It has become somewhat of a Christmas tradition each year, that I take myself off to the centre of London to enjoy the magical light displays and decorations that our fantastic capital has to offer. In previous years, there have also been river side Christmas markets, the infamous Winter Wonderland (which can be seen from planes flying over the city) and even a trail or two (last year being the 12 days of Christmas Snowmen).
This year I was in more need of some festive cheer than normal and so after nine months of staying away from the city centre, I found myself wandering in to see what delights were to be found.
Walk too fast and you would miss this 19th century shopping mall. Cutting through Piccadilly to Bond Street, this gem is oh so pretty.
Traditional red baubles hanging from the ceiling, Christmas trees dotted along the through path and a Moet & Chandon festive love swing, very understated, but classic.
You cannot miss Bond Street off your list of festive spots. Not only do you have the overhead twinkling lights (this year, looking very peacock inspired), but you also have the numerous high end shops competing with decorative shop fronts.
Cartier, is by far the most impressive for me this year. Dressed to look like the entire store is wrapped as a present with a lion peering down on the eager shoppers below and red and white lighting….it really does stand out amongst the other shops in this exclusive street. You would fail to miss it when walking down Bond Street, even during daylight hours.
Venture a little away from London’s West End and you will find Leadenhall Market. Decorations here are minimalistic, however I always love visiting. Not only will you find it rather deserted at the weekends (so perfect for pictures), but the building is so impressive and it so charming amongst the sky scrapers that tower around.
Be sure to look up to the glass ceilings. Though a permanent feature and not just for Christmas, they seem extra high above the glorious Christmas tree.
Covent Garden and the surrounding areas never fail to impress each year. Though, in recent years the market itself follows the same decorations, with giant shimmering baubles, mistletoe and, by far, the biggest Christmas tree ever (I would not want to decorate it, thats for sure), there is always different displays around the market too.
We have seen numerous Lego displays, including Santa and his sleigh several years back (which you could climb on board for a picture) and giant snow globes.
This year the Lego presence was evident, with Mario and Santa nestling amongst foliage and a free exhibition (tickets must be booked in advance). Additionally this year, you will find a display of Christmas trees all sponsored and decorated by stores around the market.
Make sure you visit Conduit Court too and talk a walk through the Covent Garden Infinity Chamber. This tunnel of changing lights and mirrors, is bound to add to the Christmas vibe.
Annabels – Mayfair
You may not be able to enter the private members club in Berkeley Square, but you can certainly admire the Nutcracker themed decorations they have displayed out front.
With the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy playing out and the giant soldiers standing proud over the square, it is enough to stop everyone in their tracks. The display was even stopping traffic as passengers paused to take a quick snap.
If you have time you can even sit in the square to admire the view, whilst spotting a number of luxury cars pass by…… you do have the Ferrari showroom on the opposite end after all.
Fortnum & Mason and the Ritz
Located on the iconic Piccadilly, and just across the road from Burlington Arcade are the world famous Ritz hotel and Forntum and Mason store.
Every year I wander down to enjoy their classic displays, with Fortum and Mason’s advent calendar shop front and the Ritz traditional decorations with red and gold.
Keeping consistent with their lights was Regent Street. From the bottom at Piccadilly to the top end past Oxford Circus, you will find the twinkling angle lights, that simply just look magical.
With the street closed to traffic you can wander the street, aimlessly, enjoying the real festive charm.
Simple. But powerful.
Some might say that the lights in Carnaby Street this year are somewhat dull. I, however, lured in by the bright purple colour (my favourite), and the powerful messaging, playing homage to the NHS and key workers in 2020 – found them rather joyful.
Half way down the street be sure to stop to take a picture against the purple angel wings (if you have indeed been an angel this year of course).
Hays Galleria and City Hall
The area on the Southbank of the river, with The Shard towering over, is usually bustling this time of year with Christmas market stalls and jolly shoppers in pubs and restaurants. Sadly, this December, no market was to be found due to restrictions and it was rather unnaturally quiet. That said, great for photo opportunities, as usual I wandered through Hays Galleria, with its simply dressed Christmas tree and twinkling lights wound around the columns.
I then ventured to the area just before City Hall. With the Tower of London and Tower Bridge in the background you will find the brightly lit Christmas installation. A stag standing proud with a fox and a robin resting on its back. Against the backdrop it looked so magical.
Christmas at Kew
Last but not least, Christmas at Kew! I think possibly my favourite, due to the numerous light installations.
I have been lucky enough to work as a steward for a number of years, so I really get to appreciate the event full with visitors (and experiencing their joy), but also when closing, without anyone around.
Each year I have worked, the team at Kew have provided a fantastic show! With the Temperate and Palm houses, plus the Treetop Walkway being the main attractions!
Though the fairground is not available in 2020 it is still a wonderful evening out for all the family to enjoy. And one I will enjoy working for years to come.
So, there you have it. My top magical Christmas spots of 2020. I’m sure there are many more that I just have not discovered yet. I would love to know your recommendations too, so I can hunt them out next year!