We share our experience of visiting the Spirit of Christmas Fair at Olympia London as you decide which Christmas fairs to enjoy this year.
Who can resist a Christmas fair?! Finding unique gifts, discovering new favourite brands, and enjoying a day of festive fun and Christmas shopping with family and friends. Want to know if the Spirit of Christmas Olympia is worth a visit? We’ve shared our first-hand insight below to help you decide. We’ve included useful information and tips to help you get the most out of your visit too.
Note: This is an independent review based on Hannah’s visit to the fair in 2022 (own ticket purchased) as well as numerous other visits over the years. All views and experiences shared on this page are entirely our own. From time to time we may share affiliate links – this means we may earn a small commission when you click on such links, at no additional cost to you. You can read the full disclaimer here.
What is Spirit of Christmas Fair?
Spirit of Christmas fair is one of the largest annual Christmas shopping exhibitions. Based in London, the fair has been running for over 20 years. Spirit of Christmas positions itself as one of the first Christmas fairs of the season with over 700 independent brands on display. It is run in conjunction with House & Garden magazine and there are specially discounted tickets available for magazine subscribers.
When Is Spirit of Christmas Olympia?
Spirit of Christmas is one of the earlier Christmas fairs of the season and typically runs for about a week around the end of October / beginning of November. For 2023, Spirit of Christmas is on from Monday 30 October – Sunday 5 November, with a late-night shopping night on Thursday.
Where Is the Spirit of Christmas Fair?
The fair takes place over two storeys undercover inside at Olympia Exhibition Hall in Southwest London. The full address is Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, London, W14 8UX.
How To Get There
The exhibition hall is literally a few feet from Kensington (Olympia) station on the London Overground line (with direct trains to Clapham Junction & Shepherd’s Bush) as well as the tube District line service from Earl’s Court. There is limited parking available at Olympia and this almost definitely needs to be booked in advance.
Is Spirit of Christmas Worth Visiting?
Is the Spirit of Christmas worth visiting? In a nutshell, yes absolutely!
The fair makes for a great day out with lots of gifting inspiration to browse, set within a comfortable environment with a relaxed cheery ambiance. However, this is not a Winter Wonderland experience. It’s more akin to an artisan craft market so set expectations accordingly.
And when visited at peak times it will require a little creativity to get the most out of the experience without too much queuing or stress. Check out our tips below.
More Detailed Thoughts On The Fair
I was really impressed with the selection of independent brands on offer, both in terms of quality and breadth of variety. Spirit of Christmas isn’t an event full of Christmas décor and festive products. It’s primarily a gifting fair promoting indie brands with inspiration for what to put under the tree.
There was a clear focus on higher end British-led design with attention to sustainability and ethical manufacture. These are not bargain producers – expect to pay for the craftmanship of the products on offer.
The show itself was comfortable to explore, with lots of routes to meander around the stalls. I didn’t experience any bottlenecks which I have at other fairs (though I should caveat that my most recent visit was midweek).
Small pop-up bands played Christmas carols at points during the day. There are places to sit down and enjoy a drink and something to eat. And it was straightforward to reach the Olympia venue by public transport.
Does it feel Christmassy at the Spirit of Christmas?
It sounds like a silly question but it’s a valid one! It would be reasonable to visit the Spirit of Christmas fair expecting to feel more festive than Santa himself and come out singing Mariah Carey at top volume with the entirety of your Christmas celebrations under your arm.
So, a word of warning for first time visitors: The Spirit of Christmas is a gift fair NOT a Christmas products-only fair.
There are still plenty of stalls which cater for the Christmas countdown with décor and festive-specific products, but the majority of vendors are focussed on the gifts going under the tree and so aren’t specifically Christmassy.
When I visited, there was a brilliant band playing Christmas carols on arrival and the Champagne Bar had mince pies and some other festive treats available for sale. But Christmas felt a part of the fair vibe rather than its primary essence.
With that in mind however there is still plenty of Christmas cheer to be found and enjoyed, and lots of festive products to explore. And regardless, it’s a wonderful way to spend a day out with family and friends.
What Kinds of Products Are On Sale?
We love the range of exhibitors on offer at Spirit of Christmas. With over 700 independent brands represented, there’s a fabulously curated collection of gorgeous gifts and products waiting to tempt you.
There’s plenty of British-led design and manufacture as well as lots of ethical and sustainable brands. In many cases you’ll be speaking directly with the creators of the products and can learn about them and their story which adds an extra layer of depth to the purchasing experience.
If you think Not On The High Street and top end Etsy, you’ve got the right kind of makers in mind.
Businesses at Spirit of Christmas are often hugely dependent on fairs such as these to promote their products and reach buyers. You are almost guaranteed to find something unique and a bit different to treat a loved one, or yourself!
This isn’t a place to look for rock bottom bargains. However, the quality of craftsmanship will mean there’s plenty of special and often unique gift ideas available. And many of the stalls run special promotions for the fair so there will still be discounts to enjoy!
Unsurprisingly there’s a large focus on ladies’ fashion and jewellery with over 200 stalls to explore. Home décor is another popular area, and food & drink brands too.
The baby & children, toys & games, and books & stationery categories each have around 25-30 brands to visit and there’s approximately 50 businesses keen to show their Christmas specific product ranges.
What Else Is There To Do Beyond Shopping?
Shopping is first and foremost at Spirit of Christmas. There’s no doubt about that! However, there are also food outlets and workshops to try.
Options for food at Olympia are a bit limited so do give some thought to eating before you go.
Spirit of Christmas offers its own bookable fine dining option. For 2023, it’s a tapas style menu from José Pizarro with a Spanish take on festive afternoon tea available too.
Olympia exhibition hall also provides several food outlets around the perimeter of the fair including a bakery and plant-based kitchen. I had a plant-based couscous salad when I visited and it was delicious! I also enjoyed my first mince pie of the season at the Champagne bar in the centre of the fair.
Spirit of Christmas also offers a daily selection of workshops to attend which offer Christmas tips and inspiration from a range of experts. There is no additional charge for the workshops and they don’t need to be booked in advance – it’s first come first served on the day.
The fair attracts some great names to share their skills, and cover topics from personal styling to tablescaping, cookie decorating and wrapping inspiration.
Is Spirit of Christmas child friendly?
Whilst there isn’t anything family-unfriendly about the event at all, it is a first and foremost a shopping experience. There is a limited amount to hold the interest of most young children (and to be quite frank neither of my teenage boys would be particularly interested in attending either).
There are plenty of stalls selling children’s clothes, toys, and gifts. But if you’re planning to buy for the littlies, it’ll be easier not to have prying eyes!
Our recommendation: leave the little ones at home and enjoy some quality grown-up time.
Top Tips For Visiting Spirit of Christmas Fair
As with all events, there are some tips to bear in mind which will help make the most of the experience.
Visit at an off-peak time if possible
Midweek mornings are the quietest for obvious reasons. Of course, it’s not always possible to visit then but just bear in mind that the stalls, walkways, and facilities will inevitably be busier and so exploring the show will be slower and managing expectation is important. Watch out for the Premium Pass which makes the first Monday of the show busier than may otherwise be expected.
Research before arrival
Allocate some time to have a look at the exhibitor list on the Spirit of Christmas website before you arrive. Make a note of the stall names and location codes that you want to visit and remember to pause during the day to check you list. It’s worth also thinking in advance if there are products you might want to buy as many stallholders offer exclusive fair special offers.
Make use of the cloakroom
Keep comfortable when it gets warmer in the hall by wearing layers to travel and discarding these in the cloakroom upon arrival.
Think about carrying purchases
We’ve all been there – you make an early purchase and then spend the rest of the day regretting it as you slog something heavy and bulky around. Don’t be afraid to ask exhibitors to hold items for you to collect later, or put them in the cloakroom for the day. Set yourself a phone reminder so you don’t forget them! And remember to bring a foldable shopping bag, rucksack, or even a wheelie suitcase with you to help carry items home.
Reserve for food or eat at atypical times
Either take the opportunity to reserve the fine dining experience at the fair, or try and bring sufficient snacks with you so that you can avoid the busy lunchtime rush (12-2pm) and eat early or late. It’s not just about avoiding the lines at the food outlets but also this will make it easier to find places to sit down to eat as well.
Head to workshops early
As the workshops are all non-bookable and first come first served, they can require some forethought to attend. Don’t expect to be able to turn up five minutes before the start and walk in. Be sure to allow ample time beforehand to get in line for a workshop, perhaps taking turns with friends whilst you wait. Or make use of the queuing time to eat.
Click here for more information about the Spirit of Christmas fair. Hope you enjoy your visit 🙂
Looking for more Christmas inspiration?
- Do you know all of these year-round Christmas shops across the UK?
- Check out the hottest Christmas decorating trends for 2023!
- Find the Christmas light trail nearest you.
And be sure to check out our guide to the best European Christmas markets – there’s something for everyone!