Christmas lights in London 2021: The best displays and light trails

·4-min read
Christmas lights in London 2021: The best displays and light trails

Christmas is just around the corner - or, if the rate at which festive light displays are popping up around London is anything to go by, it’s already here.

Making a pilgrimage to see the best illuminations in the capital every winter is something a yuletide tradition, and the city has plenty to offer. Here, we round up the best of the lot, from shopping streets and skyscrapers to woodlands and wetlands.

Carnaby Street - up now

 (Tareq Mooradun/@tmnikonian)
(Tareq Mooradun/@tmnikonian)

A canopy of more than 600 shimmering butterflies will cover this famous shopping street in 2021, as part of a collaboration with the refugee charity Choose Love.

W1F, carnaby.co.uk/christmas

Covent Garden - until January 3

 (Paul Grover)
(Paul Grover)

It’s probably best known for the huge Christmas tree they put up in the middle of it all, but Covent Garden’s festive frivolities are far-ranging — from an immersive LEGO installation to a Christmas sandwich festival. Needless to say, it’s all lit up and decorated rather wonderfully.

WC2E, coventgarden.london

Southbank - until January 9

 (David Ogle, Loomin, Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Morley Von Sternberg)
(David Ogle, Loomin, Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Morley Von Sternberg)

A stroll along the South Bank is a perennial delight, and it’s particularly enjoyable at this time of year with all the lights that adorn the riverside. As part of the Southbank Centre’s Winter Light exhibition, head down to witness everything from neon canopies to a lit-up abandoned car.

SE1, southbankcentre.co.uk

Illuminature - until January 9

 (Handout)
(Handout)

This one does more or less what it says on the tin, bringing together illuminations and nature at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. Follow the trail, and keep an eye out for all the various critters — from owls to otters — that call the area home.

SW13, wwt.org.uk

Marylebone Village - from November 10

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Go for the lights, and stay for the shopping — this cluster of festivities will feature market stalls, a Christmas wreath workshop, cut-price fashion offers and more.

W1, marylebonevillage.com

Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park - November 12-28

A hop, skip and jump across the Thames from Kew Gardens, Syon Park is also getting in on the illumination act. Back for the 15th edition, its light trail will take visitors on a wander through its 600 year-old gardens.

TW8, enchantedwoodland.com

Regent Street - from November 13 to January 2

Regent Street is something of a celebrity in the Christmas lights scene, and always pulls in the punters around the yuletide season. This year, its winged ‘spirit’ illuminations will take to the skies once again — excellent news if you missed them last time round.

W1B, regentstreetonline.com

Kew Gardens - November 17 to January 9

 (Jeff Eden © RBG Kew)
(Jeff Eden © RBG Kew)

This verdant oasis is always a delight to visit, but things get extra magical once the weather gets wintry. Head down for a dazzling array of light trails, illuminated trees, waterside reflections and more.

TW9, kew.org

Greenwich Market - from November 17

The festivities will kick off with a lantern parade on Wednesday November 17, before the famous market switches on its Christmas lights for the season.

SE10, greenwichmarket.london

Seven Dials - from November 19-21

 (Will Ireland/PinPep)
(Will Ireland/PinPep)

There’s a whole shebang going down at Seven Dials’ Winter Festival — shopping, live music, pop-up pantos and more — with some interactive live installations too, as well as an illuminated arch by Neal’s Yard.

WC2H, sevendials.co.uk

Lightopia at Crystal Palace Park - November 19 to January 2

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Crystal Palace Park will be transformed into a gleaming festival of lights during the festive period, with lasers, lanterns, large-scale installations and more — the famous dinosaurs have even been given a makeover.

SE19, london.lightopiafestival.com

Winterfest - November 25 to January 4

 (Chris Winter / Wembley Park)
(Chris Winter / Wembley Park)

Winterfest was missing last year (as were a lot of things) but it’ll make a triumphant return to Wembley Park for 2021, bringing with it plenty of lit-up loveliness. The highlight is the 25ft walk-through tree, made up of 100,000 LED lights.

HA9, wembleypark.com/winterfest

Christmas at Kenwood - November 26 to January 9

 (Handout)
(Handout)

Kenwood House, one of the main attractions in Hampstead Heath, will reinvent itself this winter with a new light trail taking in everything from a laser garden to a VIP bar.

NW3, christmasatkenwood.com

The Shard - from December 1

The top 20 storeys of London’s tallest building will be lit up in the spirit of Christmas throughout December. The theme of this year’s show is “togetherness”, something we can all surely get on board with after last year’s Christmas separation.

SE1, the-shard.com

Palace of Stardust at Hampton Court Palace - December 8 to January 3

Henry VIII’s gaff gets a festive makeover and a brand new light trail for Christmas. Make a day of it and stop by at the ice rink beforehand.

KT8, hrp.org.uk

The Churchill Arms - dates TBC

Yes it’s a boozer, but this Kensington pub looks almost comically good at Christmas time, covered from pavement to roof in lights. It’s worth the journey — especially when there’s the promise of a pint or two inside.

W8, churchillarmskensington.co.uk

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