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The Best London Christmas Lights

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It's the end of May and I'm talking about Christmas and it feels so wrong. But, it's time to plan your holiday visit to London!

The holiday season in London starts in early November when the lights start coming on. It actually may get going a little earlier in September when some major stores open their Christmas shops and the lights start going up (but aren't turned on). The holidays transform London into a twinkling, festive wonderland, with Christmas lights that dazzle and delight. I have been to London 3 times in November and would go again any year. No place seems to sparkle like London does from November to January. The city’s light displays are a must-see, creating a magical backdrop for getting into the holiday spirit.

However, don't plan to go ON Christmas as it is a surprise to many travelers that London shuts up tight on Christmas Day. Very few things are open and public transportation ceases. The week between Christmas and New Years is not an efficient time to be in London because of varying schedules between Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. There will have to be a lot of adjustments due to holiday schedules.

Here’s a guide to the best light displays in London that will make your Christmas trip unforgettable.

1. Christmas at Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens becomes an enchanted forest during the holidays, with a trail of lights that leads you through a festive journey. The Palm House is illuminated with a spectacular finale that’s sure to leave you in awe. Kew Gardens is selling tickets to their holiday light display RIGHT NOW and they always sell out. LINK

2. Oxford Street

Oxford street in London at Christmas
Oxford Street

No Christmas visit to London is complete without a stroll down Oxford Street. The street’s famous lights are a seasonal staple, with shining stars that brighten up the skies above this bustling shopping haven. It gets VERY BUSY on the weekends so aim to visit it during a weekday.

3. Covent Garden

Covent Garden’s cobbled streets and 19th-century piazza are adorned with gigantic bells, baubles, and mirror balls. The Piazza has a magnificent Christmas tree that is a sight to behold in its large wooden bucket. There are wonderful backdrops for photos and lots of stalls and shops selling festive items.

Covent Garden at Christmas
The Covent Garden Christmas Tree

4. Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street is known for its cool vibe and unique Christmas themes that change every year. They are bold and colorful and give street a uniquely festive vibe. Decorations change every year and occasionally reflect current social issues or events.

Carnaby Street at Christmas
Carnaby Street is so colorful

5. Leicester Square

Leicester Square’s Christmas spirit is alive with large, lit-up stars stretching along the street. It has one of the few interesting, albeit non-traditional, Christmas markets in London.

Leicester Square at Christmas
The Leicester Square Christmas Market

6. Regent Street

The angels over Regent Street are a classic sight during Christmas. Their warm glow adds a touch of elegance to the shopping experience, making it a perfect spot for an evening walk under the lights. You won't want to miss Fortnum and Mason turning their building into an advent calendar!

I will also mention Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, but it's an awful tourist trap and unless you really like overpriced attractions or have kids who would like to ride the overpriced attractions, take a pass. It's very crowded and can get quite rowdy on the weekends.

Best Ways to See the Lights

You can always walk down these streets and experience the lights. But, the best way (aside from Kew Gardens, which is easily reachable by public transportation) is on a tour. There's something magical about gliding under the angels on Regents Street in a warm taxi with a panoramic roof or bundled up on the top of a double decker bus almost being able to touch the lights as you go under them.

You can take one of many open top bus tours as I did with a group of friends. It was VERY COLD but we stopped for hot chocolate and pastries on our way back to the hotel to warm up. LINK to a popular tour.

The other way to see the lights is a private black taxi tour. I work with a fabulous driver who can set up a comfortable private taxi tour of the lights. The taxi has a panoramic glass roof and large windows so you can gaze at the lights from the comfort and warmth of your seat. REACH OUT to me if you are interested in booking this private tour. It's also part of my Christmas Lights of London package as seen below.

A special package for visiting london

Visiting London at Christmastime is a truly special experience. The city’s light displays are not just decorations; they’re a celebration of the season’s joy and a testament to London’s enduring holiday spirit. No place seems to sparkle like London at Christmas time! It's worth a visit and I can help you set it up.


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