The switching on of the different Christmas lights in London marks the beginning of Christmas in London. Some of the capital’s biggest shopping destinations, such as Oxford Street, Regent Street, Covent Garden and Carnaby Street celebrate the switching on of the Christmas lights with live music, free events and sometimes even fireworks!
London celebrates Christmas like no other city. Every little street in London is neatly decorated to the smallest detail with the largest display of Christmas decorations and lights that one can imagine. In addition, the ice skating rinks and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park open in November, and many Christmas markets start to appear in London. The Nutcracker ballet opens its doors to the public as well as many Christmas musicals and pantomimes.
The dates for the switching on of the Christmas Lights in London this year have not been announced yet. Most Christmas lights in London will be on until the 5th or 6th of January 2024.
One way to see the best Christmas lights in London is on an Open Top Vintage Bus Sightseeing Tour.
The switching on of Oxford Street’s Christmas Lights in London will take place on Thursday 2nd November 2023 (date confirmed). The Oxford Street Christmas lights will be switched on until January 5, 2024.
Over 5,000 stars will light up London’s Oxford Street for the Christmas period this year, consisting of 300,000 tiny state-of-the-art LED bulbs, creating unique Christmas lighting. These stars, in addition to lighting up Oxford Street during the Christmas season, also light up London’s West End.
Over the past few years, we have seen various Christmas lights on Oxford Street, including the green and blue hues that simulated the Aurora Borealis over the London sky and the 1,778 white balls that floated above Oxford Street every Christmas for the past few years. Oxford Street is also partnering with children’s charity Starlight this year, which helps children in hospital to experience playtime and joy throughout their treatments. To help raise money for the charity, members of the public can sponsor a star.
Oxford street normally celebrates the Christmas lights switch on with a huge event every year, with live music on a stage. Due to COVID, this hasn’t been the case for the last few years, but we hope a special event will be announced again in 2023. There is typically a stage located on the stretch of Oxford Street between Oxford Circus and Marble Arch. Most shops offer 20% off on this day, so it is also a good opportunity to start Christmas Shopping!
Carnaby Street’s Christmas Lights in London will be switched on on Thursday, 8th November 2023 (date confirmed). Please note this date has changed, it was originally planned to go ahead on the 2nd of November, but due to the weather, it has been rescheduled. Carnaby´s Christmas lights are undoubtedly one of the most anticipated events of Christmas in London since the Christmas decorations of Carnaby Street are usually nothing less than spectacular.
Last year, Carnaby Street celebrated 25 years of lights and installations. Carnaby decorated the streets with the most-loved pieces from the past to celebrate this. Throughout Carnaby, visitors saw an exciting element of historic installations, including neon lyrics from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, glittering Rolling Stones tongues, fan favourites such as oversized robins, a giant snowman, colourful palm trees from Carnaby Carnival as well as underwater scenes from the unforgettable Under The Sea.
This year’s installation is called Carnaby Universe. Neon colours and light waves will take over Carnaby Street, Foubert’s Place, Ganton Street and Newburgh Street. The iconic Carnaby arches will also be beautifully adorned.
This year Carnaby will once again collaborate with the Choose Love Charity, a charity that raises funds for refugees around the globe. A pop-up shop will open at 57 Carnaby Street, where you will be able to buy limited edition products and refugee gifting packages.
Carnaby Christmas Shopping Party takes place on the same day as the Christmas lights are switched on from 4 pm to 8 pm. More than 100 shops, bars and restaurants in the 13 streets of the Carnaby area offer a 20% discount on most of their products on the day. There will also be live music, competitions and giveaways. If you just want to see the Christmas lights switch on, you can just show up on the day, but if you want to take advantage of the Carnaby Christmas Shopping Party discounts, you need to register in advance on their website.
The big switch-on of the Christmas Lights on Regent Street will take place on the Thursday 9th of November, 2023 (date confirmed). The lights will be on every day until early January 2024.
Every year, the Regent Street Christmas Lights switch-on in central London is celebrated in style. Before COVID hit, Regent Street would close to traffic throughout the day, and Regent Street would become filled with numerous stalls with activities for all ages from early in the morning. From 4 pm, there would be a stage at one end of the street (usually the Piccadilly Circus end) hosted by celebrities and featuring live music. The switching on of the Christmas lights on Regent Street usually takes place at around 5 p.m. and is often accompanied by a fantastic fireworks display. But all these details haven´t been confirmed yet for 2023!
Magical Covent Garden is even more magical at Christmas, and you cannot miss this wonderful place if you are planning to visit London this Christmas. The Christmas lights in Covent Garden will be switched on on Tuesday 7th of November 2023 ((date confirmed).
Inside the piazza, the Christmas decorations and lights that hang from the ceiling are usually one of the most photographed places during Christmas in London. This year a new Christmas installation will take place, we can´t wait to see it! Outside the piazza, you´ll find a giant Christmas tree. There are also free events that run during December to get into the festive spirit.
The switching on of the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square will take place on the 7th of December 2023 (confirmed) at 6 pm. The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is the latest Christmas detail to take place in London. It is the tallest Christmas tree that is installed each year in London.
The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree switch-on will take place at 6 pm, and a choir usually sings Christmas carols until 7 pm. From December 9 to 24 there will be different choirs singing Christmas carols at the foot of this gigantic tree.
Planning a trip to London for Christmas
By mid-November, all the Christmas lights in London have been switched on except the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square. All the ice rinks and the Christmas Markets are normally open too.
Most shops will also have their Christmas shopfronts installed. Harrods, Selfridges, and Fortnum and Mason´s are well worth visiting. Every shop in the most famous shopping areas, such as Oxford Street, Regent Street and Covent Garden, will also have amazing shopfronts installed.