London’s Best Christmas Lights 2019
Last Updated: 12th November 2019
All too often, they’re just a long line of disappointments.
But all your festive anticipation is more than justified this year, because London is gradually transforming into a festive, wintry wonderland that would put the set of Elf to shame. So without further ado, here’s the best places to have a gawp at some seasonal illumination – because these installations are ready to sleigh…
We will be updating this as Christmas lights go up around the city, so keep checking back…
Harking (ahem) back to their very first light display back in ’54, Regent Street’s lights are, for a fourth year running, taking the form of 17m-wide angels sweeping down the street. Their biggest installation yet, the parade stretches from Langham Place down to St James’s Market, and involves a dazzling 300,000 LED lights which atmospherically ripple down the street. So they’re not just winging it…
Switch-on: Thursday 14th November 2019, 5pm-6.30pm
For this year’s illuminations the people in charge decided to basically pack so many lights into the banners, they turn into giant TV screens. There are 27 LED light curtains draped over the length of the street, made up of 220,000 sparkling, programmable lights…
Switch-on: November 21st
Carnaby Street are going all-in on sustainability for this year’s lights, which are a collaboration with Project Zero: a charity dedicated to ocean conservation. The lights themselves are on-point with every element using recycled, repurposed or reusable materials including water-based, eco-friendly, vegan paint. And yes, they’ll be recycled for another event next year.
Switch-on: Lights are on now…
Seven Dials are kicking off their festive illumination with a street party featuring a live orchestra, complimentary drinks, drop-in activities and a load of discounts across the boutiques, restaurants and bars there. So your wallet might look a little lighter, too.
Switch-on: Thursday 14th November, 5-9pm – register ahead HERE.
Creating probably the most romantic spot in London, Covent Garden market has festooned its ceilings with 40 giant, illuminated bunches of mistletoe, complete with 700 berries – so just be careful who you find yourself standing next to.
Switch-on: Tuesday 12th November
Every year since 1947, the people of Oslo have gifted London a Christmas tree as a thank you for Britain’s support for Norway in WWII. And all 25m of it will be draped in traditional vertically strung fairy lights, with regular carol concerts and a nativity procession with a full brass band taking place below it over the following weeks.
Switch-on: 5th December, from 6pm
This year, the Marylebone lights will involve full-on fairground rides, plus food and drink, Santa’s Grotto, a good ol’ tombola, some live music, and a little festive shopping. Plus, the head singer of the Kaiser Chiefs will be switching them on. We predict a calm and orderly ceremony.
Switch-on: Wednesday 13th November, 3-7pm (lights on at 6pm)
Kew’s totally low-key, understated light installation will involve you taking in a mere million individual lights, exploring a flickering fire garden, and toasting marshmallows in a garden festooned with twinkling lights before making your across a lake covered in hundreds of glowing boats.
Details: 20th November – 5th January 2020. Tickets from £18, find out more HERE.
ENCHANTED ELTHAM PALACE
Half medieval castle, half art deco country pile, Eltham Palace and its gardens (complete with actual moat) are about to be given a festive illuminatory makeover for a third year, with projections onto the ancient buildings themselves, a light and fountain show in the moat, mulled wine, a maze of lights… and a talking tree.
Details: 5th-22nd December, tickets from £12 HERE
Anyone who says there’s no point lighting up the Shard is about to be proven wrong.
Because the point itself (that is, the top 20 floors of the spire) will be home to a spectacular light show taking place throughout December, including rippling effects down the building itself as well as lasers radiating into the sky. Which’ll be useful if Rudolf fancies a night off.
Switch-on: 2nd December – early on 1st January, from 4pm-1am daily
SYON PARK’S ENCHANTED WOODLAND
This winter, Syon Park Forest is going to be lit up like a Christmas tree.
It’s out in West London in the grounds surrounding a stately manor (Syon House), and this will be the 14th year that they’ve decided to enchant the 6-century-old woodlands using a spectrums-worth of lights, lasers, strobes, floodlights, and other such modern wizardry… READ MORE
Details: Fridays-Sundays from November 15 until December 1st – get tickets (£10-12) HERE
Fine, so it’s not just strictly a Christmas display, given that they’re up all year round – but the 12,000 bulbs adorning the Harrods facade are more than just a touch festive. Plus, it’s an excuse to see their newly relaunched food hall, featuring 150 chefs and a vegetable butcher.
Details: Open Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 11.30am-6pm
If the 120 antique, vintage and independently run craft stalls aren’t enough to draw you in for a bit of Christmas shopping at Greenwich Market, then the twinkling trees and mulled-wine fuelled Wednesday lates should be… after which you’ll probably find yourself visiting 240 stalls.
Switch-on: Lantern parade & lights switch-on 20th November – find out more HERE
COAL DROPS YARD
This year, Coal Drops is going to be transformed into a “fluorescent Winter Wonderland sprinkled with vibrant, flocked trees and illuminated with colourful lights inspired by the Northern Lights”. And guess who gets to turn the lights on? The winner of a gameshow-style karaoke experience called Famous First Words.
Switch On: November 13th
Main image: Regent Street
Feeling festive yet? A trip to one of these excellent winter rooftops should do it…