London enjoys some of the country’s most spectacular Christmas lights. But where to head and when? The Resident lists London’s most notable festive lights displays in order of their switch-on dates for 2019…
Lead image: Oxford Street’s new energy efficient Christmas lights
1 Carnaby Street
Switch on: 7 November, 6pm
The Carnaby Street Christmas lights never fail to send out poignant messages to passers-by. This year, Carnaby is working with ocean conservation charity Project 0, founded by Michele Clarke and Rolling Stones’ offspring Tyrone Wood and James Jagger. The display has been made using entirely sustainable, recycled and reusable materials including repurposed fishing netting, some 500m of post-use bubble wrap and more than 1,500 recycled plastic bottles, and each section of Carnaby Street will represent an area of the ocean in need of conservation. Many of Carnaby’s restaurants, bars and cafés are working with The Blue Turtle initiative to reduce single-use plastic, use only sustainable fish and reduce waste (look out for The Blue Turtle sticker in the window). More here.
2 Covent Garden
Switch on: 12 November, 5.30pm
Covent Garden’s 40 magnificent mistletoe chandeliers – ranging in size from 2.5 to 3.5 metres and adorned with almost 700 glistening berries – will be returning for 2019. The historic Market Building will also be home to more than 320 metres of garlands with around 100,000 pea lights suspended within. The Piazza will again host London’s biggest hand-picked, British-grown Christmas tree, decorated with more than 30,000 lights, and that super Instagrammable reindeer statue. Last year, Paloma Faith was among the guests to switch on the lights. More here.
3 Marylebone Village
Switch on: 13 November, 6pm
Ricky Wilson, lead singer of renowned British indie band, Kaiser Chiefs, will be switching on the festive Christmas lights on Devonshire Street on Wednesday 13 November at 6pm. The event will run from 3pm-7pm with festive shopping stalls, food and drink, a Santa’s Grotto, fairground rides, live music, one-off discounts and in store activity throughout Marylebone Village’s stores and restaurants. The event will support Teenage Cancer Trust, of which Ricky is a regular supporter (you can also text the word NURSE to 70500 to make a £5 donation). More here.
4 Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross
Switch on: 13 November, 7.15pm
Coal Drops Yard’s Northern Brights Christmas light switch on will transform the yard into a fluorescent Winter Wonderland of vibrant, flocked trees and colourful lights inspired by the natural beauty of the Northern Lights. A programme of activity will take place on switch-on night on 13 November, commencing at 5.30pm, including Spiritland’s resident DJ launching the festivities, followed by the London Gay Men’s Chorus performing seasonal numbers with a twist, before the House Gospel Choir bring the show to an awe-inspiring crescendo. Coal Drops Yard is also hosting a brand new live musical experience with Famous First Words, where you can win the chance to switch on the Christmas lights by performing a yuletide tune. Shops will also be offering in-store refreshments, experiences and special offers. 5.30pm-8pm. More here.
5 Seven Dials
Switch on: 14 November, 6.30pm
Seven Dials is partnering with housing and homelessness charity Shelter this year, offering Londoners the chance to switch on the new interactive Christmas light installation simply by making a donation to the charity. For the first time ever, this Christmas light installation will interact with a charity tap donation point to bring the Starry Night design featuring over 650 giant stars – to life and drive valuable donations for Shelter. Just tap your bank card to donate £3 and the stars at each entrance to Seven Dials will twinkle. From 5pm-9pm, on switch-on night (14 November), visitors are invited to enjoy an evening of free festive activities and live music. It’s free to enter, but do register here for a ticket to get 20% off a participating shops and restaurants.
6 Regent Street
Switch on: 14 November, 5.30pm
Regent Street’s beautiful suspended spirits, made of 300,000 sparkling LED lights, were inspired by the street’s very first Christmas lights scheme – the first ever Christmas lights to light up central London back in 1954. The Spirit of Christmas lights return to Regent Street from 14 November with a switch-on show from 5.30pm-6.30pm. Brought to you by The Crown Estate and the New West End Company in partnership with Heart radio, this year’s celebration will include an array of performances from special guests (previous appearances have included Paloma Faith, Callum Scott, Clean Bandit and Jodie Whittaker). From 4pm-9pm, Regent Street will be traffic free from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus. Plus, this year marks the 200th anniversary of the naming of Regent Street, meaning there’ll be even more fun and festivity than usual. More here.
7 Greenwich Market
Switch on: 20 November
The spectacular Greenwich lantern procession and Greenwich Market Christmas lights switch on takes place on Wednesday 20 November. Children from five local schools, led by jazz band Tunnel Chops, will parade their handmade lanterns through the Old Royal Naval College grounds, starting at the ORNC Visitor Centre at 4pm, into Cutty Sark Gardens and then the market for the big Christmas Countdown and switch on with special guest singer, songwriter and presenter Jack Rose at 6pm. There will also be performances by the Angelina Jandolo Dance Showcase and Greenwich Stagecoach singers, and Santa will welcome visitors in his Greenwich Grotto from 4pm-6pm. More here.
8 Oxford Street
Switch on: 21 November
The first destination to switch on its Christmas lights last year, Oxford Street is taking a little more time over its switch-on this year as it unveils an innovative new Christmas Lights scheme featuring 27 LED light curtains draped along the length of the street. The new lighting scheme, made up of 220,000 sparkling lights, utilises the latest in progressive LED technology, providing energy savings of up to 90% against conventional lighting. On 21 November, there will be an experiential switch-on shopping evening with one-night-only offers and events from brands and in-store gigs in partnership with Capital XTRA. Find out more here.
9 St Katharine Docks
Switch on: 21 November, 6pm
St Katharine Docks, central London’s only marina, will host a uniquely festive Christmas lights switch-on celebration on Thursday 21 November. For one night only Santa will swap his sleigh for a speedboat to light up the docks. There will be a carol concert from the City Chamber Choir and the local Children’s Choir from St Peters in Wapping, a waterside Christmas Duck Hunt with Natural Kitchen, as well as mulled wine, mince pies and hot chocolate. 6pm-7pm. More here.
10 Duke of York Square
Switch on: 23 November
See Chelsea light-up at Duke of York Square’s magical Christmas lights switch on, taking place on Saturday 23 November. Entertainment across the neighbourhood will include carol singers, performers and even real reindeer. Father Christmas will turn on the lights with a special helper at 5pm. The magical displays extend across Sloane Square, Sloane Street, Duke of York Square, Pavilion Road and – for the first time – the King’s Road. Chelsea’s interactive Santa’s grotto also opens on the 23rd on the picturesque Pavilion Road. From 2pm. More here.
11 Putney High Street
Switch on: 29 November, 6pm
Head for Church Square off Putney High Street from 3pm-8pm on Friday 29 November for Positively Putney’s magical Christmas light switch on, compered by Riverside Radio. There will be an impressive line up of performers from local Putney schools and drama groups, as well as live bands and the unveiling of the Winter Wonderland inflatable snow globe. More here.
12 Blackheath Village
Switch on: 30 November, 4.30pm
Blackheath always celebrates the switching-on of its Christmas lights with Blackheath Village Day, where you can kick-start your Christmas shopping in the village and enjoy entertainment from a Gospel Choir and a torchlight procession through the village, starting at The Crown pub at the top of the triangle. There will also be a Family Day at the Blackheath Halls, a Friends Cake Sale, a Family Sing-along event (ticket required) and the chance to make your own Christmas Cards at All Saints Church. The lights will be switched on at 4.30pm by Father Christmas, followed by an impromptu short recital by tenor Nicky Spence (tenor Nicky Spence will be joining Edward Gardner OBE as a Patron of the Blackheath Halls Community Opera) for Blackheath presents. 10.30am-4.30pm. More here.