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Open Air Guide to South Bank

March 29th, 2021 | by Tom Harrow-Smith

Open Air Guide to South Bank

From street art to street food, open air book markets, parks and a scenic riverside walkway, South Bank truly is one of London's best spots to explore outdoors. We've put together six options for South Bank new comers and regulars alike as a starting point, but as we all know, there's a whole lot more to see and do, so get out there and get exploring the great South Bank outdoors!

  • South Bank Book Market

    Part of the South Bank furniture since 1982, the Book Market beneath Waterloo Bridge on the banks of the Thames must be one of, if not the most, scenic book markets in London. Taking inspiration from Paris’ open air book markets on the Seine, our very own version is made up of ten stalls and on any given day you will find tourists and locals alike leafing their way through the stalls for second hand classics. There are certainly worst days to spend a lazy weekend day!

    South Bank Book Market reopens on April 12th – you can read our Inside the Book Market article here.

  • Leake Street

    With our access to art galleries and exhibitions sadly limited over the past year, many of us will be eager to get our cultural fix. However, one of London’s best kept secrets lies in the arches below Waterloo Station, just a stones throw away from South Bank. Leake Street is a haven for street art and as one of the only legal walls in the UK, everyone is welcome to express their creativity on this constantly changing canvas. In fact, no two walks down Leake Street are ever the same, with new artworks constantly being created from professional street artists to talented novices. Take a walk down and you’re bound to see someone in the midst of stencilling a new masterpiece.

  • The Undercroft Skate Park

    Did you know South Bank is home to the oldest continually used skate spot in the world? The Undercroft at The Southbank Centre is the spiritual home of skateboarding in the UK, with teenagers first setting their boards down in 1973. Covered in colourful graffiti, this charismatic space set beneath the brutalist underbelly of the Queen Elizabeth Hall recently underwent restoration works to expand it further. Even if you’re not a skater yourself, crowds usually gather to see the experts go through their paces and show off their skills.

  • Southbank Centre Food Market

    Delighting foodies and explorers alike, the Southbank Centre food market is home to some of the best street food in London. Find mouth-watering grub at affordable prices with stalls offering cuisine from all corners of the globe. With stallholders passionate about cooking up dishes bursting with fresh, vibrant flavours, no wonder it’s one of London’s top food destinations. And with South Bank on your doorstep, what better place to take away your meal for scenic London views?

    Returning from 30th April, you can find a list of the stall holders down at the market here.

    Photo Credit - India Roper-Evans

  • Riverside Walk

    We can’t talk about outdoor spaces without mentioning the riverside walk. This wide, open, pedestrianised walkway that allows you to stroll right beside the river and take in all the major sights and sounds of London is often the first thing that springs to mind when you think of the South Bank and from here you can walk all the way along the river to Tower Bridge and beyond as part of the official Thames Path route in London.

    In the summer, you’ll often find this space scattered with performers entertaining you for free, there will also be street food markets and pop-up bars to satisfy your appetite.  Despite the cold weather, the Riverside Walk is still alive with activity in Winter. You will find traditional German Christmas markets lining the walk, serving hot drinks and catering to your every Christmas gift need with arts and crafts.

  • Jubilee Gardens

    Jubilee Gardens is a landscaped park where visitors can relax and take in the riverside views. Jubilee Gardens underwent a transformation in 2012 to turn it into a soft, green and sustainable park with new flower beds, granite pathways and seating edges, 97 trees and a brand-new contemporary playground.

    Just a stones throw from the London Eye, this family friendly park is a great picnic spot for those on a day out in London