Lights On – These are the light switch ons and festivals of light this winter you won’t want to miss

What a wonderful time of year. While the evenings are long and the sun is down by the time we finish work, at least there is the joy of fairy lights to brighten up the evening. As we hurtle towards November, this season is one that is a true Festival of Lights. While I utterly detest the Christmas crowds on busy London streets, I’m calmed and mesmerised by the Christmas lights and displays, even though I’ve seen them year in, year out, my entire life.

There is something so heart warming and joyous about this time of year and Christmas light switch-ons have become huge draws in cities across the UK. From local town light ups to parks and city centres, the Christmas lights going on are both a social and retail calendar marker for a countdown to the big day. Of course you don’t need to head to the switch on itself to take advantage of the gorgeous glow up the towns get at Christmas, but there will often be discounts and offers run by local shops to mark the occasion.

If you’re looking for a slightly less commercialised affair, a number of the large parks and attractions also offer Festivals of Lights as a way of tempting us out of our cosy heated homes on those long and cold November nights.

The best way of course is to wrap up warm… check out our boot feature HERE and throw on one of this season’s must-have Puffer Coats and enjoy the festivities with a hot toddy. Mulled wine, pimped up hot chocolate. Whatever you choose, make sure to get out and enjoy one of winters brightest occasions.

Here are few events to note:

Marylebone Village, London

When: Wednesday 10 November, 3pm-7pm

Whats so special? This year, Marylebone Village lights are in support of mental health charity partner Mind in Brent Wandsworth and Westminster. 

Is there anything else happening? Yes! The switch on will happy on Wednesday 10th November and to celebrate there will be lots of free festive activities, live music and inspiring decorations.

Marylebone Village is a lovely little oasis a stone throw away from the bustling streets of Oxford Street and Baker Street and so is a great option for those who want to be in town but with a more village/community feel.

Image: Marylebone Village

Over 50 shops, cafes, bars and restaurants will join together to offer visitors a huge range of exclusive discounts, value-added offers, festive experiences, and specially created menus available for one day only. Really something not to be missed!

There will also be lots of activities to get involved in, to help you start feeling Christmassy, such as, wreath making workshops to personalised festive illustrations from resident artist Eleni Sofroniou to roaming musicians and interactive stalls.

Showcasing the community spirit, Marylebone Village retailers and restaurants including Paul SmithWyse London, agnès b., MejuriDinny Hall, The Conran Shop, 108 Brasserie and Ottolenghi have come together to offer exclusive one-off experiences and promotions, ensuring finding the perfect gift this Christmas is a whole lot easier. 

For full event information: Marylebonevillage.com and follow @MaryleboneVillage

Nearest tubes: Bond Street, Baker Street, Marylebone Great Portland Street

CHRISTMAS AT KEW 2021

Explore a botanical world filled with seasonal cheer at Kew Gardens this winter

When: Wednesday 17 November 2021 – Sunday 9 January 2022 | 4pm – 10pm (advance booking only).

What’s going on:Now in it’s ninth year, Christmas at Kew is a much-adored occasion on the festive calendar.

Image: Kew

This year’s trail features a host of firm seasonal favourites alongside pioneering new light installations, illuminating Kew Gardens’ UNESCO World Heritage landscape with vibrant bursts of colour and over a million twinkling lights. A celebration of nature by night, and the wonder of biodiversity, this is an enchanting seasonal experience like no other, for visitors of all ages.

What if I’ve been before?: For those that have seen the spectacle before, Kew are ensuring that is is treat to experience again and again as they bring new installations to the mix.

New shows will light the iconic Temperate and Palm Houses, as well as a first-time collaboration with Novak, the innovative video design studio. Using a selection of spectacular trees from Kew’s arboretum as their canvas, Novak will create a brand-new piece for Christmas 2021, using a stunning combination of video design, projection mapping and light to bring Kew’s archived botanical illustrations to life, alongside a host of heart-warming festive imagery.

Acclaimed creative house Mandylights will bring a brand-new installation to Christmas at Kew for 2021. Spheric, a fifteen-metre-wide dome of light covered in over 2,000 individually controlled LED pixels, sits on a reflective water pool, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in this unique mirrored illusion as they cross the lake. Set to a synchronised music track, Spheric promises to be an unmissable highlight of this year’s seasonal spectacular.

Sound and light artists Ithaca will return to Christmas at Kew for 2021, creating Aurora; a new and ambitious installation for Holly Walk which will illuminate the night sky for over 200 metres overhead, replicating the enchanting visual phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis. Visual Artist Amelia Kosminsky will also create a new work for this year’s trail.

You’ll be hard pressed not to be amazed by this evening adventure.

Anything else?: To add an extra flourish to the Christmas at Kew experience, visitors can book a delicious traditional Christmas dinner at The Botanical restaurant, or simply pick up a treat from a selection of independent street food vendors along the route. Visitors can make for a very merry Christmas and indulge in a spiced cider, waffles, mulled wine, or hot chocolate to keep warm.

How do I book?:

Christmas at Kew admission:     

Tickets on sale now: www.kew.org/christmas

Entrances at Victoria Gate, Lion Gate and Brentford Gate.
Advance booking only.

What does it cost:

Adult: from £21.50 / Family: from £65 / Child 4 – 16: from £14 / Under 4s free /Concessions available / Transaction fee applies

Dates
Christmas at Kew runs from Wednesday 17 November 2021 to Sunday 9 January 2022 and is open on the following dates:

Wednesday 17 Nov 2021 – Sunday 21 Nov 2021

Wednesday 24 Nov 2021 – Sunday 28 Nov 2021

Tuesday 30 Nov 2021 – Sunday 5 Dec 2021

Tuesday 7 Dec 2021 – Sunday 12 Dec 2021

Tuesday 14 Dec 2021 – Fri 24 Dec 2021

Sunday 26 Dec 2021 – Sunday 9 Jan 2022

Christmas at Kew is open 4-10pm with timed entry slots. Last entry 8pm.

Carnaby Light Switch On

When: Thursday 4th November 2021, 12 til 8pm

What’s going on: The Carnaby switch-on is one I’ve attended many a time, largely because there are some excellent shopping discounts to be had over the evening and it’s always a beautifully themed event. For 2021, Carnaby have paired up with charity partner, Choose Love, to highlight and support the urgent need to raise funds for refugees around the world, with an additional fundraising stream for Afghan refugees. Choose Love will have a pop up at 3 Carnaby Street selling an amazing line up of limited edition products, with a constant stream of celebrity guests popping up to serve customers. A great option for gift buying this season – gift something that helps others too.

Pic: Carnaby Kaleidoscope

Carnaby always treat their lights as more of an installation and this year will see over 600 sparkling 3D and 2D butterflies will flutter through Carnaby. Each butterfly is hand decorated with reflective wings and bright neon patterns. The Carnaby arch will shine bright in pink shimmer disks with brightly coloured 3D butterflies perched above. 

Why butterflies? Well it’s actually rather appropriate, butterflies’ represent spiritual rebirth, transformation, change and hope (which feels quite appropriate after a bit of Christmas disaster last year). The installation is called Kaleidoscope, which is not only a term for a group of butterflies but also a constantly changing pattern or sequence of elements. Which the hand decorated butterflies will offer, giving shoppers a real visual treat.
 
Right, but what about the discounts: For me, Carnaby gives a real party atmosphere and with over
100 participating shops, bars and restaurants there will be lots of things happening. There will be in-store events, 20% discounts in selected stores, Christmas workshops, free drinks, goodie bags and live music on Ganton Street too. This is the switch-on to go to with friends.

Register here for your free ticket and to be the first to know what the Carnaby shops, bars and restaurants have in store for you.

Imagery: courtesy of participating events, as listed. Feature image: Marylebone Village

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