There are unlikely to be vast crowds travelling to see the lights turn on this year, which perhaps makes them more appealing than ever – these are the prettiest London Christmas lights for 2020

by TRISTAN PARKERWednesday 2 December 2020

We’re updating this list as soon as we hear more details of Christmas lights plans for 2020. For more festive inspiration, see our guide to the best events and things to do at Christmas in London 2020

  • Bond Street
    • BOND STREETThanks to a mix of private in-store events and late-night openings, the Bond Street switch-on is typically a dream come true for anyone wanting to splash a little festive cash at the same time as taking in some illuminations. This year, the street is lit up with lights in the shape of white peacock feathers, an homage to men in the late 18th century known as ‘peacocks’ for deliberately strutting along the street in their extravagant clothing.Address: Bond Street, W1S 1SPGETTY IMAGES
  • NORTHBANKThe mega-tree just up the road in Trafalgar Square may get all the attention when it comes to Christmas-lights season, but the Northbank display that sets the Strand and Villiers Street twinkling is typically also a marvellous sight. Compared to some ceremonies it’s a relatively low-key switch-on – the bonus being that you might not have to elbow your way through a heaving mass of people to find a good spot.Address: The Strand, WC2N 5RJGETTY IMAGES
  • OXFORD STREETThe street that most locals usually avoid like the plague becomes an attractive place to head for one night of the year, when Christmas lights give Europe’s busiest shopping street a heart-warming glow. This year, there are 27 LED curtains draped down the street, consisting of 222,000 lights. The installation shows the words of a poem dedicated to London and the citizens who have worked hard to keep the city going in a turbulent year. As a result of COVID, there was no switch-on event.Switch-on: 2 November 2020
    • Address: Oxford Street, W1D 1BSGETTY IMAGES
  • Covent Garden
    • COVENT GARDENAlways a favourite among central London Christmas lights displays, Covent Garden isn’t going to stop this year. As well as an impressive 115,000 lights spread across the main market building, the huge 60foot Christmas tree is adorned with 30,000 festive lights. Unlike previous years, there was no public switch on, but rest assured it’s all been smartly executed as ever.
      Switch-on: 10 November 2020
      Address: Covent Garden Piazza, WC2H 7ARGETTY IMAGES
  • Regent StreetREGENT STREETIn its usual style, Regent Street is decked in twinkling lights running through Oxford Circus, St James and Waterloo Place this year. The 300,000 LED lights have been handcrafted to form 45 spirit-shaped displays, creating a warm canopy over the neighbourhood. Go for a socially distant walk to admire the festive decoration, as decadent this year as any other.Switch-on: 14 November 2020
    • Address: Regent Street, W1B 4EAGETTY IMAGES
  • Marylebone VillageMARYLEBONE VILLAGETypically a jolly, community-focused event, the Christmas Lighting Event in Marylebone Village is always a suitably twinkly affair. This year, the lights were switched on in the evening of Wednesday 4th November, in response to the changing lockdown guidelines. From Wednesday 11th November (the original planned date for turning on the Christmas lights), exclusive online discounts of 20 per cent at retailers on the high street are available, including Caroline Gardner, Kabiri, KJ’s Laundry, Luca Faloni, Margaret Dabbs, Rachel Riley, The Ginger Pig and Tracey Neuls.Switch-on: 4 November 2020
    • Address: Marylebone High Street, W1U
  • Coal Drops YardCOAL DROPS YARDCould this event at King’s Cross shopping and eating hub be London’s hippest Christmas lights launch? Quite possibly. This year, Coal Drops Yard launched a ‘traditionally untraditional’ Christmas display. The show features a sculptural festive forest designed by local architecture practice Sam Jacob Studio, merging a fairy-tale forest with modern architecture, and a giant sustainable terrarium tree made up of 70 living terrariums. The final installation is an interactive People’s Tree, a multi-coloured display that lights up with the steps and movements of those who visit.Switch-on: 12 November 2020
    • Address: King’s Cross, London N1C 4DQ
  • Carnaby StreetCARNABY STREETThis year, Carnaby Street sidestepped Christmas clichés once again, instead working with the Choose Love charity to raise funds throughout the festive period. There are pink neon lights from lightboxes along the street, each adorned with a positive word of hope.Switch-on: 2 November 2020
    • Address: Carnaby Street, W1F 9PS
  • Kew GardensKEW GARDENSKew Gardens looks more spectacular than ever when it adorns its grounds with sparkling Christmas lights. Back for the eighth year, the illuminated evening trail has more than a million twinkling bulbs, thousands of laser beams that light up the trees and a stunning light show playing to a festive soundtrack at the Palm House Pond. Stroll along the atmospheric Winter Trail with a spiced cider – festive vibes and COVID-friendly practices guaranteed.Switch on: 4 December 2020 – 17 January 2021
    • Address: Kew Gardens, Richmond, TW9 3ABGETTY IMAGES
  • Connaught VillageCONNAUGHT VILLAGEThis quiet village in the middle of London is bringing Christmas spirit to its high street at the end of November. As well as a ceiling of twinkling lights and festive decorations in shop windows, renowned artists Rob & Nick have donated their interactive art piece ‘Wavelength’ to the neighbourhood. The free, neon-coloured exhibition can be viewed from outside so visitors can remain socially distant when viewing.Switch-on: 27 November 2020
    • Address: Connaught Street, W2 2AA
  • Trafalgar SquareTRAFALGAR SQUAREThe lively lighting ceremony of central London’s showstopping Christmas tree is a tradition that dates back to 1947 – whether it will happen in 2020 is still yet to be confirmed. The 80-foot-high Norwegian spruce is a gift to London from Norway, in thanks for British support during World War II. The tree is always decorated in traditional Norwegian style, with distinctive strings of vertical lights, while energy-efficient bulbs (and a stringent tree-recycling programme) help keep things sustainable.Switch-on: Date TBC
    • Address: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DNGETTY IMAGES
  • The Royal ExchangeTHE ROYAL EXCHANGEThe wonderfully grand Royal Exchange gave the City a warm glow in 2019 when its 25ft-high Christmas tree was illuminated by Joanne Froggatt – Downton Abbey’s Anna Bates. Afterwards, the building opened its doors for an evening of shopping and winter-themed masterclasses, including biscuit decorating at bakery Cutter and Squidge, Champagne and wine tasting at Fortnum & Mason – responsible for decorating the tree – and even a Christmas-lights photography workshop. Details on whether anything is happening this year are still TBC.Switch-on: Dates TBC
    • Address: The Royal Exchange, London EC3V 3LR
  • Seven DialsSEVEN DIALSThe light displays stretching through Seven Dials’ streets are always a smart affair, but in 2019 they were just one part of the programme in a Christmas extravaganza. Also on the agenda was suitably seasonal live music, wreath-making, festive food and drink stalls, and the promise of experiential indoor and outdoor activities.Switch-on: Date TBC
    • Address: Seven Dials Sundial Pillar, WC2H 9HD
  • ChelseaCHELSEAIn 2019, the King’s Road went big on Christmas lights for the first time, alongside Sloane Square, Sloane Street, Duke of York Square and Pavilion Road. The new lights were inspired by the crown of King Charles II (whom the road was originally built for), so presumably visitors were treated to illuminations that were very much fit for a king. Entertainment-wise, there were performances and carol singers before a certain jolly bearded gentleman appears to turn on the lights with a ‘special helper’. Details for this year remain TBC.Switch-on: Dates TBC
    • Address: Sloane Square, SW1W 8SBSHUTTERSTOCK
  • Leadenhall MarketLEADENHALL MARKETHaving the Lord Mayor of London switch on your lights is quite a coup, and that’s what Leadenhall Market secured for last year’s Christmas spectacular. The ceremony also unveiled the market’s huge Christmas tree, covered in its own sparkling finery. Accompanying the glow from thousands of lights were choirs and other entertainment, ensuring a very merry atmosphere. Details for 2020 are TBC.Switch-on: Date TBC
    • Address: Gracechurch Street, EC3V 1LT