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Christmas in London: The Best Places to See and Photograph the Lights in 2022

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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 and Regent Street has 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.

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 pictures 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.

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.

This year in 2021 they have a kaleidoscope theme with over 600 pretty multi-coloured butterflies along the street. There is also a shop to support Afghan refugees where you can make donations or purchase items that will help them. Read more about the Carnaby decorations.

Best time for pics: Night
Cost: Free
Location: Carnaby St, Soho, London W1F
Image from: 2021

Carnaby Street at Christmas - 2021
Image by @mikecleggphoto / team
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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

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 in 2021 there 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
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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 compliment 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

London and decorations at Christmas
London and decorations at Christmas
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Regent Street

The decorations on Regent Street change every year and can often be seen 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 (very similar decorations this year)

Regent Street Christmas lights in 2018
Regent Street

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. 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 (very similar decorations this year)

Strand - Northbank Christmas lights 2018
Strand – Northbank
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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.

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.

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 which has Christmas lights 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 this year it’s similar but with extra decorations overhanging the street.

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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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. They’re not as good as previous years so if you were to avoid seeing any of the decorations we’d recommend skipping these. 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.

Best time for pics: Blue hour/night
Cost: Free
Location: Oxford Street
Image from: 2021

Oxford Street in London at Christmas - 2021

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.
  • 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.
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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.


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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]

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