If you’re heading to the capital for all or part of your holidays this year, then chances are that shopping features on the agenda somewhere. London is such a large, vibrant city that you can buy almost anything, and despite the recent fortunes of the major music retailers, the niche music retailers in and around London are thriving. Unlike the large retailers, which have a presence in the high street and shopping centres, you have to know where to look to find the best places to buy music in London, and exploring will also show you a side to the city which you wouldn’t ordinarily see.
Car Boot Sales
If you’re a vinyl fanatic, you’ll already know that car boot sales can be great hunting grounds for old LP and singles, and even better, you can usually haggle with the stall holder and get the prices way down too. One of the biggest car boot sales in the capital is at Wimbledon stadium every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and there are other large boot sales at Rotherhithe, Battersea Park School and in Holloway Road. Get there early and be prepared to rummage through boxes to find that rare LP for your collection.
If playing music is more your style, then head over to the area around Tottenham Court Road tube station as this is where you will find the greatest concentration of music shops in the city. Sheet music sales have been in steep decline recently and many retailers are carrying a limited stock, but the expertise and knowledge you will find in the music shops cannot be matched by shopping on an internet website. As a bonus, sheet music is a great gift to take home as it is light and easy to pack.
Concerts and Shows
London is the centre of the UK entertainment industry and whatever your taste, you’ll be able to find a show, concert or gig to suit. Popular concerts will often sell out so a little forward planning is needed to book tickets as soon as you know when you intend to visit. Look on websites such as Time Out which will give comprehensive listings about everything which is happening in various parts of the city. If West End musicals are your thing, you can often pick up tickets on the day of the performance by going directly to the theatre box office.
As well as sheet music, the area around Denmark Street in central London is full of shops selling every instrument under the sun. Whether you are looking for a London guitar shop or someone selling saxophones, you will be able to find it here. There are not many manufacturers left making instruments in London, but the variety and range in all of the retailers is impressive. If you are spending longer in London and want to meet up with other clarinet players or fan of the double bass, the noticeboards in many of these shops are valuable sources of contacts as well as adverts offering tuition or second hand instruments for sale.
Morag Peers is a guest blogger and you can find out more about her online at her Google + profile.