When Christmas time swings around London gets decorated in beautiful Christmas lights. From the switching on the light ceremony in Oxford Circus to Kew Gardens being decked out with mesmerising displays of light, there is plenty of wonderful displays to visit.
These are some of the best Christmas lights in London, where to find them and the dates you can visit.
Don’t forget to get to add the Christmas markets and magical shop displays to your to-do list!
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1. Christmas At Kew
Explore the Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew by stepping into a wonderland of glittering illuminations and mesmerising displays of light. The activities begin after dark, taking visitors on a journey through tunnels of sparkling light where trees can be seen wrapped in jewels of glowing colour.
The Fire Garden boasts a phenomenal display of flickering flames whilst a spectacular finale awaits at The Palm House. Independent street vendors line the route, just in case you fancy a quick bite to eat. Festive treats and tasty beverages can be purchased to warm you up along the way.
The attraction runs from Wednesday, November 17, 2021, until Sunday, January 9, 2022, from 4 pm-10 pm. This event is ticketed, so book in advance to secure your spot.
2. Oxford Street Christmas Lights
Everybody knows some of the best Christmas lights can be found on Oxford Street. Consisting of 222,000 dazzling LED bulbs, the Oxford Street lights attract over one million tourists each year.
The switching on of the lights draws in the largest crowds and are usually turned on by a well-known celebrity and supported by a local radio station with performances from local musicians.
The history of the Oxford Street lights dates back to 1959 when they were first displayed. However, the idea of Christmas street lights was first tried out on nearby Regent Street in 1954. The purpose behind this attraction was to brighten up post-war London as it was deemed bleak and grey.
The running cost of these lights can be very expensive, and in 1957, the lights were replaced by gas-filled balloons – which struggled to gain interest, as you can imagine. It was thought that the money invested in these lights could be better spent elsewhere, and they didn’t return until the late 1970s.
The Oxford Street lights are 1.5 miles long, starting at Marble Arch and ending at Tottenham Court Road.
3. Regent Street Lights
Regent Street runs perpendicular to Oxford Street, and the Christmas lights here are equally as impressive. Known for having the largest display of lights, Regent Street pulls out all the stops by changing the pattern of lights annually so that year after year, returning tourists will see a new and unique display.
The Regent Street Christmas Lights run from Oxford Circus to Waterloo Place, which makes for a lovely, wintry stroll along the streets of London to take in the dazzling display of twinkling lights.
The lights are illuminated at around 3:30 pm each day up until midnight, and this can be said for the majority of Christmas light displays around the area.
So throw on your thermals and step outside to see these incredible illuminations. The Regent Street lights are the best Christmas lights, simply because they were the first ones here!
4. Carnaby Christmas Lights
Known as the swinging (that’s swing dancing!) hotspot of London, the Carnaby Street display of lights reflected the musical revolution of the 60s when first installed. Back in the day, Carnaby Street was the place to be for Mods, New Romantics and Punks. It is still a cool and stylish place to be, and this is mirrored by the creative light installations.
This Soho street is a no vehicle zone, so feel free to snap away and get that perfect selfie!
5. Covent Garden Christmas Lights
Explore the cobbled streets of Covent Garden, where the stunning displays of light blanket the sky.
The 19th-century Piazza is studded with 115,000 jewelled lights, and don’t forget to check out the 60-feet tall Christmas tree covered with 30,000 glittering lights, met with nothing but admiration from the crowd. This tree is also hand-picked at the same place as the Queen picks hers! The erecting and decorating of the tree take 300 hours and 60 workers, with the help of a cherry picker, of course. We’re tired, just writing about it!
Giant chandeliers of mistletoe line the streets so you can plant a surprise kiss on that special someone. The festive spirit at Covent Garden is truly undeniable and not one to miss.
The mandatory switch-on has been performed by many celebrities over the years, including the likes of Kylie Minogue, Rita Ora and Cheryl Cole. Sadly due to the pandemic, the Christmas switch-on was cancelled in 2020; however, there are high hopes that it will resume this year.
6. Marylebone Village Lights
The popular board game of Monopoly comes to mind when we think of Marylebone, yet this West End district is one of London’s most acclaimed shopping areas. But what about the Christmas lights?
This chic area of London invests a lot into the festive period, and the Merry Marylebone campaign is one of them. Funded and organised by The Howard de Walden Estate, Merry Marylebone brings the community together with festive displays and performances loved by all.
Scour the shops for designer discounts this Christmas, including popular names such as LuluLemon and Paul Smith. Then step outside into the hustle and bustle underneath the stunning illuminations that light up the afternoon sky. Pay a visit to St Marylebone Parish Church for Christmas carols performed by the local choir before settling into one of the many beautiful restaurants for a well-deserved fine dining experience.
7. King’s Cross and Coal Drops Yard Christmas Lights
Traditional, yet modern. The decorations around here are questionable but magnificent. Just a short, 5-minute walk from Kings Cross station, and you will arrive at Coal Drops Yard. With its ancient cobbled streets and red brick arches, the buzz here is almost deafening.
Coal Drops Yard brings Christmas to life with its unusual array of decorations and illuminations. In 2020, a terrarium Christmas tree was installed, standing at 28-feet tall. Each terrarium contained its very own mini garden and was surrounded by a variety of mirrored baubles. Interesting, huh? There are plenty of individual shops to purchase that last-minute Christmas gift and don’t forget to check out the gorgeous festive window displays.
Kings Cross is the go-to place for food around here, with many eateries serving up Christmas feasts and treats. Many restaurants are constructed with beautiful terraces if you want to brave the cold and dine al fresco, with outdoor heaters, of course!
Check out the Festive Forest at Granary Square or have fun with the interactive tree at Battle Bridge Place.
8. South Bank Christmas Lights
Get involved in the festivities this year by attending Southbank to see the incredible illuminations at the Winter Light exhibition. Artworks from fifteen artists are displayed around the riverside area for tourists to admire, lighting up the cold, dark months.
These inspiring pieces of art use sources of light to explore ideas about gender, nature and aesthetics. This free exhibition can be found in all outdoor areas of Southbank, with more artwork added up until mid-December. Check it out!
Take a walk along the Thames with a steaming mug of mulled wine to view the endless fairy-lit trees dancing in the reflection of the water. The Southbank Christmas markets are also worth a browse for delicious german delicacies and last-minute gifts.
9. St James’s and Piccadilly Christmas Lights
It wasn’t until 2017 that Piccadilly had its first-ever display of Christmas lights, and now they are proudly installed annually for all to see.
The first display of lights was originally inspired by the Greek god Anteros, known as the god of requited love. The statue of Anteros is a well-known landmark in London and was first erected in Piccadilly Circus in 1893. Recently, that particular installation of lights has changed, and they can now be seen all around the area in shop windows, across the streets and adorning historic buildings.
Check out luxury store Fortnum and Mason for their impressive window displays. In 2020, each window was numbered to mimic the look of a traditional advent calendar. Infamously known for being the Queen’s grocer, Fortnum and Mason really do push the boat at Christmas!
Visit St James’s church for ‘Carols in the Courtyard’ performed by the angelic sounding choir. Pre-registration is required, and the use of face coverings is still in place but don’t let the restrictions put you off!
10. Bond Street Christmas Lights
Famous for its luxury shops, the Christmas lights on Bond Street are truly a sight to behold. Giant snowflakes and glistening peacock feathers of light cover the street and can be seen from every angle. While peacocks may not spring to mind when you think of Christmas, there is a reason behind this incredible display consisting of around 250,000 bulbs.
During the late 18th century, groups of young men known as ‘The Bond Street Loungers’ would strut through the town looking extremely dapper in super fashionable attire, rendering them the ‘peacocks’ of their day. Thus, the beautiful Christmas lights are a nod to these fashionable young men.
However, it is the window displays that gain the most attraction, and it’s easy to see why. Many stores host entertainment and festivities over Christmas, inviting guests inside for a glass of bubbles and a mince pie or two. Cartier embraces the season with vibrant red ribbons that cover the shop front. Last year, a giant illuminated panther could be seen perched on top of the building. We wonder what plans Cartier has in mind for 2021.
11. Connected By Light at Canary Wharf
Visit Canary Wharf to witness the ethereal illuminations that light up the winter skies.
Connected by Light is a captivating festival of light bringing a festive atmosphere to Canary Wharf. The exhibit displays over 30 pieces of illuminated art that cover the estate. Past exhibitions included a poetry trail from Elisa Artesero and a geometric feature by Mandylights at nearby Westferry Circus.
Wearing comfortable shoes is highly recommended as it is quite a walk if you want to get through the whole exhibit. However, you can have a pit-stop along the way on one of the many colour changing benches. There is no need to take a map of the route either. Just follow the crowds, and we promise you won’t get lost. There will be plenty of on-site staff to guide you if you start to panic.
The hustle and bustle of Canary Wharf is not for everyone. Therefore, if you want to browse in peace, we recommend coming on a weekday to avoid large crowds.
12. Mayfair and Belgravia Christmas Lights
Last year, the beautiful boroughs of Mayfair and Belgravia drove tourists wild with their jaw-dropping display of festive lights.
The ever-changing rainbow LED lights on Motcomb street are particularly mesmerising, as are the illuminated archways on South Molton Street. The Christmas tree on Connaught street is a sight to behold. Standing tall and beautifully decorated, this tree is erected annually with thousands of twinkling lights to dazzle the passers-by.
Visit Brown Harts Garden for a creamy hot chocolate or a festive mulled wine to warm yourself up. Halkin Arcade is worth strolling past for a look at the magnificent rainbow-coloured tree. Mayfair and Belgravia are special places to be, particularly when it is the most wonderful time of the year.
13. Leicester Square Christmas Lights
The streets of Leicester will once again be illuminated this year with over 16,000 captivating lights. The official switch-on is usually done over at Humberstone Gate. The event is hosted by well-known celebrities and supported by a local radio station.
Head over to Clock Tower to see the gigantic Christmas tree that consists of over 2,000 bulbs and 900 shiny baubles.
New Market Square offers an array of award-winning street food and drinks, which will be needed after all that sightseeing! From midday to around 10:30 pm, visitors can gather around to watch a Christmas film (Elf was shown last year) on the gigantic outdoor screen.
Visit Town Hall Square to see the traditional nativity scene plus music from a brass band and performances from street artists. Highcross Leicester hosts Winter Galactical, which is a futuristic display of shimmering lights coupled with electrifying performances. It’s all happening at Leicester Square this year, so don’t miss out.
14. Seven Dials Christmas Lights
Last year, tourists were greeted with a more natural display of Christmas lights aptly named ‘Festive Woodland’. Rustic wreaths were adorned with colourful baubles and wrapped in thousands of dazzling lights. The famous dial was also draped in a halo of branch lights creating a warm, festive atmosphere.
Seven dials is perfect for roaming around the eclectic boutiques for that last-minute Christmas gift. There are plenty of places to stop by for a spot of lunch with the family, or why not treat yourself to a festive hot drink while exploring the cobbled streets.
15. The Churchill Arms
Last but not least is the epic display at the Churchill Arms pub in Kensington. Well known for its quirky exterior on a normal day, the Churchill Arms has one-upped every display in the UK by placing 97 (yes 97!) Christmas trees along the exterior walls of the building.
Taking a total of almost three weeks to complete, the display was met with complete adoration from both customers and passers-by. The unique attraction consists of 21,500 lights and is a truly remarkable – yet bizarre – sight.
Named after Winston Churchill’s grandparents, the infamous pub has been standing since 1750 and is one of London’s most historic drinking spots.
Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.