Blackpool might be famous for its ‘loominations, but in simple millions-of-bulbs-burning terms, London is hands-down the most lit place in Britain. Christmas sees central London turn from a hub of climate change rebellion activists and instead convert into a primary cause of global warming, as tens of thousands of bulbs glow like the main control panel at a Chinese coal-fired power station. So where can you head to catch these gorgeous pockets of festive radiation? Find out here…
It’s as if they’ve pre-empted our intro! The spectacle of the Carnaby Street lights this year comes with a sustainability message, as the display is the first every plastic-free Christmas light installation. The theme takes shoppers underwater to highlight ocean conservation so except dolphins, bubbles, coral and more.
Artist Sean Scully is responsible for the Connaught Christmas tree, a 25,000 light-bulb extravaganza split into four blocks of colour in front of the famous hotel. The 30-foot tree in Mayfair’s Carlos Place stands next to the Tadao Ando fountain and marries together abstract art and Christmas whimsy. According to the artist “It’s a Suprematist Christmas tree wearing a starry night magician’s hat”, so, um, there.
Where: Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Bond Street (0.5 miles)
Form an orderly queue, we’re going to Kew! Set in the heart of South West London suburbia, Kew Gardens brings out over one million Christmas lights each year for an incredible light show. Now in its seventh year running, the one and a half mile trail is littered with scented fire gardens, huge baubles and stunning light features.
Seven Dials always feels magical around Christmas time that it’s essential you visit in between bouts of frantic Christmas shopping. The suspended snowflake lights sit on a backdrop of some of our favourite boutiques, hidden bars and cosy hotels.
A whole host of magical Christmas lights will return to the Royal borough, lighting up Sloane Square, Sloane Street, Duke of York Square, the King’s Road and Pavilion Road. The new displays will see decorative lights inspired by the crown of King Charles II, who the King’s Road was originally built for as a private route to travel between palaces. He famously restored Christmas to the nation following Oliver Cromwell’s ban on festivities for over a decade.
Norway’s annual present will return over the festive period; a giant Christmas tree adorning Trafalgar Square, and it’s certainly something special. The tree is decorated in Norwegian style (Scandi-Style, so pretty darn bare) but still, a delight. The spruce has been given to us by Norway since 1947, and we certainly hope we’re returning the favour or this is just getting ridiculous. The evening will see you tuning into carols and concerts, while the 82-foot tree is illuminated with hundreds of lightbulbs.
There’s something about Covent Garden that always feels pretty magical. Or maybe that’s just the feeling of accomplishment after tackling its 193 tube station steps. This year the 100,000 light bulbs were switched on by film star and environmental campaigner Emma Thompson.
If the behemoth that is Oxford Street is your idea of hell, nearby Marylebone High Street offers a more chill festive experience thanks to it’s boutiques, bars and bookshops. Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson turned on the lights this year. We imagine it was a riot.
One of London’s most famous shopping streets and Christmas lights installations was turned on last week and it marked the 200th anniversary of Regent Street itself. The lights are the latest in the capital and feature stunning suspended ‘spirits’ inspired by the Regent Street Christmas lights of 1954.
Oxford Street will be lit up a little later this year, but trust us, it’ll be worth the wait. The street has had a festive makeover replacing the traditional glowing balls (which we’re actually going to miss) with 27 energy efficient LED screens. The lights will span the entire length of the famous shopping street with a whopping 222,000 in total.
The Enchanted Woodland does exactly what it says on the garishly lit tin. Brentford’s Syon Park lights up every year in an incredible splash of colour, light and elegance. Ending in early December, the Enchanted Woodland is North West London’s answer to Kew set within the ornamental gardens of this splendid mansion.
Some of the smartest shops on the planet are fanned with peacock feathers this winter as the Bond Street lights. What better way to buy diamonds and handbags than bathed in the magical light of overhead tail feathers?
You may remember this London landmark from the first Harry Potter film and it’s Christmas that it really comes to life. The cosy, glass-roofed market has been lined with Christmas trees and twinkling lights. Pull up a pew outside one of the cosy old pubs for a festive experience that feels straight from the movies.
The top 20 storeys of one of London’s most recognisable buildings, The Shard, will play host to London’s most visible light show once more this Christmas-time. For 2019 the lights have been designed by local schoolchildren and features three nine-minute sequences which are displayed every half hour between 4pm and 1am throughout December.
You’re not too late to see some of London’s lights turn on. Head to the Royal Exchange this Wednesday to see the iconic London landmark lit up in all its glory. The event has been put on by masters of all things Christmas, Fortnum and Mason so expect some of the best hot chocolate and mince pies in the city. Plus Downtown fans hold on to your parasols and petticoats as one of the show’s stars Joanne Froggatt will be there decorating the awesome 25ft Christmas tree and turning on the lights. Be sure to check out fashion brand Mulberry’s pop-up pub which will be serving pints from 18th November.
One of the best ways to traverse London from West to East, the Southbank is crawling with Christmassy happenings, from the wooden huts selling all manner of Christmas market fodder to performances of Circus 1903. And of course a Christmas setting needs plenty of lights. Which they’ve got too.