The annual Christmas meat auction at Smithfield Market may be cancelled this year, but the market itself is far from being shut.
As a vital part of the UK’s meat supply chain, it has been vitally important to keep Smithfield Market running throughout the pandemic – it is an essential conduit between many producers and their customers. In fact, all of the City of London’s three wholesale markets continue to operate, although not quite normally.
Of course, face coverings are mandatory, and numbers of visitors are limited. And, as this is a meat market, the traders have always been on the top of their health and hygiene game, but this has been ramped up even more as well.
But you won’t just find extra sanitising stations at the Smithfield Market this festive season. This space really comes into its own around Christmas, as the traders decorate their stalls and open additionally the weekend before Christmas (19 and 20 December) – there is a wonderful atmosphere even without the meat auction.
And, because traders are depending more on non-wholesale customers these days, it’s now the perfect time to go direct to the meat source, supporting these historical City businesses.
If you’re after an epic turkey this year, find the very best bird at Smithfield Market. Order in advance or just rock up the weekend before Christmas and find the most delicious bargain.
But you don’t need to rock up to the market in person anymore, even if we still do love the whole experience of walking around this huge space in person (especially before it gets converted into the new Museum of London site in the coming years).
Now, you can order online or over the phone, and have all your favourite meaty bits delivered to your home. Smithfield traders have had to pivot their business model to make ordering easier for us every day folk as their usual hospitality clients have been forced to shut.
Crisis can create bursts of innovation. And this pandemic has really modernised Smithfield market – even if it’s as simple as an improved meat delivery service direct to consumers. It’s a huge win for all of us who can’t make it into the City, or just don’t want to carry a five kilo turkey home on the train. None of us want to be that person.
Having said all that, the market does remain open Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) as usual, from 2am to 8am. It is open to trade customers and the general public and there is a plentiful supply of the usual wide range of all types of fresh meat and other produce from within the UK and from Europe.
Cheap car parking is available in the Market car park in West Smithfield (postcode EC1A 9PS), with the Congestion Charge currently suspended. This makes visiting Smithfield even more cost-effective than usual.