Dreaming of a Wanstead Christmas


Usman Karim, who organises the monthly market on Wanstead High Street, outlines his plans for a special Christmas event this month

Having worked for a local authority in the licensing department for many years, I decided it was time to venture out and start my own business in the field I was most passionate about… markets!

Being a member of my local neighbourhood committee gave me the opportunity to connect with many local residents and businesses, and once I put my idea out there, there was instant support from all. I managed to obtain my first contract with a local authority in west London and it all took off from there.

My motto has always been to bring locals together through shopping and food – the two things people enjoy most – and at the same time, help struggling youths get into work. I have worked alongside many local youth support networks and can proudly say I have managed to help 65 wonderful individuals get into the market trade and become successful market traders.

Having worked with Redbridge Council on a number of projects in Ilford Town Centre, an opportunity arose for me to run the Wanstead market. With the support of the local authority, I put all my resources into improving the Wanstead event.

We were then hit by the pandemic, but this did not stop us from growing. Today, we run a successful market with 30 stalls ranging from arts and crafts, artisanal products, fresh produce and hot food. Some 30% of our vendors are local residents and businesses, and without the support of the local community, we would not be where we are today.

My exciting news is that we’ll be adding to our usual monthly market (which takes place on the first Sunday of the month) with a festive Christmas market to be held on Saturday 18 December from 10am to 3pm. It will be a family-friendly, joyful event, with an emphasis on bringing the community together, shopping local, keeping safe and bringing in much-needed festive cheer.

The Christmas market and our local businesses will have something for everyone, with lots of gift ideas, decorative items and, of course, delicious food for all the family to enjoy. Plus, we are organising a choir to sing carols outside the Oxfam shop for half an hour from 1pm. In addition to the music, festive stalls and food, we are also aiming to create lots of activities for children to play, make and do, so the whole family can spend the day together enjoying the festivities.

Do get in touch if you want to be involved with a stall on the day or have an idea for an activity at the event.

The Wanstead Christmas market will take place on the High Street on 18 December from 10am to 3pm. For more information, visit wnstd.com/market