Columbia Road flower market is one of London’s most visually appealing spots. Every Sunday, the picturesque strip, is transformed into an oasis of foliage and flowers.
Columbia Road flower market is a riot of colours with bunches of gladioli and lilies, regal orchids, hardy laurels, wafting hyacinths, giant yukkas and sprawling fig plants among others. The air is intense with the scent of flowers and the bellows of Cockney barrow boys. Come early on a Sunday morning and just wander, grabbing a coffee and some bouquets along the way. The market gets really busy, but it’s worth the mayhem just to soak up the distinct atmosphere and bag yourself a bargain. Especially if you’re there just before closing time (14:30 to 15 pm) when the stall holders are shouting to offer you “two bunches for a fiver!”.
In an age of chain stores and lookalike high streets, Columbia Road is a rare spot. This tiny strip of independent shops gathers small art galleries, cake shops, vintage clothes stores and antique shops. The only downside is that most of them only open at the weekend, which is a shame, as Columbia Road is also a lovely place to frequent on a weekday when it’s crowd-free and peaceful. The local shops have a common thread, a love of the iconic market and its history, and a refusal to be dictated to by a retail world where the sense of fun has all but gone.
Columbia Road flower market attracts some of London’s best street buskers. On the small square outside Jones Dairy, just around the corner on Ezra Street, people enjoy street food, sitting on the curb and listening to the buskers. Renowned artists such as Brooke Sharkey can still be found playing on the pavement on a Sunday.
Once you’ve survived the crowds, the buzz and the heady floral fragrances, you’ll probably be ready for a pint and a hearty Sunday roast. I recommend The Royal Oak, a proper gastropub with its focus on freshness, flavour and relaxed yet attentive service. If it’s more of a cafe vibe that you’re after, then the aforementioned Jones Dairy is a delight. The atmosphere is more relaxed once you get out of the main street.
Londoners generally hang out in the area, showing off their outfits and their dogs. Columbia Road flower market is a beloved place by the locals with an uncertain future – whether it will drawn towards commercialisation or whether it will manage to hold on to its character and quirks. For the moment, come rain or shine and enjoy it. A visit to Columbia Road flower market is a Sunday well spent.