Christmas is a beautifully magical time of year and many cities have fantastical light displays, but over the years I’ve really appreciated the variety of Christmas Lights in London.
When I was a child growing up in Massachusetts (in the USA) my family used to take detours at night on our way home to see the most beautiful of the Christmas light displays. My home town had an artist who each year would design and create a new display for children, and adults, to drive past slowly and appreciate the glory of the season. It was a huge part of the holiday season, and even more generic lights were common on the neighbourhood homes. I remember my Dad climbing what seemed to be an impossibly tall ladder just to put a string of lights on the tree in our front yard.
None of that prepared me for London’s approach to Christmas – I quite literally have seen the centre of the city lit up from the air when flying over it a few years ago around this time of year. A bright beacon of light that shone even through a thick layer of clouds.
Some displays change year on year, like Carnaby Street. While other displays change after a handful of years, like Oxford Street or Regent Street. Beyond the light displays are the winter institutions – the store windows of Harrods or Selfridges, or the ice rinks throughout the city.
Top Christmas Lights in London Displays
The lights string from building to building over the length of the street, and provide a dazzling ceiling for one of London’s busiest shopping streets during the long winter nights. The most recent display of Christmas lights on Oxford Street feature a variety of orb shaped lights, usually white in colour but in recent years there have been some gold and pink ones added as well. In 2019 these were updated to panels that represented screens which could display messages.
Since 2016 the display over Regent Street is called the “Spirit of Christmas“, and is gorgeously elegant in it’s design. It features an illuminated body of an angel with the wings spanning between the stunning buildings on Regent Street.
The display in Seven Dials changes annually, but always impresses. They line the narrow streets of this charming shopping and restaurant district and always display the name of the neighbourhood in bright lights. A lot of effort is put into the displays in Seven Dials and it really livens up an already charming neighbourhood.
Every year Norway gifts a huge Christmas Tree as a thank you for the United Kingdom’s support to Norway during the Second World War. The tree is lit up and sits in the middle of this already impressive square in the shadow of the grand National Gallery.
Covent Garden is an already glorious place to visit in London, with it’s incredible market architecture. During the Christmas season they always host a large Christmas Tree (smaller than Trafalgar Square, but still impressive), and have a variety of exhibits and decorations.
Where else to see Christmas Lights in London?
There are light displays glistening throughout the city starting in November and carrying through the end of December.
Neighbourhoods with Beautiful Displays
- The Strand
- Carnaby Street
- New Bond Street
Stunning Exhibitions to Visit
- Enchanted Woodland at Syon House
- Christmas at Kew Gardens
- Kensington Palace
- Southbank Christmas Markets
- Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park
- Christmas Market in Leicester Square
- Ice Skating at London’s Landmarks (Natural History Museum, Tower of London, London Eye, Canary Wharf)
Impressive Displays at Department Stores
- John Lewis, on Oxford Street
Several of the bus tour companies also offer Christmas Lights tours as well, which are an incredible way to see the city (even if it’s freezing).
Several Years of Christmas Lights in London
I normally return to Massachusetts for Christmas but I still have had the opportunities to see some of the most beautiful Christmas Lights in London before heading back. I’ve collected photos from over the years for some of my favourites to showcase the changes and ranges of those displays.
My daily commute for over 7 years included taking a bus down the length of Oxford Street, which has one of the most incredible displays of Christmas Lights. Of all the Christmas Lights in London these are the ones I have become most familiar with.
2012 | Marmite Sponsors the Christmas Lights
2013 – 2018 | Orb Lights
The lights in Oxford Circus are a unique cross section of Regent Street lights and Oxford Street lights, showing off both of them depending on where in the circus you stand.
Regent Street has embraced the “Spirit of Christmas” lights in the recent years, but when I first moved the street had a variety of sponsored displays. One year was sponsored by one of the Night in the Museum movies, and another year it told the story of the Christmas Carol “12 Days of Christmas“.
2012 | The Twelve Days of Christmas
2013 | Sponsored by Mr. Peabody & Sherman
2014 | Sponsored by Night at the Museum: Secret Tomb
2015 – Present | “Spirit of Christmas“
Seven Dials changes year on year and it remains one of my favourite displays to see.
The display of the Norwegian Christmas Tree remains the same every year, but it always stuns me with it’s beauty, symmetry and height.
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