Christmas shopping bonanza

The capital's West End is pulling in the crowds this Christmas with an illuminated shopping bonanza. Londoners and tourists alike can find 600 shops, 96 flagship stores and more than 200 bars and restaurants
Christmas lights at Selfridges
Christmas lights at Selfridges
Oxford Street was the first to get glittery, with a theme of Disney's Christmas movie, Enchanted (www.oxfordstreet.co.uk). While Regent Street has futuristic lights that react to movement (www.regentstreetonline.com).

Lights are also on in South Molton Street and Carnaby Street, where stunning multi-coloured giant paper chains covered in glittering holograms reflect the light around them and do not need any extra electricity.

Shopping events


On 29 November get 20 per cent off at the Carnaby Street Shopping Event (from 6pm-10pm). Print out your ticket at www.carnaby.co.uk.

Christmas lights on Oxford Street
On 22 November, Bond Street will celebrate Bond Noel from 5pm to 8pm, with snow and rickshaw sleighs to whisk shoppers between classy stores (www.bondstreet.co.uk).

Equally posh is Jermyn Street, which will hold a shopping event on 6 December (www.jermynstreet.net).

And on Saturday 1 December, Very Important Pedestrians will have right of way on VIP Shop West End Day. Oxford Street, Regent Street and (this year) Bond Street, too, will be traffic-free. Expect VIP shopping treats and offers, theatrical high jinks, and live music - not to mention the odd celeb - along three miles of shopping nirvana (www.visitlondon.com/vip).

Store specialities


Food hall at John Lewis
Food hall at John Lewis
On Oxford Street, John Lewis has had a £64 million makeover, including a new food hall, where Waitrose has turned 17,000sq ft into a gastro paradise, with more than 100 varieties of cheese and 80 types of champagne (www.johnlewis.com). If this throws you somewhat, food and wine specialists will offer a "food consultancy."

Just down the road is Selfridges Food Hall, again with staggering selections such as 100 types of honey from 40 different blossoms and a charcuterie department with 45 types of salami alone (www.selfridges.com).

House of Fraser has also just been renovated (www.houseoffraser.co.uk). And M&S has two huge Oxford Street stores.

On Regent Street, browse hip home design at Habitat (www.habitat.net) or at Zara Home next door (www.zarahome.com), and find exclusive items at Liberty (www.liberty.co.uk), fine china at Wedgwood (www.wedgwood.com) and ethereal design ideas at recently renovated Laura Ashley (www.lauraashley.com). And moving in shortly is Iittala, for exclusive Finnish glass and ceramics (www.iittalagroup.com).

Santa Claus at John Lewis

Handy services


Many West End stores have personal shoppers, including Selfridges, Liberty, Debenhams (www.debenhams.com), Fenwick (www.fenwick.co.uk) and John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com).

Ask about giftwrapping - even Topshop does it.

Visit Hamleys in Regent Street for its Christmas lights and an exclusive toy-finder service; it will open from 7.30am on Thursdays and Fridays throughout November (with a free Continental breakfast thrown in). See www.hamleys.com.

There is no need to shop till you drop: good for bars and restaurants are Heddon Street, St Christopher's Place, South Molton Street and Lancashire Court. Or check out in-store eateries at Fenwick (Drones), Habitat (Nouveaute), Nicole Farhi (Nicole's), Liberty (Tea Room and Bar), Topshop (Topshop Kitchen) and the new Wonderbar at Selfridges.


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