The Christmas Lights of London
Twinkling lights, festive window displays, ice-rinks and markets aplenty – London is a fabulous city to visit any time of year, but it really excels at Christmas. I’d photographed and written about Christmas in London a number of times over the years – I love it that much – yet I’d somehow never managed to photograph the two most famous Christmas lights displays in London, namely Regent Street and Oxford Street. This year I was determined to set that right, so when I was invited to do just that and join a tour by the London walking tour specialists, PlanetPass, I snapped up the chance.
Angel in the Fields, a great pub and an excellent pint in Marylebone
The meeting point for the start of the tour was a great little pub, The Angel in the Fields. While nothing much to look at from the outside, step inside and you’ll find a cosy pub with wood panelling, stained glass windows and, at this time of year, a real fire blazing. It’s a Sam Smith’s pub, serving their own organic beer. We intentionally got there early so there’d be time for a pint. I opted for an excellent chocolate stout which was smooth and full bodied. It really was superb.
London Christmas Lights walking tour
Our guide, Annamaria, arrived promptly. She was friendly, knowledgeable and extremely patient while we took photograph after photograph as we made our way through the streets of London. Throughout the walk, Annamaria shared interesting anecdotes and facts about the history of Christmas in London, the Christmas lights and festive traditions, many of the latter being more recent than you’d think. It was a private tour with a small group, making it is easy for our guide to tailor it to our individual requirements. With so few of us, we could all ask as many questions as we wanted, and Annamaria certainly knew her stuff. Just like all PlanetPass tour leaders, she is a certified professional guide, a real city expert.
Saint Christopher Place
Fortnum and Masons
The highlight of the tour was undoubtedly Regent Street, whose annual Christmas lights display dates back to 1954. A series of giant spirits hover over the crowds, cars and buses below. With a wingspan of 17 metres, and with 15 metre trains flowing out behind them, they really are an impressive sight and a must see if you are in London.
Every year I like to visit in a different city at Christmas to see their festive lights and markets. Last year I went to Paris, the year before it was Lisbon, and previous trips include Brussels and Winchester, not to mention London’s Winter Wonderland and Covent Garden. This year I saw Christmas in London again, and finally got pictures of the most famous Christmas lights. Do you have a favourite city at Christmas? Where should I visit next year?
Disclosure: My tour with PlanetPass was complimentary but, as always, I will only share with you my honest opinions (otherwise there’d be little point).
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PlanetPass Walking Tours
PlanetPass offer a wide range of private walking tours covering many different interests, including food, music, art, movies as well as the more quirky side of London, plus, of course, tours tailored to first-time visitors to this fabulous city.
Tours range from 45 minutes to 4 hours long. The Christmas Lights tour lasted 2 hours and costs £87 (That’s £14.50 per person for a group of 6).
The tours are very easy to book via the PlanetPass app and can be made just an hour before the tour starts. You’ll receive booking confirmation straight away and you don’t need to print anything off before you go – perfect for those making a fleeting visit, or who just like to be spontaneous.