The Biggest UK Christmas Light Displays & When They Open

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When it comes to festive social plans, our calendars can get a little wild. While October and November pass by at a normal pace, once Dec. 1 hits, work suddenly ramps up and your social calendar triples. So, if you want to get all the important stuff schedule it, it requires a little bit of thinking about careful preparation. With that in mind, here are the dates for the biggest UK Christmas light displays, because nothing quite marks the start of the Christmas season like getting dressed up in something cosy, grabbing some mulled wine, and watching the streets in your city sparkle with twinkly Christmas lights.

Whether you're based in the north, south, east, or west, there's no excuse for missing light displays and Christmas markets this year, because they're literally everywhere. Here in the UK, Christmas lights go up in almost every major city, and often they are turned on by some sort of local celeb. Yes, OK, I know it's terrifying to think that 2019 is nearly be over, but at least you've got mulled wine and twinkly lights to get you through this difficult time.

Below are ten of the biggest UK Christmas light displays you can visit in 2019.

1. Edinburgh

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Edinburgh is a super beautiful city all year round but it really comes into its own at Christmas. Whether you’re from the city or fancy a little trip away in the run up to the festive season then the light illuminations on George Street are a must see. There’s no set date as to when the illuminations will be turned on it 2019. However, Nov. 16 could be a key date for the diary., as the Christmas Markets on East Princes Street start that day.

2. Leeds

Another city that is transformed as the festive season approaches is Leeds. Leeds City Council have been super on top of things this year and if you live in the city or plan on visiting then keep Nov. 7 free. The spectacular lights at Victoria Gardens outside Leeds Art Gallery will be switched on between 6.45 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. and, along with the light display, there will be fun fair rides and street food.

3. London

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When it comes to Christmassy fun in London, you’re spoilt for choice. Between Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and the magical annual lighting show at Kew Gardens, you could spend the entire month on the run up to Christmas at festive events. Oxford Street usually kicks off the illuminations in the capital. There’s no dates yet for the lights turning on this year. However, last year the big event was on Nov. 6.

If you find yourself in London over the festive period then you have to go to the Regent Street Christmas light illuminations. Again, the date for 2019 is yet to be confirmed but last year it was on Nov. 15.

4. Glasgow

While some Christmas light illuminations you can turn up to on the day, others are ticketed, so you’ve got to be prepared. When it comes to popular Christmas light displays, they don’t come much more oversubscribed than in Glasgow. The ballot to get tickets to the Christmas light display in George Square will be open until Oct. 13 and you’ll have to enter to get a chance of attending. The event itself will take place on Nov. 17.

5. Belfast

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If a festive sing-along, sweet treats, and surprise entertainment sounds like your jam then you can’t miss the Belfast Christmas light illuminations. This year they’ll be taking place on Nov. 16 in front of Belfast City Hall between 6.30 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. The event is ticketed so keep your eyes peeled from Nov. 4 at 9 a.m to bag yourself one.

6. Bristol

Bristol’s Cabot Circus shopping centre combines Christmas lights and a lovely market, which sounds like an ideal evening to me. The switch on is on Nov. 8 at the earlier time of 4.45 p.m. It’s also conveniently situated really close to St Nicholas Market, Corn Street, College Green, and Park Street where there will be lights too.

7. Manchester

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When it comes to seeing in the festive season, there are few cities that do it quite as big as Manchester. With the entire cast of Wicked as well as Jonas Blue at 2018’s event, this year promises to be a big one. Instead of being in the usual place of Albert Square, the event is being moved to Deansgate this year. The switch on will be on Nov. 14 near the cathedral and the Christmas markets will be open a week prior to that.

8. Blackpool

Blackpool Christmas illuminations are known UK-wide for one reason. They’re massive. The seaside town is famous for its light displays all year round so the festive season is no joke. This year the switch on will take place on the later date of Nov. 30 and Gogglebox and I’m A Celebrity star Scarlett Moffat will be doing the honours of switching the lights on. Fun will kick off from 3 p.m. so make sure to get there early.

9. Oxfordshire

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If you’re looking for out there and magical on the run up to the festive season then you have to visit Blenheim Palace. With twinkling hedges, illuminated boats, a sparkly, multicoloured water display to Christmas music, and Santa and his elves setting up camp on site, you couldn’t get more festive unless you headed to the North Pole itself. The exhibition is ticketed and is running Nov. 22, 2019, until Jan. 1, 2020.

10. Birmingham

While there’s no fixed date just yet for when the Birmingham City Centre Christmas light switch on will be, it promises to be amazing whenever it happens. The city celebrates both Diwali and Christmas with light displays during the colder months. Last year the Christmas light switch on happened on Nov. 15 around 5.30 p.m, and arrived on the same day the German markets opened.