Northern Lights’ Borealis lights up the skies of London this festive season

A free Northern Lights-inspired spectacular in the heart of London has been announced today by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. It is part of a series of exciting festive events and attractions taking place throughout the winter season to celebrate the most magical time of the year in the capital.

The ‘Borealis’ lights display will recreate one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World in the capital’s skies from the City of London Corporation’s Guildhall Yard this December, with free tickets available online from today. The spectacular installation, by renowned artist Dan Acher, will allow thousands of visitors to experience the magic of the Northern Lights right in the city centre between 11-22 of December and is one of a number of fantastic experiences on offer in London this winter.

The light works will be created along the River Thames, with London’s landmark bridges, buildings and trees illuminated as part of the Southbank Winter Lights outdoor exhibition.

Other eye-catching attractions will include an enchanting animal-themed winter light display at the Tower of London and a free Canary Wharf Winter Lights Spectacular, which will feature 20 new light commissions by some of the most innovative artists across the globe, an ice rink and outdoor food market.

Thousands of illuminated white roses will be placed in Grosvenor Square as part of an Ever After Garden display by fashion designer Anya Hindmarch. Illuminated River, a free public artwork, Thousands of illuminated white roses will be placed in Grosvenor Square as part of an Ever After Garden display by fashion designer Anya Hindmarch. Illuminated River, a free public artwork, brings moving light and colour to nine of London’s bridges and is set to be the longest public art project in the world, and a Circa commission by Hetain Patel will use the Piccadilly Lights to explore themes of immigration and identity.

The Winter Lights programme will also celebrate the return of the West End’s pantomime season, family favourites like Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and seasonal attractions, including winter markets and ice rinks at iconic locations like the Natural History Museum and Somerset House. 

London’s iconic red buses offer a brilliant way to see the capital’s Christmas lights, with routes 12, 94, 98, 139 and 390 all travelling through Oxford Circus and offering great value for money to see all the best festive sights thanks to the Mayor’s Hopper fare.

Winter Lights is the latest season of the Mayor’s Let’s Do London campaign – the biggest domestic tourism campaign London has ever seen – which is championing the capital’s businesses, cultural institutions and attractions.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “London is the best place in the world to celebrate the festive season and my Winter Lights programme is bringing our world-renowned arts, culture and heritage together to ensure our city sparkles and enthrals this year.        

“The Borealis spectacular will bring the magic of the Northern Lights to our city, London’s landmark bridges, buildings and trees will be illuminated along the Southbank and our world-famous Christmas lights, ice rinks and markets will ensure our city is gloriously decked out for Londoners and visitors to enjoy.

“All this and more is taking place in the heart of our great city as part of my ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign. From our world-class shops and attractions, to our incredible restaurants and bars there is so much to see and enjoy this festive season and that’s why I’m urging Londoners and visitors to experience the best our capital has to offer and support our hospitality industry as much as possible.”

Laura Citron, CEO of London & Partners, which runs Visit London, said: “We want to invite people from all over the country to celebrate the festive season in London this year. London’s Christmas offering is unique, and this year, we are going bigger and better than ever as we celebrate the return of winter cheer after a difficult 2020.

“London has the perfect seasonal activity for everyone, from Christmas market fun for the whole family, to raising a glass of mulled wine at elaborately decorated bars and restaurants. The magic and sparkle of the festive season covers practically every street in central London, so it’s impossible not to get into the Christmas spirit when you visit for a day trip or a weekend away.”

 Wendy Hyde,  Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, said: “It’s exciting to be hosting this remarkable take on the Northern Lights here in the heart of the City – sure to become a big talking point for Londoners in the Square Mile and beyond. There is energy flowing back through the centre of our capital, and cultural spectaculars like Borealis are key to creating that feeling. London is coming together, with the arts playing a leading role in our recovery from the pandemic.”

Tom O’Leary, Director of Public Engagement at Historic Royal Palaces, said, “We’re really looking forward to welcoming families to the Tower of London to enjoy the festivities this December, which will be suitably dressed for Christmas with historic royal decorations to get visitors into the spirit! We remain hugely grateful to the Greater London Authority for their support as we continue to welcome our visitors back to the fortress after a challenging few years.” 

Cedar Lewisohn, Southbank Centre Curator for Site Design said: “We are extremely pleased to welcome audiences back to Southbank Centre to view our Winter Light project. We hope the artworks by UK based and international artists will be both thought provoking and illuminating.”

Hetain Patel, Artist said: “After a hard year for artists, it has been an incredible opportunity for me to have my work shining on such a London landmark as part of the CIRCA art program. It is so vital in this moment we are all living to reconsider who gets to occupy iconic spaces like the Piccadilly Lights screen. In creating this film representing my grandmother Baa, I wanted to celebrate her, looking powerful in her domestic activity at home in Bolton as a giant matriarch. I’m doing this not just to celebrate her but to actively expand what we consider as Britishness today.”

Anya Hindmarch Fashion Designer, said: “The Ever After Garden is filling Grosvenor Square for the month of December with 25,000 illuminated roses in support of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Visitors can visit for free and can dedicate a rose to someone they have lost. It offers a reflective moment in amongst all of London’s Christmas cheer, which seems more apt than ever this year. We are so grateful to the Mayor of London and Let’s do London for the support to make this happen.”