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Turning on the Christmas lights is a major community event in towns and cities across England.

Street markets spring up, there is music in the street, and hundreds if not thousands of people turn out to watch their high street be transformed into a Christmas wonderland. The most famous, and most lavish display of lights has to be Oxford Street – this even attracts A-list celebrities, and is usually given a slot on the evening news, and are a fantastic reason to visit London.

It could be argued that the Christmas season begins in October, with mince pies in the supermarkets, and gift sets making an appearance on shelves – but when the lights turn on, everyone really gets in the mood. This is also the time when the high street shops reveal their Christmas displays, and people can be seen scurrying from shop to shop, hiding presents from each other, or rushing back to secretly purchase something that their friends have pointed out.

Although Oxford Street is ‘the big one’ in terms of light displays, if you are thinking of going on a Christmas Lights Tour, then you should also make the effort to see;

  • Covent Garden – a Christmas market, and live reindeer!
  • Westfield – TV presenters Dick and Dom will be present
  • Duke of York Square – the award winning Christmas Grotto will return, as well as Victorian-style roast chestnut stalls, toffee apples and face painting
  • Carnaby Street – where all the shops will be offering a 20% discount on the night
  • Kingston – there will be choirs, street performances, and lots of shopping
  • Regent Street  - the street will be closed to traffic, and students from City Academy (one of the best performing arts schools in London) will entertain visitors
  • Trafalgar Square – expect lots of carols and mulled wine

Christmas lights have come under threat recently, as councils across England try to curb spending. The Oxford Street lights use 750,000 energy efficient bulbs, which comes at considerable cost. But for many the expense is a necessary expense, as otherwise some of the magic of Christmas will be lost. The lights attract people to the high street, where they shop, eat and drink, which serve to boost the local economy. Without a doubt, Christmas lights are an investment worth making. This year’s ‘switch on’ featured a glittering array of celebrities, including Cheryl Fernandes Versini (née Cole), and attracted thousands of visitors. It was the 55th Oxford Street Christmas lights celebration.

Similar to several other significant time markers, such as mince pies being released, the Coca-Cola truck advert, or opening the first door on the advent calendar the Christmas light switch on is a symbol of Christmas starting.  More than just looking pretty, or assisting the local economy, these displays bring people together in a communal spirit, and raise cheer in everyone who sees them.  With so many great displays being shown around the country, it’s a great excuse to go travelling to see the fantastic displays around the country.


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