The best Christmas light switch-ons

The countdown to Christmas has truly begun – shopfronts are filled with sparkle and seasonal excitement is spreading. But nothing marks the arrival of Yuletide better than switching on swathes of glimmering illuminations. So, light up your festive season with our guide to some of the best Christmas light displays across the country.

The Dreaming Spires is beautiful all year round, but at Christmas, the lights bring a Narnia-like quality to the City. The Christmas light festival takes place from the 16th-18th November with fun events, food stalls and a festival market. Highlights include the lantern procession that winds itself through Oxford streets and involves hundreds of people.

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Covent Garden
Crammed with history and characterful cobbled streets, the Christmas lights at Covent Garden have become iconic in the build up to the big day with folk flocking to London for this free festive event on 13th November. Previously preceded by performances by The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera, and with over 20,000 lights on the gargantuan tree alone, what better reason than to see this stunning spectacle.

Regent Street
Having donned its first set of Christmas lights in 1954, London’s Regent Street is now a stalwart of the switch-on calendar. Decked out with decorations harking back to yesteryear, visitors can expect a succession of angelic figures hovering above this 15th November. In addition to this, its bumper supply of big name brands means you can even indulge in a spot of shopping while you’re there.

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To celebrate the start of the Christmas festivities on the coast, there will be a special switch on event on 16th November at Pier Approach. Perfect for the whole family, with live entertainment, fireworks and a large illuminated teddy bear being the focal point.

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Visit the beautiful walled City of Chester and enjoy the Chester Christmas Light Switch On, happening on the 16th November. The ’12 days of Christmas’ parade is also worth watching. See if you can spot Santa as he travels the streets starting from the Town Hall.

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Durham’s annual free Christmas Light Switch On event takes place on the 30th November at the Market Place. Kicking off at 5.45pm, the much-loved story of The Nutcracker will be told in circus-style, featuring an array of death-defying stunts and awe-inspiring action, culminating in the illumination of the Christmas tree to end proceedings. Arrive early to avoid disappointment and make sure you wrap up warm!

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Being broadcast live on TV for this first time this year, there’s no better time to experience the excitement of Leicester’s Christmas lights switch-on. Held on the 22nd November, there’ll be oodles of awesome live entertainment, including the likes of X Factor winner Sam Bailey and performers from a local Peter Pan panto. Carols will be sung along with a brass band, and you may even see Mr Claus himself, if you’re lucky.

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Visit this vibrant Scottish city and enjoy Stirling’s free Christmas Lights Switch On which takes place on the 18th November. This afternoon of free family fun starts from 1pm with the Santa Parade starting to wind its way through the city at 2pm from the Albert Halls down to The Thistles, followed by a radio roadshow at the foot of King Street and the light switch on at 5 pm.

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