It’s the most wonderful time of the year (almost), and the legendary Christmas lights in London will soon switch on, brightening up the dark winter nights.
Even though Saint Nick is still a little way from donning his finest furs, Christmas is coming, and London is itching to put on a show. The capital’s twinkliest Christmas lights will soon be bursting into colour all over town, and we know when. Get these dates in your diary if you can’t wait for that sweet hit of festive cheer!
1) Oxford Street Christmas Lights, now switched-on!
The grand mack daddy of Christmas lights are always keen to get the festivities started: they’re the first to put them up and the first to switch them on. Now glowing above the mile-long shopping mecca, the display features over 750,000 LED lights and 1,778 baubles, and has been created in partnership with NSPCC’s ‘Light Up Christmas for Children’ campaign.
2) Carnaby Street, now switched-on!
Last year, Carnaby Street’s ultra-groovy 60s display was the talk of the town, and they’re going even bigger this year. The wonderfully alliterative Carnaby Christmas Carnival sees colourful paper parrots floating over the street, inspired by Christmas celebrations in warmer climes. Lovely.
3) Bond Street, now switched-on!
The luxury shopping district of Bond Street is now adorned with over a quarter-of-a-million LED lamps, boasting a distinctive peacock-inspired design. (The designers explain that in the late 1700s, Bond Street was the favourite haunt of ‘The Bond Street Loungers’; dapper men who promenaded the street and became the early fashionistas or ‘peacocks’ of their day.)
4) St. Christopher’s Place, now switched-on!
This cute-as-you-like pedestrianised shopping street just north of Bond Street station has dusted off its decorations – gorgeously fragile female figures perched above glowing orbs, while shining, shimmering baubles decorate the nearby alleys.
5) Covent Garden, now switched-on!
On November 14th, Christmas will officially return to the busiest garden in England. Taking pride of place once more will be their magnificently sparkly reindeer statue, but they’re planning a rather romantic surprise inside. Forty illuminated mistletoe chandeliers will light up the arcade, so if you’re looking for someone to smooch this festive season, Covent Garden is clearly the place to be.
6) Marylebone High Street, now switched-on!
In the boutique-filled and hard-to-pronounce London neighbourhood of Marylebone, their festive Christmas lights will be switched on at a party on November 16. There’ll be live music and other entertainment between 3pm and 7pm, with Barbara Windsor doing the honour of switching on the lights at 6pm.
7) Regent Street, now switched-on!
Regent Street started off this whole Christmas lights tradition back in 1954, and their angelic new design last year captured Londoners’ imagination. Having hit upon a winning formula, they’ll once again by pedestrianising the entire street for the evening, while hosting musical performances from Clean Bandit, Paloma Faith and Alfie Boe. ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ is the biggest display in central London, and this year Piccadilly is extending the display even further, so don’t miss it!
8) Seven Dials, now switched-on!
The lovely little roundabout area next to Covent Garden is celebrating the beginning of the Christmas season with a huge choral performance from Some Voices at 6.30pm, and offering up to 20% off in the surrounding boutiques and independent stores. Or try a cinnamon infused bourbon and black cherry Bellini from the Covent Garden Hotel. Nice!
9) Kew Gardens, from November 22
Kew is not known for half-assing Christmas, and this year is no different. They’re promising over ONE MILLION lights, spread over a two-kilometre trail, along with ribbons of light, giant baubles, and a fire garden. If you go down to the woods from November 22nd, you’ll be sure of a big surprise, because Kew are also promising singing trees. You might want to ease off the eggnog before you encounter one of these botanical baritones. Until Jan 1, 2018 – tickets are available here.
10) St. Martin’s Courtyard, Covent Garden, from November 23
This cute courtyard in the heart of Covent Garden turns on their twinkling Christmas lights on Nov 23. The celebrations, which begin at 5pm, will feature a ten-piece brass band, a giant snow globe installation, complimentary prosecco and a s’mores bar! Find out more here.
11) Magic Lantern Festival, Chiswick, from November 24
Another option off the beaten track, this event invites you to wander among an enormous menagerie of oversize glowing lanterns, each one constructed in a traditional Chinese fashion and illuminated from within. It’s a peaceful alternative the hustle and bustle of the city’s main shopping areas, that’s for sure. See more on their website.
12) Enchanted Woodland, Syon Park, from November 26
Completing the trifecta of ‘south-west London lights requiring sensible shoes’, the woodlands of Syon Park are lit up for the winter with an array of colourful lighting displays. Again, this one’s ticketed – book yourself in on their website.
13) Trafalgar Square, from December 7
You might remember that the big Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square got a rather chilly reception last year. But with that debacle in the past, Norway’s annual present to London will be back and bedecked in lights for 2017. A 25-metre tree known as “the queen of the forest” is scheduled for the chop in November, before it rides the waves to set up camp in the UK. Just like the Vikings of old, but with way more fairy lights. The big switch-on is December 7th at 6pm, and fingers crossed it gets a warmer response this year!
14) Lumiere London, January 18
Oops! Did you manage to sleep through the whole of December? Luckily, you’ve got one last chance to marvel at some illuminations in the New Year. The Lumiere Festival will see over 40 artists install light-based sculptures across central London for three glorious days. Glow get ’em!
Featured image: @barryscowenphoto