Christmas shopping is now underway in earnest. The annual carnival of present buying is a go-go, and if you’re staring at a list of gift recipients from parents to newborns, colleagues to flatmates and best friends then you need to take your wallet and tote bags to an area that’s as diverse and special as the people you’re buying for.
And if you can grab a bite to eat and share a drink and a spectacle along the way, then why not? All you have to do is head down to London’s Carnaby, 14 streets crammed with every thing you could possibly need.
From the moment you walk under the iconic Carnaby Arch, which this year is styled with giant shimmering 3D butterflies, you’re in an oasis of shopping, food and drink and Christmas spirit. The butterfly installation, continues throughout the streets that make up the historic area of Carnaby and sets the tone for an extravaganza of shopping, dining and experience.
You need to take your wallet and tote bags to an area that's as diverse and special as the people you're buying for...
The butterfly installation is in partnership with the charity Choose Love, raising funds for Afghan refugees, but if you can’t make it in person fear not, because you can experience the decorations and lights as part of the 360-degree virtual tour on Carnaby’s website (you can shop from here too, if you’re unable to make it down to the epicentre of London shopping.
And if you can get to Carnaby, then you’ll be met with an endless array of things to see and do. Not least, thanks to Carnaby’s wide array of independent boutique shops and one-off concept stores. Regardless which family member you’ve been searching for Christmas gifts for, Carnaby will have the perfect present.
Brands represented, many of which you cannot get anywhere else, include cosmetic stores like War Paint For Men, new opening Freshly Cosmetics on Carnaby Street, Benefit, M∙A∙C (it’s the largest Pro flagship retail location by M∙A∙C worldwide) and Pixi.
There’s the only stores in the UK for the NBA and Mallet London, as well as new openings including Just Hype on Foubert’s Place, all alongside great brands like The Kooples, Scotch & Soda and Adidas’s concept store Adidas Originals where you can buy the brand’s most exclusive product releases.
Looking to surprise the rock’n’roller in your life? Why not pop into the Rolling Stones’ own flagship store, RS No.9 Carnaby?
Kingly Court, renowned for its al fresco dining and thronging with restaurants....
As well as the historic Carnaby Street, the area takes in Kingly Court, renowned for its al fresco dining and thronging with restaurants. Handbook favourites like Dirty Bones, Le Bab, Shoryu and Pizza Pilgrims are all based here as is Imad’s Syrian Kitchen, while any flagging shoppers can quickly turn things around with a drink at Kingly Court’s bars which include 1940s-themed Cahoots, which recently extended to take in the Cahoots Ticket Hall and Control Room.
Turn off Carnaby Street in the opposite direction the Newburgh Quarter is packed with independent shops, with new openings including jewellery and piecing specialists Metal Morphosis, fashion stores like RÆBURN and Aubin. There’s a wealth of discovery as you truffle out the perfect gifts.
And dining options aren’t limited to Kingly Court. Mamma Pastrama, providing a modern take on the classic pastrami on Ganton Street and restaurant and wine bar, Bar Crispin are worth checking out, as are Sri Lankan restaurant Kolamba, Korean Dinner Party and blues bar Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues all on Kingly Street. For a mix of old and new head to Beak Street’s Venetian bacaro Polpo or brand new restaurant Zahter and ramen kings Kanada-Ya, up on Foubert’s place or cult eatery Rita’s, which just opened on Lexington Street. And after all that, wine bar and shop Antidote is the perfect, well, antidote.
And throughout the area, take in the stunning lights and installations which form part of the Carnaby Christmas experience...
And throughout the area, take in the stunning lights and installations which form part of the Carnaby Christmas experience. Bookending Carnaby Street the new bright shimmer disk rainbows glisten in all weathers, festoon lights illuminate Kingly Court while Ganton Street is lit by a giant light bulb installation. From Julian Opie’s double-sided LED ‘walking portrait’ (a permanent fixture, now) to the impossible-to-miss giant Union Flag on Carnaby Street, a nod both to the swinging sixties that centred around Carnaby as well as the area’s status as an icon of modern Britain.