Columbia Road Flower Market in East London is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to spend their Sunday surrounded by a stunning array of fresh flowers and plants. With each passing week, the street transforms into a colorful and vibrant market, filled with the sights and scents of nature.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned veteran, there’s always something new and exciting to discover at Columbia Road Flower Market. From the wide variety of traders to the unique shops and restaurants, this market has something for everyone. So, grab your bag and get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of this iconic London market.
- 1 Why Visit Columbia Road Flower Market London?
- 2 Keep an Eye out for these Columbia Road Market Traders
- 3 Shops on Columbia Road
- 4 Restaurants and Bars on Columbia Road
- 5 The History of East London’s Flower Market
- 6 Practical Tips for Visiting Columbia Road Market
- 7 Columbia Road Flower Market Map
- Columbia Road Flower Market is a vibrant and colorful destination that should be at the top of any London visitor’s list.
- Visitors can expect to find a wide variety of fresh flowers and plants, as well as unique shops and restaurants.
- Practical tips, such as arriving early and bringing a reusable bag, can help make the most of your visit to Columbia Road Flower Market.
Why Visit Columbia Road Flower Market London?
Exploring London’s Iconic Flower Market
Columbia Road Flower Market is a must-visit for anyone who loves flowers, or anyone who wants to experience a slice of proper London life. This market is a unique gem, with nearly all of the stalls run by small, independent traders who have been trading there for several generations. The evident camaraderie between the stallholders and the genuine community feel make this market a special place.
East London in Bloom
The market is a riot of colour and fragrance, with stacks and stacks of gorgeous flowers, plants, bulbs, and shrubs. You can find everything from hydrangeas to oriental lilies, gypsophila, and gerberas. The traders sell a wide variety of flowers, so you are sure to find something that catches your eye. It is impossible not to be charmed by the beauty of the market, and it is the perfect way to start your Sunday. You will definitely come away with something to brighten up your day, and hopefully your home too.
Discover Columbia Road
Columbia Road Flower Market is not just about flowers, though. It is also well-located for exploring other great shops and cafes. Behind the market and down the little alleyways around it, you will find lots of great cafes for a caffeine pick-me-up, as well as an eclectic selection of stores selling items like vintage clothing and art prints. The cosy Nelson’s Head pub is also close by, so you can enjoy a pint after your visit to the market.
Visiting Columbia Road Flower Market is a favourite among seasoned Londoners, and it is easy to see why. The market offers a unique experience that cannot be found anywhere else in the city. Whether you are a flower lover or just looking for a fun way to spend your Sunday, Columbia Road Flower Market is definitely worth a visit.
Keep an Eye out for these Columbia Road Market Traders
Mr and Mrs Grover
Mr and Mrs Grover are a married couple who have been selling herbs at the Columbia Road Flower Market for over thirty years. They have perfected their sales pitch and offer a wide variety of herbs, including rosemary, dill, basil, and thyme, which can be planted at home or used right away. Their son, Carl, also has his own stall nearby, selling freshly cut flowers.
Dennis at Saffron Flowers takes pride in selling only the best quality flowers since 1973. The flowers are sourced from mainland Europe, particularly the Netherlands, and include beautiful tulips in a variety of colors, lilies, roses, and chrysanthemums. If Dennis is not at the stall, Colin, who has worked there for 22 years, is always ready to help. Dennis and Colin share a special bond, with Dennis even being Colin’s best man.
Father and son duo Ron and Kenny sell freshly cut flowers at Rathbone Flowers. Kenny has been spending Sundays at the market since he was a baby, and he knows a lot about the market and flowers. Rathbone Flowers is also a brick and mortar store in Dagenham, Greater London, but they make sure to show off their finest flowers every Sunday at the Columbia Flower Market. They are well-known for their gorgeous gerberas, gladioli, and amaryllis, which are imported directly from the Netherlands.
George is one of the best-known traders at the Columbia Road Flower Market and has been selling flowers since 1949. He specializes in perennial plants that live for several years and his sales pitch is legendary. George’s stall doesn’t have a name, but he relies on his reputation to sell his products. He sells bulbs like daffodils and bluebells between August and March, offering beautiful, colorful blooms to his customers.
Overall, these traders at the Columbia Road Flower Market offer a wide variety of fresh flowers, herbs, and plants, and have been serving the market for many years. Their expertise and experience in the business make them stand out from the rest.
Shops on Columbia Road
The Garden Shop
The Garden Shop is a brick-and-mortar store that opens on Fridays and Saturdays from 12 noon to 5pm. It is not a stall at the market, but it is a must-visit place for those seeking gardening tips and flower care advice. The staff are friendly and always ready to help visitors develop a green thumb. Unlike the stallholders, who often declare that they sell plants but do not grow them, the Garden Shop is a great resource for those looking to improve their gardening skills. Moreover, the exterior of the shop is charming and worth a visit.
The Red Mud Hut
The Red Mud Hut is a permanent shop on Columbia Road that offers a range of items for plant lovers. They mainly sell flowerpots in all shapes, sizes, and designs to brighten up any room or garden. In addition to flowerpots, they have an impressive selection of birdbaths. The Red Mud Hut is a great place to complete your idyllic garden and add the finishing touches.
Mosaic Del Sur
Mosaic Del Sur, also known as the Mosaic Factory, is a bespoke tilemaker based in Tangier, Morocco, with a London showroom on Columbia Road. They use traditional hand-crafting techniques to produce a visually stunning selection of tiling. Although tiles may not be something shoppers typically seek out, Mosaic Del Sur’s unique and artistic designs draw visitors in. Their tiles are not only functional but also serve as beautiful pieces of art that can be hung on a wall. Visitors to Columbia Road should not miss the opportunity to explore Mosaic Del Sur’s showroom.
Overall, the shops on Columbia Road offer a diverse range of items for plant lovers and those seeking unique and artistic designs. Whether you are looking for gardening tips, flowerpots, or beautiful tiles, these shops have something to offer.
Restaurants and Bars on Columbia Road
Columbia Cafe is a charming market stalwart that is open on Sundays from 5.30am to 3pm to serve both stallholders and shoppers. It is a perfect spot for a caffeine fix or a quick bite to eat amidst all the flower shopping. The cafe is best known for its delicious bagels, particularly the smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel, which is a must-try. The cafe also serves a delicious latte, which is perfect for those who need an extra energy boost to battle the crowds at the market. There is a lovely little courtyard at the back of the cafe, which is perfect for those who want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the market. Alternatively, customers can grab their food and drinks to go and continue shopping.
The Royal Oak
The Royal Oak is a charming pub located right on the main street of Columbia Road. It can be a bit difficult to spot behind the stands and crowds, but it is definitely worth keeping an eye out for. The pub has a lovely old-world charm to it and is well-lit with natural light, making it a perfect spot for a quick lunch or a pint (or three) in the middle of a flower shopping trip. The pub is particularly known for its killer Sunday roast, which is a must-try for anyone visiting the area.
Campania is a small southern Italian restaurant located about halfway along Columbia Road. The restaurant specialises in the food of the region that gives it its name and has a rustic decor and relaxed vibe. The main spot to be here is the small semi-courtyard that opens up into a small side street. Weather permitting, customers can sit outside and enjoy their food and drinks. Customers who arrive at an irregular time may be serenaded by a sweet old man across the street who performs classics from Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Tony Bennet. Campania is a perfect spot for those who want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the market and enjoy some delicious Italian food.
The History of East London’s Flower Market
The Birth of Columbia Road
Columbia Road Market is the largest flower market in East London and is located in Bethnal Green, an area that was once known as Nova Scotia Gardens. The area was notorious for its poverty and flooding, and it became even worse when a group of locals resorted to grave-robbing to sell human bodies to medical schools. After two people were hanged for murder, the area was described as the worst slum in London.
However, everything changed when heiress and philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts decided to invest in the area. In 1869, she purchased the land and opened the market, which was initially a fresh produce market with over 400 stalls. The market was housed in a dramatic Victorian building, but it did not succeed at first because traders preferred the open-air markets that were found elsewhere in London.
After a while, Burdett-Coutts donated the buildings to the city of London. Sadly, the grand buildings that once housed the market were almost entirely demolished in the 1950s.
Resurrection of the Market
The market was somewhat resurrected in the early 20th century when Parliament changed the trading day from Saturday to Sunday to accommodate Jewish traders. Around this time, a number of immigrants from France arrived in the area, bringing with them a love of freshly cut flowers that is credited with first bringing blooms to the Columbia Road market.
For a number of years after this, the market traded well. However, during World War II, it declined sharply due to war rationing and the fact that it was hit directly during The Blitz.
Columbia Road Market Today
In the latter half of the 20th century, the market experienced a reinvention. Fueled by the popularity of gardening shows, it became very popular again. Today, there are over 40 stalls and it remains one of the most iconic markets in London.
Practical Tips for Visiting Columbia Road Market
Columbia Road Flower Market Opening Times
Columbia Road Flower Market is open every Sunday from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM. It is recommended to arrive early to avoid the crowds and have the first pick of the flowers. The market is busiest from around 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, so if you prefer a quieter experience, consider arriving before or after these hours.
How to Get to Columbia Road Flower Market
Columbia Road Flower Market is located in the East End of London, near Shoreditch and Bethnal Green. The nearest tube station is Bethnal Green, which is on the Central Line and is about a 10-minute walk from the market. Alternatively, you can take the Overground to Hoxton Station, which is about a 15-minute walk from the market.
If you prefer to take the bus, the 8, 26, 55, and 48 bus routes all stop near the market. However, keep in mind that the roads around Columbia Road are closed to traffic on Sundays during the market hours, so it may be more convenient to take public transportation.
It is also worth noting that parking is very limited in the area, so it is not recommended to drive to the market.
Columbia Road Flower Market Map
- A map with Columbia Road’s location is available online.