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The Christmas lights of London are up, and 2020 may well be one of the best ever years to enjoy them thanks to reduced crowds. For those wanting to avoid the crowds altogether, there is one way to do it – take the car. We did just that, hopping into the sleek new BMW 4 Series Coupé for the trip.
Iconic Oxford Street is one drivers usually avoid – and in fact private vehicles are banned from driving on the road daily from 7am-7pm, with plans to entirely pedestrianise it favoured by London Mayor Sadiq Kahn – although these have now been dropped.
The private car ban doesn’t matter at all for those planning to see the lights anyway – waiting until nightfall ensures they are as twinkly as can be.
We started here, tootling down the road listening to the best Christmas tunes thanks to my Christmas playlist – blasting out of the BMW’s speakers after I synched my phone to the car. Genius.
This year’s display pays tribute to the 2020 heroes who have helped strangers during the pandemic, putting their names up in lights. Britons can still nominate their 2020 hero, and see their name in lights for week.
Just around the corner is Regent Street, which has had Christmas lights since 1954 – the first central London location to do so.
The temperature had dropped since my passenger had opened his windows to gawp at the lights, but a quick blast of the heated seats and steering wheel soon warmed my chilly hands.
Driving down Regent’s Street was spectacular, as this year the road has the largest light installation in the country.
The Spirit of Christmas has 300,000 LED lights creating a canopy above.
We parked up the car – the easiest parking I’ve ever experienced thanks to the 4 Series’ front and rear sensors (which come as standard) and amazing Parking Assistant Plus that mine had, which showed the car on camera from above, front and behind to make parking a doddle.
Then it was a brief walk to pedestrian only Carnaby Street, which is themed around Choose Love this year, in collaboration with the charity of the same name.
Neon pink boxes flash out messages of hope and empowerment, creating a striking image.
Another destination we drove to and parked up, before walking to the Piazza to take in the stunning Christmas tree.
Located in the West Piazza, this 60ft Norwegian Spruce took 300 hours to install and decorate.
30,000 lights have been used to decorate it, and it is definitely one to pose in front of for a Christmas selfie.
Fans of the area will be wondering about the mistletoe chandeliers – while kissing is off the cards this year, the pretty chandeliers are back for 2020.
It was back in the car for a quick whizz to swish Marylebone.
The lights are as sleek as the people who shop in the boutiques and eat in the cafes and restaurants in the area – no gaudy colours here.
Best of the Rest
Don’t miss the rest of the gorgeous lights of London too. West Londoners are being treated to lights in Sloane Square, Duke of York Square, Pavilion Road and the King’s Road.
South London residents should hop over to Greenwich Market to check out the lights and enjoy the Christmas Shopping Lates, every Wednesday in December. Nearby Blackheath Village also has a gorgeous Christmas tree and lights to add a Christmassy feel to shopping trips this year.
And North London hasn’t been missed out – Upper Street, camden Passage, Chapel Market and Islington Green in Angel are adorned with over 500 decorations and 250,000 lights, while King’s Cross has gone modern with Christmas tree installations instead of traditional lights this year.
For more information on the BMW 4 Series, click here.
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