It’s great fun taking the bus along Oxford Street in Central London every day to and from work during November and December. In late October/early November the first signs appear that things are underway with Oxford Street being closed overnight so that the technicians can put up the Christmas lights. This spectacular display runs the entire mile and a half of Oxford Street itself, and Regent Street also lights up.
How to See the Oxford and Regent Street Lights by Bus
This means that a ride on the top deck of any bus going along these areas will give a good chance of seeing the lights properly. Anyone visiting London in the second half of November and throughout December should certainly take a bus ride on the Number 7, 10 or 73 buses (to go the full length of Oxford Street). If the Regent Street lights are included a ride on the Number 23 will take the route along Oxford Street and turn down Regent Street, and the Number 8 bus goes along Oxford Street from The Tottenham Court Road end and turns down Bond Street. A ride on the top deck of any of these buses (except for the Number 73, which is a single decker) is an excellent way to see the London Christmas lights inexpensively.
It isn’t only the official Oxford Street and Regent Street lights that go up, though. A number of other streets running at right angles to Oxford Street have good displays including Bond Street, so it is well worth keeping a look out for further spectacular light ups.
London Store Christmas Light Displays in Oxford Street
Many of the big stores and shopping centres also join in with their own displays. John Lewis, Frasers and Debenhams always have spectacular Christmas light displays covering the entire giant building front, and Selfridges also decorates its window surrounds and the famous clock with lighting displays in addition to its annual shop window displays. M&S at Marble Arch also has its own display covering its walls, and a trip along to the Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford Street will reveal the Plaza shopping centre with its annual decorations both outside and in.
Christmas Light Displays Elsewhere in London
It’s well worth keeping an eye out for displays in other areas. The London Eye and South Bank is well decorated and its lights can be seen right across Hyde Park up to Park Lane. Whiteleys Shopping Centre in Queensway lights up and Harrods is always worth a visit too as the whole store is decorated on the outside each year with its own decorative lighting.
London is a very big city and there are of course Christmas light displays in many other areas. Builders often decorate cranes with strips of lights along the outlying arms and for the first time in 2009 Praed Street and Westbourne Grove were decorated with lights on the lamp posts, which looked very pretty. During travel through London it’s well worth watching out for the lighting displays, especially in the second half of December, as many areas have their own decorations.
Christmas Lights and Cost
Of course, these street displays of Christmas lights are expensive to run and it is unfortunate to observe every year that in Oxford Street and its surrounding areas, they are never switched off through the day. Local businesses contribute considerably to the cost of running the lighting up, and as well as that there is always a sponsor from one of the big film or entertainment companies to assist with costs. Perhaps one day it will be possible to visit Central London to enjoy the lights coming on as it gets dark, which was always a special event when the author was a child in Glasgow.