diamond geezer

 Saturday, November 06, 2010

London's Christmas lights

No no no, really it's not too early. There are fewer than 50 shopping days to Christmas, for heaven's sake, so the countdown's really on. And it's obviously so important, when out buying those last minute November presents, that the streets are decked with pretty lights. Here's the diamond geezer guide to London's essential festive switch-ons, because you know you want to be there. Or be somewhere else.

Oxford Street (Thursday 4th November)
Oh damn, missed it. And there were two extra special things about Oxford Street's switch-on this year. Firstly there was no ghastly sponsored racket where the lights were turned on by two Disney actors, that failed X Factor boyband and two cheesy smiles from the Heart breakfast show. Very low key it was this year, just a few sweet kids and a flicked switch. Secondly the lights were turned on a day later than last year, reversing the relentless illumination creep of the last few years. I think they're the same lights as last year too - big glittery presents and mysteriously unfestive umbrellas. Austerity hits the West End, big time.
Switch on dates: 4th Nov 2010, 3rd Nov 2009, 12th Nov 2008, 7th Nov 2007, 9th Nov 2006, 15th Nov 2005, 15th Nov 2004

Westfield (Thursday 4th November)
Damn, missed that too. Actually make that phew. Rihanna switched them on. Nuff said.

Regent Street (Tuesday 9th November)
At the Regent Street switch-on there's a Narnia film to plug, so expect grinning child actors (whereas it would be far more fun to have Aslan and free turkish delight for all). And be warned, there will be a X Factor throwback and two cheesy smiles from the Heart breakfast show, because it wouldn't be Christmas otherwise.
Switch on dates: 9th Nov 2010, 3rd Nov 2009, 6th Nov 2008, 20th Nov 2007, 7th Nov 2006, 5th Nov 2005

Carnaby Street (Wednesday 10th November)
There are no further details. Their PR must be rubbish.

Marylebone High Street (Wednesday 17th November)
Three thirty, free gifts for children at Father Christmas's Grotto. Five twenty, barbershop quintet. Ten to six, winners of the Christmas card competition announced. Five past, Ruby Wax switches on the lights. And not a Heart presenter in sight - that's the way to do it.

Bond Street (Thursday 18th November)
This is a posh switch-on. You can tell because they call it "Bond Noël", and nobody round here thinks that's pretentious. No shortage of funding here either, with the promise of fir trees, reindeer, ice sculptors, carol singers, stilt walkers and "snow falling along the length of the street". Don't try turning up in an anorak - you'll look oh so terribly out of place. But do bring cash - they're collecting for Great Ormond Street.
Switch on dates: 18th Nov 2010 (?), 19rd Nov 2009 (Anna Friel), 20th Nov 2008 (Kelly Brook), 22nd Nov 2007 (Sophie Dahl), 23rd Nov 2006 (Thandie Newton)

Trafalgar Square (Thursday 2nd December)
The annual Norwegian spruce goes up at the start of December, gets sung to by various community choirs, and is then unceremoniously shredded on Twelfth Night.
Switch on dates: 2nd Dec 2010, 3rd Dec 2009, 4th Dec 2008, 6th Dec 2007, 7th Dec 2006, 29th Nov 2005, 30th Nov 2004

And also: Enfield 4th November, Covent Garden 11th, Brent Cross 11th November, Romford 16th November, Croydon 18th November, South Molton Street 16th November, Eltham 18th November, Leadenhall Market 19th November, Twickenham 26th November, Bromley 2nd December.

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