Guide to the Top 10 Christmas Lights in London

By Seren Morris

Get yourself in the festive spirit and see the best Christmas lights London has to offer with our guide

If you’re visiting London over the holidays, you will never be far from the festivities. The city has been draped in Christmas lights, with swooping angels and giant baubles lining some of the busiest streets in London. From Carnaby Street to Covent Garden, Leadenhall Market to London Zoo - we have the top ten Christmas lights you have to see in London this December. Head out after dark and get into the Christmas spirit with these beautiful light displays. 1. Carnaby Street

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Shoppers will be asking themselves just that as they walk under the Christmas lights of London’s trendiest street. Carnaby Street has dedicated its iconic light show to the Queen to celebrate the release of the recent Freddie Mercury biopic. Freddie fans will have until 4 January 2019 to see the lyrics of Bohemian Rhapsody light up Carnaby’s 14 streets. The nearest underground stations are Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus. 2. Oxford Street

The Oxford Street Christmas Lights are in their fifty-ninth year - and they just keep getting bigger, better and brighter. This year, the ‘Christmas is calling’ display features 750,000 LED lights and 1,778 baubles that will light up Oxford Street until 6 January 2019. The nearest underground station is Oxford Circus, and if you’re nearby - why not visit the Handel & Hendrix museum? 3. Covent Garden

Covent Garden is oozing Christmas, with forty mistletoe chandeliers and 100,000 Christmas lights hanging over the iconic piazza. And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, there is also a huge Christmas tree and a sparkly reindeer statue on display until 2 January 2019. The nearest underground station is Covent Garden, but the nearby Leicester Square station is a lot less crowded. 4. Regent Street

One of the most famous displays of Christmas lights in London, Regent Street has been lit up every Christmas since 1954, and this year is no different. The iconic shopping destination has been given an angelic makeover this Christmas, with huge angels floating up high, while shoppers buy Christmas gifts below. The stunning lights will be lining entire the street until 7 January 2019. The nearest underground stations are Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus. 5. Bond Street

One of London’s most luxurious streets has had a Christmas makeover - and it’s just as decadent as you’d expect. Giant, white peacock feathers are draped over Bond Street’s designer shops - in homage to the Bond Street Loungers of the 18th century - nicknamed the ‘peacocks’ of their day. With 250,000 bulbs used and a massive £1 million cost, Bond Street Christmas Lights are unmissable - and you have until 2 January 2019. The nearest underground station is Bond Street. 6. Marylebone

Head north from Bond Street and not only will you find Marylebone High Street decked out in Christmas lights, but many of the shops along the road are hosting Christmas events and promotions. Get into the Christmas spirit at Marylebone this year, with the festivities running until 26 December 2018. The nearest underground stations are Baker Street and Regent’s Park. 7. Christmas at Leadenhall Market

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the City, as a 20-foot tree and festive music arrive in Leadenhall Market. The market’s restaurants and bars will be selling mulled wine and mince pies, making Leadenhall Market the go-to place for festive celebrations, until 31 December 2018. Harry Potter fans will especially enjoy celebrating Christmas in Leadenhall Market - they might recognise it as the set of the one and only Diagon Alley. If you’re spending the day in this area of London, you can’t miss the Tower of London and Monument. The nearest underground stations are Bank, Monument and Aldgate. 8. London Zoo Light Trail

See London Zoo in a whole new light this Christmas with London Zoo Light Trail. When the sun goes down, the animals are put to bed - and the lights are switched on. Illuminated wild animal sculptures, surprise light displays and 10,000 bulbs are lighting up the zoo this Christmas. This is a ticketed event on throughout December until 1 January 2019, and the nearest underground stations are Chalk Farm and Mornington Crescent. Remember: if you’d like to see the real animals too, make sure to visit the zoo during the day and head back for the light show after dark. 9. Silvana Light Maze, Wembley

For a different kind of Christmas lights display, head to the light maze in Wembley after spending the afternoon discovering Wembley Stadium with a behind-the-scenes tour of the home of English football. This interactive maze can be found at The Corner at Wembley Library, along with a Christmas tree and art installation, until 31 December 2018. The nearest station is Wembley Park. 10. After Dark, Chiswick

Head west to see After Dark at Chiswick House and Gardens, an ultra-modern Christmas lights display. With an illuminated full moon, laser shows and light installations lighting up the gardens Chiswick House is where to go if you are fed up of fairy lights. This is a ticketed event on until 30 December 2018. To get there, take the train to Chiswick, or the nearest underground is Stamford Brook, a 25 minute walk away. Special mention: Christmas at Kew Gardens

An unforgettable after-dark festive trail of lights, Christmas at Kew is an unmissable annual event that keeps getting better with each year. Now in its sixth year, Christmas at Kew features over a million twinkling lights and thousands of laser beams, as well as a fully-stocked refreshments bar to get you fully in the festive spirit, making it one of our favourite Christmas lights in London.

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The Shard London skyline

Did You Know? Top Facts About The Shard

Dominating the London skyline, The Shard is one of the most recognised buildings in the world. Since opening in February 2013, The Shard has quickly become one of London's most popular attractions. The View from The Shard is the city's highest vantage point, with unparalleled panoramic views of the London skyline. But, do you know exactly how tall The Shard is? Or how many glass panels make up the exterior? Read on to find out some of our favourite facts about The Shard. What is The Shard? The Shard is a 72-story skyscraper modelled after a shard of glass, located in Southwark, London. Designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, The Shard is part of The Shard Quarter development and has become one of London's most iconic landmarks since its completion. Visitors can enjoy 360-degree views of the city from the indoor viewing gallery on the 69th floor, or the open-air Skydeck on the 72nd floor. How tall is The Shard? The Shard is 306 metres tall. However, if you measure all the way up to the tip, it's 310 metres, easily making it Western Europe's tallest building. The viewing platform at The View from The Shard ascends to 244 metres, offering unparalleled views over London that stretch for up to 40 miles. Is The Shard the tallest building in the world? Now, if you were asking if The Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom, the answer would be yes. Alas, The Shard is not the tallest building in the world. It stands at an impressive height of 309.6 metres (1,016 feet). But how does The Shard measure up to other tall buildings around the world? While it may not be the tallest building in the world (that honour goes to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which stands at a towering 828 metres or 2,716 feet), The Shard still holds its own. In fact, it is the fourth tallest building in Europe and the 96th tallest building in the world! How many glass pieces is The Shard made out of? Seeing as The Shard was designed to represent a shard of glass, it's only natural that it's made of glass - 11,000 panels of it, to be precise. The total area of the glass facade adds up to 56,000 sq. metres, the equivalent of eight football pitches!  What is The Shard designed to represent? In addition to its impressive height, The Shard is also known for its unique design. The building features a distinctive glass facade that reflects the changing colours of the sky and surrounding cityscape, creating a stunning visual effect. What are the other names for The Shard? The Shard wasn't always known by this name. It was previously called the London Bridge Tower. Nowadays, alternative names for the building are Shard of Glass and Shard London Bridge, but almost everyone refers to the structure as The Shard. What's inside the Shard? The View from The Shard is spread across the 68th, 69th and 72nd floors, featuring an indoor viewing gallery and interactive exhibits tell the story of the Shard's construction and design. The open-air Skydeck on the 72nd floor features state-of-the-art telescopes that provide close-up views of the city's famous landmarks, including Tower Bridge, the Tower of London (not the same thing!), St. Paul's Cathedral, and the London Eye. Feel the wind in your hair and take in the sights and sounds of the city from above. The Shard is also home to a variety of restaurants, bars, offices, and even a hotel, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike How fast is the lift at The Shard? The average lift speed in The Shard is 6 metres per second. This makes it a smooth and speedy journey to the top. You might even feel your ears pop! It's the same speed as the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock in New York. Who's Romeo the fox? Back in 2011 while The Shard was under construction, a fox was found living on the 72nd floor. The animal, nicknamed Romeo by the staff, entered through one of the stairwells. He then made his way up the building, surviving on scraps of food left by the neighbouring buildings. It took the council two weeks to safely capture and release Romeo onto the streets of Bermondsey.  Romeo is now a mascot of The Shard and miniature plush versions of him can be bought at the gift shop, with proceeds supporting a local charity. Five quick-fire facts about The Shard in London The Shard stands at 309.6 metres tall and has 95 storeys, making it the tallest building in the UK and the fourth tallest in Europe. The Shard has 11,000 glass panels and 44 lifts.  The builders of the Shard were environmentally conscious, and 95% of the building materials used were recycled.  The Shard has its own combined heat and power plant (CHP) to meet the building's energy needs.  The Shard's public gallery, The View from The Shard, is located on the 72nd floor and offers unparalleled panoramas of London. Experience everything London has to offer with The London Pass® So, whether you're looking to take in the breathtaking views from the observation deck, enjoy a meal at one of the building's many restaurants, or simply admire its striking architecture from afar, The Shard is definitely worth a stop on your London itinerary. Planning your London trip? With The London Pass®, you can explore big-name landmarks, local hotspots and epic tours, all on one pass, all for one price. Not only that, but you'll enjoy savings of up to 50%, compared to buying individual attraction tickets. ✈️Buy The London Pass®✈️
Vanessa Teo

Valentine’s Day in London

Valentine’s Day in London isn’t just for the loved up. It can be for those in couples, sure. But it’s increasingly a day that caters to those looking for love. And those giving love the cold shoulder this year, tired of dating and the hype and the ceremony of it all. Those who say things like, “Valentine’s Day was just invented by greetings card companies.” Those who don’t. If you take it seriously, red heart balloons and all. Or if you go round popping said balloons. There’s something for you this Valentine’s Day in London. So dig into our guide on what to do this Valentine’s Day in London, including... Romantic Thames cruises for couples An evening under the stars, straight out of the movies A couple of unique twists on traditional speed dating, for those looking for love A murder mystery evening for those who are looking for a suspect And much, much more... The View from The Shard The View from The Shard are hosting a super special Valentine's Day event this year. Book as a couple and head up to London's highest viewing platform to catch the sunset, taking in incredible views across the city. Enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne to the soothing sounds of a live harpist. You'll get a souvenir digital photograph and a single red rose too. Outside of special event times, a trip up to see the View from The Shard is included with The London Pass. Click the button below to discover how you can see The View from The Shard with The London Pass, along with many, many other top London attractions. The View from The Shard, 32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG. For more details and to book, head HERE.[/caption] Valentine’s Day Thames River Cruises with City Cruises For plenty of people, a Thames River cruise on Valentine’s Day is as romantic as it gets. Getting out on the water, seeing the city’s most famous landmarks pass by, drifting off into the sunset. It’s hard to think of a more classically romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day in London. City Cruises are offering three different cruise options on 14th February. Take it slow with an afternoon tea cruise, enjoying sandwiches and cakes to a soundtrack of smooth, smooth jazz. Or treat one another to a three course dinner with a live band for company. Finally, the evening cruise is the best option for those looking to dance off into the sunset together. Interested in a sightseeing Thames River Boat Cruise without the Valentiney twist? 24 hour access to City Cruises’ main services is included with The London Pass. Find out more about Thames River Boat Cruises available with The London Pass below. 14th February. To find out more about the three special Valentine's Day cruises run by City Cruises and to book, head HERE.[/caption] London's Rooftop Bars For many, there’s nothing more romantic than a rooftop bar. Cocktails and heights just do it for lots of people. You can survey all those beneath you, say, “Look, there’s my office,” and watch the sun go down. They’re usually pretty swanked up. For places lucky enough to have roof space, it’s good London real estate worth spending a penny or two on. Have a read of our article on the best rooftop bars in London to find your perfect date location for Valentine’s Day in London. Valentine’s Evening with the Stars, Royal Observatory Greenwich Ross and Rachel and the juice box. The two jazzed up lovers in La La Land. That scene in Manhattan. Planetariums are romantic, guys. Head up to the Royal Observatory Greenwich for a romance themed planetarium show, the chance to see space through an 18-tonne Victorian telescope and some time holding hands across the Greenwich Meridian. These special lates take place on February 8th and 14th, with tickets costing £24 for adults. To visit the Royal Observatory Greenwich during normal opening hours, get yourself The London Pass. Entry to the attraction, and many more of London's finest, is included with the pass. 14th February. Royal Observatory Greenwich, Blackheath Ave, Greenwich, London SE10 8XJ. To find out more and to book, head HERE. [caption id="attachment_6260" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption] London Valentine’s Speed Duetting Night Find someone you can truly harmonise with at this unique speed dating event. You’ll be split into groups, then paired up in a private karaoke booth to have a go singing a classic duet. It might go a little flat and fail to hit the high notes, or it might be the moment you find the Sonny to your Cher, the Simon to your Garfunkel. If you’re looking to take a chance doing something completely different this Valentine’s Day in London, this could be the show-stopping event you’re looking for. For daters aged 24 to 38. Lucky Voice Holborn, 84 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1DL. For more information and to book, head HERE. [caption id="attachment_6261" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption] Valentine's Vegan Speed Dating at Fortnum's Find love under the guidance of an eggless Eros at this vegan speed dating night. Another twist on the speed dating format, this event seeks to pair up like-minded meat and dairy-free singles. If you get beyond chatting about how long you’ve been a vegan, and start coming up with your favourite London vegan restaurants for a possible second date, you’ll know you’ve met your meatless match. Fortnum and Mason provide the perfect finger food accompaniment to this evening of green romance. 11th February. Fortnum's Bar and Restaurant, The Royal Exchange, The Courtyard, London EC3V 3LR. For more details and to book, head HERE. Love Letters Live This special take on the Letters Live series sees a host of famous faces and voices read out love letters sent by some of history and popular culture’s most interesting and important thinkers, artists, revolutionaries and lovers. From professions of love to confessions of heartbreak, interrogations of love and odes to its power, the letters read here approach love from every direction, offering new perspectives on the lives and thoughts of those who penned them. Letters Live has previously seen the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Olivia Colman and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie read letters written by David Bowie, Che Guevara and Maya Angelou. This special event is raising money for the charity Help Refugees. 14th February. Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St, Hackney, London EC1V 9LT. For more information and to book, head HERE. [caption id="attachment_6262" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption] 'Cooking With Cupid' Valentine’s Cookery Class What’s on the menu tonight? It’s love, of course. With a side of green beans. This couples cookery class is designed to add a bit of spice back into the kitchen. People flirt with food. A date at a fancy restaurant. Planning a romantic meal where you cook that one thing you know how to cook. But cooking with and for your partner can quickly collapse into a question of who’s going to boil the pasta this evening and who forgot to get the milk and why did you put the carton back in the fridge if it’s empty and fine, just forget it, let’s get a takeaway and for goodness sake can you just make up your mind where you want to order from and it not take an hour and a half. This Valentine’s cookery class is looking to change all that. And it includes bottomless booze. Which is sure to turn even the most reluctant cooks into accomplished, artistically minded, flamboyant chefs. For the night, at least. 14th February. The Avenue Cookery School, 3 Enterprise Way, Wandsworth, London SW18 1FZ. For more information and to book, head HERE. [caption id="attachment_6263" align="alignnone" width="1000"][/caption] Valentine’s Heart in a Jar Class Tired of the ephemerality of love? Jaded by the over-commercialisation of romance? Into taxidermy? Stuck for Valentine’s Day gift ideas again this year? Then this heart pickling class is for you. Spend the afternoon learning how to dissect and preserve an animal heart, then take your very own specimen home with you in a glass jar. Give it to your partner. If they love it, you were meant to be together. If they hate it, well, they can always regift it come Christmas. 16th February. The British Academy of Taxidermy, Islington Arts Factory, 2 Parkhurst Road, London N7OSF. For more information and to book, head HERE. Anti-Valentine’s Day Murder Mystery in the Sky Head up to the London Sky Bar for this inventive antidote to Valentine’s Day: a murder mystery evening set in a Prohibition era speakeasy. The bar’s proprietor has been found murdered. It’s your job to piece together all the evidence, interrogating suspects and working together to get to the truth. Find out who did him in, on Valentine’s Day of all days. When you’ve closed the case, take in the views from this wonderful vantage point, 29 floors up and overlooking the Thames. 14th February. London Sky Bar, Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4QP. For more information and to book, head HERE. Right, that’s your lot. However you spend your Valentine’s Day in London this year, we hope you have a swell time. And let us know of any alternative ideas you’re cooking up in the comment box below.
Matthew Pearson

Top 10 Unique London Souvenirs to Bring Home

Take your trip home with some unique London souvenirs The English capital is one of the most visited cities in the world. So, it's no surprise there are loads of stores selling London souvenirs everywhere you look. (Tip: don't buy anything from the stores in Camden or nearby the biggest landmarks. They'll charge you a kidney.) Leave the postcards and London bus teapot to the side and go for something a little different. This post includes: Gifts for food and drink lovers Presents for music enthusiasts Souvenirs for vintage enthusiasts Presents for people who love designer gifts And more... Luxury Tea from Fortnum & Mason Forget the red telephone tea tins and packs of Duty-Free teas. Gourmet Fortnum & Mason brews really take the classic British staples to another level. Whether you're looking for a sophisticated royal blend or a fragrant herbal tea, there are lots of choices on offer. Don't be too dazzled by sublime teas - the store includes coffees, hampers and other treats. If you decide to grab something from them, you need to head over to their huge Piccadilly store. Why not take a well-earned shopping break and treat yourself to Fortnum & Mason's famous afternoon tea? Beatles Memorabilia Aside from the quintessential Abbey Road shot, a bit of Beatles memorabilia goes a long way. The Beatles Store is probably the best place to pick something up with everything from guitars to rare collectables. You know, for those with a major case of Beatlemania. Gourmet cuisine from the East India Company Open yourself up to a world of culinary delights at the East India Company. The finest coffees, teas, jams and more line its shelves, imported from all over the world. You know it's going to be premium quality if it comes from this incredible shop. Vintage knick-knacks from Portobello Market Portobello Market is a treasure trove of hidden finds. It has all manner of things on sale, from clothing to homeware. There's so much to see and buy that there's no time for excuses. So, what are you waiting for? Get stuck in and join the fun to find the perfect souvenir of your trip – if anyone spots a cool denim jacket or a pair of brass bookends, let us know. A Burberry trench coat If you've got the money to spend, a high-end purchase from an iconic British designer is definitely on the cards. There's nothing more British than a Burberry trench coat, which perseveres as an icon of heritage chic. Starting off life as a World War 1 military staple, it's now become a must-have fashion item seen on the catwalk season after season. A Hamleys purchase Whether you're travelling with little ones or want to relive your childhood, Hamleys is magical no matter what age you are. It plays host to multiple floors of fantastic and bizarre toys. From the standard Star Wars merchandise to gigantic six foot stuffed giraffes, there's sure to be something that'll take you way back. A wand from Ollivander's Are you a secret Potterhead? Then you can't go wrong with some magical merchandise. There are a number of Harry Potter-themed stores dotted around London (check out the King's Cross branch and make a pit stop at Platform 9 3⁄4), filled with wizard robes, books and even Bertie Bott's Every Flavoured Beans. Naturally, the store at the Harry Potter Studio Tour is the most impressive with each of the characters' signature wands. Don't forget to pop by some of London's Harry Potter landmarks while visiting. Artisan gin Venture away from the classic Gordons or Tanqueray's bottles and head to Borough Market. Their speciality alcohol is something to behold. From sloe gin to small-batch whiskeys, there is an endless selection to take home. Expert vendors will also be more than willing to help you out, if you have a question or two. Want to learn more about the gin-making process? Why not join a distillery tour of one of London's most iconic brands, Beefeater Gin? Pub coasters A traditional pub visit is a must in London. Most places generally have a disposable coaster for you to pop your pint glass on. If you're doing a tour of local pubs or out on a proper pub crawl, you can build up a good collection of them to take home - plus, they're not as expensive as figurines of Big Ben on Oxford Street. Not sure where to start? We've got you covered with a guide to some of the city's oldest and most historic pubs. Local fashion finds London is one of the fashion capitals of the world. Understandably, there are a number of incredible local designers waiting to be discovered in the city. Dover Street Market and the boutiques along Brick Lane are a great place to start. These are generally packed with indie designers, with racks of options no matter your style. Need more inspiration for things to do in London? We've got you.
Suz Pathmanathan

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