Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Lights in London

Whilst doing a last bit of Christmas Shopping I thought I'd take in the London lights. The two main shopping streets in the capital are Oxford Street and Regent Street and each year they try to outdo each other with their lights. Regent Street always gets the better media coverage with a minor celebrity switching them on. I think this year it was the amazingly talented Lee Ryan from boyband Blue. Oxford Street on the other hand tends to be more low-key preferring to avoid the razzmatazz. However this street does have the large department stores who put on some good displays themselves.

Here we have Oxford Street which had simple light blue chandelier type patterns at regular intervals down its length. John Lewis had some nice christmas tree patterns but I think Debenhams pipped them with their all red display further down the road.

Regent Street however had much more in-your-face displays themed around the Ice Age 2 movie which I think detracts from the Christmas theme. Who, when they think of Christmas, come up with mammoths and stoats (or whatever the main character is supposed to be). Because of the obvious over commercialism I didn't like this display all that much. Last year they had an Incredibles themed display which is even worse, that wasn't even Wintry.

I thought I'd take a wander around London to see what else I could find. Just off, and running parallel to Regent is Carnaby Street, the birthplace of punk but perhaps now more well known for the big dance opening sequence to the first Austin Powers movie. These were much better, very straight forward un-sponsored and a full rainbow of colour. Some of what you see are the lights but some of the vertical beams are vertical mirrors that are rotated by the wind and reflect the lights around them. Very simple but effective.

5 minutes from Carnaby Street and at the end of Regent Street is Picadilly Circus (see London actually isn't that big a place and you don't need to rely on the underground to get about). This place is famous around the world for being the neon hotspot in London and although they didn't have any Christmas theming they still had put on a good show. I don't remember the main screen being so detailed, perhaps it has had an overhaul.

Finally I hit Leicester Square, which I knew did have some fairground rides in place. Simply lit up and with the old carousel and the King Kong theming at the Odeon that had it looking like the theatre that Kong escapes from in the film, the square sort of took on a retro look, which definitely had more of a Christmas feel to it than any of the other areas. It would have looked great if there had been snow, which never seems to happen anymore in the capital. Too much heat being generated I guess.

Not a bad showing overall, I guess. At least they made the effort; I didn't even put up a tree this year let alone any lights.
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