When trying to make the most of Carnaby Street Christmas lights in London, take as much time as you need here and check out the boutique stores, coffee shops, and restaurants for your Christmas shopping, lunches, and dinner. You’ll find quirkier and unique gifts here than Regent Street and Oxford Street, but just to inform you, I went to see the lights in 2019, and every year, Carnaby Street brings out different themes. It’s not always the same.
Be prepared for the rain and watch out for people when making videos.
Go in the evening, it’s so much better and when you visit, you can donate to the Project Zero charity to save the planet. You can go to the Carnaby Street website (link) or the Planet Zero website to donate.
Check out the Regent Street Christmas lights too since Carnaby Street is interlinked with Regent Street.
From Oxford Circus Underground Station, it’s just a few minutes walk from Regent Street and behind Liberty Store.
The Carnaby Christmas lights are perfect, ethical, it’s saving the planet, it’s colourful and it’s for the ocean and animal lovers. Although the street is smaller than Regent Street and Oxford Street, it’s the best one to see for 2021.
Is it worth visiting London in December?
Yes, it’s worth visiting London in December. Although London is great in spring and summer with the flowers and the hot weather, London has so much to offer in Winter too. London is not just about Christmas lights, it’s more than that. Visit my post on places to visit in December in London.
History of Carnaby Street
Carnaby Street is a little cobbled alleyway and a public footpath where people walk up and down, with lots of small boutique and chained retail shops ranging from fashion and beauty (a contrast to the grander retail stores in Regent Street and Oxford Street), as well as small quirky restaurants and cafes. You can sip coffee while people watching and enjoy the environment. It’s always busy with people, and although the crowds are the same as Oxford Street and Regent Street yet smaller, you’d feel the British culture.
The history of trendy Carnaby Street dates to the 50s. During the 20th century, Florence Mills Social Club opened as a jazz club to support Pan-Africanism, and most of their customers were the descendants of the African community, listening to jazz and calypso music. Throughout the late 50’s, the first men’s boutique fashion retailer, His Clothes opened, then in the 60s, the first women’s boutique store, Lady Jane opened. Since the 60s, more and more quirky fashion boutique stores, gift shops, and beauty shops opened to the public. The likes of Ben Sherman, Vans, Benefit Cosmetics, and Bobbi Brown are a few you could visit.
Throughout the years, The Who and The Rolling Stones hung out at the Marquee Club nearby (now The Montagu Pyke Pub). I have been to The Montague Pyke Pub, although it’s like any other pubs around London, the beauty of it is in its history of musical acts that performed there. Seeing posters of the The Who and The Rolling Stones while having a pint of beer, made me hear the music of the past in my head, and the ghosts of the young Roger Daltrey and Mick Jagger playing on stage.
The Christmas lights in Carnaby Street
Situated next to the 15th Century Tudor style Liberty’s Store in Great Marlborough Street, during Christmas, the white Carnaby Street plaque at the top is always replaced with colourful letters. Pink C. Orange A. Yellow R. Green N. Light blue A. Dark blue B, and yellow Y twinkled at the top with the “Soho” sign at the bottom. Carnaby Street becomes very colourful and festive, and there are more colours than Regent Street and Oxford Street.
If you’re into sustainability and saving the planet, then the Christmas lights in Carnaby Street is the place to be. Every year, Carnaby Street work together with an ocean conservation charity Project Zero to achieve green lighting and eco-friendly materials. Compared to the lights in and around London, Carnaby Street has the most lighting and colours. You’ll see a giant dolphin in front of a shimmery blue background that acts as the water in the ocean. You’ll see bright red and green sparkly seaweeds hanging at the top of the stores, as well as colourful seahorses and corals twinkling in the dark atmosphere. The lights and decorations had the underwater theme to it, and it looked spectacular.
On the website, it said Carnaby Street will shimmer and shine brightly with ocean themed lights. They kept to their words “shimmery and bright”. I was so in awe with how well they kept their promise. When I went through it, I felt I was in an Alice in Wonderland themed party. Colourful, bright, shimmery, and festive. The path to Carnaby Street is always pitched black, the only thing you could see were the colourful lights above the cobbled streets. You could see the lights brighten and illuminate the people walking below.
A few people still walked up and down at around seven in the evening, and it made the dark night even brighter.
As I walked further into the street, there were several different coloured squids floating around the top of the buildings, and they were strewn here and there. The eco-friendly squid, made of plastic material, colours from pinks, yellows, purples, greens, oranges, reds all illuminated and floated above me moved back and forth, blown from the wind. I felt I was under the ocean.
What are the best Christmas lights in London?
Although there are many Christmas lights worth seeing in London, Carnaby Street and Regent Street have the best Christmas lights. Regent Street Christmas lights offer twinkling golden angels above the streets. At night, the lights usually reflect the vehicles driving below and it usually makes the street brighter. The lights start from Oxford Circus all the way down to Piccadilly Circus and the street of Piccadilly where the lights end. You will also see a large Christmas tree in the dark at the end of Piccadilly, St James Street.
Places like Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square only has one huge Christmas tree but that’s all there is to it. The Oxford Street’s Christmas lights aren’t as great as the rest of them, but if you’ve missed Regent Street, and Carnaby Street, then you’ve missed the best Christmas lights in London.
I was overly impressed with the fact that they are trying to save the planet by working with the Project Zero charity, using sustainable eco-friendly materials, which I had no idea about. Usually, you could tell the difference between sustainable materials and normal materials when making projects like this, but this time, they did a great job. I’m more impressed with the lights here than the lights in Regent Street and Oxford Street, and most importantly, the reason why you should visit Carnaby Street is its quirkiness, and its unique and colourful 19th Century Victorian shop fronts.
Overall, I’ve seen better Christmas lights around the world. They’re more brighter, and over the top compared to London. London’s Christmas lights have “a simple is more” attitude, and if this is your first time seeing Christmas lights, then you don’t want to miss London’s festive period. Once you’ve visited Carnaby Street, Regent Street has angels above the vehicles passing, and at night, the lights reflect on the black taxis and red buses. Walk up towards Piccadilly Circus, and turn towards the road to Piccadilly and Green Park, you’ll see a giant Christmas tree in the middle of the road. There are a lot of people taking photos in front. Once you’re done, head over to Leicester Square if your feet can hold it longer. Here, you’ll be in Leicester Square Christmas Market. The market is small and it’s situated in the square, but there are many activities to do there.
If you want to know more about the Carnaby Christmas lights in London, contact me by clicking on the Facebook icon below or at the top, and message me regarding your questions.
For now, stay safe and take care. Till next time!!!
Carnaby Street Christmas Lights in London 2020. Thanking the NHS (the National Health System) for all the hard work they do during COVID-19