The Scandinavian Christmas Market has become a fixed part of Rotherhithe life over the past four years. It has sprung out of the Christmas Fairs run by both the Finnish and Norwegian churches on Albion Street and attracted over 20,000 people to SE16 in 2013. The three day event has also supported the development of the other market days in Albion Street and now of course the weekly Saturday market that has proved so successful. More about the Christmas Market here.
The origins of the links between Scandinavia and Rotherhithe go way back. Before the Romans, the Vikings of course made their way up the Thames estuary and threatened London on several occasions. As Rotherhithe was a boat-building and -provisioning community for centuries, no doubt Danes, Norwegians, Icelanders, Swedes and Finns all came to get their sailing goods from this village on the swampy land East of Southwark and Bermondsey; a few no doubt settled and became part of the local scene on a more permanent basis. It was with the massive growth of trade in the eighteenth century that Surrey Docks grew fat on the blubber of whales caught in the North Atlantic and Baring Sea. Dragging their carcasses into what we know today as Greenland Dock, the whalers brought with them the early settlers from Northern Europe.
When wood became the principal cargo of the Surrey Docks, the links with Scandinavia became even stronger. Much of the ‘deal’ – soft planked wood often made from the vast pine forests – came from the Scandinavian countries and with them came the experts in handling such cargo, the Scandinavians. Their influence is widespread throughout Rotherhithe and Surrey Docks, not least in the place names but also in the three Scandinavian church buildings. Most prominent, located on Cullings Circus (or the Rotherhithe Tunnel Roundabout as its more often called!) St Olav’s Church is part of Sjømannskirken or the Norwegian Church Abroad and worships in the Lutheran tradition. Like it’s near neighbour in Albion Street – the Finnish Church in London (Lontoon Suomalainen Merimieskirkko) – it was founded as a mission for their nation’s seamen. The Swedish Seamen’s Mission on Lower Road is sadly now empty and unused.
The Christmas Market however is the result of a partnership between the two churches on Albion Street, the Council, Scan Events – the English-language magazine for all things Scandinavian – and the local community. It has grown in scale and impact until now it is a key part of Rotherhithe life.
At the market, visitors can browse through diverse stalls for Scandinavian present ideas and decorations, while sampling some hearty Scandinavian food together with a mug of hot mulled wine. The Scandinavian Christmas Market is the perfect place to pick up some special Christmas presents for your family and friends, with stalls selling everything from Scandinavian jewellery and furniture to Christmas decorations.
All exhibitors will have well-stocked stalls, so visitors can rummage through, taste and purchase some of the best Scandinavian food and design products at the Scandinavian Christmas Market. Food and drink stallholders will include All Things Liquorice, Danish Food Direct, Nils Oscar, Scandinavian Kitchen, SugarSin, and Stockholm Restaurant & Deli, while design items and furniture are sold by Karlsson Scandinavian Design, Fjällräven, Nordic Design Forum, Northlight and Bellissima B; in addition, Arrow Films, TinyTodds and Tradewinds Outdoor will also be present.
The Christmas Market is open for three consecutive days and full details can be found at http://www.scanevents.co.uk/christmasmarket/
- Friday 21 November 10:30-20:00
- Saturday 22 November 10:00-19:00
- Sunday 23 November – 10:00-17:00
Enjoy the Christmas Market and the respective Christmas Fairs at the two churches – each charges a nominal sum to go in but the diversity of national goods on sale makes for a fascinating visit. Well worth getting along!