Christmas lights review
We're lucky in London because we always have plenty of Christmas lights. I'm standing down Oxford Street at the moment and the place is dripping in strings of six-foot snowballs, with electric icicles hanging off the trees like are frozen bolts of blue. Lots of cherry-sized silver spots too... and even some fake snow blowing out the top of HMV. It actually looks like it's snowing in the street. I let some land on me, just to see what it was, and it turned out to be a froth of soapy bubbles. It sure does look like snow though.
Have you ever seen that Christmas Lampoons movie with Chevy Chase, when he blankets his house with a billion bulbs? Well that is the House of Fraser, John Lewis and Selfridges. There must be a zillion squillion lights on those three shops alone. It's giving me sparkles in my eyes when I look away... it's so bright and white it's burning itself onto my eyeballs.
Regent Street is a bit too commercial these days. They've got some nice big antlers up there... or maybe they are the big branches of white winter trees -- I'm not too sure -- because all I can see is Ricky Gervais's ugly mug staring out from the middle, plugging his new Hollywood movie. What a sell-out! And it's like that the whole way down the street too. Jesus and Father Christmas have been given the boot this year, and replaced by David Brent.
Carnaby Street has hung up some giant headphones, all covered in white fur like Santa would wear. I guess they must be harping back to their Swinging Sixties hey-day. They've got a load of red and white snowflakes too. it's quite pretty.
I think the nicest lights are the ones outside Somerset House. If you go inside the courtyard you'll find the prettiest tree in the city, all sparkled up in coloured lights and baubles. It must be thirty feet at least, standing at one end of their outdoor ice-rink. Now that is a pretty scene... people buttoned up in oversized coats, whizzing round the rink. Pitch black night above their heads... the ice-rink bathed in a brilliant blue and the golden glow of lamplights strung up around the sides.
Covent Garden has got the biggest tree in town. It must be forty or fifty-feet at least, with cherry red tomato lights and bright white buttons, sitting in a big wooden pot that is bigger than a boat. The market halls are festooned with giant baubles fifteen feet across, all coloured in deep reds and golds. Sheets of white lights are strung across the street, with little droplets dripping down like snow.
Have a walk across Waterloo Bridge and check out the festive market on Southbank. Most of it has moved into the big grass area this year (it usually runs along the river). It's full of decorated wooden huts and Swiss-style chalets selling everything from hot sausages and Bavarian beer, to mulled wine and stocking filler gifts for the kids. They've got burgers and steaks and pancakes too -- it's worth a walk round here just for the smells. They've got a fairground carousel, and even a little steam train running past the Royal Festival Hall (true!). But the best bit is a little maze of Christmas trees, all lit in winter lights. Imagine walking round a maze... except the walls are made of fir trees.
Here are some other Christmas events I’ve seen in London…
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