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. Best of all it is free.
Where to find the Best London Christmas 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.
Regent Street was the first London Street to have Christmas Lights back in 1954. For the last few years magnificent angels have flown above Regent Street that echo those very first lights. I’m happy to see the Angels come back year after year.
Oxford Street’s Christmas lights have had a make over in 2020. The Curtains of LED lights hanging over the street celebrate the heroes who have helped so much in our battle against Covid. Londoners were asked to nominate who the heroes they wanted to celebrate.
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 2020 Carnaby Street has teamed up with the charity Choose Love. A series of neon pink light boxes bearing positive messages will bathe the street in positive pink light. Choose Love has an online shop with a difference, you can buy things but they are delivered not to you but to a refugee who needs them. If you can’t get up to London to see the lights don’t worry Carnaby Street has an on online tour for you.
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.
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 Festivals
OK, so not strictly a festival but Tate Britain does glow with a festive light installation during the darkest days of the year. 2020 sees an installation by Chila Burman inspired by Bollywood, radical feminism, Hindu mythology, political activism and family memories. By far the best of the annual Tate light installations so far for my money. It will adding good cheer until 31 January 2021.
Winter Light at the Southbank Centre
Seventeen glowing artworks will be popping up on the buildings and along the riverside at the Southbank centre this winter. Giant projections will play on the facade of the Festival Hall and the plane trees that line the Thames will be interlaced with neon lights to create a glowing canopy. All the lights will keep on glowing until 28 February 2021.
Canary Wharf Winter Lights
Canary Wharf has scaled back its annual winter light festival for 2020. This year there will be nine works that can be appreciated at a distance enabling social distancing. The lights will be switched on on 2 December 2020 and keep on glowing until 27 February 2021, so lots of time and no need to rush.
Every year Kew Gardens get lit up for Christmas. 2020 will be no exception, expect old favourites like the sparkling tunnel of lights and new for 2020 will be the illuminated rose garden. Unlike all the other lights mentioned here you have to pay for the ones at Kew, book via the Kew website (but they are spectacular and well worth it) an off peak adult ticket costs £19.50, family tickets are available.
Where is your favourite place to see London Christmas Lights?
If baubles and tinsel are not your thing check out the Diary of Londoness’s guide to An Alternative Christmas in London. Or may if you fancy getting away completely how about Christmas in the IceHotel?