LondonLife – Forget the halls, they’re decking the city…

December 12, 2012

We’ve decided not to kick off our next Wednesday series until the new year so in the meantime, we’ll take a look at where you can find some of the best – and some of the most historic – Christmas decorations in London (and we’d love to hear your thoughts as well!). Here is some of what you’ll find in the West End this year…

Trafalgar-Square-Christmas-Tree1. Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree:  A symbol of Christmas in London since 1947, this massive tree (usually a Norwegian spruce) is an annual gift from the people of Norway as thanks for British support during Norway’s years of occupation in World War II. The tree – which is usually around 50 to 60 years old, more than 20 metres high and resident in the forests around Oslo – is felled in November in a ceremony attended by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, the Mayor of Oslo and the British ambassador to Norway before being brought to the UK by sea. This year’s tree lighting ceremony took place on 6th December and a program of choirs will be singing at the tree during evenings in the lead-up to Christmas.

2. Regent Street Christmas Lights: The street’s stunning Christmas light displays apparently date back to the early 1950s when the lifting of wartime lighting restrictions allowed the display. The lighting ceremony has since become an annual event – this year’s lights – which stretch over a mile and tell the story of the 12 Days of Christmas – were turned on by some 40 Olympians and Paralympians in November and will remain up until early January next year.

3. Oxford Street Christmas Lights: Switched on in early November by singer Robbie Williams (with supporting act Leona Lewis), the Oxford Street Christmas display – this year more properly known as the Marmite Oxford Street Christmas Lights – has been a West End tradition since 1959. This year’s mile long display involves 300,000 LED bulbs. Among the stars who have switched on the lights over the display’s 53 year history are the Spicegirls, Westlife and The Saturdays, who held the honor last year.

4. Bond Street Christmas Lights: A more boutique display than its more celebrated neighbours, this year’s lights were switched on by Gareth Malone and the Military Wives Choir.

5. Covent Garden decorations: This year’s decorations include an innovative display from United Visual Artists in the Market Building as well as a giant Lego advent calendar with a new window opened each day at 4pm in the lead-up to Christmas. Other Christmas-related features include a 32 foot high topiary reindeer as well as the chance for kids to pet a real reindeer on Saturdays. There’s also a food market and choir singing.

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