Dazzling Light Festivals To See In London This Winter

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 20 months ago

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Dazzling Light Festivals To See In London This Winter

Below are the details for 2019. We'll update this page with information for Christmas 2020 when it's announced, so keep checking back.

Christmas at Kew

It doesn't look like Lumiere London will be lighting up the capital's streets this winter, but that doesn't mean it's all doom and gloom. From Eltham Palace to Kew Gardens, take a look at the other light and lantern festivals taking place in London over Christmas 2019 — including two which are new for this year.

Theatre of Light at East Village E20

For one night only, Stratford's East Village comes alive with dancers, drummers and stilt walkers, all illuminated with LED lights. Bring your own glow sticks, or get some free UV face painting to get involved in the action.

Theatre of Light at East Village E20. 2 November 2019, free.

Glow at Eastbury Manor House 2019

Last year's Glow at Eastbury Manor House

Illusion is the theme of this year's Glow Winter Lights festival at Eastbury Manor House in Barking. For two nights only, the gardens are aglow with lanterns, projections and installations for the family-friendly event.

Glow at Eastbury Manor, 8-9 November 2019. £5, booking required.

Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park 2019

Enchanted Woodland light festival at Syon House and Syon Park, London
Photo: Simon Hadleigh-Sparks

Think of this as a mini version of Kew's offering, aimed predominantly at kiddies and their parents. A mile-long route winds around the ornamental lake where the trees are illuminated in all colours, before finishing in the historic arboretum. Drinks and snacks are on sale in the restaurant at the start and finish, so warm up with a hot chocolate before you set off, then indulge in a celebratory mulled wine on your return.

Here's what a previous version of the event looked like:

Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday evenings only, 15 November-1 December 2019. Booking required (and it always sells out so do be quick).

Christmas at Kew 2019

Christmas at Kew

Probably our favourite annual event in London, Kew Gardens' Christmas offering gets better and better every year. The atmospheric trail winds through the gardens after dark, and manages to act as both a fantastic family-friendly event, and a romantic date night.

Over a million lights and thousands of laser beams go into the event, which also features a fire garden, light tunnel, and vintage fun fair rides to keep little ones happy. Food and drink stalls are dotted throughout, including marshmallow roasting pits. Look out for a laser garden, moonlit woods, and a flotilla of tiny boats aglow on the lake — plus new installation for this year, including a spectacular-sounding light waterfall.

Take a look at our video from Christmas at Kew 2018 to get an idea of what to expect:

Christmas at Kew 2019, 20 November 2019-5 January 2020. Adult tickets from £18, booking required (and tickets have been on sale since summer so be quick).

Winterfest at Wembley Park 2019

Photo: Jordan Laboucane

Wembley Park launches a shiny new lights festival this year, and the centrepiece is Sonic Runway, which some may recognise from Nevada's Burning Man festival. Elsewhere, wander through a 25m-long LED tree, and bask in all manner of other neons over the six-week period.

Winterfest at Wembley Park, 20 November 2019-3 January 2020. Free entry.

Squidsoup light installations, Belgravia and Southbank Centre

Submergence by Squidsoup at Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2019. Photo: Londonist

After an appearance at Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2019, artist collective Squidsoup brings two more immersive light installations to London.

Wave comes to Eccelston Yards in Belgravia from 28 November 2019-11 January 2020. It's free to visit, and consists of 500 colourful orbs of lights dangling above you, designed to improve wellness.

Meanwhile, another new Squidsoup artwork appears at Southbank Centre's Winter Festival, 2 December 2019-7 January 2020.

Enchanted Eltham 2019

Enchanted Eltham Christmas light festival at Eltham Palace, south London
Photo: Eltham Palace and Gardens

Eltham Palace is beautiful at the best of times, but it really comes into its own when the gardens are illuminated at night for Enchanted Eltham.

The festival is back in over three weekends in December this year, with a colourful light trail through the gardens. Warm up afterwards with hot drink and marshmallows in the Great Hall — and the gift shop is open and selling Christmas gifts. Here's an idea of what to expect:

Enchanted Eltham at Eltham Palace, 5-8 December and 12-15 December and 19-22 December 2019. Tickets are £12-£15 for adults and need to be booked in advance.

Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2020

Canary Wharf Winter Lights free light festival in Canary Wharf, London
Photo: Canary Wharf

This free, outdoor festival of light installations has brightened up our dull, dark Januarys for the past few years, so we're glad it's back f0r 2020. Fun, inventive light artworks are dotted around the Canary Wharf Estate (to give it its full, corporate title), making full use of the area's water and skyscrapers. From a word waterfall to illuminated graffiti and giant rabbits, take a look at our video from the 2019 event:

Canary Wharf Winter Lights, 16-25 January 2020.

Lightopia London at Chiswick House and Gardens

Lightopia makes its London debut at Chiswick House and Gardens

Chiswick House and Gardens isn't shy of hosting a light festival (see 2018's After Dark and the Magical Lantern Festival prior to that), but it's trying something new in January 2020. Lightopia brings together lanterns, light installations, musicians and acrobats for an interactive, family-friendly experience. Drums located around the base of a 10m-tall illuminated tree allow visitors to change the patterns of the lights, and there are plenty of photo opportunities with angels, a rainbow tunnel, and a giant pulsating peacock. Just what we need to get us through the post-Christmas darkness.

Lightopia at Chiswick House and Gardens. 22 January-1 March 2020. Tickets are £20 adult/£13 child.

London's Christmas light switch-ons 2019

Of course, the world and his missus will be throwing parties and special events when Christmas lights are switched on in high streets and shopping districts around the capital. We'll be adding details of Christmas light switch-ons to this page as they're announced. You can even hop on a vintage bus to see them.

Know something we've missed? Let us know at christmas@londonist.com.

Last Updated 06 January 2020