Includes: Kings Cross and Farringdon.
Named in honor of the Earl of Camden and home to such notables as Charles Dickens, George Orwell, and Dylan Thomas – and more recently Orlando Bloom – Camden Town is known for its outdoor markets, alternative sensibilities, and a large student population that rarely goes to bed early.
A favorite gathering spot for left-of-center partiers and live performers of all types, Camden is also “home” to many of the city’s homeless, but it has nevertheless remained the local stomping grounds for a fairly prosperous neo-hippie residential population, especially in the areas east toward neighboring Islington and King’s Cross.
Jam-packed music venues like The Electric Ballroom and The Underworld and bumping nightclubs like The Underground and Camden Palace have openly cashed in on the student contingent after the sun sets, but Camden is just as lively during the day. In keeping with its flower child aesthetic, Camden Markets, an open-air gathering of art lovers, bric-a-brac collectors, and thrifty shoppers, draws nearly 100,000 visitors every weekend. Walking along the canal that bisects the neighborhood is a great way to explore the area, especially along the Camden Lock directly adjacent to the Markets, where tons of pubs and eateries line the surrounding blocks. Visitors should be wary at night, however, as the Lock is also a popular stomping ground for drug dealers.
Where the Camden scene runs the gamut from young professionals to goths, Islington is home to a predominantly thirty-something set that tends to be a bit more reserved, preferring chill cocktail lounges to Camden’s harder core haunts. Nevertheless, the area is also home to the Emirates Stadium in the north of the district, where the famous Arsenal Football Club plays to legions of devoted fans and where snagging a ticket on game day can be as difficult as getting in to a major rock concert.
Although they may be known primarily for an alternative, artistic, and sometimes grungy vibe, Camden Town and Islington have made a science of mixing laid-back London partying with just the right touch of wild good times.
Reviewed by Tara R.
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