on February 4, 2013
I have visited Camden on a number of occasions now, nearly always to visit the market. To talk of Camden market as a singular entity is mis-leading, as there are several different types of market in the area. Obviously stalls do change, and your personal experience may be different, so I am basing my review on my most recent visit (Feb. 2013 and the previous visit in the summer of 2012).The easiest way to get here is by tube. I usually get off at Camden Town tube station (Northern Line) which is closest. However it can get a bit gridlocked around here and at peak times you can’t enter the tube station due to over-crowding. In which case, I return via Mornington Crescent or Chalk Farm tube stations. Buses 24, 27, 29, 31, 134, 135, 168, 214, 253, 274, C2 also serve the vicinity. I don’t recommend driving as parking can be a nightmare. I do not recall any designated parking areas; it is only on the street and as such, come with heavy restrictions. As you come out of Camden Town tube turn right to head to the markets. This end of Camden High Street is not that interesting, just a few chain high street shops (Superdrug, Holland & Barratt) and some independents.The first place you will spot is the Electric Ballroom club. Although still a club and music venue in the evening at weekend they also have some stalls in here, mainly clothing, but some vinyl record stalls. A little bit further down is a tightly packed area with a hoarding above calling it ‘The Camden Market’. It is also known as Buck Street. Within this area are a number of stalls and if you are after a t-shirt with a witty slogan on it, this is the place to come. It is very narrow down here and as such I don’t tend to wander down this part very often. You need to be patient to get through the other shoppers and the closely packed stalls. Also, it is worth keeping an eye on your purse/wallet and phone. Apart from T-shirts and clothing which seem to be mass produced cheap crap, there are a few gems in here, but I can’t deal with the crampness of it. I have purchased a pair of ‘Dior’ sunglasses here once, as I recall. Opposite this section of the market is a little side street market (Inverness Street). Again I don’t tend to visit this section. Originally it was a locals market selling fruit and veg, household goods etc, but a few cheap clothing stalls (selling nothing that you can’t get elsewhere) have sprung up here now, cashing on the tourist footfall. Camden Lock Village is the name of the section that runs alongside the canal. There are lots of different shops and places to eat here. Food places are stalls, and dining is informal – on your feet or at the few places to sit. As you go in you can sit at narrow tables on the back of a vespa ‘scooter’ to eat. At one stall my friends and I purchased a mini cupcake for £1 (you can get regular ones for £2) and they had a staggering array of flavours in such a small space the size of a garden shed. Clothes are also available here, there were a lot of print summer dresses that we had seen elsewhere, but we noticed some pieces were not that cheap. My friend admired a cardigan style jacket, which she went off of when she realised it was £69. Most of this section is also open to the elements, but there are a few places that are undercover, but individual stalls are covered – looking like sheds or beach huts. Opposite this is Camden Lock market which is, to me, what Camden Market should be and a must-visit. The big building is a market hall and I have to admit that I have not been in it lately – it has a number of boutique and craft style stalls on several levels. The whole area here is more eclectic shopping wise. Outside of the hall has a varied array of stalls - The clothing tends to be original, rather than cheap, and they cater for a more specialist style such as gothic or punk. They also do a wide range of vintage clothing and accessories. Again there are lots of places to eat here – the stalls throughout offer a wide variety of cuisines and will let you taste something before you buy. Again you will need to eat on the hoof, or at one of the picnic tables outside. This is also a good market if you are looking for unusual gifts or home items (cushions, art, funky lamps and jewellery amongst the better end of London themed gifts). The Stables section is another must visit area. It is based around an old horse hospital and I understand it is a listed building. There are also lots of brass horse sculptures. The stalls are more within the buildings, and again you will find fashion and home items. You are also more likely to get unusual and handmade furniture here as well as bigger pieces or art of home accessories as the space for each outlet is larger and shops are more established. Cyberdog is one big shop in this area; identified by the massive inanimate robot outside. They have gift items on the small ground floor, and then go down the escalators to the alternative clothing section. There are adult ‘toys’ and accessories on the floor below. The music is very loud and club-like throughout. Probably not the best place to take your Gran. Parts of the Stables complex are undercover and another popular shop as you come out of the covered section is Black Rose for the steampunk/Goth/Emo lover in your life.Outside the designated market areas, the streets (Camden High Street and Chalk Farm Road) usually have a good mix of restaurants, bars and independent shops. I have found these shops good for shoes, especially fashion trainers, and there are also a range of high fashion girlie shoes that look like something Lady Gaga would wear. I usually eat in one of these places if the weather is too cold/damp to linger outside. There is a nice café on the opposite side on the bridge to Camden Lock Village, as well as a bar behind the village itself. On my most recent visit I ate in a Malaysian restaurant opposite the Stables section. I do recommend a visit here, I have only visited at weekends but I understand that the markets are open daily from 10am to 6pm.
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