I’ll be honest, Christmas lights aren’t my thing.
I think they are pretty but I’ve never understood the excitement about seeing them. I’ve worked in Oxford Circus around this time of year in the past and would always glance at the lights above and move on.
It just wasn’t for me.
Imagine my shock then when I was tasked with having to travel to Croydon, South London to go and do a story on Christmas lights.
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One, I live in Hackney.
Travelling to Croydon isn’t a short journey so this was shaping up to be me, freezing in the cold to watch some lights.
There are Christmas lights a lot closer, why did I need to go to Croydon?
As you would imagine, I was bracing myself for a less than stellar time.
Little did I know what was about to grace my eyes as I walked from East Croydon station to Pinewood Close, in Shirley.
This street has been dubbed ‘the most festive’ street in London and it is easy to see why on arrival.
As I walked up to the street, I could see the hints of glowing lights I came for.
Residents have been decorating their houses up since the 1960s, so they are well versed in the art.
One resident decorated his house then as years went on, the rest of the street got involved and has led to this annual tradition.
Houses have donation pots outside and ask for donations to charities of their choosing.
When I arrived, it was around 5pm and had made it for the start of the first show at No 1 Pinewood Close.
I had no idea what to expect and genuinely, don’t think I could have predicted it.
It can only be described as mesmerising and something you should definitely see at least once in your lifetime.
A 15+ foot glow up Christmas tree, snowflakes projected onto the house, music playing. I was in awe.
‘Let it Go’, the hit song from Frozen also got a cameo. The kids seemed to love that.
And of course, Mariah was blasted out with her usual power.
The “show” is as magical as you could imagine and I was filming in disbelief. How did they possibly figure out that they could do that? How much is this costing them?
As I looked around pondering those questions, I could see families gathered along the streets all amazed as I was.
There was a collective ‘oooh’ and ‘woow’ as the lights would pulsate with different colours and a smiling Christmas tree would appear on the house.
It was spectacular.
The light show at No 1 lasted about 15 minutes and even Santa appears in an upstairs window. The creativity was on another level.
Or so I thought.
As I continued to make my way along the houses, it was easy to see why it’s been dubbed London’s ‘most festive’ street.
The displays only continued to get more incredible.
The majority of every front garden had some sort of glowing reindeers, an inflatable Santa or some replica of Santa’s workshop.
Again, I wondered how much the electricity bill could possibly be as the level of detail was amazing.
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One house had Santa on skis, makeshift penguins and polar bears. It was clear to me that people took a lot of pride in their displays.
As I kept taking in the colours and sounds, I spoke to some families who had also come down.
One person spoke about how she comes every year and ‘every time it seems they try to outdo themselves’.
Even on my first visit I could see that was the case.
I think the best part of going was seeing the families.
I saw parents taking pictures of their kids with the lights in the background or kids trying to run up and touch Santa (that’s a no go area).
You could feel the pure joy in the air and it was all down to Christmas lights.
Now I know why there’s a big fanfare around the Regent Street lights.
My words and pictures can only do this street so much justice. This is a street that needs to be seen with your own eyes.
The light show at No 1 happens at 5pm and 7pm most days, with regular updates on their Facebook page.
Getting to Pinewood Close, the closest station is East Croydon and the nearest bus that goes there is the 194.
Every household has something a bit different for everyone.
For all my apprehensions about going to Croydon for Christmas lights, it turned out to be a very worthwhile trip and one I think I’ll do again.
Where in London do you think has the best Christmas lights? Let me know at [email protected]