Our Guide to the UK's Best Christmas Light Displays
Posted on November 12, 2015 by David
In an earlier article we took a look at five festive light displays that offer a 'twist' to traditional Christmas light displays. Here we blow the trumpet for more traditional festive lights which, whilst not pushing artistic boundaries, do deliver Yuletide atmosphere by the bucket-load.
Malvern Christmas Festival
Malvern, set at the foot of the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire, has a strong Victorian and Edwardian architectural legacy. This makes it an enchanting setting in which to spend time in during the run up to Christmas, even more so when accompanied by the Town's charming lights display. The Switch-On takes place on 28th November in Great Malvern.
Malvern, Worcestershire (malverntowncouncil.org)
Brindley Place Lights, Birmingham
Photo supplied by Brindleyplace
Brindley Place is one of the most stylish and bustling parts of Birmingham, with numerous eateries lining its squares. So its no surprise that its annual Christmas Lights display favours modern and minimalist designs rather than anything 'prissy'. The annual Brindley Place Christmas light switch-on takes place on 24th November and, as an incentive to get there early, the first 500 visitors will receive Christmas treats.
Cheltenham Christmas Lights
With a profusion of high quality independent retailers set against a backdrop of wonderful Regency architecture, the spa town of Cheltenham is one of the most pleasant places to spend a day Christmas shopping. The Town does a nice line in tasteful Christmas lights displays with light-bejewelled trees a particular favourite. There are two big switch-on events in Cheltenham this year. On 26th November, the lights in and around High Street and the Promenade get turned on. Whilst two days later, on Saturday 28th November, shopping and entertainment complex The Brewery flicks the switch on their Christmas Lights.
Cheltenham Town Centre (soglos.com)
London & the South West
Regent Street Christmas Lights
Regent Street Christmas lights are amongst the most well-known lights displays in the UK. This year's switch on takes place on 15th November with ex-Royal Ballet dance and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell doing the switch-flicking duties. The day of entertainment attracts thousands of people into London, creating a very festive atmosphere.
Regent Street, Soho, London ( regentstreetonline.com)
Oxford Light Festival
Oxford Light Festival is a special three day event running from 20th November until 22nd November. It includes a range of light displays scattered throughout the City as well as music, performances and art. A particular highlight is the Lantern Procession through the City by children from 8 Oxford Schools who have made lanterns at special workshops. They will be accompanied by marching bands.
Broad Street, Oxford (oxfordschristmas.com)
Duke of York Square Christmas Lights, London
Photo supplied by Duke of York Square
Duke of York Square's gorgeous light displays run from 7th November until 23rd December. The Switch-On event on the 7th November will see Father Christmas making an appearence, as well as his Christmas elves.
Duke of York Square, Knightsbridge, London ( dukeofyorksquare.com)
Marylebone Christmas Lights, London
Amazingly for London, Marylebone Christmas Lights have a real village feel to them and the Switch-on event on 18th November is no exception. There will be fair rides, live music, stalls, competitions, and of course the switch-on of the lights.
Marylebone High Street, London (marylebonechristmaslights.com)
Kingston Town Centre Christmas Lights
Kingston will create a Charles Dickens-inspired Christmas light display this year, which will include magicians, circus acts, and other shows. There is also a traditional market selling food and gifts.
Kingston upon Thames, High Street, Kingston (londontown.com)
Leeds Lights claims to be the biggest festive light show in the country, with 13 miles of lights spanning the City. And unlike most other cities, Leeds designs, manufactures and erects all of its festive lights. The Leeds Lights Switch On takes place on 12th November and attracts 40,000 people. Winners of Britain's Got Talent Collabro are the stars of this year's event.
Victoria Gardens, Horsforth, Leeds (leeds.gov.uk)
Cirencester Christmas Lights and Advent Festival
Cirencester was the second largest town in Britain during Roman time and is now a bustling market town. Its festive Christmas lights are amongst the best in the Cotswolds and its Switch-On is a major draw each year. This year's event will take place on 29th November, and the Christmas lights will be turned on at 6:30pm by TV personality Nigel Havers.
Market Place, Cirencester (cotswoldfamilyholidays.com)
Bourton on the Water, Cotswolds
Bourton on the Water is often described as the Venice of the Cotswolds, thanks to the picturesque Windrush River which runs through its heart. It is a stunning village at any time of year, but especially so at Christmas when its light displays make it even more wonderous. Sparkling and twinkling Christmas lights are wrapped around a large Christmas tree and there are traditional garlands of lights strung across the streets. The Switch-On event takes place on 4th of December.
Bourton-on-the-Water town centre (soglos.com)
Edinburgh's Christmas 2015
Photo supplied by Edinburgh's Christmas
In 2014, Edinburgh's Christmas attractions were visited by over 3.6 million people. For 2015, the Scottish Capital has pulled out all the stops with more lights and a bigger range of events. One of the highlights of this year is sure to be the new Street of Light which will see the installation of 26 illuminated arches along Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Rising as high as 19 metres in places, the canopy of lights will be synchronised to music sung and played by choirs from across Edinburgh. Edinburgh's Christmas Lights will be switched on by Britain's Got Talent star Susan Boyle on 22nd of November.
George Street, Edinburgh (eventscotland.org)
Fancy visiting any of these of great Christmas lights?
Why not stay overnight at the central London Thistle City Barbican Hotel, where you'll be in easy reach of the displays in Regent Street, Duke of York Square and Marylebone? As well as heading out to see the festive lights the deal includes 2 tickets to the Red Rover River Cruise, and breakfast in the morning. Another option is to stay at the Grosvenor Hotel, again in Central London and enjoy the same offers.
If the bright and twinkling lights of Edinburgh appeal how about staying at the Grand Carlton Hotel Edinburgh? Handy for exploring the beautiful Christmas lights, the deal also offers a 3 course meal at the Bridge Restaurant on the first night of your stay. As well as this, you'll be able to have a full Scottish breakfast in the mornings, and have complimentary access to the Hotel's Health Club.