Aurora Borealis-Inspired Display Kicks Off Sadiq’s Winter Lights Programme

Borealis, a northern lights-inspired lighting display held in the heart of London, kicks off the Mayor of London’s festive season Winter Lights programme which celebrates our cracking city and one of the most magical times of the year. And tickets to the free family-friendly event are now available to book…

Photo: Doug Southall/Visit London

Designed by artist Dan Acher, Borealis recreates the naturally-occurring wonder at Guildhall Yard, in the City of London this December (Dec 11-22).

The free event is part of a series of free and affordable festive things to do and attractions taking place throughout winter in the centre of London. 

The Winter Lights programme will illuminate buildings, bridges and sights along the River Thames with projects such as an animal-themed winter light display at the Tower of London and a free Canary Wharf Winter Lights Spectacular featuring 20 new light commissions by artists from across the globe.

Thousands of illuminated white roses will be placed in Grosvenor Square as part of an Ever After Garden display by fashion designer Anya Hindmarch. 

Illuminated River, a free public artwork, brings moving light and colour to nine of London’s bridges and is set to be the longest public art project in the world, and a Circa commission by Hetain Patel will use the Piccadilly Lights to explore themes of immigration and identity.

The programme will also celebrate the return of the West End’s pantomime season, family favourites like Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and seasonal attractions, including winter markets and ice rinks at iconic locations like the Natural History Museum and Somerset House. 

If you’re planning a route to take in all the glittering sights, bus routes 12, 94, 98, 139 and 390 all travel through Oxford Circus and take in many of the festive lights.

Borealis takes place December 11-22 at Guildhall Yard, off Gresham Street, EC2V 5AE. Ticket are free but must be booked at visitlondon.com.

Read on for the full Winter Lights programme.

1 Borealis at Guildhall Yard, City 
Borealis by artist Dan Acher will bring to life the experience of the northern lights at Guildhall Yard in the City of London.  Over 20,000 free tickets will be available from 11th to 22nd December. This outdoor event will run from 5:30pm to 10:00pm each evening, with tickets available in half an hour slots.
When: December 11-22
Address: Guildhall Yard, off Gresham Street, EC2V 5AE
Tickets: Free but must be pre-booked

2 Winter Light at Southbank
An awe-inspiring free outdoor programme of installations and video art projections themed around light and colour, illuminating Southbank Centre’s 11-acre site throughout the dark months.
When: November 4 – January 9, 2022
Address: Queen’s Walk, South Bank, SE1 2AA
Tickets: Free, unticketed

3 Christmas at the Tower of London, City
Celebrate Christmas with all the family at London’s iconic castle. Discover the iconic history of the Tower of London through the animals that once lived within these walls, brought to life through spectacular displays of magical, festive decorations.
When: December 1 – January 3, 2022
Address: Tower of London, EC3N 4AB
Tickets: Event included in entrance fee, from £29.90/£14.90 adult/child

4 Hetain Patel on Piccadilly Lights, Piccadilly Circus
Hetain Patel broadcasts ‘Baa’s House 11’ a poignant new commission for CIRCA showcasing a first-generation immigrant matriarch towering over the streets of London, Milan, New York, Seoul and Tokyo throughout November every day at 20:21.
When: November 1-30
Address: Piccadilly Circus, W1J 9LL
Tickets: Free, unticketed

5 Ever After Garden at Grosvenor Square, Mayfair
London’s Grosvenor Square will be illuminated with thousands of white roses. Visitors will be able to dedicate their own illuminated rose to a loved one, in return for a donation to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. The Ever After Garden will be a reflective tranquil haven in the heart of Mayfair during the festive season, where everyone everywhere can honour and remember treasured friends and family they have lost. Open from 12pm-8pm.
When: December 1-23
Address: Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, W1K 6LD
Tickets: Free, unticketed

6 Winter Lights at Canary Wharf
Winter Lights returns to Canary Wharf for a seventh year to illuminate the dark January evenings. The area will be transformed by over 20 spectacular light installations, showcasing artwork by some of the most innovative artists across the globe working in light art today. This free to attend light festival will feature some pieces never before seen in the UK alongside exclusive commissions.
When: January 2022, 19-29
Address: Canary Wharf E14
Tickets: Free, unticketed

7 Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park 
Located in the heart of London, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is an immerse experience of all things festive. And after missing out last year, celebrations are back in full force. Spend a while soaking up the atmosphere, ice-skating, going on rides, looking at the markets and sampling some of the fine festive food and drink on offer.
When: November 19 – January 3
Address: Hyde Park 
Tickets: Entrance from £5, rides additional

8 Illuminated River along the River Thames
A free public artwork created to bring gently moving light and colour to nine of London’s bridges – from London to Lambeth – illuminating the city’s beauty and character at night for the benefit of residents and visitors alike. At 3.2 miles, Illuminated River is the longest public art project in the world.
When: November 6 – January 6, 2022
Address: Bridges along the Thames from London Bridge to Lambeth Bridge (inclusive)
Tickets: Free, unticketed

9 London’s Chanukah Menorah
Celebrate Chanukah, with London’s Menorah in the heart of the city. A new light will be lit each day at nightfall.
When: November 28 – December 6
Address: TBC
Tickets: Free, unticketed

For more information go to visitlondon.com