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Christmas Lights in London: A Festive Guide by a Londoner

Christmas Lights in London: A Festive Guide by a Londoner

Are you planning to see the Christmas Lights in London in 2023 and wondering where to find them? This guide tells you the best places to see the Christmas lights, how to get to them and the switch-on dates for each light display.

For as long as I can remember, I have made the annual pilgrimage to see the capital’s Christmas lights, which is undoubtedly one of the most festive things to do 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 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, and I hope seeing the Christmas lights in London each year becomes one of yours, too.

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Where to See Christmas Lights in London

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

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.

Christmas Lights Route Map

This map highlights the most Christmassy streets in London. It will help you plan where to start your Christmas lights route.

Map of Walking route for London's Christmas Light Display

Regent Street Christmas Lights

Regent Street and St James Christmas lights will be twinkling from Nov 9th 2023

I will start with the biggest and most spectacular London Christmas light display, which is on Regent Street and St James. 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 London’s best Christmas lights.

illuminatd angels above the black taxis travelling along Regent Street in London.

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.

Human sized illuminated angel in London

Oxford Street Christmas Lights

Oxford Street Christmas lights will be twinkling from Nov 2nd 2023

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.

Selfridges is also one of the best places to see Santa in London if you still have little believers in the family.

The Oxford Street Christmas lights theme is a stunning display of 5,000 dangling stars strewn across, illuminating the main thoroughfare.

And don’t forget to visit the Christmas lighting ceremonies in Marylebone Village on 9th Nov 2023 and St Christopher’s Place on 14th Nov 2023, nestled close to Oxford Street.

illuminated white stars hanging above Oxford street in London.
illuminated Christmas stars hanging over Oxford Street

South Molton Street Christmas Lights

Switch-on TBC.

Festive fun can come in small packages, as 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.

Archways made from fairy lights lining South Molton Street in London

New Bond Street Christmas Lights

New Bond Street Christmas lights will be twinkling from Nov 17th 2023

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 was 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.

As always, the Cartier, Chanel and Chaumet stores are a Christmas extravagance matched only by Dior and Ralph Lauren. It’s no wonder New Bond Street is one of London’s most instagrammable Christmas spots!

Peacock tails and chandeliers Christmas street lights on Bond Street

Carnaby Street Christmas Lights

Carnaby Street Christmas lights will be twinkling from Nov 2nd 2023

The most eccentric London Christmas light illuminations are in Carnaby Street and are a magnet for visitors looking for something quirky.

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.

Words saying Carnaby on a union flag and with an illuminated crown above it

Covent Garden at Christmas

Covent Garden Christmas season will start on Nov 7th 2023

With thousands of glistening lights in this 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 a daily dusting of snow to the proceedings, and you have one of the best photo spots in London during Christmas.

For another burst of Christmas spirit, wander to nearby Seven Dials to enjoy their smaller sparkling Christmas display.

If you don’t want to walk from Regent Street, take the underground to Covent Garden station to see the Christmas decorations.

Giant mistletoe and silver baubles hanging above the apple market at Christmas

Other Places in London to See Christmas Decorations

Burlington Arcade

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!

burlington arcade decked with Christmas decorations.

Leadenhall Market

Famous for inspiring HP Diagon Alley, this beautiful undercover market is lit up from November to January. London’s Lord Mayor will do the honours of lighting up the large central Christmas tree on 17th Nov 2023.

Trafalgar Square

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.

The switching on of the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square will take place on Dec 7th 2023, at 6 p.m.

Leicester Square

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.

Southbank

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

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 2023 lights.

Belgravia Christmas Lights switch on 15th Nov 2023.

King’s Road Christmas Lights switch on 18th Nov 2023.

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 London’s most extravagant Christmas light displays while giving you a bite-size history lesson on London.

The open-top Christmas Light buses are good fun, but be prepared to wear warm clothes as it gets nippy in London in the winter months. Also they can get caught up in traffic jams and are a bit jolty so be prepared!

Conclusion

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.

Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my resources page to help you plan your trip.

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