Twinkling Christmas lights and peering into sparkling shop windows always gets me in a festive mood and London has some of the best on offer. I thought a tour would fill a Sunday evening nicely and I knew exactly who I needed to ask – Eric Simpson, a former London cabbie who loves the city’s Christmas lights and happens to be the father of my friend Lucinda. He’s taken us around brilliant routes before so I was excited about doing it ourselves and adding our own favourites.
Fancy getting outdoors and into the festive spirit? Grab some comfy shoes, wrap up warm and clear your evening.
First up you need to start off in the festive frame of mind so find LIBERTY LONDON and head up to the fourth floor to see the Christmas shop. Once you’re feeling ready, head out and around the corner and to see CARNABY ST. (If you feel the need for caffeine fuel, stop by Speakeasy Espresso & Brew Bar). Go to the bottom of Carnaby Street – turn left if you want a cheeky look at God’s Own Junkyard (now closed) or right and then right again onto REGENT ST and walk up towards Oxford Street.
Turn right on to OXFORD ST, you can either walk straight down until you reach ST CHRISTOPHER’S PLACE or avoid the crowds andtake the back route via Wigmore Street ( a right down Holles Street, left onto Henrietta Place, your first right onto Wimpole Street and then left again down Wigmore street, continue walking until you reach St Christopher’s Place). Take a peak in the shops and enjoy the atmosphere. Then return to OXFORD ST where you should be pretty near Selfridges. (The Marmite signs had grown on me by this point.)
Cross the road and turn right into Davies Street and then bear left into SOUTH MOLTON ST. When you’ve made your way through the glittering arches turn left on to Brook Street. and right down the Lancashire Court (if you’re feeling like a quick cocktail Rocket Bar is a pretty good stop). When you reach BOND ST turn right – highly recommend taking a detour here down BRUTON ST for the Stella McCartney window.
Walk all the way down to the end (OLD BOND ST.) The jewellers here are by far my favourite of the whole tour. Have a peak at THE ROYAL ARCADE or wander down BURLINGTON ARCADE (off Burlington Gardens) until you reach Piccadilly.
Turn left and have a look at FORTNUM & MASON, the windows and their Christmas tree is definitely worth seeing. Turn around and head towards THE RITZ to have a peak at their epic Christmas tree. Locate the nearest bus stop and hop on the next bus to KNIGHTSBRIDGE (14, 19, 22). You’ll need a seat at this point so choose one to your left and then look out to your right for HARD ROCK CAFE’S giant Christmas tree.
Get off at HARVEY NICHOLS, then walk round to HARRODS, it really looks like a fairytale castle at the moment (complete with designer Disney princesses). You might need a bit of energy here so pop inside treat yourself to a Ladurée macaron on the ground floor.
Take the Piccadilly Line to Covent Garden and circle the PIAZZA to see the giant baubles Christmas tree, reindeer and Jack Daniels Barrel tree.
After around three hours of walking around London (roughly how long it took without much of a break) you should be feeling pretty festive!
Update – November 2013 – Here’s a handy google map of the route!
Click here if the map fails to load.
Do you love the Christmas lights in London? Would you add anywhere to the tour?