There’s just something about Christmas in London. The crisp (OK, freezing) breeze rustling through the trees that stand stark against the sky, the carols chiming out of every department store, their windows alive with holiday cheer, the smell of mulled wine – cinnamon and cloves and sweet orange – that drifts through the air in the markets… all of these delights surround you in the festive spirit. The city is magical at this time of year – and exactly what you’d expect from the countless Hollywood movies we’ve been watching for years.
One of the most spectacularly Christmassy characteristics of London are the lights. From shopping streets to majestic trees, baubles, sleighbells and snowbells abound, twinkling out across the city through the darkest winter nights… and for anyone who has a shred of romance, happiness or Christmas in their hearts, they are a must see.
Carnaby Street, just off Golden Square in Soho, can be overlooked as it runs so close to the more famous sights of Oxford Street. However, it’s quirky mix of high street and designer retailers interspersed with coffee shops and proper English pubs makes it a must-visit, in our humble opinion. The decorations are fun and the lights playful – last year saw giant moustachioed headphones lighting up the street, while DJ’s and bands alternated throughout the winter weeks to bring live music to the afternoon and evening crowds. Eclectic, busy and buzzing – Carnaby Street is Oxford Street’s hip little sister this Christmas.
The lights that run between the buildings of Oxford Street have become a Christmas fixture in the capital. The orbs that pepper the sky have been installed for the third year running, and their silver and golden glow will put a smile on the face of even the grumpiest grinch. Not only are the streets strung with stunning lights, but the store fronts step up their game to match – keep a look out for the Swarovski Flagship Store and their extravagant displays!
There’s little else that puts you in the festive mood like the Christmas lights of Regents street. This year’s display features golden, shimmering coils, cogs and sequins that sit high above the shoppers below – the beautiful spectacle is enough to make the crowds of tourists and Christmas bargain hunters seem enjoyable. Aside from the delightful lights above the streets, the massive storefronts also put on their own mesmerising displays. A top tip – head down to Hamley’s Toy Store on Regent St for a truly magical Christmas experience, and be transported back to your childhood with lifesize teddy bears, Santas elves, giant bubbles and more.
The cobbled streets of Covent Garden take their place among the Christmas must-sees in London this year. The markets and buildings are bedecked in mistletoe themed glory this winter (perfect for that movie-moment romance), and the numerous pubs and restaurants around guarantee you’ll be able to sip a mulled wine and nibble on a mince pie while gazing out over the glory of the city at night. A cheery and happy place to be reminded of Christmas films from your childhood.
This part of London is dressed in glitz and glamour all year around, however they really pull out all the stops come Christmas time. With designers like Tiaffany & Co, Burberry and Chanel dressing their windows with the utmost elegance and festive style, the combination of the lights above (like last years astounding peacock feathers) with the grandeur and luxury of Mayfair brings this West End Street to sparkling, shimmering life.
For even more festive lights and celebrations, check out our guide to London’s Christmas market’s and festivals. It’s going to be chilly, so grab yourself a delicious mug of mulled wine, pack for a proper London winter and get outside to enjoy the best of Christmas in 2015.
Written by Caitlin (A.K.A. The Indie Butterfly).
Caitlin is a writer, traveller and part-time superhero. Currently living in London, read more of her work on her blog, or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.