Christmas Lights in Oxford Street, London
The Oxford Street Christmas lights are among the most famous in the world, and each year thousands of people come to the West End over the Christmas and the New Year period to admire the lights and soak up the festive mood. The lights are traditionally switched on by a line up of popular celebrities so the crowds get to see their favourite stars and also be entertained.
When the lights were switched on at the House of Fraser last week, it reminded me of the stunning array of lights and decorations we saw when we were in London a couple of years ago.
Having arrived from summer in Sydney, it was freezing for us, but how wonderful it was to be able to do Christmas shopping under the glow of the fairytale lights. Shop windows were filled to the brim with Christmas goodies and the buildings of department stores like Marks and Sparks, Debenhams and Selfridges were all lit up. It was magic! We couldn’t stop ourselves taking snaps to capture the beauty of the decorations.
And if you’re in London at this time, you can celebrate the beginning of Christmas and be part of another wonderful tradition, which is the lighting of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree. Each year, since 1947, Trafalgar Square is presented with a large Norwegian tree, as a token of friendship and gratitude for Britain’s assistance during World War II. When Norway was invaded by Germany, King Haakon of Norway refused to cave in to German demands to appoint a government headed by Nazi sympathiser Vidkun Quisling as prime minister. King Haakon decided it would be best that he left the country and together with his family, the Government moved to London and set up a “government in exile“. The Royal family stayed in London until the end of the war.
As part of a time-honoured tradition, the tree is chosen specially from the forests around Oslo. The Mayor of Westminster travels to Oslo for a ceremony there, after which the tree is transported by road and boat to the centre of London. The tree is presented to London as a symbol of peace and of eternal friendship and this historic tradition has become a definitive Christmas event in London to mark the onset of the festive season. How wonderful that this tradition has been kept for 60 years now.
The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is scheduled to be lit on December 4th and there will be carols daily up to December 20th. Yes, if you’d like to soak up the goodwill, friendship and the spirit of the festive season, London’s Oxford Street is a great place to start with. Then there’s Regent Street, Bond Street, etc….