Nothing signifies the approach of Christmas like the glow of seasonal street lights. Here's our guide to when London's 2023 festive illuminations are switched on (and the accompanying parties) in some of the capital's biggest shopping destinations — including Oxford Street, Regent Street, Covent Garden and Carnaby. We'll update this article as more lights are announced.
Oxford Street Christmas lights 2023 — from 2 November
Oxford Street is usually the first London district to switch on its Christmas lights, illuminating the world-famous shopping street — and in 2023 the magic happens on Thursday 2 November.
The stars are coming out again this year, as 300,000 of them return, blanketing the sky, with a focus on sustainability. That means reduced operating hours and LED lights combining to use two-thirds less energy than previous years.
Anyone can sponsor a star in the installation, as part of Oxford Street's partnership with children’s charity Starlight — you can do so online from 2 November, or via QR codes on the street.
Carnaby Christmas lights 2023 — from 8 November
Carnaby has a new theme for its festive decorations every year, from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody to sub-aqua scenes, and for 2023, it's Carnaby Universe. We're promised a 'dynamic and vibrant display of neon colour and light waves creating a moving vortex on Carnaby Street' along with arches 'adorned with shimmering discs and neon lights' on the side streets. The season begins with a switch-on party and shopping event on Thursday 2 November 2023. UPDATE: due to a severe weather warning, the switch on will now take place on Wednesday 8 November
Covent Garden Christmas lights 2023 — from 7 November
It's all change at Covent Garden this year, as it's getting brand new Christmas decorations, including 40 gigantic bells with bows, 12 giant baubles and eight spinning mirror balls, all made from over 29 miles of gold leaf and 275 kilos of glitter. Sounds like we've seen the last of the giant mistletoe that's adorned the Market Hall for the last few festive seasons.
We're also promised more of a glow-up in the Piazza than ever before — over 140,000 LED lights — in addition to the 30,000 adorning the 60ft Christmas tree, all illuminated from Tuesday 7 November.
Regent Street and St James's Christmas lights 2023 — from 9 November
Regent Street switches its own lights on, from Thursday 9 November. The neighbouring district of St James's gets lit the same night too, and those 50+ 'Spirit of Christmas' angels are back, glistening above Regent Street, Regent Street St James's, Piccadilly and Jermyn Street. For the first time, Glasshouse Street, Heddon Street, Quadrant Arcade, St James’s Market and Swallow Street will have their own Christmas lights this year, and though we don't know exactly what they'll look like yet, we're told they'll 'enhance the existing scheme'.
300,000 lights are used in the display, all low-energy LEDs which operate on a timer, so that they're only on for a few key hours each evening.
Unfortunately, as with the last few years there's no big Regent Street Christmas light switch-on event — they'll be illuminated without any fanfare from 9 November.
Marylebone Village Christmas lights 2023 — from 9 November
Merry Marylebone — the annual festive event in Marylebone Village culminating in a big Christmas light-up — takes place on Thursday 9 November 2023. There'll be snow machines, a Santa's grotto, and food, drink and gift stalls — as well as discounts and special offers in the local shops, restaurants and bars.
As for the lights themselves: it's a brand new, sustainable display for 2023. That means lights made 100% out of plastic recycled bottles, with an energy-saving LED system that uses 95% less energy than conventional lighting. There will be reduced operation hours this year too, expected to save 58.2% of energy that would be used if they were on the usual street lighting schedules.
St Christopher's Place Christmas lights 2023 — from 14 November
St Christopher's Place transforms into St Christmas Place from Tuesday 14 November 2023, when vividly coloured discs will illuminate the pedestrianised shopping area just off Oxford Street. The central tree in the main square and others lining James Street will also be lit up, and there are free festive performances every Thursday from 5.30pm and every Saturday from 1.30pm in the run-up to Christmas.
Belgravia Christmas lights 2023 — from 15 November
Motcomb Street, Elizabeth Street, Pimlico Road, Eccleston Yards and Halkin Arcade will be illuminated with the Belgravia Aglow scheme of Christmas lights. The launch event, on Wednesday 15 November 2023, has a roaming concert from the London Gay Men's Chorus, appearances from Santa Claus, a pop-up Christmas market in Eccleston Yards and festive offers at various businesses around the Belgravia area.
On the same day, Belgravia’s Christmas Trail of Cheer launches — it's a series of glowing window displays from renowned florists and stores in the area, with the public able to vote for their favourite online in December.
Chelsea Christmas lights 2023 — from 18 November
The Chelsea Christmas light switch-on involves a whole day of festive fun on Saturday 18 November 2023. King's Road is part-pedestrianised from Sloane Square down to Walpole Street with a Christmas market, live entertainment, and a chance to meet Santa's reindeer. Father Christmas himself has the honour of switching the lights on, illuminating King's Road, Sloane Square and surrounding areas, accompanied by a fireworks display, light show and sprinkling of snow.
Trafalgar Square Christmas tree 2023 — from 7 December
The Mayor of Westminster, Norwegian Ambassador and governing Mayor of Oslo usually switch on the lights on the Trafalgar Square tree on the first Thursday in December — that's 7 December 2023. The tree is a gift from Norway every year.
Bond Street Christmas lights 2023 — date TBC
Last year saw festive changes on Bond Street, as the peacock decorations were ousted in favour of regally-themed illuminations featuring more than 90,000 LED lights. They were inspired by the Crown Jewels, as well as the many high-end jewellery stores which have set up shop on Bond Street over the centuries. A tiara-like gateway at each end of Bond Street welcomed shoppers to the area, with 'necklaces' strung across Old and New Bond Street at regular intervals — and we're hoping to see them back for 2023... watch this space.
Leadenhall Market Christmas lights 2023 — date TBC
Traditionally, the Lord Mayor of London does the honours of switching on the Leadenhall Market Christmas lights, which usually consist of a large central Christmas tree, colour-changing LED lights, and fir tree garlands throughout the Market. We'll bring you 2023 details as soon as we have them.
Connaught Village Christmas lights 2023 — date TBC
There's usually a whole afternoon and evening of Christmas activities as Connaught Village near Marble Arch, culminating in the Christmas light switch-on. 2023 details coming soon.