The Best Places to See the London Christmas Lights in 2020
The London Christmas lights are truly a sight to behold. They usually change every year so it’s not a case of been there, done that. 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 specially to see the lights, you’ll no doubt catch some while you are wandering around. Seeing the 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.
The London Christmas lights switch on dates have not yet been released but are usually around middle of November. We will update Christmas lights London 2020 dates as soon as they are released.
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 were really the only lights that looked good in the day as well as the night in 2019.
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.
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.
In 2019 they had large LED angels hanging the entire width of the road which looked spectacular and were 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.
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. We can’t wait to see what they have in store for 2020.
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 switch on is mid-November. Date to be confirmed.
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?
Where: Carnaby Street, London, W1F 9PS
When: The Carnaby Steet Christmas lights switch on is mid-November. Date to be confirmed.
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.
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 and twinkling lights.
Where: Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, Kings Cross, London, N1C 4DQ
Nearest Tube: Kings Cross St Pancras
Top tip: Have a Harry Potter fan? 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 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. In 2019 there were enormous baubles hanging from the roof of the Piazza and of course, the giant Christmas tree is worth seeing.
Where: Covent Garden, London, WC2H 7AR
Nearest tube: Covent Garden
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.
Where: Earlham Street, London, WC2H 9HU
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. The switch on ceremony usually sees various festive events taking place in Duke of York Square.
Where: Sloane Square, London, Sw1W 8EE
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
Nearest tube: Baker Street
St Christopher’s Place
Where: St Christopher’s Place, Barrett Street, London, W1U 1BF
Nearest tube: Bond Street
St Katherine Docks
Where: St Katherine Docks, St Katherine Way, London, E1W 1LA
Nearest Tube: Tower Hill
Christmas by the River
Where: City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London, SE1 2AA
Nearest Tube: London Bridge or Tower Hill
Top Tip: See what is going on at the Shakespeare’s Globe theatre or pop across the river for a meal in an igloo at the Coppa Club which is arguably the best igloo dining experience in London.
Where: Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 1LT
Nearest tube: Bank or Aldgate
The Royal Exchange
Where: The Royal Exchange, Cornhill, London, EC3V 3LR
Nearest tube: Bank
South Molton Street
Where: South Molton Street, London, W1K 5QE
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
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.
In 2019 there was also a Christmas market for the first time.
Where: Trafalgar Square, Charing Cross, London, WC2n 5DN
Nearest tube: Charing Cross Station
Top Tip: Pop into St Martin-in-the-Fields for more carol singing or a Christmas concert
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.
Where: The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9SG
Nearest tube: London Bridge Station
The Harrods lights are not officially 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 soe twinkly lights at Christmas, particularly at the Natural History Museum and Somerset House.