Christmas in the capital: how to get festive in London this year

For a picture-perfect light display, amazing shopping and memorable dining spots, Regent Street and St James's is the seasonal destination to head to
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21 November 2023

With the late summer sun lasting well into October, it feels like the festive season has come around even more quickly than usual this year, bringing with it the inevitable onslaught of social occasions to fit in, work parties to attend and all-round prep for the big day itself.

With so much to do, it can be easy to forget to make time to revel in the magic of this time of year and enjoying the festive cheer that really makes Christmas so special.

A trip to Regent Street and St James’s – which boasts a charming selection of shops and restaurants all set amongst an impressive light display – is a fun and easy way to get into the spirit of the season.

Here’s how to get the most out of your visit.

See the iconic Christmas lights

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There are few Christmas light displays as iconic as the installations that illuminate London’s charming West End every year.

The first official spectacle of this kind to come to the capital back in 1954, the display transforms the area into a festive wonderland. ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ – a mesmerising canopy of 50 large-scale spirits – can be found glittering above Regent Street, St James’s, Piccadilly, Jermyn Street and St James’s Market.

This year, there’s even more of it to enjoy, with the display reaching new locations over Glasshouse Street, Quadrant Arcade and Swallow Street.

Find your festive party outfit and great gifts for loved ones

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Christmas shopping can feel like a mammoth task, but thanks to the area’s impressive selection of shops, finding the perfect gifts for even the most difficult people to buy for feels not only achievable, but enjoyable too.

For personalised gifts, head to Mulberry, which is offering engraving on a selection of its luxury accessories, or Molton Brown, where you can add a personal touch to one of its sumptuous gift sets.

At Prestat – legendary chocolatiers since 1902 – in Princes Arcade, you’ll find the sort of chocolate boxes that look straight out of a fairy tale, while cheese lovers will delight in a hamper from the legendary Paxton & Whitfield.

Over at Ugg’s newly-revitalised flagship, expect to the find the kind of cosy gifts perfect for this time of year – from its iconic footwear to stylish outerwear.

If you’re in need of a festive party outfit, Regent Street and St James’s has you covered. Discover pre-loved designer fashion from Luxe Dressing, a pop-up on Regent Street, or browse Liberty’s collection of cool brands and independent designers.

Spanish brand Bimba y Lola also boasts a range of fashion-forward womenswear, while Gant is a go-to for modern staples.

For the full list of retailers in the area, click here.

Dine and drink in style

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There’s usually plenty of people to catch up with over the Christmas period, and this buzzing London hub provides a dazzling backdrop for your festive celebrations, complete with delicious food from esteemed chefs and vibrant bars.

To enjoy a traditional feast with all the trimmings, pay a visit to the Michelin-starred Alex Dilling at Hotel Café Royal or Wild Honey St James, or see what takes your fancy in St James’s foodie corner, where Toba (pictured above), Fallow and Scully are all located.

For cocktails on a festive terrace, check out Heddon Street Kitchen or head to the Aqua Spirit bar in Aqua Kyoto for innovative Japanese-inspired tipples.

Discover the area’s unmissable cultural hotspots

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When you’re in town, it’s worth making time to enjoy the many cultural delights the capital has to offer.

Once you’ve checked out the lights and got some shopping done, why not catch a musical classic at His Majesty’s Theatre or see what play is running at Jermyn Street Theatre?

To get your art fix, the Royal Academy of Arts never disappoints, while White Cube Mason’s Yard is known for its roster of exciting exhibitions.

For the full rundown of everything you can find in the area this Christmas, visit and and follow @regentstreetw1 on Instagram and TikTok, and @stjameslondon on Instagram