Planning a trip to the capital in December and wondering what to do? Start with a visit to see the Christmas light displays, one of the most festive things to do in London.
For as long as I can remember, I have made the annual pilgrimage to see the Christmas lights in London.
As a child, my mum and I would head to London on the bus from Clapham. A wide-eyed Angie would be mesmerised by the twinkling lights strung across London streets, often swaying in the wind and sometimes covered by a dusting of snow.
Later as a parent myself, I would bring my children to see the London Christmas lights. It was a magical event that heralded the start of the festive season and usually ended with hot chocolate, whipped cream and marshmallows at a nearby cafe.
I still enjoy my yearly trip to see the London Christmas lights all these years later. It is often a precursor to a night at one of London’s theatres or a shopping trip to a top department store, such as London’s historic gem, Fortnum and Mason, to buy some Christmas goodies.
Whatever draws me to London in December, the capital’s magical twinkling lights will always be a favourite part of my Christmas ritual.
I have written this festive guide to help you to find the best Christmas lights in London. I hope it will inspire you to visit London and see the Christmas lighting yourself.
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Feeling Festive Yet? Find Out Where to See Christmas Lights in London
The good news is that the best London illuminations at Christmas are all close to each other. The London Christmas lights walking route is easy to complete during a day visit to London.
This map highlights the most Christmassy streets in London. It will help you plan where you want to start your Christmas lights route.
Regent Street Christmas Lights
How to get to the start of the Christmas illuminations
Oxford Circus: Victoria, Bakerloo & Central Line
Piccadilly Circus: Piccadilly & Bakerloo Line
Green Park: Victoria, Jubilee & Piccadilly Line
I’m going to start with the daddy of all of London’s Christmas Streets, Regent Street. This iconic London street is where the tradition of displaying the central London Christmas lights started back in 1954.
Supposedly, the Daily Mail reported that London looked dull at Christmas. The shop owners decided to rectify this by running twinkling lights from one side of the road to the other. The response was incredible and other major London streets joined in with this festive idea.
Running from the corner of Oxford Street to the start of Picadilly, this is one of London’s most famous streets. When Christmas arrives, it is a fabulous place to see some of the best Christmas lights London has to offer.
My mum told me of the time she worked in Liberty of London on Regent Street back in the swinging 60s. She recalls workers hanging precariously off ladders tying the Christmas lights to the store’s exterior fittings. What a spectacle it must have been!
Fast forward to the present time, and the tradition of hanging Christmas lights on Regent Street is still in full swing.
If you have ever seen an image of the London Christmas lights, it would no doubt be of the glorious golden angel figures heralding in the Christmas season with their outstretched wings. Now lovingly known as the Spirit of Christmas, these angelic creatures watch over London’s most iconic shopping street and are a sight to behold.
The Regent Street Christmas lights will be twinkling from Nov 9th 2022
Oxford Street Christmas Lights
The Christmas lights in Oxford Street are another dazzling festive display in one of London’s most iconic destinations and are a light show of which London can be proud.
In some of the larger department stores along Oxford Street, incredible Christmas window displays accompany the festive street lighting. In fact, Harry Selfridge brought the idea of Christmas window dressing to London from the United States.
The Oxford Street Christmas lights theme in 2022 will be the same as last year: a stunning display of 5,000 dangling stars strewn across, illuminating the main thoroughfare.
The Oxford Street Christmas lights will be twinkling from Nov 2nd 2022
South Molton Street Christmas Lights
Festive fun can come in small packages, which is the case with South Molton Street.
This small, unassuming street leading off Oxford Street is home to a sensational light display at Christmas. Walk along its gleaming streets and window-shop at some of London’s most exclusive designer shops. It is also the birthplace of the luxury British fragrance brand Molton Brown. Switch-on TBC.
Bond Street Christmas Lights
I think the best Christmas lights to see in London are on Bond Street, where visitors can enjoy shopping beneath the most decadent lighting installations.
In 2022 a brand new Christmas light display will be unveiled as a homage to Queen Elizabeth ll. Gone are the sparkling peacock feathers and chandeliers that have delighted visitors for the past eight years, and in comes glistening crowns and pendants lit with 90,000 LEDs, a fitting tribute to our dearly departed Queen.
Visitors can also see some of London’s best Christmas shop displays along Bond Street. A giant red ribbon is wrapped around the Cartier store and is matched in extravagance each year by Tiffany’s festive window theme. It’s no wonder Bond Street is one of London’s most instagrammable Christmas spots!
The Bond Street Christmas lights will be twinkling from Nov 17th 2022
Carnaby Street Christmas Lights
The most eccentric London Christmas light illuminations you could wish to see are in Carnaby Street, and 2022 marks 25 years of bold and iconic street decorations. Carnaby Celebrates will bring together 14 different themes creating an array of magical Christmas nostalgia.
Carnaby’s London lights change most years and range from pop idol tributes to outer space paraphernalia. It’s all in keeping with the fun-loving identity for which Carnaby Street has always been known and loved.
The Carnaby Street Christmas lights will be twinkling from Nov 8th 2022
Covent Garden at Christmas
With thousands of glistening lights in this one famous spot, Covent Garden undoubtedly holds one of the top titles for having the best Christmas decorations in London.
No visitor seeing the leading London lights should miss out on experiencing London’s most famous market at Christmas with its gigantic mistletoe and shiny Christmas baubles that hang inside the historic Apple Market.
The magnificent Covent Garden Christmas tree towers above the piazza, purchased from the same farm that supplies Christmas trees to the Royal Family.
Market barrows spill over with seasonal flowers, and Christmassy aromas fill the air. Add to the proceedings a daily dusting of snow, and you have one of the best photo spots in London during Christmas.
For another burst of Christmas spirit, wander along to nearby Seven Dials to enjoy their smaller sparkling Christmas display. Turn on Nov 17th 2022.
If you don’t want to walk from Regent Street, take the underground to Covent Garden station to see the Christmas decorations.
The Covent Garden Christmas season will start on Nov 8th 2022
Other Places in London to See Christmas Decorations
Burlington Arcade runs from Piccadilly to Burlington Gardens. It has the feel of Victoriana London and is home to some unique shops. Keep your eyes peeled for The Beadles, who guard the arcade and are part of Britain’s oldest and smallest police force!
Famous for being the inspiration behind HP Diagon Alley, this beautiful undercover market is lit up on Nov 17th 2022. London’s Lord Mayor will do the honours of lighting up the large central Christmas tree.
See the largest Christmas tree in London lit up for the festive season. Gifted to the capital each year by Norway, it is one of the must-see Christmas decorations in London.
Visit the Christmas market in Leicester Square and get into the festive spirit. Strings of fairy lights and shiny decorations light up the trees while the aroma of mulled wine fills the air.
Enjoy London’s best walk at Christmas along the Southbank. Stroll beneath the lights entwined in the trees and visit the Christmas markets along the way.
Chelsea goes full out of the capital to impress with its Christmas decorations. Expect a magical day of festive activities with the big reveal of 2022 lights on Nov 17th.
London Christmas Lights Bus Tour
A bus tour is a good alternative if you don’t fancy walking around to see the Christmas lights in London. The bus will take you along all the main roads, where you will see the most extravagant Christmas light displays in London.
Christmas in London is one of the most magical destinations to experience, and I hope this post has inspired you to visit the capital.
Visitors can find Christmas lights and holiday displays all over London, so everywhere you wander will put you in the Christmas Spirit.
While in the capital, why not check out a Christmas market in London or treat yourself to afternoon tea or a Christmas cocktail at one of London’s top hotels? They all try to outdo themselves at Christmas with their interior decorations and are fabulous to see.
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