Alt-culture Central: why you should visit Camden – with an open mind

Whether it’s browsing the fashion and arts stalls of Camden Market, perusing all the street-food stalls or an evening spent on one of the music venues, there’s so much to do in London’s Camden Town. It’s a bit gritty, dirty and rough and ready but it’s so full of charm and charisma – and is always frequented by a true cross-section of sub-cultures; everyone from goths to punks and club kids to rockers. It takes all sort in Camden, so why not join them all for a day during your London stay (perhaps with the centrally-located Park Grand London Lancaster Gate hotel as your base)?

Camden Market

Want a London souvenir? Buy Nag Champa incense sticks; their aroma won’t fail to remind you of the smell of the air as you stroll(ed) past the vibrant Camden market stalls. Plus, all the music, arts and crafts goods and fashion (from goth to retro to club) are all available here. The latter stalls tend be located in Camden Lock Markets, all of which have identities and vibes distinct from those of the indoors Market Hall, with its stalls committed to arts and crafts. Meanwhile, the also indoors ‘The Stables’ offers a mix of stalls and shops vending the ‘F’s – furniture, fashion and, er, forever more. ‘The Horse Hospital’ was once where injured horses employed to pull canal barges were treated but is now home to the rock music -associated Proud gallery of photography. Indeed, there are multiple horse statues throughout to look out for.

Cyberdog

Yes, it may be just one of the bold, lively, colourful and crazy shops down Camden High Street but it’s a pretty amazing one, don’t doubt it. Extraordinarily alt-culture-focused, even for Camden, just stepping inside (and not even looking around at all its neon latex fashion, which you must do!) is an experience. Don’t worry, you can’t miss from the outside; its doorway is flanked by two giant metal robots. Yes, really.

A canal boat ride

Why bot hop on the Jenny Wren canal boat? Why not, indeed! Because, aboard this old-school down-at-heel vessel (very Camden!) you can drift along a scenic waterway, experience ‘rising up in’ Camden’s lock and even depart to explore the nearby areas of London Zoo, Regent’s Park and Little Venice if you so desire. Best of all, the barge comes with a covered canopy; perfect should it be raining cats and dogs (in the local parlance).

Camden watering holes

No question; Camden’s one of London’s top districts for boozers (pubs), gigs, live music and various arts performances. There’s The Roundhouse on Chalk Farm Road; once a Victorian railway repair shed, this uniquely spherical building’s nowadays a globally-acclaimed performing arts venue, then there’s fellow music venue Dingwalls, to be found in the market overlooking the canal, and the late, lamented Amy Winehouse’s favourite pub The Hawley Arms. But overlook either the likes of The Devonshire Arms and The Hobgoblin (which share the same building); it’s often a goth and punk hang-out. Meanwhile, the legendary Underworld pub-meets-club is all about the alternative music scene and shares its building, again, with the equally iconic World’s End Pub on Camden High Street. Finally, Electric Ballroom has an intriguing, important music history and still plays host to club nights, live gigs and different record and film fairs.

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