Culture Magazine

Christmas Lights in London

By Janeslondon
'Tis the season to be jolly and all that
Last week I posted about the Archway switch on, one of many local events that took place last weekend. 
Larger displays can be found along some of the major shopping streets in the West End and they are just lovely this year, with barely any silly branding or commercial theme. So last night my friend Jen and I made good use of a pair of tickets for The Original Bus Tour's Christmas Lights Tour to be able to get a closer look at them.
We boarded the bus in Coventry Street, donned our free Santa hats and made use of the much-needed blankets – this was the snowy day and brr it was cold on that open top deck!
Christmas Lights in London
The tour is restricted by the routes the company is actually permitted to use – and so it takes a circuitous route to get to Regent Street, goes up that road, loops back and then goes back down it again. And that's about it. The Regent Street lights are indeed lovely, bu they are the same all the way along so once you get to Oxford Circus and go back again it all seems a bit repetitive.
We did enjoy ourselves (we  normally do!) but an adult ticket is a whopping £15 which I think is rather steep for just 45 minutes – even if I was new to London I think I would have been disappointed that the only lights I saw on the tour were the ones pictured on the leaflet. On the plus side, it must be said that the guide on the night was marvelous. He obviously enjoys his job, sharing his love and knowledge of London with the people on board.  
Sorry tour bus guys, thanks for the tickets and all that, but I suggest that these lights can be just as easily viewed from the top deck of any normal bus service that goes along Regent Street for a fraction of the cost.
Some of the best Christmas lights are in the smaller shopping streets that are not on bus routes and these are better seen on foot. I recommend a walking tour of London's Christmas lights – my friend Joanna leads a marvelous food-related lights tour in the West End that includes Carnaby Street, St Christopher's Place and Bond Street. Jo gives out freebies too but they are not branded hats! Booking for Jo's walk here. If you do book, please be sure to mention that you saw it here first ;-)
Back to the big displays – last week I went to Kew Gardens to see the marvelous lighting installations there – I am not going to show any photos because it would ruin the surprise and delight for you, but my favorite thing there, apart from the beautifully lit majestic old trees, was the Singing Trees – a simple yet wonderfully evocative section of the walk. The whole route is just delightful because you can wander about at your own pace. Be sure to watch the whole show projected onto the Palm House at the end of the trail.
Again, please try not to look at the photos of it before you go. For reference please see my post about last year's trail here. On until new Year's Day – book here.
The future is looking bright 
It doesn't all end at Christmas – the lights continue into January...
Lumiere London, January 18-21 – various sites in central London – see here for my review of 2016 
Also:
Winter Lights at Canary Wharf, 16-27 January – see here for pics etc of 2017

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