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Covent Garden Market: Of street performers, antiques and touristy hordes

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One wouldn't normally associate Monday evenings with fun. But if you are in London and not inclined to giving into typical Monday blues (and are not too bothered by throngs of tourists), you could wander over to the Covent Garden Market, the colourful piazza where a market has existed since the 1600's.

click on pictures to enlarge

Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Since its history is so interesting, I'll touch upon it briefly here. If history is not your thing, you could skip straight to the pictures below. The Covent Garden Piazza hosted one of the most famous fruit and vegetable markets for over 300 years - from the 1660's (post the Great Fire) through to the 1970's - by which time, the market had grown into a shabby, congested nightmare. The greengrocers were moved to Nine Elms in Battersea (south London) and the market was closed down for a few years but reopened with great celebrations in the late 1970's. Over the years it has regained its original glamour and colour, although now it is known for its street performances, its central courtyard, its dedicated vendor markets (Apple and Jubilee) and the high profile lifestyle stores and pubs that outline the Piazza.


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


A large part of the architecture is still original, restored and added to at various times, in its long history. The central Piazza itself is the largely-original structure constructed in the 1630's by Inigo Jones.


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


When I walked in yesterday, I was struck by the sheer number of people there on a late Monday afternoon. There were lots of tourists, no doubt, but there were also a suprising number of Londoners around. (Recession?) Hordes were glued to street performances. On James Street, the main street that links the market to the Covent Garden Station was this Indian 'magician', whose glib humour was keeping everyone more entertained than his trickery. While I clicked away, he suddenly noticed me, stopped mid-sentence and gave me a 'pose', which shook the whole crowd with laughter (including me, which explains the camera shake).


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden_16thFeb36


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


There were other performances going on in the main square and in the central courtyard (which is reserved for classical music performances). I've heard that Covent Garden is the only licensed street performance area in London, but I'm not sure this is true, because I've seen street performances at the South Bank at other times.


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


And then there was the Antiques market, held every Monday in the Apple Market in the main hall. I'm not sure how many of these are real antiques but you could find a bargain here if you looked hard enough. It was so crowded that most of the time, tiny me and my big camera were jostled around and I could only manage a few un-blurred pictures.


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


Not everyone who was there was part of the shopping, eating, selling, performing frenzy though. I spotted some souls who had managed to create their own isolated islands in the middle of all the bustle about them.


Covent Garden_16thFeb37


Covent Garden - Of street performers, markets and tourists


By the time I got to Jubilee Market though, it was nearing 6PM and most of the stalls had wrapped up their wares. So now you know - if it's the antiques you're interested in, take the whole day off. No more bluesy Mondays, either way!



8 comments so far:

charukesi said...

lovely pics - Covent Garden can be great fun with a camera - my favorite moments are those buskers taking a break - some times with their make-up and costumes on... can be fun watching them!

SloganMurugan said...

London rocks! :) Thanks for the lovely trip :)

Jyoti said...

Hmm... You have done it yet again! It is a great post. Somehow, I seem to relate to the last pic a lot! :-)

Waiting for your one now...

Flaneurbanite said...

Charukesi: It's also a great place to shop in. Thanks for dropping by.

SloMo: You're welcome!:)

Jyoti: Thank you!

Shipra Chauhan said...

i wonder where eliza dolittle sold her flowers, and bumped into henry higgins? :) they would be somewhere in the frame of the 1st picture i presume...

apart from the lovely pictures that you keep coming back with, i especially love it when you have a short snippet of interaction with one of your subjects. just gives it your own unorthodox twist to flaneur-ism!

Flaneurbanite said...

Shipra: Actually, flanerie, by definition, excludes interaction or engagement of any sort with the city or its subjects. The flanuer simply observes - not participating, not intervening - he/she watches from a distance, while being in the middle of it, so as not to disturb the natural tide of the city.
In that sense, I actually broke away from the mould of true flanerie here. But I liked it nevertheless :)

Shipra Chauhan said...

exactly...thats what i meant by "your own unorthodox twist to flaneur-ism!"

Flaneurbanite said...

Oh cool:) It wasn't clear. My bad! :)

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