London is a big city that likes to get sparkly at Christmas. You can’t squeeze in every festive display in one evening, so we bring you ‘The Twelve Stars of Christmas’ – a walking route that includes the essential street lights, window displays and a couple of super-Christmassy shops, finishing at the perfect spot for dinner or drinks.

It won’t be a surprise that most of the stops have serious Christmas shopping opportunities but we’ve thrown in a couple of specific recommendations, along with tips for refuelling as you go – whether you are after a meal, Christmassy cocktails or a warming hot chocolate.

The whole route should take just over an hour at a relaxed pace, so probably allow an hour and a half to include photos (you could begin your walk at stop 5, Fortnum & Mason, for a shorter walk of about 45 minutes). Check out our guide to London Apps for recommended navigation apps to guide you.

1. Somerset House

If you’re planning on a bit of festive outdoor skating against a picturesque London backdrop, or perhaps just soaking up the Christmas rom-com vibes of couples hand-in-hand on the ice, then this should be your starting point. There’s also a huge Christmas tree at one end of the rink to start your selfie journey.

Walk: 9 minutes

2. Covent Garden Piazza

Photo by Oliver David

The Covent Garden decorations are always spectacular, with the tree one of the biggest and brightest in town. This year the market will be adorned with over 50 giant golden bells and baubles, plus spinning disco balls and an actual sleigh for selfies.

Shopping opportunities are endless. For drinks on the piazza, Dirty Martini usually do fun, festive-themed cocktails, and have one of the best happy hour schemes around. We also love underground tiki bar El Ta’koy, where you can book ahead for an hour of bottomless tacos and margs. More of a sweet tooth? Try a next-level hot chocolate from Knoops, or Whittards of Chelsea.

Walk: 7 minutes

3. Seven Dials

Decorations here are charmingly low-key and old-school, with real trees in tubs along Neal’s Yard tunnel and simple strings of lights across the streets. It’s all very Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’ and absolutely worth a visit.

Walk: 11 minutes

4. Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street

Photo by Amanda David

This gives you one of the best views of the soaring Regent Street ‘Spirit of Christmas’ lights, one of our absolute favourites. Anything that can make you pause for a moment of reflection in the midst of one of the busiest shopping areas in the world is worth appreciating. If you want to shorten the walk, there is another great opportunity to see these later, so you can start from the next stop.

Walk: 5 minutes

5. Fortnum & Mason

Photo by Amanda David

Whilst not technically Christmas illuminations, Fortnums are famous for turning the whole shop façade into a giant advent calendar and for their Christmas window displays, which we think are part and parcel of a festive lights experience. This year the theme is ‘Where Christmas Comes Alive!’ and shows Fortnums favourites coming to life on Christmas Eve, including champagne bottles sweeping down a staircase, dancing cakes, biscuit tins in party hats and decorations sliding down banisters.

It’s worth popping inside for a quick look at the lavish decorations throughout the store – we’re just going to say dancing puddings – and the great gift options in their iconic food department. Their hampers are legendary (but perhaps a tad pricey for the average Cheapo); we recommend their huge range of teas and biscuits, available in gorgeous tins designed to treasure. Feeling chilly? Fortnum’s Parlour does fabulously indulgent hot chocolate.

Walk: 3 minutes

6. Old Bond Street

Photo by Amanda David

Last year’s impressive coronation-inspired ‘Crown Jewels’ lights are back, almost outshining the glitzy designer shops along this exclusive street.

Window displays to look out for as you walk include Cartier, which has a red airship floating in the clouds in front of the store, and Gucci with their signature bit motif.

Walk: 8 minutes

7. Savile Row

Photo by Amanda David

New for 2023, we love the classic elegance of these ‘tailoring shears and ribbon’ lights. It’s an imaginative way to highlight London’s traditional areas for different skills and trades; it would be fabulous if other similarly famous areas picked this up.

Walk: back to Old Bond Street and follow it along (checking out the window displays as you go) until it becomes New Bond Street, about 5 minutes

8. New Bond Street

Photo by Amanda David

Window displays to look out for as you walk include Ralph Lauren, with the traditional Ralph Lauren Giving Tree (where you can dedicate a star to a loved one by donating to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity) and matching wreaths on the shop front. Also don’t miss Dior with its beautiful, glittering butterfly-themed display and Chanel’s scattered stars.

Walk: along New Bond Street, around 7 minutes, then to Oxford Street, 4 minutes

9. Oxford Street

Photo by Amanda David

The classic ‘Sky Full of Stars’ Oxford Street lights are back for 2023; this year you can sponsor a star (or make an immediate donation, see below) to help the Starlight children’s charity make Christmas a little brighter for children in hospital. If you’d like to include the window display at Selfridges, it’s a 15-minute round trip down Oxford Street. This year the theme is It’s Showtime, with ten of your most-loved Christmas characters transported to magical theatre settings complete with stage directions; expect a Christmas tree diva, a choir of angels and a stand-up snowman. Head back up Oxford Street to South Molton Street and snap a selfie with the Starlight Faerie, and tap your card or phone to donate directly.

Cheapo Top Tip: You may be loving the buzz, but if you’ve had enough of the Oxford Street crowds you can carry on down South Molton Street, which is also beautifully lit, and then along Brook Street and Hanover Street to the next stop.

Walk: 6 minutes (plus 15 mins if you went to Selfridges)

10. Liberty

Photo by Amanda David

Save time for a wander through Liberty’s wonderful timbered, multi-level maze; it is so much more than a shop and particularly gorgeous at Christmas. If you are looking for glamorous Christmas ornaments, this is your Aladdin’s cave.

Walk: 3 minutes

11. Hamleys

Proper grown-ups, you can skip this stop. For all the other big kids out there – this is the greatest toyshop in the world, at the most magical time of the year.

Walk: 3 minutes

12. Carnaby

Photo by Amanda David

Carnaby is always a riot of colour and they usually go all out at Christmas; this year they are celebrating the Carnaby Universe. Carnaby is full of indie boutiques for the cool kids and has a number of Christmas pop-ups.

Kingly Court is a fairylit courtyard surrounded by three floors of great places to eat and drink. Renowned chef Asma Khan’s Darjeeling Express is here, as is Imad’s Syrian Kitchen, Le Bab, Dirty Bones, Pizza Pilgrims and Shoryu. Thirsty Cheapos can go back to the 1940s at the immersive bar Cahoots, stay classy at Disrepute or get rowdy at Rum Kitchen.

Merry Christmas Cheapos! Tag us @LondonCheapo in your Instagram pics, and let us know if you think there are any more lights that should be on the list!

Written by:
BIO: Freelance writer, flâneuse and former blogger at London Girl About Town, Amanda is dedicated to sharing the latest on London's restaurants, bars, hidden quirks and general wonderfulness.
Filed under: Things to Do

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