If you’re looking for an interesting venue for shopping and festive lights, within reach of Islington, head to Kings Cross. With Northern Lights-inspired illuminations, festive workshops and Christmas markets right up to the big day, there’s plenty going on.

You can always count on the area’s Christmas tree in Granary Square to be a bit different – previous years’ efforts have included raving lasers and a Geordie singing tree. This year, as a tribute to his love of geometry, artist David Batchelor has created a tree from scaffolding and LED lights, in a bold new take on the traditional spruce. Nearby Coal Drops Yard promises a fluorescent winter wonderland too, with illuminated trees inspired by the natural beauty of the Arctic Circle.

Northern Brights is the theme of a series of workshops, where you can try new crafts while getting in the Christmas spirit. Choose from piñata, bauble or cracker making or learn to print your own wrapping paper. Join in for a minimum £10 donation to homeless charity Shelter – look out for the Shelter boutique in the Coal Drops Yard viaduct too.

If you’re after an original gift, Christmas markets are happening each weekend from late November. Highlights include a Mexican market (5 to 7 December) with artisan clothing and crafts. An independent record label market promises the freshest, most exciting sounds (29 November to 1 December). Or stock up on refreshments at the London Winter Craft Beer Festival, where you can sample diverse ales to tunes from resident DJs.

From 13 to 15 December there’s a fine food market selling wines, cheeses and preserves, plus a range of kitchen accessories. And don’t miss the famous Crafty Fox market for show-stopping jewellery, handmade toys, fashion, and prints from some of the best independent designer-makers around.

There’s music too, including carol singers and live jazz each day in the run up to Christmas. And, best of all, the final pre-Christmas market is a family affair, with guest appearances from Santa’s reindeer.

For the full itinerary, visit the King’s Cross website.