The Best Places to See the London Christmas Lights in 2021
The London Christmas lights are truly a sight to behold and the great thing about the London Christmas lights is that they are completely and utterly free (except for Kew Gardens). It’s one of the best free things to do in London at Christmas, particularly if you are visiting London at Christmas with kids.
Even if you don’t plan to go to London at Christmas especially to see the lights (although you really should because it’s one of the best UK cities to visit at Christmas for Christmas lights), you’ll no doubt catch some while you are wandering around.
Seeing the festive lights is something you can do while socially distancing, so if all other Christmas events in London are cancelled this year, at least there will be the lights!
Having said that, we are keeping a close eye on cancellations and will aim to update this post if and when they occur. Given current government guidelines, the switch on events may be a bit different this year. Some of them may even become virtual Christmas lights switch-ons as part of the shift towards a virtual Christmas.
We took a wander around London on 5th December 2020 and loved the lights, especially the Oxford Street lights which, quite rightly, celebrate London and its heroes of 2020.
**Please refer to the current government guidelines before organising your visit**
The London Christmas lights switch on dates have not yet been released but will be around the same time as the 2020 dates. We will update the Christmas lights London 2021 dates below. This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
When is the best time to see the London Christmas lights?
The best time to see the Christmas lights in London is usually around dusk, just as the city is lighting up and the lights become more prominent. The Regent Street lights are really the only lights that look good in the day as well as the night.
We would advise to go soon after they are switched on rather than leaving it until closer to Christmas as London gets (even) busier the closer you get to Christmas. Weekends are also busier than weekdays so if you can go during the week, it would be better. Can’t make the London Christmas lights 2021-2022? How about a Christmas light trail instead?
Thinking of taking a London Christmas lights tour? Here are some options you may want to consider…
The best London Christmas lights
Regent Street Christmas lights
The Christmas lights on Regent Street are special because they are the original London Christmas lights. They were the first lights to light up central London at Christmas way back in 1954. There’s usually a big switch-on event in the middle of November when the whole of Regent Street is pedestrianised.
The ‘Spirit of Christmas’ angels which first appeared in 2019 are back again in 2020. There are large LED angels hanging the entire width of the road which look spectacular and are very photogenic in the daytime as well as the night.
Where: Running the whole length of Regent Street in central London from Oxford Circus down to Piccadilly Circus.
When: The Regent Street Christmas lights were switched on on the 14th November 2020 and will run until 3rd January 2021.
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus
Oxford Street Christmas lights
The Oxford Street Christmas lights are probably London’s most famous lights. These Christmas lights are switched on in mid-November. It is usually a big event drawing big crowds.
Last year marked a big change in the lights from traditional lights and baubles to 27 LED screen displays resembling the Northern Lights. This year they have partnered with Selfridges and are paying tribute to the 2020 heroes who have helped during the pandemic.
People can vote on the Oxford Street Lights website and nominate someone to be the next ‘hero’. That person will see their name up in lights and receive a £500 shopping voucher.
Where: Running the whole 1.5 mile length of Oxford Street in central London from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road
When: The Oxford Street Christmas lights were switched on on the 2nd November 2020 and run until 7th January 2021.
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road or Marble Arch
Carnaby Street Christmas lights
Carnaby Street is one of London’s coolest shopping areas. There are lots of smaller boutiques along this pedestrianised street so why not enjoy a spot of Christmas shopping while admiring the lights?
This year the street is doused in pink neon lights with positive words which is very fitting for 2020.
Where: Carnaby Street, London, W1F 9PS
When: The Carnaby Steet Christmas lights were switched on on 2nd November.
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus
Top tip: Hamleys is very close by where you’ll find one of the best Santa experiences in London.
Old Bond Street Christmas lights
The Old Bond Street lights are always classy and in keeping with this upmarket area. As well as the lights, the designer shops usually have extravagant window displays which are worth seeing. The main ones being Tiffany, Cartier and Stella McCartney.
The elegant peacock feathers are back this year.
Where: Old Bond Street, London, W1S 4QB
When: 13th November 2020 from 6pm
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly or Green Park
Kew Gardens Christmas lights
Kew at Christmas is perhaps the most magical of all of the Christmas lights London has to offer (although not in central London). The Kew Christmas lights are actually a Christmas light trail. You follow a one-mile route through trees adorned with lights and watch laser projections light up the Temperate House all while listening to classic Christmas music. It is a truly magical sight.
Where: Kew Gardens, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AE
When: 18th November to 3rd January 2021
Nearest tube: Kew Gardens
Top Tip: Tickets sell out FAST so if you want to go, get booking
Coal Drops Yard Christmas lights
Coal Drops Yard is one of London’s coolest new areas. It’s packed with shops and restaurants and there’s always something going on there. The area transforms at Christmas with festive decorations, twinkling lights and colourful Christmas trees.
Don’t forget to check out the People’s Tree at Battle Bridge Place with neon strip lights that light up when you interact with it.
Where: Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4DQ
When: Monday 23rd November 2020
Nearest Tube: Kings Cross St Pancras
Top tip: Have a Harry Potter fan in the family? Check out Platform 9 3/4 in Kings Cross Station or take a wander through London St Pancras International where there is usually an impressive Christmas tree on display.
Covent Garden Christmas Lights
Covent Garden is magical at Christmas. The Covent Garden Piazza itself is the highlight but lots of the Covent Garden boutiques join in too. The Piazza is transformed with 115,000 Christmas lights (check out the giant mistletoe and baubles hanging from the ceiling) and the giant Christmas tree is pretty spectacular too.
In 2020 there are a number on Christmas trees on the north side of the Piazza (closest to Covent Garden tube station) decorated by the boutiques located in the Piazza.
Make sure to also check out the Covent Garden infinity chamber which is on Conduit Court in Covent Garden.
Where: Covent Garden, London, WC2H 7AR
When: From 10th November 2020
Nearest tube: Covent Garden
Top Tip: Check out the Covent Garden Infinity Chamber
Just a short stroll from Covent Garden is the Seven Dials area. There’s an official light switch on of the Seven Dials Christmas lights with some of the local shops offering discounts. It is an incredibly pretty area of London.
Make sure to check out Father Christmas and his Elves at work in their Grotto at 19 Earlham Street. See the Seven Dials website for details.
Where: Earlham Street, London, WC2H 9HU
When: 26th November 2020
Nearest tube: Covent Garden
Top Tip: Pop in to Instagram-worthy Neal’s Yard, one of the most colourful areas in London or catch Roald Dahl’s Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre.
Sloane Square and Kings Road
The Chelsea Christmas lights combine the trees of Sloane Square which are hung with lights as well as lights adorning Duke of York Square, Sloane Street and Kings Road. There is also a 36 foot Norwegian Spruce decorated with golden bows and wreaths.
The switch on ceremony usually sees various festive events taking place in Duke of York Square. This year there are a number of weekend activities, including complimentary horse drawn carriage rides.
Where: Sloane Square, London, Sw1W 8EE
When: 2nd December to 31st December 2020
Nearest Tube: Sloane Square
Top tip: While you’re there, make sure to walk down to the River Thames to see Albert Bridge and Battersea Bridge. Both bridges are lit up every evening (all year) and they are so pretty.
Other London Christmas lights worth seeing
Where: Hyde Park, London, W1J 7NT
When: Winter Wonderland is CANCELLED for 2020
Nearest Tube: Hyde Park Corner
Where: Marylebone High Street, London, W1U
When: From 11th November to 4th January 2021
Nearest tube: Baker Street
St Christopher’s Place
Where: St Christopher’s Place, Barrett Street, London, W1U 1BF
When: During December 2020
Nearest tube: Bond Street
St Katherine Docks
Where: St Katherine Docks, St Katherine Way, London, E1W 1LA
When: 19th November 2020
Nearest Tube: Tower Hill
Christmas by the River
Where: Christmas by the River, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London, SE1 2AA
When: 24th November to 3rd January 2021
Nearest Tube: London Bridge or Tower Hill
Top Tip: See what is going on at the Shakespeare’s Globe theatre or pop into the Tower of London, one of the best castles in England followed by a meal in an igloo at the Coppa Club which is arguably the best igloo dining experience in London and then come back to view the lights.
Where: Leadenhall Market, Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 1LT
When: Virtual light switch on – 20th November 2020
Nearest tube: Bank or Aldgate
The Royal Exchange
Where: The Royal Exchange, Cornhill, London, EC3V 3LR
When: Through December 2020
Nearest tube: Bank
South Molton Street
Where: South Molton Street, London, W1K 5QE
When: Through December 2020
Nearest tube: Bond Street
Other festive areas to visit in London
The Churchill Arms
Not Christmas lights as such but the Churchill Arms, probably the most famous pub in London, switches out the flowers for Christmas trees and it’s a sight to behold.
Where: 119 Kensington Church Street, London, W8 7LN
When: From 2nd December 2020
Nearest tube: Notting Hill Gate
No visit to London at Christmas is complete without seeing the traditional Trafalgar Square Christmas tree. The enormous tree, gifted by the people of Norway, is the place to go for carol singing. Charities book one hour slots for a carol singing session and use this time to collect for their charity from participants (although this will not be happening in 2020).
In 2019 there was also a Christmas market for the first time.
Where: Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London, WC2n 5DN
When: From 3rd December 2020
Nearest tube: Charing Cross Station
The London skyline at night is very pretty, but it’s extra lovely at Christmas when the Shard lights up. Just like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, one of the most famous and dazzling light shows in the world, the Shard lights up every half hour with three, 9-minute shows.
This year, the lights will be blue and white to show gratitude to everyone in the NHS who have worked so hard to keep Britain safe and well.
Note – the London Eye also lights up at night.
Where: The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9SG
When: From 11th December 2020
Nearest tube: London Bridge Station
The Harrods lights are not officially classed as London Christmas lights as they are on every evening all-year-round but if you are in the area, it’s well worth going to see them.
Where: Harrods, 87-135, Brompton Road, London, SW3 1RT
Nearest Tube: Knightsbridge
Places to see Christmas Lights near London
Like Christmas lights? Then you’re bound to love these Christmas light trails that are becoming so popular all over the UK. Don’t miss our guide on Christmas light trails in the UK in 2020.
Map of the London Christmas Lights
One final tip – the London ice rinks are a great place to catch some twinkly lights at Christmas, particularly at the Natural History Museum and Somerset House.