urban75 blog

Oxford Street Christmas lights are turned on – in ruddy November, FFS

Here’s a view of the Christmas decorations already up at Oxford Circus. A few days into November!

In my mind, the start of December is the earliest anyone should be considering getting all Christmassy, but the demands of commerce means that the festive season seems to start earlier and earlier every year.

Don’t get me wrong though – I love Christmas – but not when it turns into a two month long product-shifting spectacular, starting from the first day of November.

And I’m not just imagining that they’re being turned earlier on either: in previous years it was the 13th Nov in 2008, 7th Nov in 2007, 15th Nov in 2005, 16th Nov in 2004, 19th Nov in 1999.


[Debenhams, Dec 2009]

Back in the 50s

The Oxford Street Christmas lights are a relatively new phenomenon, first starting in 1959, five years after nearby Regent Street had started the tradition.

The Oxford Street display didn’t start off too well though, with a falling 15 foot candle killing a pedestrian below.

[House of Fraser, Dec 2009]

Lights out after the Summer of Love

As the recession hit, the lights went out in 1967 and didn’t return until 1978 when a rather unfestive laser beam was projected along the length of the street. It looked kind of cool, but the idea was abandoned on safety grounds.

Since then , the event has steadily commercialised, with various celebs and Z-listers being dragged in to turn on the lights.

This year it was the turn of  instantly-forgettable pop fluff The Saturdays, while previous years have seen Kim Carrey (2009), S Club (2001), Charlotte Church (2000), Spice Girls (1996), Cliff Richard (1990), Bob Geldof (1985) and Pat Phoenix back in 1983 do the honours.