Each year I make it customary to walk the festive streets of central London and check out the Christmas lights. Whilst some streets and shop facades rarely differ, others step up their game each year with new themes.
I’ve done this for the past four years and feel I now have my route nailed in terms of ticking off all the festive favourites. So much so, that I think it’s about time I shared it with all of you. So if you’re planning a visit to London this Christmas, or you live here and want to show your loved ones the lights, let this guide help you see the best of what London has to offer.
A Guide To London’s Christmas Lights
1. Regent Street
I begin my route by getting the tube to Oxford Circus, where you can get a quick glimpse of Oxford Street’s lights, before turning the corner onto Regent Street. For me this is one of the most magical streets see what could be the most magical lights in London – the wonderful angels!
This is one of my favourites and although it’s often busy, there’s always some shop window you can stop at and gaze mesmerisingly up at the lights from.
2. Claridge’s Hotel
From Regent Street take a right onto Brook Street and walk along until you see Claridge’s Hotel. I’m yet to see it this year, but in previous years they’ve always put on an impressive display outside. Plus, I hear they have an incredible tree and more decorations inside. So perhaps you could stop in for a glass of bubbles too!
Head back along Brook Street and turn right onto New Bond Street. The first store you will see is Fenwick, who always put on a display around their doorway and in their windows. Fenwick decorate their door throughout the year for different seasons. Sometimes I’m wowed, and other times I’m a little disappointed. Unfortunately this Chrismtas it was the latter, but still worth a look.
4. Maddox Gallery
Continue down Bond Street and take a quick left onto Maddox Street. Here you will find Maddox Gallery, who similarly to Fenwick, decorate their store throughout the year for different moments. This Christmas I’ve seen that they’ve gone ALL OUT with their display. I’m yet to see it in person but must make a bee line soon.
Get back onto Bond Street, and continue south, soaking up all the impressive window displays as you do so. Turn right onto Bruton Street and cross through the park to Annabel’s. You can’t miss it! Each year they bring out a show stopping tree display, that covers the entire building. Last year it was red, this year it’s white. Personally I preferred last year’s look, but I still want to see this year’s in person. As it really is a stop you in your tracks moment.
They’ve also got into the habit of updating their display for different seasons, showcasing a crazed clown for Halloween and a gingerbread house for Christmas 2021. A must visit all year round.
Possibly the piece-de-resistance of Bond Street – Cartier!
Cartier always puts on a dazzling display of red bows and twinkling lights. It’s my favourite store front on Bond Street. From Annabel’s retrace your footsteps, or cut through to Grafton Street and take a right onto Bond Street once more.
We were lucky enough to see their display on Fifth Avenue in New York last year too, and it’s just as impressive. This year they’ve spruced their London store up just a little bit more too, and I’m totally here for it!
7. Ralph Lauren
Opposite Cartier is the magnificent Ralph Lauren who have really stepped up their game for 2021. The entire building is covered in festive cheer, and they even have a cute coffee cart. So take a seat with a warm drink and soak in the delights of Bond Street.
8. Tiffany & Co
Never a favourite of mine, but this year I really liked their dream like decorations, complete with purple tinged clouds, a giant gold moon and twinkly gold stars.
My son thoroughly enjoyed it too, shouting ‘CLOUDS’ at the top of his voice!
9. Stella McCartney
Having moved locations a few years ago, Stella McCartney is now based almost opposite to Tiffany & Co. There’s truly no mistaking Stella McCartney’s store front. Possibly the brightest in all of London, their impressive display lights up the entire street.
Whether it’s for you or not, it has to be seen to be believed!
10. Burlington Arcade
From Stella McCartney, head back to Tiffany & Co, cross over the street and head along Burlington Gardens, taking a right into Burlington Arcade. Possibly the prettiest arcade in London, Burlington Arcade always puts on a lovely display. This year they’ve gone the extra mile, and there’s nowhere I feel more Christmassy.
The arcade is home to lots of gorgeous shops, transporting you to a time gone by. You may even spot a couple of shoe shines!
If you can find a spot, there’s a lovely champagne bar about half way down too.
11. Fortnum & Mason
As you exit Burlington Arcade, you’ll be met with the beautiful Fortnum & Mason. This year Fornum & Mason have one upped just about every store in London, with their incredible Advent Calendar themed display. It’s truly beautiful and a must visit.
It’s always lovely to pop inside too and check out their Christmas gifts or food and drink hall downstairs. Although be warned – weekends in Fortnum & Mason are busier than anywhere I think I’ve ever been before. Think Harrods, but on a much smaller scale, but with just as many people inside!
12. Hotel Sofitel London St James
Continue along Piccadilly, taking a right at the end onto Waterloo Place. Continue down towards the Guards Crimean War Memorial where there is a beautiful tree display this year. Pop into Hotel Sofitel, London St James for even more beautiful decorations. In their reception they have a beautiful pink tree this year, and in their bar you can enjoy a festive cocktail or two, whilst you rest your feet after all that walking. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can also book in for a festive afternoon tea.
We stumbled upon this hotel this year with my parents, and it was a really lovely place to take a break,
13. Trafalgar Square
From the hotel you can walk along Pall Mall towards Trafalgar Square. Here you will find the iconic Christmas tree donated by Oslo, Norway.
This year they also have a lovely little Christmas market where a mulled wine might take your fancy.
14. Covent Garden
Now make your way towards Covent Garden for another incredible Christmas tree (my favourite in London) and the beautiful mistletoe display within the market. This display hasn’t changed in the last few years, but it’s always beautiful to see.
Although it’s always super busy, Covent Garden still impresses me each year. I find it super magical and it’s a great place to do a spot of shopping or take 5 in a cosy pub.
There’s also the splendid facade of restaurant Clos Maggiore. They also decorate the inside of their restaurant and I really wanted to visit this year, but they get booked up weeks/months in advance. Must try earlier next year!
15. Seven Dials
From Covent Garden, walk up towards the station and cut on to Neal Street, where you’ll walk past a lovely pub called Crown & Anchor. Often covered in fairy lights, they serve up some delicious mulled wine. Opposite, walk up Earlham Street and you’ll be greeted with a beautiful display of stars and lights at Seven Dials. Each of the seven streets leading up to centre piece are adorned with decorations too. I love this spot in London!
16. Carnaby Street
Make your way along Shaftesbury Avenue, taking a right onto Wardour Street, and a left onto Broadwick Street. As you pass the many cosy bars, restaurants and shops of Soho, you’ll eventually find yourself on Carnaby Street. Every year they put on a beautiful display, often with a fantastic meaning. This year their sealife decorations are in aid of ocean conservation charity – Project 0.
17. Liberty London
At the north end of Carnaby Street is Liberty London, which always adorns the outside of their regal building with beautiful lit up trees, and lovely window displays. Head inside to see a huge blue and pink bosai style Christmas tree – ‘The Tree of Liberty’.
From there you’ll find yourself back on Regent Street, having completed a full loop of central London’s best (in my opinion) Christmas lights!
Of course, there are many other Christmas light displays to be seen in London, but this offers a lovely route around most of them, where you can spend an afternoon feeling very Christmassy.
Some other favourites of mind include The Ivy Chelsea Garden, Natural History Museum and Harrods. What’s your favourite?