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"The Brits love a festival, and every summer sees hundreds descending on various soggy fields around the country to sit in tents, drink home-made cider and shiver inside their ethnic jackets."
- Gemma Pitcher

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UK

No such thing as a free lunch
by Gemma Pitcher, 26, London, United Kingdom
July 18, 2000

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Markets

London boasts several world-famous markets. If you can't afford to buy anything, go along anyway for the people, the colours, the smells and the bohemian atmosphere. If you're into photography, here's the opportunity to get all those 'people' pictures you've been looking for.

Camden: These days you'd be hard pressed to find a British person in the crowd that descends on the trendy suburb of Camden in North London on Saturdays and Sundays. But Camden Lock market is the daddy of them all - and if you can't buy it here, it doesn't exist. From plastic lighters shaped like aliens, to retro furniture, designer bags to Indonesian fertility statues, Camden's got it all. Plus of course a kaleidoscope of stallholders sporting the absolute latest in woollen rasta hats, novelty hair colours and piercings.

Camden Market, Camden Lock, NW1 Nearest tube: Camden (exit only on Sundays) Opening Hours: Open all day Saturday and Sunday

Old Spitalfields: There's been a market Spitalfields in East London since 1682, but it's enjoyed a raised profile recently and gained a new following among those trendy young things for whom Camden is really just TOO obvious. It also has the advantage of being all under one roof - easy to get around and dry in winter. Spitalfields has a little bit of everything, but its real strength is in knick-knacks like lampshades made from recycled paper and little silk embroidered handbags. Absolutely perfect for buying souvenirs, plus a great selection of organic whole foods, to eat there or buy and take away.

Old Spitalfields Market, EC1 Opening Hours: Monday to Friday - 11am to 3.30pm and Sunday 10am - 3pm Nearest tube: Shoreditch

Festivals

The Brits love a festival, and every summer sees hundreds descending on various soggy fields around the country to sit in tents, drink home-made cider and shiver inside their ethnic jackets. But if you prefer your festivals a bit closer to your hotel room, or can't afford the eighty pounds or so charged for entry by the likes of Glastonbury and Homelands, many parts of London have thoughtfully provided free entertainment.

Coin Street Festival: Coin Street is part of the South Bank - the area on the river around the London Eye and the Oxo Tower, which has recently enjoyed a revamp and an injection of businesses, shops and arts venues. The Coin Street Festival happens all summer and includes international dance acts and performance art. A free music session each lunchtime features acts from Colombia, Brazil and Ghana as well as homegrown talent. The festival goes out with a bang on September 17 with an illuminated night-time river parade, lantern procession and fireworks.

Coin Street Festival, Bernie Spain Gardens, SE1 Nearest tube: Waterloo, Southwark Tel: 020 7978 0011

Old Spitalfields Festival: Aside from the market, Spitalfields is also the home of the Old Spitalfields festival, a summer-long event with lunchtime and evening concerts, theatre, art exhibitions and events. Those concerts that aren't free are relayed live to the market area for the hard-up.

Old Spitalfields Market, EC1 Nearest tube: Shoreditch Tel: 020 7377 1362

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