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London at Christmas: Grading the Holiday Displays!
Where in London are the best Christmas decorations?
Brent and I have always loved the holidays.
Back when we lived in Seattle, we garlanded entire rooms, baked tray after tray of cookies, and listened to enough holiday music to make even Mariah Carey scream, “All I want for Christmas is to not hear another *#*!&#^$% carol!”
For our first three years of nomading, we returned to the U.S. for Thanksgiving and stayed until just after New Year’s. That way we got to spend arguably our favorite holidays with friends and family, which helped us not feel completely untethered from the best parts of our old life.
And then Covid.
In 2020, we spent Christmas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and in 2021 Split, Croatia, (which was really interesting!), mostly because seeing friends and families wasn’t in the cards
This year for Christmas, we’ve ended up in London, a city weirdly entwined with this holiday. (Why? Is it all because of A Christmas Carol?)
In fact, a big part of the reason we came here — rather than somewhere warmer — was to experience an English Christmas.
I was especially excited to see London’s street displays of Christmas lights.
Did they live up to my expectations, making me as happy as George Bailey at the end of A Wonderful Life? Or did I end up feeling as sour as the Grinch?
Let’s find out by using my patented Tiny Tim Scoring System™!
The highest possible score is, of course, Five Tiny Tims:
My Tiny Tim Score™ for Carnaby Street is…
Regent Street is a massive shopping district in London’s West End, which went for a more classical theme called “The Spirits of Christmas.”
My Tiny Tim Score™ for Regent and St. James streets is…
Covent Garden is part-Christmas-street-display, part-piazza, and part-Christmas-market. It’s also one of the most popular spots in London.
My Tiny Tim Score™ for Covent Garden is…
Not far from Regent Street and Covent Garden is Bond Street, possibly the most prestigious and expensive street in all of London.
My Tiny Tim Score™ for Bond Street is…
Trafalgar Square, which is sort of London’s answer to Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, is where London’s official tree lighting ceremony takes place.
My Tiny Tim Score™ for Trafalgar Square is…
PICCADILLY AND ST. JAMES STREET
Just a quick jog around the corner from Regent Street brings us to St. James Street and the nearby Piccadilly Circus.
My Tiny Tim Score™ for Piccadilly and St. James Street is…
THE DEPARTMENT STORES
I’m cheating a bit by including department stores, especially all of them together as one category.
But London is renowned for having some of the most expensive and luxurious stores in the world. And taken together, their Christmas displays are rivaled only by New York.
Arguably the most famous department store in the world, Harrods embodies luxury, status, and, let’s be honest, conspicuous consumption.
That said, I’m a sucker for a grand spectacle, and Harrods excels at that.
FORTNUM & MASON
Dating back to 1707, Fortnum and Mason — called Fortnum’s by locals — is every bit as exclusive as Harrods. Their decorations were maybe even more impressive.
Some of London’s other well-known department stores include Selfridges, which was too frenetic and frantically American for my tastes; Hamleys, which is London’s answer to FAO Schwarz, and which I found rather charming; and Liberty, easily my favorite thanks to its very old-fashioned feel.
I have mixed feelings about London’s department stores due to their encouragement of Western overconsumption. But there’s no denying they’re impressive, so my Tiny Tim Score™ is…
THE FINAL VERDICT
So what’s my final verdict on London’s Christmas lights and store decorations?
Maybe it’s all of the mulled wine I’ve drunk, but my “overall” Tiny Tim™ score is…
Happy holidays to everyone!