Our guide to a festive stroll around central London
At this most magical time of year, the streets and skies of central London are filled with twinkling festive lights, decorative window displays, and the grandest of Christmas trees. Enjoy discovering these mesmerising trimmings to the neighbourhoods of the West End, sparking some well-deserved festive feel-good vibes. Get into the spirit with the best festive landmarks to visit this winter…
Regent Street and St James’s Stunning Spirits and the Waterloo Place Tree
The Spirits of Christmas are soaring high in the sky over the iconic Regent Street curve and into the neighbourhood of St James’s. Over 300,000 LED lights – in a canopy of white nets - shine in more than 50 handcrafted Spirits. With the largest lights scheme in the capital, why not start your wintry wanderings at the north end of Regent Street, walking down the iconic curve, taking a small detour at Glasshouse Street and Quadrant Arcade, before meandering through Piccadilly Circus to the streets of St James’s – including Jermyn Street, St James’s Market and Regent Street St James’s – to see the full festive display of shimmering Spirits. The lights will be switched on for the evenings only, for a more sustainable display.
In addition, at the St James’s end of the street – right by the Mall – spot the Waterloo Place Christmas tree. This magnificent tree is one of the largest in the country and one of our top festive photo spots in St James’s.
Piccadilly’s Spirits and whimsical windows
Along the length of Piccadilly there is plenty to stop at and admire. Fortnum & Mason’s iconic windows are a real treat, and so are the striking lights – the festive Spirits – along the length of the street. Other landmarks to note along your way include the beautiful Piccadilly and Princes Arcades (handy places to know if it’s raining) as well as St James’s Church and the Royal Academy of Arts.
Another arcade just across from St James’s is the Burlington Arcade. Wander through an enchanted Christmas forest which is as much a feast for the eyes as the scenes with fragrant airs of pine and cinnamon. Browse the boutiques, toast the season and spot the famed beadles in their Regency-inspired uniforms – the country’s oldest and smallest police force.
Carnaby’s Christmas lights display
This year's light installation in Carnaby is themed 'Carnaby Universe'. Step under the iconic Carnaby arch to see the Instagram-worthy display of colourful neon spheres and light waves running the length of Carnaby Street. Just off Carnaby Street, visit the giant light bulb installation where 51 oversized lightbulbs shine out in bright pink and transform yourself into a glowing angel with neon wings (which you can find on the corner of Carnaby and Broadwick Street).
Covent Garden’s colossal Christmas tree
A short walk through Soho leads you to Covent Garden and its wondrous Christmas tree. Did you know it takes over 40 years to grow their festive fir tree? At over 60ft tall and weighing over 1,500 tonnes, this towering tree boasts over 30,000 lights – making it hard to miss. This year also sees a striking new lights display featuring gigantic golden bells, baubles and mirror balls in the Market Building.
Seven Dials Winter Festival
The streets of Seven Dials twinkle with lights and the buzz of Christmas catch ups and merriment. Visitors to the iconic village will also be treated to its Winter Festival, three days of creative workshops, special offers, seasonal menus and pop-up performances across its seven streets.
Sky Full of Stars on Oxford Street
Start at Tottenham Court Road and wander down Oxford Street, delighting in its magnificent display which brings 4,250 glittering stars to the street. Stop off at Selfridges Christmas Market for gifts, street food and a huge helter skelter that kids (and big kids) will love. Will you spot Santa joining the party?
Bond Street’s peacock-inspired Lights
Stop for a moment to appreciate Bond Street’s beautiful peacock-inspired Christmas lights with 250,000 individual bulbs illuminating this luxurious neighbourhood.
Ever After Garden in Grosvenor Square
From 16 November-19 December, a sea of 25,000 illuminated white roses will appear in Grosvenor Square, dedicated to lost friends and loved ones. Add your dedication to help raise funds for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and remember Christmases shared and time together amid the warming glow of the Ever After Garden.
Looking for more inspiration for things to see and do in the West End? View our walking guide for getting to and from central London, and discover the best places to enjoy Christmas cocktails and festive fare.