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A-Z Ridley Road Market, Dalston, London

Alternative to Olympics! A unique guide developed and created with local people.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.4 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview :  This is a walk of one of the most exciting markets in London if not in the country. It is not on the tourist trail and it is not... more »

Tips:  The dynamic of the market changes daily. It is quiet and relaxed on Mondays and Tuesdays. It has 'an against the river flow' feel on... more »

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Points of Interest

1. A is for arrival

A is for austerity alternative audience aesthetics apples abundance accents access affordable Afro-Caribbean aroma asphalt autonomy

Start the walk at Dalston Kingsland station in the heart of Dalston.

Once you are outside of the station inhale deeply! This is the smell of multicultural East London poor, and dodgy and at the same time trendy and... More

2. B is for best coffee

B is also for business (hours 4am - 5pm) blisters bread butter bowls boxes bags buckets bundles big bargain!!! budget bananas beetroots beans broccoli blackberries baby clothes blankets bones bracelets bulgar bagels brew birds

The market officially opens at 6am but in reality the first cars arrive into the street earlier, around 5am or so. The... More

3. C is for critical mass

C is also for customers celebrity (Alan Sugar) communication community character cheap coincidence chillies cabbage cafes citrus clothes coconuts
coffee curry culture current cuts

You are now standing at the back of the most popular fruit and veg stalls. This is a good observation point. You are still invisible, you are not a customer yet, but... More

4. D is for development

D is also for damage darling data dazzler decoration dedication DVD dress dynamic dawn dusk dialogue drug dandruff difficulty digesting disappearing debt

You should be facing the shopping centre. A typical shopping mall style building that holds high street brands and a couple of supermarkets that largely sell the same produce that the market... More

5. E is for East

E is for economy evangelise estimate empty edge ethnic emigration eavesdrop eccentrics eclectic entertainment employment epilogue

You are now in the middle of it all! It is happening! You most probably will be pushed, excused and asked to move out of the way. This is the place to hear the traders shouting their encouraging mantras (Sweet mangos! ... More

6. F is for family business

F is for flesh fish fabric foot family (the Mayos, the Julians, the Cains, the Lamberts, the Fishlocks) false fame fan fermenting functional funeral

You are doubling back on yourself slightly to be able to squeeze in between the stalls to explore some of the shops hidden behind the market. As you do so look at the faces of the traders – many of... More

7. G is for gentrification

G is for garbage gravel gum gals guys gents guts gem giggling gold

Mr Bagel’s is a good place to grab something to eat. There is a wide range of things to choose from - from bagels to curries. Go for something you have never had before!

This café is perfect for people watching. Sit by the window and scan the crowd. It is a real mixture of... More

8. H is for history

H is for hunger hospitality hub Hackney hipsters halal hamam headscarf
handiwork handwritten health heart heat hair handbag heavy hierarchy hire

As you leave Mr Bagel’s you should be able to spot the eggs stall – the only one at the market. Usually Sue (AKA Eggs Sue) is manning the stall. If you want an insight from a local trader and you are in ... More

9. I is for identity

I is for incense insect ice

This is an optional detour – a short walk to Colveston Crescent. Your escape route if you have already had enough but also a quiet road where you can relax. You are given an opportunity to look at the local housing stock in case you are tempted to move in. It is a prime location and a room in this area usually costs... More

10. J is for Jews

J is for jelly-nut jester jewellery juice juggling job joy journey juxtaposition

You are standing on the spot that changes from day to day from a temporary restaurant to hosting a BBC van but ordinarily this concrete space offers area to sit and relax for busy shoppers. Join in – this is a perfect spot to meet locals who come here to shop. This... More

11. K is for karsi

Toilet break! Have change ready!

12. L is for language

L is for lip-gloss landfill locals lads lambs leather leftovers lemons

The market offers a true mix of languages and accents. This is the place to come to if you are writing a book and looking for the right language for one of your characters. This is the accents heaven and creative speaking class rolled into one. Come here to collect new phrases... More

13. M is for Muslim community centre

M is for market mate mocking muscle money movement moment memory mentality mind menthol madness maintenance malfunction masculine mapping mass meat meet mildew mutual matchmaking meal migrant multilayered moaning micro-cosmos monologue

Keep walking behind the market stalls until you reach the watch shop run by a smiley Muslim gentleman. The shop ... More

14. N is for Nollywood

N is for narration nail varnish noise need nibbling nickname nightwear nitpicker nurturing nourishing nuance number numb nuts nyah normal

Once you have left the community centre go back to the main road. You should be standing in front of a large stall with a vast selection of DVDs. The majority of the films on sale here are Nollywood productions... More

15. O is for Olympics

O is for origin obesity object obligation observation octopus occupation occurrence offer offline onions oranges organs opposition other owner oh boy ontology odd

If you are going to visit the market in 2012 the Olympics will most probably be the word that will hit your ears most. This guide is an alternative to the sporting showcase taking place... More

16. P is for private - public

P is for pictures portraits performance pounds peckish pedestrians peer group people pennies picturesque pigeons politics pollutions pub publicists puncture pure

Carry on walking down the market. This is a quieter part, stalls are not as full, and traders are not as busy. The everyday life of people who live locally is more and more visible. You ... More

17. Q is for quarter

Q is for questions quantity quality queen quid

You should be facing Ridley Road shopping village - a mini market within a market. This building holds many things and you will explore some of them in a minute. Don’t be surprised if you are not allowed in though. This space is often occupied by film crews who use parts of Ridley Road as a backdrop ... More

18. R is for recession

R is for research reading rain raw rent ribbon recreation rights rituals race rails radical rags reaction reality regeneration reciprocity

Wander into the shopping centre and spend time cruising through the narrow corridors. You should emerge in the shopping village café that is run predominantly for the benefit of the market stallholders.... More

19. S is for sustainability

S is for satsumas seagulls St Osyth season seat seed segregation shouts singing shallots soap opera sugar suitability suitcase

Turn your head towards the fruit machines. Gambling is a big and hidden part of the market. The café changes its atmosphere towards the end of the day when the traders are pouring in through the door for a drink... More

20. T is for tea

T is for tights thighs team testers temperature thermals tattoo time tired title tour toffee trade transaction travel

The best way to inhale the local atmosphere and feel part of it is to stay for a drink. Tea costs less then a quid and there is usually a table free. You will miss out if you don’t make time to stop for a cuppa.

Visitor’s voice:... More

21. U is for useful

U is for un- up- utopia Übermensch underwear underdog ugliness ulcer upwind urban urine utility ugh

It is a fact that Alan Sugar used to have a stall at this market. In people’s memories he sold umbrellas. No one is entirely sure where his stall was but some suggested it used to be opposite the exit from the Shopping Village. Turn left and... More

22. V is for vegetables

V is for vacant vacuum void value vandalism volunteer variety vintage vulgar vortex view voice volume virtual vocabulary

Go back to the main road, you are near the end and this is a perfect spot to do some veg shopping. If you fancy Caribbean specialities go to Barry’s stall to stock up on sorrel, yams and jelly nuts. If you fancy tomatoes and... More

23. W is for weatherproof

W is for way wages wagons West Indies walking waiting wandering wondering words

This is an optional detour. Turn left into a square behind the garage-like structures. This land operates as a storeroom, toilets, car park and waiting room in one. If it is a market day it will be heaving no matter what the weather is doing. People here are... More

24. X is for x

As you exit the square you will come across a tiny shed where you can get your hair plaited or get extensions at unbeatable prices! The atmosphere here is always jolly too so if you feel like pouring your heart out to a hairdresser to wrap up your Ridley Road experience – this is the perfect place!

25. Y is for you

Y is for you

Y is for yum yam yadda yadda yadda yarmulka yesterday year

This is the end. You reached St Mark’s Rise where the market ends these days (in the past it carried on further down).

This moment is for you.

Visitor’s voice: I recommend a coconut stall for a fresh coconut drink!

Visitor’s voice: It reminds me of Feira de Sao Joachim... More

26. Z is for zone

There are bus stops on St Mark’s Rise. The little bus that stops here (No 236) can take you either back towards Dalston Kingsland High Street (stop: Crossway) or forward to another market (stop: Broadway Market). The choice is yours and of course you can always walk back.

Visitor’s voice: It was like a bizarre holiday tour into the weird and... More