Christmas, isn’t Christmas without seeing London Christmas Lights. Wandering around oohing and ahhing at the pretty lights in one of my favourite London Christmas things to do. Come with me to discover the best places in London for Chirstmas lights and Christmas Light Trails.
Where to find the Best London Christmas Lights
There are so many Christmas lights in London. They twinkle above the main shopping streets. Historic parks and houses like Kew Gardens, Crystal Palace and Hampton Court Palace get lit up and then there are the stately homes just outside London that put on a magnificent show.
Best London Christmas Shopping Street Lights
For me that answer will always be Regent Street. The road itself is just so handsome, beautiful buildings in an elegant curve. But Regent Street lights are not the only ones in town. But Regent Street lights are not the only ones in town. Best of all the seeing the Christmas shopping lights is free.
Regent Street was the first London Street to have Christmas Lights back in 1954. For the last few years magnificent Spirit of Christmas angels have flown above Regent Street that echo those very first lights.
Oxford Street’s Christmas lights are the traditional big draw. Still no word about what to expect this year … personally I’m hoping for a return of the curtains of LED lights.
Bond Street is resplendent in glowing peacock feathers. Apparently the Bond Street Christmas lights represent the well dressed men that shop on Bond Street.
At first glance Piccadilly Christmas Lights have Angels twinkling overhead, look again, those are not Angels but Anteros the Greek God of unrequited love. Why Anteros because of the famous statue of Anteros at Piccadilly Circus. Yes that’s right, all those loved up couple taking pictures of themselves in front of what they think is Eros, god of love and sex, are actually suggesting that their love is unrequited.
Mayfair Shop Christmas Lights
Take time to stroll around Mayfair to see the lavish display that some of the shops and clubs put on. Ones to look out for include Cartier and Annabels. Not forgetting Fortnums, which this year is dressed up as an Advent Calendar.
Every year Carnaby Street eschews Christmassy things for the theme of its Christmas lights. This year is no exception. For 2021 Carnaby Street has teamed up with the charity Choose Love with a theme of Carnaby Kaleidoscope. Expect to see over 600 butterflies shimmering overhead.
Giant baubles and mistletoe are the order of the day for Covent Garden Christmas lights. I love the way that glitter balls send showers light down over the shoppers.
Seven Dials is probably the prettiest roundabout in London. At Christmas Seven Dials Christmas Lights just makes it even prettier.
Winter Light at the Southbank
As the nights draw in the lights go on all over the Southbank with the iconic buildings lit up and fifteen light works of art dotted on and around the buildings. Add to all that a Christmas market just outside the Royal Festival Hall. Lights will be on from 4 November to 9 January.
Head over to the City of London where IlluminoCity will have five light installations on show from 6 December to 19 January. You will be able to find them at London Wall Place in the Barbican, Principal Place and City Point on Moorgate.
Winterfest at Wembley
Hop on a tube to Wembley to see WinterFest light trail. It promises a show stopping LED Christmas tree that is 25 metres tall and made up of 100,000 lights.
Best Bus London Bus Route to see Christmas Lights
Without a shadow of a doubt the award for best Christmas Lights viewing bus route goes to the number 139. Hop on outside Selfridges heading toward Waterloo and clamber upstairs. Try to grab the front seat (this is true of any London bus journey) failing that a window seat. First of all you will be treated to the sheets of LED lights on Oxford Street. As the bus turns right into Regent Street you might want to take advantage of the hopper fare to hop off and see the Carnaby Street lights. Back on board the Regent Street angels will twinkle above you. Make sure you take a look at the huge advertising hoardings at Piccadilly Circus, not Christmassy but they are bound to have some festive content.
Trafalgar Square is next on the route with a huge fir tree draped in simple lights. Every year the city of Oslo gives London an enormous Christmas tree as a token of thanks for British to Norway during the Second World War. Next comes the Strand and then Aldwych where you get off and head up to Covent Garden for the light fest there.
Best London Light Trails
Not all Christmas lights are free there are some pretty spectacular London Light Trails at places like Kew Gardens that you pay for but are absolutely spectacular.
Spectacular is the only word for Christmas at Kew. Lights get reflected in the ponds, there are flickering fire gardens. All in all magical, which is just as well as it not cheap.
- Christmas at Kew
- Open: 17 November – 9 January
- Admission: Adult off-peak £21.50, peak £26.50 family tickets available
Illuminature at the Wetland Centre Barnes
Nature takes centre stage in the light trail and the Wetlands Centre in Barnes. You can see twinkling tableaux of the birds and animals that live on the site and walk down light tunnels to get to the next scene.
- Illuminature at Wetland Centre Barnes
- Open: 22 October – 9 January
- Admission: Adults £17.50, Child £12.50
Lightopia at Crystal Palace
Lightopia claims to be the biggest light festival in London and promises to bring the Crystal Palace back to life in light. For that I want to visit.
- Lightopia at Crystal Palace
- Open: 19 November – 2 January
- Admission: Adult off-peak: £20.67, peak £23.85, parking £9.54 children and family tickets available
Christmas at Kenwood
Christmas lights are new to Kenwood this year. They promise to be a family friendly feast of Christmas music and light.
- Christmas at Kenwood
- Open: 26 November – 9 January
- Admission: Adult off-peak: £21.50, peak £24.75 children and family tickets available
Palace of Stardust at Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court is one of my favourite places to visit, you can feel the history seeping out of the bricks. Palace of Stardust will see the gardens and facade of the Palace all lit up.
- Palace of Stardust at Hampton Court Palace
- Open: 8 December – 3 January
- Admission: Adult £12.50 child and family tickets available, HRP members get half price entry and special member only time slots.
Light trails just a little bit outside London
Jumping on a train or hopping in a car for about an hour will get you to some pretty spectacular light shows.
Christmas at Waddesdon Manor
Waddesdon is beautiful at all times of year but at Christmas it gets the full light treatment. The facade of the house is lit with a dancing sequence of lights set to music, there will be flowers in the rose garden and the promise of interactive bubble machines. This is the one that I have booked to go and see with some of chums from BBC days.
- Christmas at Waddesdon Manor
- Open: 13 November – 3 January
- Admission: Adult £17, National Trust members £5 concessions available
Christmas at Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace pulls out all the stops at Christmas. There will be a glowing, twinkling light trail through the grounds. Inside the house the story of the Nutcracker will be told via a series of tableaux and outside there is a Christmas market. Entry to both house and light trail is pretty pricey.
- Christmas at Blenheim Palace
- Open: 19 November – 2 January
- Admission: Adult light trail only £22.50, combined House and Trail £60. Concessions, family tickets and discounts for annual pass holders available.
Christmas at Bedgebury
Bedgebury is the largest pinetum in the world and that alone is reason enough to visit. At Christmas all those pines are lit for a magical trail through the woodland.
- Christmas at Bedgebury
- Open: 19 November – 3 January
- Admission: Adult plus parking £28 without parking £20 family tickets available
Glow at RHS Wisley
Wisley Gardens are one of my favourite places. My father served on many plant committees here and the teeny tiny CW’s and I often used to meet up with him there. At Christmas the glorious gardens get lit up for Glow.
- Glow at RHS Wisley
- Open: 19 November – 4 January
- Admission: Adults £16, RHS members £8.95
Ignite at Polesden Lacey and Nymans
Ignite as the name implies features many flickering fiery lights. You get a lantern to carry. There is a fire breathing dragon and the house is fronted by a sea of flickering flames. Ignite is at Polesden Lacey until November and then moves just down the road to Nymans in xxxxx so not strictly Christmas but pretty all the same.
- Ignite at Polesden Lacey
- Open: until 7 November
- Admission: Adult £22 National Trust member £15
- Ignite at Nymans
- Open: 7 February – 6 March
- Admission: Adult £24.50, NT member £16.50
Where is your favourite place to see London Christmas Lights?