If you are betting on snow this Christmas you might not be lucky. Weather forecasters are not predicting a white Christmas this year. But what’s guaranteed this year as has been for many years, is that the Christmas lights will be coming on soon.
For those not familiar, Christmas lights in London, as well as other festive decorations, are traditionally put up on or around the first day of Advent.
Advent always starts four Sundays before Christmas. This year, in 2023, Advent starts Sunday, December 3.
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Like shops selling Christmas merchandise, many Christmas lights and decorations will go up much sooner. If you are travelling from abroad to get to London for Christmas, here are a few dates to consider.
Oxford Street in central London, is usually the first London district to switch on its Christmas lights, brightening up the world-famous shopping street. The stars are coming out again this year, on Thursday, November 2, as 300,000 of them return, magically covering the sky. Neighbouring Bond Street have yet to announce what they will be doing. Last year they were inspired by the Crown Jewels, and had huge ‘necklaces’ hanging over parts of Old and New Bond Street.
Carnaby Street Christmas extravaganza this year will feature a galactic display. Large-size glimmering planets and neon light waves will shine above shoppers, on Thursday, November 2, when the switch-on happens. Live music and free tickets will be available for shoppers wishing to join in an eating-drinking-and-shopping party.
On November 7, for the first time in many years, Covent Garden will be introducing a Christmas extravaganza, inspired by traditional golden bells. Covent Garden’s world-famous Christmas lights will be switched on with more than 40 gigantic bells with bows, 8 spinning mirrors balls, and 12 giant baubles. These will be on show at the Market Building. Shops in surrounding areas like Piazza and Seven Dials will also offer festive discounts.
The Christmas spirit of 2023 welcomes you
Regent Street switches its own lights on Thursday, November 9. The ‘Spirit of Christmas’ angels are making a return, towering over Regent Street, Regent Street St James’s, Piccadilly and Jermyn Street. For the first time, Glasshouse Street, Heddon Street, Quadrant Arcade, St James’s Market and Swallow Street will have their own Christmas lights this year, though details have not yet been revealed.
Trafalgar Square Christmas tree goes up from December 7. The Mayor of Westminster, Norwegian Ambassador and governing Mayor of Oslo usually switch on the lights on the Trafalgar Square tree on the first Thursday in December. The 25-metre high tree is a gift from Norway every year to Britain for supporting it during World War II.
The Christmas lights go up in Marylebone Village on Thursday, November 9. Expect snow machines, a Santa’s grotto, and food, drink and gift stalls — not to mention discounts and special offers in the shops, bars and restaurants in the area. Their display will go green with lights made of plastic recycled bottles, with an energy-saving LED system that uses 95% less energy than normal lighting.
A festive market and the chance of a sprinkling of snow
The Chelsea day of festive fun begins on Saturday, November 18, when the Christmas lights get switched on by the man himself, Father Christmas. The part-pedestrianised area of King’s Road from Sloane Square down to Walpole Street will feature a Christmas market, live entertainment, and a chance to meet Santa’s reindeer. King’s Road, Sloane Square and surrounding areas, will have a fireworks display, a light show and some possible snow.
Kew Gardens, nearest tube station Kew, has more than 50,000 different plants in its living collection and over 7 million preserved specimens. Although it has yet to announce when its Christmas lights display goes up, over a million lights and thousands of laser beams are expected to go into the event. It will also features a fire garden, light tunnel and illuminated trees. Food and drink stalls are expected to be dotted throughout, selling hot chocolate and other warm treats.
Its video of last year’s Christmas at Kew gives you an idea of what to expect. It will be a great day out for families at night and romantic couples. Well-known retail shops will also be bringing out their Christmas displays – Selfridges in Bond Street; Hamleys – world’s largest toy shop in Regents Street; and Harrods in Knightsbridge.