Freelance writer specialising in arts, travel and entertainment news, previews and reviews.
Published November 7th 2017
The capital sparkles with the Spirit of Christmas
When the nights draw in, the lights go up, and the streets are decked with festive illuminations as London's shopping centres gear up for Christmas.
Regent Street has the biggest, and arguably the best, display in the capital this season, The Spirit of Christmas, made up of 300,000 LED lights, featuring huge winged figures floating above Regent Street and Piccadilly. The street is closed to traffic on the opening night of Thursday 16 November.
Oxford Street is one of the most popular spots for Christmas shoppers, with 750,000 white lights, 1,750 gold and silver baubles and a flurry of snowflakes stretching for an entire mile along the street. Children's charity NSPCC is backing this year's Light Up Christmas for Children campaign, with star-shaped pin badges on sale at John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Primark.
The cobbled courtyards of Covent Garden are transformed into a winter wonderland with sparkling reindeer, a huge Christmas tree and oversized red bows, set among 115,000 twinkling lights. Check out the stocking fillers on sale in the market stalls, and warm up with a glass of mulled wine in the Opera Quarter.
Bond Street is one of the classiest shopping areas in town and this is reflected in its lavish display on a peacock theme, featuring 250,000 lights and plumes of elegant feathers. With luxury stores decked out in festive finery, it's a great place for window shopping.
Seven Dials celebrates its seasonal switch-on with street entertainment and a choir singing seven festive songs performed from the seven streets leading up to the central monument. Sample Scandinavian warm wine from Nordic Bakery, and street food by Monmouth Kitchen at the launch evening on Thursday 16 November.
St Martins Courtyard turns into a winter forest for the festive season, complete with blue and silver holly leaves, woodland creatures and a sprinkling of snow. A brass band is booked to play at the launch on Thursday 23 November. A giant snow globe serves as a photo booth, offering polaroid snaps for shoppers as a memento of the occasion.
Last but not least, on 7 December, is the much-anticipated lights switch-on in Trafalgar Square which continues the long-standing tradition of displaying a giant spruce tree, donated annually since 1947 by the people of Norway in honour of Britain's support for their country during World War II.
Find out more about the capital's Christmas illuminations at VisitLondon