1) Closing time bargains. Although you – quite literally – get the pick of the bunch when the market opens at 8am, swoop in at 3pm for the best bargains. The louder the barrow boys shout, the better the deals.
2) Independent inspiration. There’s a total absence of high street chains on Columbia Road, giving your Christmas gifts the independent edge. Try Nelly Duff for art, Vintage Heaven for antiques, and Treacle for as many cakes as you can carry.
3) Christmas trees to make the neighbours blush. The market is a brilliant place to pick up a Christmas tree because of the variety on offer, from tiny potted trees to Trafalgar Square-worthy wonders. Check your ceiling height before you leave home.
4) Mouth-watering Sunday lunch. If you get peckish, try either Brawn or The Royal Oak. Brawn offers strictly seasonal fare, with as much as possible coming from local suppliers, while The Royal Oak still carries some kudos from its days as an early-morning watering hole for the market’s traders.
5) Strong arm tactics. All the plants and presents can add up. Be prepared to flex your arm muscles on the way home if you’ve over-committed yourself. Or alternatively, hope that Santa has also done his shopping on Columbia Road.
Columbia Road flower market and shops are open from 8am until about 3pm every Sunday. The shops will also be opening late every Wednesday in the run up to Christmas, on 30 November and 7, 14 and 21 of December, accompanied by festivities, seasonal food and live music.