Dazzling Light Festivals To See In London This Winter: Christmas 2018

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 8 months ago
Dazzling Light Festivals To See In London This Winter: Christmas 2018
Christmas at Kew 2018

Lumiere London won't be lighting up the capital's streets this winter, but that doesn't mean it's all doom and gloom. From Eltham to Kew, take a look at the other light and lantern festivals taking place in London over Christmas 2018.

Christmas at Kew 2018

Christmas at Kew 2018

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. New for this year are a laser garden and moonlit woods — look out for a flotilla of tiny boats aglow on the lake.

Take a look at our video from Christmas at Kew 2017 to get an idea of what to expect:

Christmas at Kew 2018, 22 November 2018-5 January 2019. Adult tickets from £16.50, booking required.

Christmas at London Zoo 2018

Christmas at London Zoo

For the first time, a light trail comes to London Zoo this winter. It's created by the same company behind the Kew Gardens illuminations, so we're expecting great things. The one mile trail sees lights surround the many listed building and structures at the zoo, including light animal sculptures and light tunnels. A Christmas village will pop-up, selling mulled wine, marshmallows to toast, and animal-themed Christmas gifts.

Christmas at London Zoo, various dates 22 November 2018-1 January 2019. Adult tickets £16.50, child tickets £10.50, booking required.

Enchanted Forest at Syon Park 2018

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.

Enchanted Woodland at Syon Park, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday evenings only, 9-25 November 2018. Tickets £5-£12, booking required (and it always sells out so do be quick).

After Dark at Chiswick House & Gardens 2018

After Dark at Chiswick House

Chiswick House & Gardens is ditching its Magical Lantern Festival this year in favour of a new event, After Dark. Sounds like a great place to go if you're swerving Christmas entirely, as we're promised no reindeers, fake snows or Santa Clauses. Instead, think a classy, modern 45 minute trail through the gardens, past light installations designed by world-renowned artists.

At the end of the trail, food trucks from the likes of The Cheese Truck, Le Swine and Love Churros will be selling their warming wares. There's also a supper club for foodies (details yet to be released).

After Dark at Chiswick House Gardens, 16 November-13 December 2018. Tickets £8.50-£14, booking required.

Alice in Winterland, Southwark Park

Alice in Winterland comes to Southwark Park

New for 2018 is Alice in Winterland, an Alice in Wonderland themed lantern festival in Southwark Park. Come face to face with lantern versions of the characters including Alice, the Queen of Hearts and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, and wander through scenes from the book. Finish up with food and drink from the stalls at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and a trip to see Father Christmas.

Alice in Winterland, 28 November 2018-5 January 2019

Enchanted Eltham 2018

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 came into its own when the gardens were illuminated at night for Enchanted Eltham last year.

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.

Enchanted Eltham at Eltham Palace, 6-9 December and 13-16 December and 20-22 December 2018. Tickets are £7.50-£12 and need to be booked in advance.

Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2019

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 pleased to see it'll be back for its fifth appearance in January 2019. Fun, inventive light artwork is 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, we can't pick a favourite from the 2018 festival — take a look at our video:

Canary Wharf Winter Lights 2019, 15-26 January 2016. Free.

London's Christmas light switch-ons 2018

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.

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

Last Updated 26 November 2018