SPOTLIGHT: 1 November, 2007
All Lit Up in London
with Burlington Bertie .
ondon's festive season kicks off with a traditional bang on the weekend of 2-4 November when the skies are lit up by the annual spectacular firework displays celebrating Guy Fawkes Night. Traditionally taking place on 5 November since the plot by Guy Fawkes to blow up King James I and Parliament was foiled on that day 402 years ago, it is now held on the nearest weekend to that date. Wandsworth Council put on a superb display each year in riverside Battersea Park. This year's display takes place on Saturday 3 November at 8pm, (entrance fee for the event £3).
The best of London's Saturday Guy Fawkes displays can be seen at Alexandra Palace in North London, The display which begins at 7.30pm on 3 November is free, but a donation is encouraged.
Clapham steals a march on the rest of London with their spectacular free Guy Fawkes Night bonfire and fireworks display taking place on Clapham Common on 2 November, (7.30pm). Clapham is well endowed with pubs and restaurants surrounding the Common so you can join the throng and make it a festive night out after the display.
There are more fireworks again a week later Thames-side on Saturday, 10 November, to mark the installation of London's new Lord Mayor earlier in the day. Traditionally one of the city's most spectacular annual pyrotechnic displays, this is best seen from a vantage point on Victoria Embankment, or you can watch it in style with a drink in your hand from a riverboat. This is the culmination of a day of celebration marked by the annual Lord Mayor's Parade through the streets of the City of London in the morning.
London's West End glitters like a sparkling necklace of light from the beginning of November. The first of the West End's now famous festive street lighting displays are turned on in Oxford Street on 7 November. This switch-on is followed by Marylebone High Street and Covent Garden, (15 November); Regent Street, (20 November); and finally Mayfair's Bond Street on 22 November. All the department stores now have their Christmas window displays in place. Harrods in Knightsbridge, Liberty's in Regent Street and Selfridges in Oxford Street are traditionally spectacularly lit up for the season.
Covent Garden's switch-on promises to be a spectacular event again this year, with a colourful festive programme of live dance and music as well as excerpts from the hit West End musicals Lion King and Chicago performed by members of the cast. Covent Garden's cobble stoned piazza is transformed for the season into a winter wonderland that looks like a Kinkade Christmas card. Make a point of seeing the 12 Days of Christmas Luxury Food Market which takes place daily until 24 December. Enjoy a beaker of hot mulled wine and roasted chestnuts while you browse the market and give a small donation to one of the many superb street entertainers and buskers who add such colour to Covent Garden.
Buckingham Palace, which has just hosted a State Visit and Banquet for the King of Saudi Arabia and his vast entourage, is now floodlit each night throughout the winter. The architectural splendour of Aston Webb's main public facade of 1913, with its three Neo-Classical columned porticos and the centrepiece Royal Balcony are dramatically highlighted.
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