year... here's to many more!

Equalitea at Spirit of Christmas

Spirit of Christmas, which was sponsored by House & Garden Magazine, conveyed what passions the stallholders had for their growing businesses and ideas, which is always inspirational to us at the ILM team. Several samples and Christmas songs later, it was time for a quick tube ride over to...

Renegade Craft Fair

Renegade Craft Fair
Renegade Craft Fair
ILM could not contain our excitement about this last fair - not only was it a chance to meet an endless array of talented designers and makers, but we were very proud to see a good handful of ILM members there too. Although Renegade was not by technicality a Christmas Fair, it was undeniably a haven for those looking for innovative, extraordinary and unique Christmas presents!

We loved the new collections that The Little Matters had on her stall - animals in woolly hats always win us round. We love meeting all our stallholders in person so it was really nice to speak to Lillian, the mind behind the Matters, for the first time!

The Little Matters at Renegade Craft Fair
The Little Matters

Hand Sculpted Vintage Camera Necklace by The Little Matters
Hand Sculpted Vintage Camera Necklace by The Little Matters, £23

Mister Peebles never fails to provide us with literal glee. Who could turn away from David Meowie, Jimi Hendrix and the ever friendly Alright Duck? As always, Mr P's stall looked beautiful, adorned with all his cheeky animal friends.

Mister Peebles at Renegade Craft Fair
Mister Peebles

When we first met Postcode Prints, they had began in South London and were 'aiming to get as far as they can from where they started'. They must be doing OK as they've managed to get to Truman Brewery E1, which is where Renegade was being held! It doesn't matter where you go though - Postcode Prints can create a cool and colourful print to suit your locality!

Camden Lock by Postcode Prints
Camden Lock by Postcode Prints, £30

Usually seen at Old Spitalfields Market, Miss Ella quite possibly defines the word 'eclectic' by providing the world with her wonderous and often feline pieces. You can find out more about how she comes up with them here.

Merkitty Wooden Necklace by Miss Ella
Merkitty Wooden Necklace by Miss Ella, £14

After pondering through hundreds and hundreds of stalls for the week, we were excited to remember that Renegade was being held right next to the Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket. A sneaky glass of mulled wine lifted our tired but inspired heads as we left the building! 

Mulled Wine outside Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket
Mulled Wine outside Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket

We think it's now fair to say Christmas is coming...

If that's still not enough stallholders for you, remember we have over 700 of them - so take a look and find a favourite of your own! Similarly, if you didn't manage to complete or even start your Christmas shopping last week, we have some of the most unique products to fill your stocking with - available 24/7 online, of course! SHOP NOW.

We'll also be at our very own Christmas Fair. I Love Markets are taking over a corner of Handmade Christmas at the O2... listen out for how to win tickets!

Hollye Murphy