Christmas isn’t cancelled! It’s soon time for London’s gloomy streets to become illuminated with dazzling festive displays. Here’s where to see the best of London’s Christmas lights
By Abbie Schofield
2020 has been challenging to say the least. While many people would probably prefer to skip straight through to January and wave goodbye to what has been a tragic and unsettling year, Christmas is edging closer on the calendar. With hopes to bring some cheer to the city, London’s famous festive illuminations are back, injecting a bit of much-needed sparkle to the capital’s most iconic quarters. Here’s where to see the best of London’s Christmas lights, whether virtually or on your daily walk.
The Best of London’s Christmas Lights 2020
London’s famous shopping destination will turn on its iconic Christmas lights on 2 November. This year, the theme is all about celebrating the heroes of 2020 who have displayed selfless acts of kindness during the pandemic. You can nominate your own hero, who will win a £500 voucher and see their name in bright lights for a week.
Covent Garden’s famed Christmas decor is returning with a festive bang. 115,000 lights will dazzle across the Piazza and its adjoining streets, making Covent Garden London’s most festive enclave. There will also be a huge 60ft British-grown tree decked out in baubles and lights.
For the second year running, Wembley’s free immersive light festival, Winterfest, is happening from 26 November. The theme is ‘United in Light’, with an aim to deliver hope and joy to the Wembley Park community and its visitors this festive period. London’s tallest LED tree will be switched on, alongside spectacular illuminations on the area’s trees and boulevards, new digital artworks and festive selfie spots.
From 26 November, wembleypark.com
Christmas at Kew is back for its eighth year with a magical winter trail through the beautifully illuminated rose garden full of exquisite lights, lasers and art installations. Visitors can grab street food and a cup of mulled wine as they wander through the grounds and marvel at the illuminated Temperate House.
From 18 November, kew.org
This year, Carnaby Street’s Christmas installation is a mirage of pink neon lights that beam words of hope in tribute to the strength that Londoners have showed throughout the pandemic. Elsewhere in the Carnaby area, Kingly Court is decked out in twinkling fairy lights while the cobbled Newburgh Street is covered in pink festoons. You can also view the Carnaby Christmas lights online this year, with a 360° virtual tour that allows you to explore the magical streets as well as join up with a friend or family member to experience the lights online together.
Marylebone Village’s Christmas celebrations, Merry Marylebone, have begun with an aim to bring joy to the area’s residents and businesses. The lights are on, draping the streets of Marylebone with sparkles, and we can look forward to a virtual Christmas carol service on 20 December, live-streamed from St Marylebone Church.
Independent shopping hub Connaught Village’s Christmas lights will be turned on in late November. While the exact design details haven’t been revealed, last year the area was adorned with glowing snowflakes that hung from trees while a sea of mini lights flowed above the street like a luminescent wave, so this year is sure to be just as impressive.
From 27 November, connaught-village.co.uk
Visitors to King’s Cross and Coal Drops Yard can expect to discover three unique Christmas trees, each delivering an unexpected interpretation of the traditional festive tree. Granary Square plays host to the unique Electric Nemeton Tree, designed by local architecture practice Sam Jacob Studio, which merges a fairy-tale forest with modern architecture. On display at Coal Drops Yard is the stunning Terrarium Tree, a sustainable creation comprised of 70 living Botanical Boys terrariums. Finally, Battle Bridge Place is home to the People’s Tree, an interactive multi-coloured installation illuminated by the steps and sensory movements of visitors.
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