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Culture Lesson: East London

Average: 3.9 (12 votes)

Street sign in London's famous East End.

Whenever you hear the words 'London' and 'shopping' you probably automatically think Oxford Street, Regent Street or Covent Garden. But there is a kaleidoscope of possibilities and next time you’re in the capitol I suggest you get out of the centre and head East to get a real taste of what London has to offer.

The East London markets combine a stimulating mix of vivid colours, aromas and flavours, with a down-to-earth gritty realism that's unique to the city. This is a great place to find a genuine bargain or even just soak up the lively atmosphere these places have to offer. Sundays are the best day to experience the ultimate East London shopping experience as this is the day when all market traders set up their stalls.

I am unable to think of a more idyllic way to start your Sunday morning than taking a stroll through the Colombia Road Flower Market. What seems to be an ordinary street any other day of the week turns into a colourful, sweet-smelling floral dream for five hours every Sunday. Starting at 8am, the market comprises of roughly 52 flower and plant stalls and over 30 garden stores. I suggest grabbing a coffee at one of the numerous cafes on Colombia Road and slowly making your way down this pretty street until you reach Brick Lane Market.

You can find almost anything at the Brick Lane Sunday market. Rows and rows of stalls are set up, each one selling something completely different to the next. From antique furniture to quirky ornaments, the Brick Lane Market is ideal for bargain hunting. Besides the stalls however, there are also many trendy vintage clothes shops such as Rocket and Beyond Retro, and quite a few art galleries to pop into as well. Brick Lane has a rich history and I really do recommend visiting the area during the week too. This vibrant area has always played a central role in the history of migration in Britain. It is now home to East London’s Bangladeshi community and the street is filled with wonderful curry houses and shops that sell traditional Bengali sweets and beautiful saris and fabrics. Before that this area was home to a large Jewish community, and in fact traces of it are still evident today. Day or night, Sundays or not, this area is always alive and kicking.

Next stop is the trendy Old Spitalfields Market. The central covered market area is open daily, but it is on Sundays that it comes to life when over 200 market traders set up their stalls here. If you’re looking for something original to wear then this is where you’ll find it. Spitalfields market is renowned for its cutting edge fashion and hand-made one-offs. Besides clothes, Spitalfields also houses an organic food market. And grabbing a bite at one of the many fashionable restaurants in the area is the perfect way to end your hectic Sunday market shopping experience. But don't just take my word for it. Make sure you head East next time you're in London.

By Bernard Dodds, General Manager, EC London

Now match the below words to their meanings:

kaleidoscope - vivid - aromas - gritty - idyllic - trendy - hectic

Link: Guy Fawkes Night

  • Very busy:
  • Fashionable:
  • Quickly changing from one thing to another:
  • Smells:
  • Clear and powerful:
  • Realistic, detailed and often unpleasant:
  • Very pleasant, beautiful or peaceful: