Christmas is the one time each year that London gets a whole new look all over the city. Lights and decorations are erected to help everyone get into the festive spirit and for us photographers, this is an ideal time to capture a different looking London, especially at night when the illuminations create some quite dazzling photo opportunities.
I’ve decided to put together a list of some of my favourite places to capture London looking all festive and Christmassy.
1. Leadenhall Market
Leadenhall Market is a hidden gem located in the City of London. Nestled amongst the modern high rise buildings, this charming Grade II listed, 14th century street has been used as filming locations for movies, most notably Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Here at Leadenhall Market, you will find the cobbled streets lined with decorations and a large Christmas Tree where the streets cross.
TIP: If you are looking to get a photo of Leadenhall Market without lots of city workers in the shot, then head to the City on a Sunday morning. There will be far less people about.
2. Shard Lights
Each year, throughout December, The Shard will put on a show with lights and colours shining from its tip. Being that this is the tallest building in the city, it can be seen from almost anywhere but I recommend viewing the light show from across the river on the cobbled walkway directly in front of the Tower of London or from either Tower Bridge or London Bridge.
TIP: If capturing Christmas lights at night, make sure you have a tripod with you to avoid those blurry photos.
3. Tower of London
The Tower of London is a buzz of activity around Christmas time. Apart from the usual tourists visiting this famous attraction, they also have an ice skating rink in the old moat. Along the Thames path in front of the Tower, you will find trees and decorations such as this one shown below with Tower Bridge creating a fantastic background subject.
TIP: This path along the river in front of the Tower of London closes at night. Make sure you check the closing times before you head out to capture it.
4. More London Place
More London Place (also known as London Bridge City) is well worth a visit at Christmas. Each year they put up a contemporary Christmas Tree and there is a Christmas Market along the river front where you can grab some food and drink and a gift or two. You can also grab some great views across the river of Tower Bridge, The Tower of London and the skyscrapers in the city.
TIP: More London Place can be touchy about photographers using tripods. I tend not to be bothered by security guards if I use my tripod discreetly and keeping out of the way of other people.
5. Covent Garden
Moving west, Covent Garden is a great place to photograph London at Christmas time. Each year you will find a fantastic Christmas Tree and festive decorations around the Market square.
The tree shown here for Christmas 2018 is huge! Look how small the people look down by its base.
I also love the Morris Minor topped with gifts in the image below. Very imaginative and very British!!
6. Carnaby Street
Carnaby is famous for its Christmas lights. Located just off Regents Street, this place is well worth a visit. In 2018, the theme for the lights were lines from the song Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. This area is particularly good to visit at Christmas as apart from it being a pretty cool street itself, it is right next to Regent Street, Oxford Street and the world famous Liberty London department store.
TIP: The West End will be busy AT ALL TIMES so if you want to try to capture this area with less people, get up early and try to be there before 7am.
If you fancy a wander, the affluent Mayfair and Knightsbridge areas are great places to photograph London at Christmas. Some of the hotels and shops in this area create some fantastic displays. Below are just a couple of examples but there are many more.
If you have a couple of hours to spare, here are Google Map directions for a great walk from South Kensington to Oxford Street which will pass through Knightsbridge, Mayfair and new Bond Street.
These are just a few of my favourites but London has so many places to visit at Christmas and I know there will be many, many more. Feel free to drop a comment below telling me where your favourite place to visit at Christmas time. It doesn’t even have to be London!
Until next time.