For overseas teachers heading to London, that first winter can prove to be quite a cultural shock! Fortunately, Bianca and Monet have designed the perfect London Christmas lights tour to help brighten any dark cold night.
From our new 'Smarties in London' social group for overseas teachers, two Aussies who have just touched down in the big smoke joined Bianca and Monet on the tour. The tour takes around an hour and half, (quicker if you have already adopted a London pace) Arm yourself with gloves, scarves, comfy shoes, and obligatory tinsel to get into the spirit!
Start at Somerset house, a beautiful palace-like structure that started construction in the 1500's. This spot is great for ice skating and a festive mulled wine.
Christopher Wren was a lead architect here (he also helped design this little building you may be aware of- St Paul's Cathedral) and it is now mainly occupied by King’s College. Peek down the Strand and head up Wellington Street. Turn left onto Russell Street and you’ll find…
Formally a flower market, this space is great for shopping, food, and live music. The buskers here are phenomenal with only the best classical musicians given permission to perform here. The famous puppets, Punch and Judy, first performed here in Covent Garden, and there’s a little pub inside to commemorate this.
Get a photo at the giant reindeer statue and marvel at the humongous Christmas tree in front of St Paul’s church (known as the Actor’s Church)
Head up James street, which subsequently connects to Neal street and you’ll hit…
The name Seven Dials refers to the main junction where seven streets converge into a roundabout. Head to the roundabout to see its famous monument- an actual working sundial! Seven Dials was designed by Thomas Neale back in the late 1600’s. Hard to believe this area was once described by poet Keats as: ‘….where misery clings to misery for a little warmth’ The Christmas lights here bring much warmth and spirit!
Make your way through Neal’s yard, heading towards Shaftsbury avenue and keep walking until you reach Piccadilly Circus. Then, you want to turn down...
Regent Street is much more than a square on the Monopoly board. A walk down this street will take you past Hamley’s toy store, Liberty department store, and BBC headquarters. This year, delicate gold and white angels watch over the streets, wings outstretched, illuminating the road. Stunning sight.
Just off Regent, you’ll find Carnaby street....
This year, Carnaby Street is adopting a Queen theme (no not that Queen) with the lyrics of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ colourfully illuminated above your head. So if you really need a selfie with the words ‘Scaramouch, Scaramouch’ above your head, you’re in the right place!
To avoid Christmas shopping madness, we recommend ducking down a parallel side street and avoiding Oxford Street for the time being… Make your way to…
South Molton Street
A nice change of pace, this street is quiet but boasts some amazing light blue fixtures. Selfie, anyone?
Now for the finish!
The long road Oxford Street was notoriously known as a prisoner’s last route to the gallows. You could actually buy hanging ropes as souvenirsfrom the local shops! The John Lewis Christmas windows are worth pushing through the crowd to see and stop by Selfridges to visit London's first department store.
End tour with a warm mulled cider and a mince pie
We finished up the tour at the Iron Duke with this festive refreshment and Christmas spiced treat. Leave the tour on the tube, tinsel still around your neck, and pretend you meant to do that all along! Oops!
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