In 1564 cold weather caused the River Thames to freeze. People started to go
out onto the ice, and stalls were set up selling drinks and souvenirs. Similar
events took place during cold winters in 1683/4, 1739/40 and 1814. The River
Thames no longer freezes - the design of the bridges allows the river to flow
more quickly, and the modern buildings keep the city's temperature higher. Since
2003 the tradition of having a "Frost Fair" was revived.
In 2008 the Frost Fair
(also known as the Bankside Winter Festival
was on Friday 12 - Sunday 21 December 2008
on the South Bank (near the
Tate Modern; nearest Tube: Southwark, London Bridge or Blackfriars; map
Note that there will not be a Frost Fair / Bankside Winter Festival in 2009.
In celebration of the history of the area and the fairs that took place on a
frozen Thames hundred of years ago, the winter market opens with a Frost Fair-themed
on Friday 12th December 2008 at 4:30pm
. With approximately
270 local school children taking part, the parade will bring to life aspects
of the Frost Fair with lanterns the shape of ice-skaters, dancing bears and
roasted chestnut sellers and much more. New for 2008, the lantern parade will
have three strands starting at Bernie Spain Gardens, St Paul's Cathedral and
Southwark Cathedral, all congregating outside Tate Modern, the general public
and children will witness the assembling of a Frost Fair scene, on view for
the entire length of the festival. Families will be able to download instructions
on how to make your own lantern from http://www.visitbankside.com
and join the parade.
At 11am on Saturday 13th December
outside Southwark Cathedral ...
... and in front of the
there will be celebratory procession
of Traditional Thames Cutters
carrying Frost Fair flags on the River Thames
between Southwark and Blackfriars Bridges. The Livery men will disembark at
Bankside Pier and parade in full uniform. Visitors should watch the boats from
the best vantage point on the Millennium Bridge.
The winter market
will be made up of 40-50 quality arts and crafts stalls,
selling those last minute stocking fillers including handmade jewelry, fine
ceramics, wooden Christmas crafts, crystals and fossil products, leather goods
and other beautiful handcrafted accessories. There will also be several outlets
selling festive food to keep you warm and a main bar serving mulled wine and
Times of the Winter Market:
- Mon-Wed: 10am - 7pm
- Thu-Sat: 10am - 8pm
- Sun: 10am - 6pm
Stalls line the river in front of the Tate Modern
Hot food and drinks to keep you warm
One of the craft stalls
A series of Frost Fair guided walks
focusing on Bankside's connection
with the river and its rich theatrical history as London's original West End
will take place during the festival:
- Saturday 13th December @ 2:30pm
- Sunday 14th December @ 10:45am
- Saturday 20th December @ 2:30pm.
They all leave from Mansion House tube, exit 1, and are run by London Walks.
There is a charge of £7 or £5.
will be back to give sled rides to under 12s (£5),
or you can pose with the dogs for a "Hug a Husky" photo (£4),
on these dates:
- Friday 12th - Sunday 14th December
- Friday 19th - Sunday 21st December
A Siberian husky
Rides for children
You can combine a trip to the Bankside Winter Festival with a visit to some
of the area's other attractions:
- Shakespeare's Globe
to find out more about Shakespeare, his plays and
- Take the unique opportunity of seeing the site of the Rose Theatre
and book tickets to the performance of Shakespeare's poem The Rape of Lucrece.
- Pick up some original contemporary gifts direct from their creators at the
Menier Gallery's Craft & Design Fair
- Tate Modern
to see a range of modern art as well as an unprecedented
exhibition of Mark Rothko's works including the Seagram murals
- Bankside Gallery
to pick up a small artwork to take home with you from
their Mini Picture Show.
for a tour around the world's wine producing regions with
tasters along the way
- Southwark Cathedral
holds a series of Christmas concerts and carol
- Visit Santa's Christmas Grotto or join a Christmas guided tour at the Golden
- Enjoy an alternative Christmas show with tickets to 'A Little Night Music'
by Stephen Sondheim and directed by Trevor Nunn at the Menier Chocolate Factory