I wanted to post these photos before Thanksgiving but figured there'd be a "Thanksgiving hasn't even happened - slow down!" backlash, so I waited. The thing is, London doesn't have a Thanksgiving holiday so the Christmas lights start "switching on" in mid-November. So, to Londoners a post about the Christmas lights in November would be totally normal.
The lights are pretty great to see. Coming from a small area where our biggest decorations typically are Holiday-themed lamp posts and individually decorated houses running up the monthly light bill, these lights are gorgeous and fabulous to see.
Each year, there is a different theme to the London Christmas lights. Typically, they center around a big holiday movie that's being released or a traditional holiday theme. These photos are from 2011 and the theme was the movie "Arthur Christmas". If you haven't seen the movie, it's really cute!
It's wonderful to walk around the different areas that have the Christmas lights set up. There are activities planned around the "switching on" of the lights, in addition to their being located in some very popular streets including Oxford Street, Covent Garden, Regent Street and Southbank Centre. Some of those streets don't use the movie theme and have generalized Christmas lights. It's all beautiful, in my opinion. Especially the stars, because I have a thing for stars.
In addition to the lights, Trafalgar Square has a beautiful (and HUGE) Christmas tree. For multiple nights after the tree is lit, there are caroling groups that perform underneath it. With the National Portrait Museum behind you, the tree, Nelson's monument (including the lions), and the classic Big Ben in the distance, it all makes for a magic and surreal evening. We went to visit the tree and see the carolers back in 2006 and happened to pick the evening where The National Deaf Children’s Society was signing to Christmas songs. Fast forward 5 years to 2011 and the night we pick to see the tree - The National Deaf Children’s Society was there again! We couldn't have planned it if we tried.
As you can see, the lights typically go across the roads and are a wonderful vision above the hustle of traffic and bustle of shoppers. Since it's the city, people move quickly here and several times I had to tuck myself away against a wall or lamp post to ensure I could get the photo and not get trampled in the process. This was also the trip where my husband decided I needed to wear a brightly colored coat because my black one (and my hobbit height) added up to a lot of anxiety for him to keep track of me. Thankfully, he's heads and shoulders taller than the average height so he could typically find me. Our next winter trip to NYC, I bought a red pea coat so I could be a beacon of color for him.
Of the places I've visited for Christmas in my life, I can say my favorites have been London, New York City, and Walt Disney World. I will be visiting California for Christmas and may end up adding some new cities to my list.
Now, I know some folks might disagree with me so I wonder: Where in the world is your favorite place to see Christmas decorations and feel the holiday spirit? I have a feeling your responses may cause me to add some new cities to my bucket list.
P.S. In case you were wondering, my husband is 15 inches taller than me. Yes, he is that tall and I am that short. I love it.
P.P.S. If you'd like to see the lights this year and the activities, check out Visit London's site with all the information.