At this most magical time of year, the streets and skies of central London are filled with twinkling festive lights, decorative window displays, and the grandest of Christmas trees. Enjoy spending your time discovering these mesmerising splendours across the neighbourhoods of the West End, sparking some well-deserved festive feel good vibes as we move into December. Read on below to find the best festive landmarks to visit this winter:
Regent Street & St James’s Stunning Spirits & the Waterloo Place Tree
The Spirits of Christmas are soaring high in the sky over the iconic Regent Street curve and into the neighbourhood of St James’s. Over 300,000 LED lights – in a canopy of 64 white nets - shine in the 45 handcrafted Spirits, here in the UK. With the largest lights scheme in the capital, why not start your wintry wanderings at the north end of Regent Street, walking down the iconic curve before meandering through Piccadilly Circus to the streets of St James’s, including Jermyn Street, St James’s Market and Regent Street St James’s, to see the full festive display of shimmering spirits. The lights will be switched on for the evenings only, for a more sustainable display.
In addition, at the St James’s end of the street – right by the Mall – the Waterloo Place Christmas tree can be found. A truly magnificent tree that is one of the largest in the country, it is well worth a visit.
Piccadilly’s Spirits & Whimsical Windows
Along the length of Piccadilly there is plenty to stop at and admire. Fortnum & Mason’s iconic windows are a real treat, and so are the striking lights – the festive Spirits – along the length of the street. Other landmarks to note along your way include the beautiful Piccadilly and Princes Arcades (a handy place to know if it’s raining) as well as St James’s Church and the Royal Academy of Arts.
Another arcade just across from St James’s is the Burlington Arcade. This year’s display is in partnership with Moet Hennessy – with frosted Christmas trees and foliage dressing the arches and the themed colours of Red, White, and Gold woven throughout the boutiques. You can also spot the famed beadles in their Regency-inspired uniforms – the country’s oldest and smallest police force.
Carnaby’s Choose Love Display
The light installation in Carnaby is in partnership with the charity Choose Love. Step under the iconic Carnaby arch which has been transformed with pink sequins to see the Instagram-worthy display of positive words running the length of Carnaby Street in neon pink such as hope, joy, love, together, family and love. Just off Carnaby Street, visit the giant light bulb installation where 51 oversized lightbulbs shine out in bright pink and transform yourself into a glowing angel with neon wings (which you can find on the corner of Carnaby & Broadwick Street).
Covent Garden’s Colossal Christmas Tree
A short walk through Soho leads you to Covent Garden, and its wondrous Christmas tree. Did you know it takes over 40 years to grow their festive fir tree? At over 60ft tall and weighing over 1,500 tonnes, this towering tree boasts over 30,000 lights – making it hard to miss. If you are there during the evening, you can also enjoy the illuminated pedestrian streets, with enough lights to equal 95 Big Bens stacked on top of one another!
Oxford Street’s ‘To London With Love’ Lights
This year Oxford Street has partnered with iconic department store Selfridges for its Christmas Lights which display a heartfelt poem, ‘To London With Love’, paying tribute to heroes up and down the country. You can nominate those who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic on Oxford Street's website. A new hero’s name will appear in the gateways for a whole week. The vivid blue banners run the length of Oxford Street with a total of 216,000 LED lights.
Bond Street’s Peacock-inspired Lights
Bond Street’s beautiful peacock-inspired Christmas lights, with 250,000 individual bulbs illuminating this luxurious neighbourhood. The Christmas Tree is traditionally dressed, but scan the QR code to experience a surprise magical reveal.
Seven Dial’s Halo of Colour & Christmas Grotto
With the streets of Seven Dials twinkling with Christmas lights and the iconic Dial adorned in a halo of lights and colour, visitors to the iconic village will also be able to visit Father Christmas and his elves at his festive grotto window located on 19 Earlham Street from 5 December, every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday until Christmas. A ‘live’ window display, the only one in London’s West End, will give families the chance to catch a glimpse of Father Christmas hard at work. There are also prizes on offer for those that spot, snap and share pictures on social media of Father Christmas out and about in the streets of Seven Dials.
If you are looking for inspiration on things to see and do in the West End, view our walking guide for getting to and from central London here. Or discover the best presents to buy for a loved one with our guide to festive family gifts here, for grown-ups here, and for children here.