Winter Lights Festival in London’s Canary Wharf

When people think about shopping in London, no doubt Regents Street, Oxford Street, Westfield, etc., come to mind and why not. They’re bursting with many of the big names we’re used to seeing on our high streets as well as shops where many of us can only dream that we will one day afford something out of there! But it was just a few months ago that I discovered the malls of Canary Wharf. Whilst we see skyscrapers reaching up to the clouds with names like KPMG, JP Morgan and HSBC, and perhaps think of it just where people go to work, there’s another world underground……shopping malls! There are 3 malls that, on Sundays, are open from noon-6pm which is perfect to combine with a lie-in.

After being almost glued to my laptop yesterday morning writing reports and starting to get really blurry eyed, I decided that I needed to do something a bit special to mark the beginning of my two weeks off work. After all, it was so sunny albeit very cold and I knew that I wanted to venture out. And boy did yesterday do me good! Arriving about 3pm, it meant that I enjoyed Canary Wharf during daylight, some art installations that are there all uear round, the reflections in the shiny buildings and spring flowers starting to pop up…….but, right now, there’s the Winter Lights Festival which completely transforms the area.

This is the fifth year of the festival which finishes this Saturday (26 January). Not only is it free to walk around but you also get 3 hours free parking if you spend £10 in any of its shops or restaurants… it’s a very cheap day/night out. So, what is the festival? It’s basically 21 art installations dotted around Canary Wharf some of which are interactive. One of my favourites was the two red hearts that kept appearing and then disappearing again in a residential block as it reminds me of Sleepless in Seattle where it’s ‘a sign’ that Annie (Meg Ryan) and Sam (Tom Hanks) are meant to meet at the top of the Empire State Building. For info, this was the film that hubby and I saw on our first date so you can probably get why I liked this exhibit 🙂

Another of my favourites was a waterfall of words. Yes, words! Every few seconds, words would fall which were taken from current headlines on the The Times website. Here’s a photo from the official website as my video probably won’t do it any justice. No idea how they did that but I was super impressed.

As well as the permanent 12 clock art installation and the Crossrail Roof Garden which glows during the 2 wee festival, there’s a luminous sofa, angel wings that people can stand in front of, colourful prisms that can be spun around, illuminated trees at Westferry Circus, a tunnel that lights up as you walk through it, safari animals ‘walking along’, fountains that dance along to music, etc. Even the entrance to Canary Wharf underground station is pretty cool with its glass roof. There’s also street food and an all-round amazing vibe with many visitors. Definitely choosing a day with clear skies meant for the best photos.

Information about the Winter Lights Festival and each of the 21 installations can be found here on its official website so if you’re anywhere near London up until Saturday night, do pop along after dark. And if you’re on Facebook, I’d encourage you to follow the Secret London page as this is where I heard about the festival along with many other events during the year.

Hope you all have a good week xx

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