Where to see the best Christmas lights in London


 

London undergoes a festive facelift in the build-up to Christmas as the city gets some of the most elaborate lights in the world. Nothing signifies the approach of Christmas more than the glow of seasonal street lights in the British capital.

If you love all things Christmas, make sure you visit some of these installations. Most of them are in major shopping areas, though you’ll find some of them in not so obvious venues (like the Leadenhall Market, which is only popular amongst bankers and…well, Harry Potter fans). Shops, markets and squares make a big effort to decorate their surroundings in order to offer a glowing atmosphere.

I’ve compiled a list of locations, opening times and prices so you can organise a couple of fun hours shopping under a sea of lights. Please note that this list of venues is arranged by date and that some of these require booking in advance – alas not all of them are free.

Without further ado, let’s check the best Christmas Lights across the British capital: From main streets to enclosed spaces, from outdoor installations to indoor displays, here are London’s best Christmas Lights.

1. Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street – Image sourced from their website

Carnaby Street has long been associated with London’s creative scene, especially in recent history. Music stars including Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and style icons Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor were all Carnaby Street regulars. Due to its affluence, Carnaby Street was pedestrianised in 1973. Since then, creativity has only been booming and every year surprising events are organised in it.

The Christmas lights of Carnaby Street take on an ocean theme this 2019. The sea-life illuminations and decor (including a 5m whale which blows bubbles) are in aid of ocean conservation charity Project 0. Sustainability is at the heart of the light installation, with every element using recycled, repurposed or reusable materials including water-based, eco-friendly, vegan paint.

When: 7 November until 5 January
Where: Carnaby St (Google)
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Price: Free

 

2. Covent Garden

Covent Garden

Covent Garden – Image sourced from their website

Over 115,000 lights will illuminate England’s busiest garden this year. Covent Garden’s Christmas Display will also boast London’s biggest hand-picked Christmas tree, festooned with 30,000 lights (seemingly in the hope they will be seen from space). In addition, Covent Garden is opening a festive ice rink in collaboration with jewellery brand Tiffany & Co. You can read all about it in our Ice Rink Guide.

The Covent Garden area offers plenty of entertainment so don’t miss other venues around it during your visit. From a night out at the Royal Opera House to a quick visit to London’s Transport Museum. My favourite? The not-so-obvious Bridge of Aspiration by WilkinsonEyre built in 2003 to connect the Royal Opera House with the Royal Ballet school.

When: 12 November, 5.30pm
Where: The Market Bldg, WC2E 8RF(Google)
Nearest Tube: Covent Garden
Price: Free

 

3. Regent Street

Regent Street

Regent Street – Image sourced from their website

Regent Street started off this whole Christmas lights tradition back in 1954, and the famous angels are flying back down to Regent Street for this year’s awe-inspiring ‘The Spirit of Christmas’. It was inspired by the traditional display angels playing trumpets in the very first occasion.

Regent Street is one of the very few planned avenues in London, a clever urban design by extravagant architect John Nash. The construction of the northern section of the street involved demolishing houses, small roads and pretty much upsetting the local population. If only Nash could see the result hundreds of years later…

When: 14 November, 5pm
Where: Regent Street (Google)
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Price: Free

 

4. Seven Dials

Seven Dials

Seven Dials Christmas Lights – Image sourced from their website

This once seedy area of London got a mayor refurbishment in the 70’s and since then it’s been thriving. The original layout of the Seven Dials area was designed by Thomas Neale during the early 1690s. The original plan had six roads converging, although this was later increased to seven. Flat subdivision led to overcrowding and it slowly became one of London’s worst rookeries. Now that things are going well, neighbours are still committed to those in need.

Seven Dials are partnering with homelessness charity Shelter, giving Londoners the chance to switch on the new interactive ‘Starry Night’ Christmas light installation simply by making a donation to the charity (to highlight the fact that sleeping under the stars is a harsh reality for thousands of people sleeping on the streets).

When: 14 November, 6.30pm
Where: Seven Dials (Google)
Nearest Tube: Covent Garden
Price: Free

 

5. Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market Christmas Lights – Image sourced from their website

Thousands of lights and a central Christmas tree are switched on in Leadenhall Market by the Lord Mayor of London. The festivities on the 15th kick start the Market’s festive campaign, which will see an online ‘12 Days of Christmas’ promotion running in December, a Christmas Music Festival and a special Harry Potter festive day on Saturday 21st December (Harry Potter fans rejoice!).  It will even ‘snow’ in the Market this year to make it feel especially festive.

Don’t miss the nearby Royal Exchange (point 8 of this list) which also celebrates the Christmas season in style.

When: 15 November at 6pm
Where: Gracechurch St, EC3V 1LT (Google)
Nearest Tube: Bank / Monument
Price: Free

 

6. Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park

Enchanted Woodland

Enchanted Woodland – Image sourced from their Twitter Account

Syon Park is home to Robert Adam’s Syon House, which also has London’s first conservatory to be built from metal and glass on a large scale. The Great Conservatory in the gardens, designed by Charles Fowler in the 1820s, was completed in 1827.

The woodlands of Syon Park will light up for the winter with an array of colourful lighting displays. The event is put together by a team of lighting designers and Syon staff so you can even ask them about the trees. It’s worth visiting the house and grounds first and then relaxing in the woodlands.

When: 15 November to 1 December
Where: Brent Lea, TW8 8JF (Google)
Nearest Train Station: Syon Lane
Price: From £10

 

7. Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens – Image sourced from their website

This winter, Kew are promising more twinkling than ever before (if that were even possible considering last year saw one million lights). Framed by glittering spiral trees, dynamic laser projections will illuminate the iconic Temperate House. A dazzling arch leads to a cascade of glowing silvery shards at the Treetop Walkway. Walk amongst immersive vines as they surprise with changing ribbons of light, and wander beneath the branches where mysterious fairy-fire known as Will-o’the Wisp softly glows.

Kew Gardens is one of the locations you shouldn’t miss during Christmas, as there’s so much going on in it during the winter season. Make sure you book in advance as there’s always high demand.

When: 20 November to 5 January
Where: Richmond TW9 3AB (Google)
Nearest Train Station: Kew Gardens
Price: From £18

 

8. Royal Exchange

Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall Market – Image sourced from their website

The Royal Exchange highly celebrates the switching on the Christmas tree lights. This event  also involves carolling, mince pies, mulled wine and hot chocolate. In 2019, Downton Abbey actress Joanne Froggatt had the honour of switching on the Christmas tree lights making the ceremony even lovelier (any other Downton Abbey fans over here?).

Located in the City, make sure you also visit Leadenhall Market and its beautiful Christmas lights and trees (check point 5 of this list).

When: 20 November at 5.30pm
Where: Royal Exchange, EC3V 3LR (Google)
Nearest Tube: Bank / Monument
Price: Free

 

9. Oxford Street

Oxford Street Christmas Lights

Oxford Street Christmas Lights – Image sourced from their website

Oxford Street, famous for its Christmas lights, changed the nature of its installation in 2019. For the first time, it displayed a series of 27 LED curtains, made up of 220,000 lights in total. Stretching down the length of Oxford Street, the artist’s impression makes it looks as if they’re aiming for a Northern Lights-style effect, but the lights are expected to shimmer in a variety of different patterns.

Expect big crowds in this part of London at all times. However, the beauty of Oxford and Regent Streets (point 3 of this list) is worth the multitudes.

When: 21 November at 5.30pm
Where: Oxford Street (Google)
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Price: Free

 

10. Wave at Eccleston Yards

Wave at Eccleston Yards

Wave at Eccleston Yards – Image sourced from their website

Last but not least, the Belgravia spot will be hosting a light installation by the artist collective Squidsoup this Christmas, which will see 500 individual orbs suspended in the space for visitors to immerse themselves in. Some might recognise the group’s work from their collaboration with DJ and producer Four Tet at his recent live shows, and you can expect more of the same from their free festive show at the west London hub.

The different orbs will project vibrations that have different functions according to their colour. For example, the orange orbs are designed to energise the body, the yellow orbs will stimulate happiness, and the blue orbs will allegedly calm the heart rate.

When: 28 November to 11 January
Where: Eccleston Yard, Eccleston Pl, SW1W 9AZ (Google)
Nearest Tube: Victoria
Price: Free

 

I hope you enjoyed this list and are able to visit some of these wonderful Christmas light installations across London.

Don’t miss our Top 7 Christmas Markets in London.

Stay tuned for more Christmas plans, shows and activities in London.