London

Holiday Guide To London’s Best Christmas Windows

Last year was our first time celebrating the holidays here in the UK, and while I expected the city to be beautiful this time of year (as it is every season of the year), I was completely unprepared for just how big a transformation it undergoes at Christmas. Twinkling lights strung along and over all the major streets. Ice rinks assembled in some of the prettiest locations in the city. A warm glow coming from the pubs as the fires are lit. The loud, festive atmosphere in the Christmas markets. Silly pantomimes in the theaters. People on the tube, gripping in one arm packages wrapped in shiny red and silver papers as the other struggles to hold on to the rails.

London is truly a magical place this time of year. I have never before lived in a city that works so hard to make this season look good, and perhaps no one does this better than London’s major department stores. This year we decided to put a spin on last year’s Christmas lights walk through London, and pay particular attention to London’s best Christmas windows as we walked through the Christmasy streets. Our favorites will be no big surprise to those who’ve lived in London for very long. These six stores are known for going all-out for their favorite window shoppers every holiday season!

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

HARRODS

I suppose tradition dictates that the very best should be saved for last, but Harrods’ world-famous Christmas windows are too spectacular to leave at the very bottom of the list! This was the store that, on seeing it last year, inspired me to plan this particular window-shopping walk. Last year, I was captivated by the unique style and attention to detail of the Harrods Express windows, and this year was no different. If anything, the new theme, The Land Of Make Believe, is even better.

Larger than life toys fill the storefront windows, my favorites of which were the ballerina pirouetting in front of the mirrors and the tiny, made-to-scale “mouse houses”. Harrods’ windows are always so detailed and creative that I get the impression the designers are much like Santa’s elves in the North Pole. As soon as the last mannequin is placed, her crown adjusted just-so, I imagine them turning over to a blank sheet in their sketchbooks and getting straight to work on the next year’s presentation!

Address: 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge SW1X 7XL

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

HARVEY NICHOLS

Harvey Nichols, while not in the same league as Harrods, does win the award for most colorful presentation this year. Tall metallic trees, bright lights, and mannequins dressed as fierce woodland creatures have transformed this storefront into a wild, enchanted forest. The most eye-catching part of this display, for me, was the headdresses and accessories on the models. They were very reminiscent of the Chihuly sculptures we’d seen earlier this year. Just a short walk down the road from Harrods, Harvey Nichols was the second stop on our walk. To be fair, we probably should have made it the first. Harrods is a hard act to follow! Next, we hopped on the Tube and alighted at Green Park for our next stop.

Address: 109-125 Knightsbridge, Belgravia SW1X 7RJ

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

FORTNUM & MASON

Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly, at this location for over three hundred years now, is an icon in London. Their theme this year, Frost Fayre, is supposed to draw to mind the times, centuries ago, when it became so cold in London that the Thames froze over. (Hard to imagine now, seeing as we still have yet to see a single flake of snow in London and we’ve been here a year and a half!) Snowy caves, waterfalls, and ice mountains have all been arranged to perfectly show off the Christmas merchandise showcased on top of them. There’s a level of classiness here that makes these windows incredibly eye-catching, even if they aren’t as flashy as some of the others.

Address: 181 Piccadilly, St. James’s W1A 1ER

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

SELFRIDGES

Oxford Street, one of my favorites to stroll down during the holidays because of the lights and the fake snow blowing from the rooftops, is where you’ll find Selfridges. You won’t be able to miss it. It’s the second largest store in the UK, trailing only behind Harrods. And, not surprisingly, this was my second favorite of the Christmas windows we looked at. I do love a good fairytale theme! Twenty-five famous fairytales are depicted in the windows here, although, some did seem a little ambiguous. (And they’ve got Sleeping Beauty enclosed in the glass case. I always thought it was Snow White who was put in there!) Still, they’ve done an amazing job – I can’t even imagine how much work goes into creating something of this scale!

Address: 400 Oxford Street, Marylebone W1A 1AB

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

JOHN LEWIS

Right down the street from Selfridges is John Lewis where you’ll find the adorable penguins who, if you live in the UK, you’re sure to recognize. Monty the Penguin became somewhat of a celebrity after this year’s John Lewis Christmas commercial began airing. You can view it here if you haven’t seen it. Bring tissues. That song and the last scene nearly kill me! Anyway, this year’s windows at John Lewis are all about the penguins – and they’re getting into a whole bunch of mischief. I was cracking up the whole time I was editing the photo of the penguins getting into the laundry. I’d been focusing on the penguin wearing the bra while taking the photo and totally missed the one with a pair of panties on his head until I got ready to put it on the blog! Cutest Christmas window award right here!

Address: 300 Oxford Street, Westminster W1C 1DX

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

LIBERTY LONDON

Last, but not least, the Christmas windows at Liberty London on Regent Street are ready for a party! These windows are decorated with an eclectic mix of retro hanging lights and vintage gifts, all set against a backdrop made of glittery, gold discs. The theme this year was inspired by a piece of the store itself – the gold weathervane sitting atop it, made from pieces of two different warships. Nautical themed music can be heard playing in the store in between Christmas carols. Out of all the stores we window shopped at on this day, this was the one that most made me want to walk inside. One day I’ll be back!

Address: Regent Street, Soho W1B 5AH

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Liberty London was the last stop on our walking tour of London’s best Christmas windows. In all, it took us around three hours to walk to each of these places (and a couple that didn’t get included on this list) with public transportation only being needed from Knightsbridge to Green Park. The crowds were thick, but that’s to be expected for a Saturday evening. In a way, I think it kind of adds to the experience to have to wade through the crowds, but if you prefer a quicker walk, I’d recommend doing your window shopping/Christmas light admiring on a weeknight!

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Holiday Guide To London's Best Christmas Windows

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  • MissLilly

    I love exploring the window displays over Christmas in london. Gorgeous photos indeed! I so love the penguins! best commercial this year

  • Oh wow, they clearly put a lot of work into this! Loooove the penguins!

  • I think the Fortnum and Mason one is my favourite, what can I say, I like a white christmas.

    • Too bad we’ll likely never get one here! Why does it have to be so warm in December??

      • I know! Although this year I’m ok with it staying away for once because my mom arrives on Christmas morning and I don’t want any delays!

      • John Evans

        >Why does it have to be so warm in December?
        It’s because the Atlantic Ocean and the prevailing westerly winds blowing across it keep us warm right through autumn and early winter until January. The weather often turns much colder in the New Year, especially if the prevailing winds shift to the east – then we get a dose of Siberian frost and most likely some snow too. If the winds don’t shift, the Atlantic will usually keep us relatively warm right through the winter, unless the polar cold moves south.

        • Then I hope the prevailing winds shift to the east soon – I’m ready for more winter-like weather. Last winter was much too mild for me. But if the winds want to wait to shift until after New Year’s Eve, then I’m okay with that, too. :)

  • rorybore

    Gorgeous!! and OMG!!! Penguins are my very favourite. I need that penguin with the pink purse in my life. Also, the bra one…. because once you have penguin wearing a hot turquoise bra, you really do have it all. :) Since I am out in the country, I have no idea if the shops in Ottawa do this?? I may have to take a road trip with my camera.

    P.S. It’s snowing here. :)

  • Stacie Stamper

    I love the elaborate ones, but a penguin in a bra is sure to bring a smile!

  • Oooh, I haven’t been able to see the Harrods & Harvey Nicks windows – stunning. They’re very, very colourful this year!!

  • Liz

    Oh wow!!! And you’ve captured them all beautifully <3 Thanks so much for sharing!!

  • Harrods and Selfridges are my favourites I think! xx

  • I always love Fortnum’s displays! As you say, they’re not too flashy but they still look amazing. They get the balance right I think :) x

    • Well, they’ve been doing this long enough. They ought to know how to do it just right by now! :)

      • Haha yeah, that’s true, Sarah. They’ve certainly had plenty of practice :) x

  • You really saw them all, I must do this one year! x

  • Jo

    They really do go to a lot of trouble. I haven’t gone ‘window shopping’ at all yet … been stuck in the office.

    • Today was the first day I got out and did actual shopping. Knocked it all out in one go, too! I think there’s something to be said for procrastinating…

  • Love this post! Haven’t had enough time to really get out and explore this year like I would have liked to (this weekend’s activity, methinks). Though I did see the John Lewis window and totally missed that second penguin too.

    • I feel like this Christmas snuck up on us too quickly! We did so much more last year, but barely managed to fit this in, plus a round of ice skating this year. Next year I’m going to be more prepared!

  • Wow amazing! I’m going to London this Christmas so i’m going to check these out!

  • I don’t know what’s more amazing. The window displays or the fact that you walked to each of them in the course of three hours! So glad you did it though. It was so nice to see the windows. I miss Christmas time in London.