London Drum

Where are the best Christmas tree lights in London?

We're lucky in London because we always have plenty of Christmas lights up for six weeks at least. We're those nutty neighbours who tack up three bazillion bulbs to the front of their house. Every lamppost has some fairy lights on it. Every taxi wraps a bit of tinsel around their aerial.

Oxford Street & Regent Street

Winged angel lights down Regent StreetPhoto: Craig Cross
The winged angels down Regent Street

I'm standing down Oxford Street at the moment and the place is cross-crossed with strings of six-foot snowballs. Lots of cherry-sized silver spots and electric icicles hanging off the trees like frozen bolts of blue. They even have some fake snow blowing out the top of the shops.

Christmas lights in Oxford StreetPhoto: Craig Cross
Christmas lights in Oxford Street

Regent Street was starting to become a bit too commercial these last few years with giant lighted signs advertising the latest blockbuster movie, but they've decided on something a bit more traditional now: wireframe angels with flapping white wings. Carnaby Street has gone for some giant headphones lined in fur from Santa's suit.

Christmas lights in Carnaby StreetPhoto: Craig Cross
Christmas lights in Carnaby Street

You're going to have to bear with me for five minutes whilst I take cover under a bus stop because the rain has started pelting down. It's quite nice sitting here with a waterfall of rain cascading over the top. Every time an umbrella comes past we hear the storm water bashing the plastic and the splish splash splosh of fast feet in the flood. It's chucking it down. Bucketing down.

I'm going to risk getting soaked otherwise I'll be sitting here all day. I'm zipping between one shop awning and another and it's like I'm coming under enemy fire... I have to get to the next trench before the clouds reload. It's a war-zone! I'm watching the lamplights turn into starbursts as they refract through the rain... watching the Christmas lights explode as the sky turns black.

Somerset House ice rink

The ice rink inside Somerset HousePhoto: Craig Cross
Ice rink inside the courtyard of Somerset House

I think the nicest lights can be found outside Somerset House. If you step inside the courtyard then you'll see the prettiest tree in the city standing in front of their outdoor ice-rink... people whizzing around the ice with their breath clouding out because it's so damn cold. They also have a little cafe selling hot chocolate and coffee and mulled wine (proper mulled wine with sticks and twigs and berries inside).

Covent Garden Christmas tree

The Covent Garden Christmas treePhoto: Craig Cross
Christmas tree outside the Covent Garden piazza

Covent Garden has the second-best tree in town. It must be forty or fifty-feet at least, sitting in a big wooden pot that's bigger than a boat. And the market hall roof is groaning under the weight of red and green baubles fifteen feet across.

Liberty department storePhoto: Craig Cross
Liberty department store

Have a walk across Waterloo Bridge and check out the festive market on Southbank. Most of it has moved into the big grassy area this year (it usually runs along the river between the London Eye and Royal Festival Hall). This is where they have all of the festive huts and Swiss-style chalets selling hot sausages and Bavarian beer. They've got burgers and steaks and pancakes too... it's worth walking around just for the smells because there's nothing quite like the aroma of fairground food on a Christmas night.

Christmas tree in Waterloo PlacePhoto: Craig Cross
Christmas tree in Waterloo Place

Do you fancy going on a Christmas tree hunt? There's a lovely one in Waterloo Place this year (Waterloo Place is by the Duke of York's Column). They've got another one outside Kensington Palace and a rather lonely one in the middle of the Tower of London moat.

Christmas tree outside the Royal ExchangePhoto: Craig Cross
Christmas tree outside the Royal Exchange

The one standing outside the Royal Exchange is one of my favourites, and they usually have a beauty outside the Dickens Inn in St. Katharine Docks as well. But the best of the bunch is definitely in the middle of Leadenhall Market. It looks like something on the front of a Victorian Christmas card.

London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon. This post was written on

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