Lead image: Regent Street’s Christmas lights (courtesy Regent Street & St James’s)
Usually, at this time of year, the streets of London’s West End would be packed with throngs of Christmas shoppers, but lockdown put paid to that this year.
To make up for lost time, West End businesses are coming together as part of #MyWestEnd to welcome visitors back with Traffic Free Saturdays, affording shoppers, theatregoers and diner-outers more space to enjoy London’s festive sights.
Regent Street will be pedestrianised from 10am to 9pm on Saturday 5, 12 and 19 December 2020, making it easier and more comfortable to shop the world-famous street’s international flagship stores.
While there, why not take in Oxford Street’s Christmas lights installation – this year dedicated to our Covid heroes – see a West End show, discover Covent Garden’s Christmas tree forest or eat in one of Carnaby’s many vibrant restaurants?
Regent Street & St James’s
Regent Street, the capital’s original shopping destination with a history in retail dating back over 200 years, it is now home to world-class flagship stores including Microsoft, Burberry and Belstaff. While here, check out London’s largest Christmas lights display, The Spirit of Christmas, made up of 300,000 LED lights on the 45 handcrafted spirits and 64 sparkling white nets sprawling across Regent Street and St James’s. Do enjoy alfresco dining in Heddon Street’s heated courtyard, or St James’s Michelin-starred restaurants Ikoyi and Aquavit. Don’t miss Bond Street’s peacock-inspired Christmas lights, where 250,000 individual bulbs illuminate London’s most luxury destination. Cartier’s festive flagship store, with its giant scarlet bow and peering panther, is worth the trip alone.
Carnaby’s Christmas lights send a message of love this year. In partnership with refugee charity Choose Love, the festive installation illuminates Carnaby Street with a series of positive words like hope, joy and unity in neon pink. Don’t miss the Instagrammable giant light bulb art installation over Ganton Street, either. The multi-storey food hub, Kingly Court is a great pit stop, with a choice of 30 restaurants like Shoryu, Pizza Pilgrims, Club Mexicana and The Good Egg situated around the open-air courtyard, equipped with roof and outdoor heaters. Over 100 of Carnaby’s brands, restaurants, pubs and independents will offer exclusive promotions, experiences and discounts throughout December, plus, those cycling into the West End can park for free at the Carnaby Bike Hub, which is open daily from 7am-9pm.
Oxford Street has partnered with Selfridges to create a heartfelt poem, To London With Love, for this year’s Christmas installation. The lights pay tribute to our Covid heroes up and down the country, with a new hero’s name appearing in lights at the Oxford Circus gateways for one week at a time. The vivid blue banners run the length of Oxford Street with a total of 216,000 LED lights.
Selfridges is launching its first ever outdoor Christmas Market, including London’s best street food traders, curated in partnership with the founder of Street Feast. The Christmas Market on the Mews will be open daily throughout December with family-friendly fairground rides, a bespoke tunnel of light, real Christmas trees, wreaths, decorations and hand-picked gifts. Plus, the Selfridges Christmas Shop features a new sustainable collection featuring dozens of artisan and independent brands.
The John Lewis flagship shop boasts its largest ever Christmas Tree forest, with over 40 different styles to walk through, showcasing seven new festive trends, as well as a one-stop gift emporium. The festive footpath boasts 1,332 hanging green baubles and 1,500 individual light bulbs to light the way.
South Molton Street Food Market
Climate positive burgers from GROUND, Thai comfort food from Yaay Yaay, signature crispy seafood from Calamari Canteen and more are all on the menu at the West End’s newest street food market. Opening on Wednesday 9 December, the street food market – a great spot to grab an alfresco bite on the go – is a collaboration between Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, the City of London Corporation and KERB.
Covent Garden is home to London’s largest Christmas tree, standing at 60ft tall and adorned with 30,000 lights. The Illuminated pedestrianised streets surrounding the world-famous Piazza have a total of 115,000 lights and over 30 alfresco dining spots, with heated terraces to enjoy food from the likes of SUSHISAMBA, Petersham Nurseries’ La Goccia, Buns & Buns, The Ivy Market Grill, Aubaine and Tuttons. Plus, Covent Garden has just launched a Wonder Wood Christmas tree forest dressed by British and global brands like The Royal Opera House, Molton Brown, Fiona Fleur Floral Studio, Olivia Burton, Lulu Guinness and L’OCCITANE.