‘Tis the season to deck the halls, but thankfully it won’t just be taking place at home this year. While many of the usual festive instalments might have been postponed, there are still several special installations, Christmas trees and displays lighting up London this season. This is our round up of the best to see in the capital.
As twilight falls, a stroll through Mayfair in all its twinkling fairy lit glory will put anyone in the festive spirit. The Cartier flagship on New Bond Street is a particular showstopper, celebrating the holiday season with the Panthère – the big cat has long been a symbol of the house, an expression of fierce, fearless femininity – and “gift-wrapped” in a supersized red bow. From December 2nd, the Maison façade will come to life with a light and music show every day at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm.
175-177 New Bond Street, Mayfair, W1; cartier.com
Neoclassical meets neon at this London institution, with the gallery’s exterior beautifully illuminated by Chila Kumari Singh Burman’s outdoor winter commission Remembering a brave new world. Referencing mythology, Bollywood, radical feminism, political activism and family memories, the installation comprises a series of brightly-lit, multi-hued sculptures, including Hindu deities and the figures of Rani of Jhansi, a fierce warrior, and Britannia. “I hope this spectacular transformation of Tate Britain’s façade can act as a beacon of light and hope during dark lockdown days and bring joy to all those who live or work nearby,” said Alex Farquharson, Director of Tate Britain.
Until 31 January 2021; Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P 4RG; tate.org.uk
British designer and fashion favourite Matilda Goad has been chosen to create a Christmas tree for West London’s Television Centre – her first ever major outdoor festive installation. Newly unveiled, The Joy Tree is a show-stopping twelve-metre ode to Christmas, decorated with traditional baubles complete with her signature bow detailing and oversized letters in bright, bold colours inspired by Quality Street wrappers. There’s also a festive playlist curated by Em + Me to accompany the tree, which visitors can unlock with a QR code for a truly immersive holiday experience.
Wood Lane, White City, W12; matiladagoad.com
Every year, The Shard illuminates 575 LED lights across its top 20 storeys to create a festive beacon for the capital – the highest light show in Western Europe. This year is no exception, with a blue and white colourway chosen in order to honour the NHS – an apt choice for 2020. The display continues until New Year’s Eve, when a unique show (#ShardLights) will take place, illuminating the London skyline as the clock strikes midnight.
32 London Bridge Street, Southwark, SE1; the-shard.com
Christmas is a particularly magical time of year at Kew Gardens, with its annual after-dark trail. Expect a different route this yuletide as it wends its way through the twinkling rose garden, as well as the tunnel of bells, past giant illuminated seed heads and trees, fiery sculptures aglow with flickering flames, the iconic Temperate House, ablaze with laser projections, before culminating with a light show at the Palm House Pond. Finish off your evening with a hot chocolate under the stars.
4 December – 17 January 2021; Kew, Richmond, TW9; kew.org
The Carnaby Street Christmas lights are always something to look forward to, and this year’s installation provides something a little different to the norm. Partnering with the charity Choose Love, a series of pink neon light boxes will adorn the street, sending out a positive Christmas message of love, hope and unity for 2021. Can’t make it out to see the lights in person? There will also be a virtual 360-degree tour available from the comfort of your own home, so you don’t have to miss out.
Carnaby Street, Soho, W1; carnaby.co.uk