This is a sponsored article on behalf of Carnaby.
It's official — Christmas has come to Carnaby! The eternally iconic West End shopping and dining destination is all dressed up for the festive season, and this year's lights installation is one of its most fantastical yet.
This is Carnaby Kaleidoscope: a flight of over 600 shimmering butterflies that flutter above the street's cobbles. Each iridescent insect is hand-decorated with vibrant neon patterns, while Carnaby's famous arch glitters in pink. And that's just part of the area's yuletide metamorphosis...
Carnaby Kaleidoscope — which you can experience online in a 360º virtual tour — is presented in collaboration with refugee charity Choose Love. It aims to "highlight and support the urgent need to raise funds" for displaced people around the world with "an additional fundraising stream for Afghan refugees".
As part of these efforts, Choose Love is back with its popular annual pop-up shop — this year at 3 Carnaby Street — selling an incredible range of limited edition products. Here you can buy essential items for refugees, eyeball incredible artwork by Lakwena, and maybe even bump into a celebrity or two (famous faces like Dermot O'Leary, Dawn O' Porter and Carey Mulligan will be swinging by to serve customers).
Carnaby is also home to an incredible selection of shops and boutiques — from the mecca for Rolling Stones fans that is RS No. 9 Carnaby to Mallet London's super-cool footwear. Other highlights include Scandi-style favourite GANNI, progressive fashion brand Scotch & Soda, sportswear brand PUMA, plus new openings Just Hype and NBA Store.
Just off Carnaby Street you'll find Newburgh Quarter, another dreamy destination for the fashion-conscious shopper that's packed with indie and well-established brands, one-off concepts, and pubs, restaurants, and cafes. Creativity runs through these cobbled streets, as evidenced by the achingly cool collection of shops you'll find here, like Annie's Ibiza, Metal Morphosis, Aubin, Third Man Records, Motley London, Mark Powell, and RÆBURN — to name but a few. Basically, if you're after unique and bespoke gifts (for a loved one or yourself), this is the place to go.
All the shopping is sure to work up your appetite. Conveniently, you've got over 60 restaurants on Carnaby and its surrounding streets to choose from — and with 30+ cuisines on offer, you can well and truly eat your way around the world. Why not take the opportunity to check out a newcomer like modern pastrami spot Mamma Pastrama, newly opened ramen restaurant Kanada-Ya, or the incredible Imad's Syrian Kitchen, created by Syrian refugee Imad Alarnab?
Other foodie highlights include free-range chicken connoisseurs Whyte & Brown, gorgeous family-run Sri Lankan restaurant Kolamba, and Korean Dinner Party, a gloriously kitsch mash-up of eastern and western flavours on the top floor of al fresco dining destination Kingly Court.
Looking for somewhere extra special to toast the festive season? It's got to be Cahoots, the 1940s-themed cocktail bar that's dripping in vintage London Underground memorabilia (seriously, this place is an absolute dream for tube aficionados).
Alternatively, you could treat yourself to a glass or two of natural wine at the brand new Bar Crispin, or finish off your festive outing with a nightcap at luxurious basement hideaway Disrepute — where the hedonistic vibes that characterised Carnaby during the swinging sixties live on.
This is a mere smattering of what's going on in the area — visit the Carnaby website to plan your perfect Christmas excursion and learn more about this year's charity partnership with Choose Love.