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Christmas in London: The Best Places to See and Photograph the Lights and Decorations in 2024


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London becomes incredibly festive around Christmas and all throughout central London you’ll find streets with stunning lights and decorations, as well as highly decorated shops. Unlike many major cities, London also mixes its decorations up and you’ll find many streets, such as Carnaby Street have a theme each year. Pictures at Christmas also seem to be very popular on Instagram so make sure you check these spots if you visit during this time. A very fun account to follow includes @santaclauslondon.

For techniques read Photography Tips: Christmas Markets and Lights. You may also be interested in top Instagram and Photography Spots in London which has lots of locations around the city that are nice to see all year round.

So, wondering where you should go during your festive visit? Here are the best picture spots in London for seeing, enjoying and capturing Christmas decorations and lights.

Note: The actual design of the London decorations can change each year. We’ll often update the pictures below (when we can) but note that sometimes the decorations might be slightly different.

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Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street is one of the best places to see Christmas lights in London. This little shopping street has style and the festive decorations change each year with a different theme. Below you can see what the decorations look like in 2023.

Note that this street can get incredibly busy so it’s sometimes a little tricky to get photographs if you plan to use a tripod. But the vibe is fantastic and being close to Oxford Street and Regent Street means that it’s definitely worth combining in a Christmas lights walk.

Best time for pics: Night
Cost: Free
Location: Carnaby St, Soho, London W1F
Image from: 2023

Carnaby Street 2023 at Christmas
Image by team / @mikecleggphoto

Trafalgar Square

The main Christmas Tree in London is at Trafalgar Square and has been donated by Norway since 1947. It really adds some magic to this amazing square. When taking pictures try use the fountains to your advantage for your composition, such as including reflections, leading lines etc.

Around this area are also Christmas stalls where you can buy gifts and typical festive food and snacks.

Note the Christmas tree arrives around early December.

Best time for pics: Night
Cost: Free
Location: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN

Trafalgar Square at Christmas, London
Trafalgar Square at Christmas

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is a top spot to visit during your trip to London. The decorations you’ll find at Xmas are really beautiful and complement the design of the building. As well as looking good Covent Garden is a great place to shop, get gifts, or relax at the restaurants and bars.

Best time for pics: Anytime
Cost: Free
Location: Covent Garden, London WC2E, UK

Covent Garden at Christmas
Covent Garden at Christmas

New Bond Street

This high-end shopping street has some of the most beautiful decorations at Christmas. Towards the south the road bends allowing you to get a photograph almost directly up the road. Along this street you’ll often find lots of shop fronts with great decorations covering them as well. If you’re trying to get a good photo and you’re using an SLR then consider using a wide-angle lens such as 16mm or wider.

Best time for pics: Night
Cost: Free
Location: New Bond St, Mayfair, London W1S

New Bond Street Decorations
Image by team / @mikecleggphoto
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Oxford Street

In previous years Oxford Street has had snowball-type decorations. In 2019 they had some rectangular panels with a small animation on them which were quite disappointing. In 2023 they have decorations in the style of hanging stars which are very pretty. If you wanted to take pictures then you’ll find various islands in the middle of the road along and the paths at the side so you can easily get pictures whilst staying safe.

Another way to enjoy the decorations around London is through a Christmas Lights bus tour. You’ll see a bus in the image below.

Best time for pics: Blue hour/night
Cost: Free
Location: Oxford Street
Image from: 2022 (similar this year)

Oxford Street at Christmas in 2022
Image by team/ mikecleggphoto
MY TOP TIP
London can get extremely busy during the festive period, so if possible try and visit the lights outside of the weekends and Friday evening. For the best pictures explore around the blue hour and as the sky turns darker. This makes the lights stand out even more.

Regent Street

The decorations on Regent Street often include pretty angels such as seen below but sometimes they also have a theme representing a movie. Similar to Oxford Street you’ll find an Island in the middle of the road allowing you to capture pictures safely. You could also consider capturing light trails of buses and traffic going past in your photograph too.

Best time for pics: Night
Cost: Free
Location: Regent Street
Image from: 2018 (Still very similar decorations this year)

Regent Street Christmas lights in 2018
Regent Street

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum in London is one of the city’s top museums. It comes with fantastic permanent collections which are great for showing the kids, as well as temporary exhibitions too such as “Wildlife Photographer of the Year” which is incredible to go to if you like photography.

During the Christmas period there is an ice rink outside and a large festive tree seen below. This is wonderful to see and photograph and the atmosphere and vibe in this area is also nice and festive.

Best time for pics: Night
Cost: Free (to see)
Location: Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD

Natural History Museum in London at Christmas with icerink
Image by @mikecleggphoto / team

Somerset House

Somerset House is located just off the Strand and east past Trafalgar Square and as well as a wonderful festive atmosphere you can also skate (make sure you book in advance). Somerset House is very close to Covent Garden mentioned further above, which is a great place to go for food, shop, hand out and watch various entertainers who are often in this area.

Best time for pics: Anytime
Cost: Free
Location: Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA, UK

Somerset House at Christmas and the skating rink
Somerset House and the skating rink

Strand

Not far from Somerset House is Strand (street), and due to the centre island running all the way along it makes for easy pictures. The Strand is also very close to Trafalgar Square where you can find some Christmas market stalls. It’s also just up from the River Thames which makes for a nice walk and is where you’ll find the London Eye and also the Houses of Parliament.

Best time for pics: Night
Cost: Free
Location: Strand
Image from: 2018 (The decorations are still very similar)

Strand - Northbank Christmas lights 2018
Strand – Northbank

Harrods

Harrods is possibly the winner of the most decorated Christmas building in London. It is elegantly dressed in thousands of lights and really makes you want to go inside. This department store is also a great place to go to buy gifts (although quite premium) so we’d definitely recommend having a look inside as well.

Best time for pics: Night
Cost: Free
Location: 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge

Harrods Department Store - London
Image by @mikecleggphoto / team

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland is the main Christmas Market in London and it’s huge. There are lights, rides and interesting features everywhere you look, so you should be able to get some good Instagram pictures during your visit. This is a fun way to spend the evening or afternoon, a place to take the kids and also to hang out with friends.

Best time for pics: Night
Cost: Free
Location: Hyde Park, London W2 2UH, UK

Winter Wonderland, London
Winter Wonderland

South Molton Street

Right next to Bond Street station you’ll find South Molton Street. In previous years the Christmas lights have looked like below. These are pretty good for taking selfie type pictures as you stand underneath them.

The image below is from a previous year but in 2023 they have a different design with more overhead lights. They are nothing special this year so if you’re short on time then these are some that you could consider skipping.

Best time for pics: Night
Cost: Free
Location: South Molton Street, London W1K

South Molton Street Christmas Lights, London
South Molton Street
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Other good locations in London for Christmas lights

There are various other nice spots around the city for taking photographs, or just to admire the lights.

  • Fortnum and Mason – Beautiful decorations to buy as well as a stunningly decorated staircase. A great place to go shopping for gifts too.
  • Leicester Square – Not the easiest to photograph, but there are plenty of lights here and a Christmas market too.
  • Seven Dials – Just up from Covent Garden. Also a nice place for shopping.
  • St Christopher’s Place – Beautiful decorations, narrow alleyways and lots of restaurants. A great spot to check out.
  • Kew Gardens – Home to some wonderful decorations although it’s very hard to get tickets if booking around December. You should book several months in advance if you wish to attend and see these.

Tours and activities


Need a hotel in London?

Book one of our recommendations below or find a deal on booking.com:

  • Luxury: Shangri-La At The Shard Hotel – The Shangri-La is located in the Shard, London’s tallest building. It provides incredible views of the city and as well as beautiful rooms and fantastic facilities. For other luxury hotels visit 10 Beautiful Luxury Hotels in London.
  • Mid-Range – The Mad Hatter Hotel – Located close to the River Thames and other attractions this hotel would be a good choice during your visit to London. The hotel also has beautiful rooms and has great reviews from previous guests.
  • Hostel – Wombats City Hostel – A great hostel in a good location not far from Tower Bridge. The hostel has a large bar and decent rooms.

Find more options via the map below.

Author

Written by

Mike Clegg

Mike is a traveller, photographer, WordPress developer and the creator of TravelAndDestinations.com. He started this website so as to share his experiences and tips with travellers. He is from the UK and has travelled to many places around the world. He loves to shares his pictures and stories through Instagram and this website.

Read full bio | More articles by Mike

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