Discover the best festive displays in London this season, from Christmas lights and markets to the enchanting décor at The Ritz. Read here.
The Most Enchanting Christmas Displays in London
The festive season truly is the most wonderful time of the year in London. When the twinkling angels fly into Regent Street, oversized Christmas trees pop up on every corner, and shop windows come alive with mesmerising displays of Christmas gifts, it’s impossible to be a bah-humbug. Even if the weather is cold and frosty, the warmth of the Christmas spirit spreading throughout the capital keeps Londoners and visitors filled with festive cheer.
The Christmas lights in London are an attraction for visitors from across the globe, and rightly so as they are simply spectacular. Every year at the end of November, The Ritz joins in the festive fun and our Portland stone façade on Piccadilly is beautifully adorned with glowing wreaths for all to enjoy. Ideally positioned in St James’s, The Ritz is the perfect starting point for a day spent exploring the Christmas displays in London after a spot of festive afternoon tea or a Christmas cocktail or two in The Rivoli Bar.
So here is our guide to the best Christmas lights in London, to ensure your yuletide visit, whether spent with a partner, friends or family, is exactly like a scene from your favourite Christmas film. While we can’t guarantee snow, we are certain there will be plenty of winter markets, light shows and festive experiences to transport you to the North Pole in spirit!
The Best Christmas Lights in London This Year
It’s safe to say we definitely know how to put on a Christmas light show in London. Each year, the annual switch on of Christmas lights is an eagerly anticipated event and one that lives up to the expectation year after year. Take a look at our Ritz recommendations of simply unmissable Christmas lights, just a stone’s throw from 150 Piccadilly.
New for 2023, Covent Garden’s signature mistletoe designs have been updated with 40 dazzling Christmas bells with bows, accompanied by giant baubles and mirror balls. Not forgetting 140,000 twinkling lights to complete the impressive installation in the Market Building. During your visit be sure to tick off some gifts from your Christmas shopping list from the luxurious selection of boutiques that line the market and of course, take a festive family portrait next to the 60 feet tall Christmas tree.
Regent Street and Oxford Street
Two of the most iconic festive sights in London are of course the elegant angels flying over Regent Street and the sky full of stars that fills Oxford Street. It’s impossible to be stressed while Christmas shopping when these enchanting light displays are there to guide you to your next destination.
Dressed in wintery evergreens, Burlington Arcade has been transformed into a forest escape this Christmas. Warm yourself with a hot chocolate from Ladurée, while browsing the designer boutiques in search of the perfect gift for that special someone.
Trafalgar Square is home to the legendary (and often newsworthy) Christmas tree, gifted to the UK by Norway each year. This historic gift is in thanks for Britain’s support of Norway during the Second World War and long may this tradition continue. With the newly reopened National Portrait Gallery just around the corner, there is no excuse not to visit for a cultural day out this December.
Over by the river, Somerset House has opened its annual ice-skating rink, this year in collaboration with Switzerland Tourism, giving the experience an alpine winter feel. Children can discover the joy of skating for the first time with their Skate School lessons, while adults can enjoy a warming tipple at the rink-side Skate Lounge, overlooking the rink and 40 feet tall tree. With DJs providing the soundtrack late into the evening, there is something for everyone this season.
Heading back to Mayfair, Bond Street is a must-visit destination at this time of year. Not only is the street adorned with royal inspired glowing crowns, in tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II, but the designer stores have also gone all out with their Christmas displays. Christian Dior’s butterfly installation is a sight to behold, while Ralph Lauren is celebrating the good will of the season with their Giving Tree, which takes donations for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
A little further afield, but well worth the visit is ‘Christmas at Kew’, where the botanical gardens are illuminated with lights and sounds of the season. Enjoy an afternoon out in nature with the children or a romantic evening strolling through the magnificent exhibits and warm up along the route with food and drinks from market stalls
If you can’t make it to London in person this year, take a look at our reel here to immerse you in the beauty of the capital this December!
London’s Winter Markets & Christmas Villages
If the winter lights in London aren’t enough and you are looking for a Christmas market to please all the family, take a look at our top choices in London:
Southbank Centre Winter Market
Inviting lights and traditional chalet style market stalls line the Thames for the Southbank Centre’s Winter Market. Free to attend for all, this is the perfect festive activity for families in London or a swoon worthy date night idea. Pick up last-minute Christmas presents from independent craft companies or indulge in a chocolatey treat – as calories don’t count at Christmas! The market is part of Southbank’s wider Winter Festival, which features festive shows, art exhibitions, dance classes and choirs to really get you into the Christmas spirit.
Christmas Wednesdays at Columbia Road
Running throughout December, Columbia Road (usually known for its famous flower market) becomes a scene plucked straight from a Richard Curtis film every Wednesday evening. The community comes together to enjoy some late-night shopping in the independent boutiques that line the quaint East London road. Festive cheer abounds and you are sure to leave with a smile on your face!
Our list wouldn’t be complete without including the number one festive destination in London: Winter Wonderland. Every November, Hyde Park becomes a magical mecca of all things Christmas. From fun fair rides and ice-skating to spectacular shows and delicious food, there is everything you could dream of this festive season all in one place. Our top tip to escape the bustling crowds is to take a soaring trip in the Giant Wheel, which boasts stunning views over all of London.
Experience Christmas at The Ritz
Last but certainly not least, is the heart-warming experience of Christmas at The Ritz. The hotel’s already stunning Louis XVI style interiors are transformed overnight, as if by magic, into a wonderland of red, gold and glitter. From the sparkling centrepiece of our 25 feet tall Christmas tree in the Lobby to the spectacular installation that welcomes guests of The Palm Court for afternoon tea, there is Christmas magic to discover at every turn.
- The Lobby Christmas Tree for the ultimate family photo
- The twinkling wreaths on Piccadilly brightening up Londoners’ commutes
- Our Pastry Chef’s immaculate Christmas pastries for Afternoon Tea in The Palm Court
- Our friendly Doormen greeting guests as they arrive at the hotel
- Mesmerising festive dining experiences in The Ritz Restaurant
Over the Christmas period there are plenty of festivities to partake in at The Ritz once you have admired our Christmas displays. The hottest ticket in town is a table in the magnificent Palm Court for Christmas Afternoon Tea. With carol singers providing a merry ambiance, guests enjoy the Christmas creations of our Pastry Chefs, accompanied by a cup of our Tea Master’s signature Christmas Tea, which is blended in-house. If there is room left after the dainty finger sandwiches and lighter-than-air scones, it’s time for a slice of cake from the trolley, served tableside. The finishing touch? A glass of Baron de Rothschild Réserve Ritz Champagne for the adults, a cuddly Ritz teddy for the little ones and handmade mince pies all round!
Meanwhile, in The Ritz Restaurant, Executive Chef, John Williams MBE has designed bespoke menus for the special festive dates of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Guests at each of these charming occasions are entertained by live musicians while they dine on the finest seasonal menus with friends and family all around. From the first Christmas cracker pull to the final sip of Champagne, the festive season in The Ritz Restaurant is a feast for the senses.
That brings us to the end of our sleigh ride through London. We hope you wrap up warm and enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of London this December. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from The Ritz!