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London's Christmas Decorations

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by Sandra Lawson (subscribe)
To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at and my theatre reviews at
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Now that December is here I suppose it's not too early to start thinking about Christmas decorations. The economy is bleak enough and we need something to brighten up these shorter winter days, so here a few glimpses of the festive season that I snapped around London.

The first ideas that generally spring to mind when thinking of Christmas decorations around London are obviously Oxford Street and Regent Street, but I think these main thoroughfares can often look tacky rather than tasteful, so I've avoided them. However I believe some smaller streets around the capital put their bigger cousins to shame. Others seem to feel the same way as I do, as I wasn't the only person grabbing my camera to snap the lights.

Slingsby Place (off Long Acre, Covent Garden) is very attractively decorated. The static picture here doesn't do it justice, and a short video would have better captured the flickering lights that animate the sky above the buildings.
Christmas in London
Slingsby Place

In a similar vein Swallow Street (between Piccadilly and Regent Street) is eye catching, without being over glitzy.
Christmas in London
Swallow Street

I've written about the Burlington Arcade before, and the decorations along its stretch of indoor shopping arcade are tasteful, and far less trashy than some of the major shopping areas.
Christmas in London
The Burlington Arcade

Joni Mitchell famously sang 'It's getting on Christmas, they're cutting down trees', but our woodlands don't always have to suffer at this time of the year. Many artificial trees can be equally impressive, and don't drop needles. One innovative offering this year is a tree made entirely of Lego bricks. This can be seen at St Pancras Station, where the tree and its baubles are created purely from Lego bricks: no spruce or fir was harmed in its production.
Christmas in London
Lego Christmas Tree

Among other trees that caught my attention on my wanders was the one outside Maxwell's in Covent Garden. It works extremely well with the red neon lighting that is the burger bar's external colour scheme.
Christmas in London
Maxwell's Christmas Tree

There is a huge Christmas Tree in the Fountain Courtyard at Somerset House. This is an extremely festive backdrop to the outdoor skating rink behind it, and is sponsored by Tiffany (the jewellers), who have decorated the base of the tree in their corporate colours.
Christmas in London
Somerset House Christmas Tree

One unusual Christmas decoration is the giant red nosed (although the colour isn't very obvious on the picture) reindeer in The Piazza at Covent Garden.
Christmas in London
Gaint Reindeer in Covent Garden

In keeping with its reputation as a classy London hotel, the garlands and trees that frame The Ritz hotel are in the best of taste.
Christmas in London
The Ritz

Further along Piccadilly, Fortnum and Mason believe that less is more, and their minimalism works well.
Christmas in London
Fortnum and Mason

At the time of writing the tree that is possibly the most famous one in London had not yet been lit. Here is a photo of the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square taken in December 2010 when the Lord Mayor of Westminster and the Mayor of Oslo (the tree is a gift from the people of Norway) turned on the lights, accompanied by a choir of carol singers from the nearby church of St-Martins-in-the-Fields.

Trafalgar Square

There are obviously lots of other scenes around the London area and I'll be continuing to take my camera everywhere. I might even use one of my pictures to design my own Christmas cards.
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Why? Because we all need a little bit of glitz during the winter
When: Whenever you want to look, but obviously better after dark
Where: All around London
Cost: Free
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