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.
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Where to find the Best London Christmas Lights
There are so many Christmas lights in London. They twinkle above the main shopping streets from mid November. 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. Best of all the seeing the Christmas shopping lights is free.
Regent Street Christmas Lights from 9 November 2023
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 Christmas Lights
This year the Oxford Street lights will twinkle only between the hours of 3pm – 11pm saving two thirds of the power that they usually consume. Oxford Street’s Christmas lights are the traditional big draw. 300,000 stars, made from recycled polymer light up Oxford Street in 2022.
Bond Street Lights
Jewels and crowns sparkle above Bond Street. They take their inspiration from the many fine jewellers that line the street. Those jewellers also bedeck themselves with beautiful lights. Cartier wraps itself up in gorgeous red ribbon, whilst Tiffany opts for swirl of brightly coloured birds.
Piccadilly Christmas Lights
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 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, inside and out, this year the central staircase is filled with dancing Christmas puddings.
Carnaby Street Lights
Every year Carnaby Street eschews Christmassy things for the theme of its Christmas lights and is the first to switch their lights on.
Covent Garden Christmas Lights
Covent Garden is made for Christmas. Stalls beckon invitingly. Windows glimmer with promise. Overhead giant bells light up proceedings and there is always a giant tree in the Piazza.
Seven Dials Christmas Lights
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.
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 Time to See London Christmas Lights
The best time to see London Christmas Lights is after dark, obviously! It begins to get dark from about 4pm and is usually properly dark by 5pm. Crowds get steadily bigger once you get into December, so if you want a crowd free experience late November is the best time. Weekends are way busier than weekdays and once the school’s break up in the days before Christmas things get really busy.
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: 15 November – 7 January
- Admission: Adult off-peak £22.50, peak £29 family tickets available, discount for members
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 me the highlight are the dinosaurs at the end.
- Lightopia at Crystal Palace
- No news yet for 2023
- Admission: Adult off-peak: £19.50, peak £24.50, parking £10 plus booking fee, children and family tickets available
Christmas at Kenwood
Christmas lights are came to Kenwood for the first time last year. So popular was the family friendly feast of Christmas music and light that it is back for 2023.
- Christmas at Kenwood
- Open: 1 December 2023 – 1 January 2024
- Admission: Tickets go on sale on 3 September 2023, no prices yet.
Palace of Light 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 Light at Hampton Court Palace
- No news yet on Christmas 2023
- Admission: Adult £14.50 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. You can choose to see either house and gardens or just the gardens.
- Christmas at Waddesdon Manor
- Open: 22 November 2023 – 1 January 2024
- Admission: House and Grounds Adult £35.50, National Trust members £16.50, Grounds only Adult £22, NT members £11.50 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 realm of the Snow Queen is recreated and outside there is a Christmas market. Entry to both house and light trail is pretty pricey, members .
- Christmas at Blenheim Palace
- Open: 17 November 2023 – 1 January 2024
- Admission: Adult light trail only £26.50, combined House and Trail £61.50. 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: 17 November – 31 December 2023
- Admission: Adult £21.50, parking £9, 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: 24 November 2023 – 2 January 2024
- Admission: Adults £19.95, RHS members £10.45
Where is your favourite place to see London Christmas Lights?