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Posted: 01.11.23

The transformative influence of the festive season on urban landscapes

For years London's urban landscape has been transformed with the annual tradition of illuminating its iconic streets during the festive period. Regent Street and St James’s, managed by The Crown Estate, have recently seen the switch-on of their iconic ‘Spirits of Christmas’ display, marking the start of the season and running until 2 January.

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Beyond traditional light displays, London has undergone a remarkable evolution in its approach to the festive season, whose profound impact on urban landscapes stands as a crucial force in development and planning. Post-pandemic cities have undergone a resurgence, dispelling notions of urban decline. In London, this resurgence is evident through increased tube ridership.

Renowned for its vibrant culture, London has transitioned from simply creating functional spaces to crafting immersive environments, especially during the festive season. Various boroughs compete to offer unique experiences that connect individuals with their surroundings, fostering a sense of community.

However, amid this transformation, the changing urban demographic – notably, the decline in families residing in inner zones – emphasises the need to strike a balance between creating engaging spaces and preserving crucial commercial areas vital for a city's functionality.

In this context, the significance of festive events in transforming cities becomes apparent. These initiatives act as pivotal moments when cities revitalise their spaces, uniting people and showcasing the potential of placemaking. Beyond commemorating the season, these events offer memorable experiences, infuse life into the streets, and serve as platforms for social interaction, economic vitality, and a renewed urban identity.

No longer do visitors travel to London solely for shopping or sightseeing; they seek extraordinary experiences that turn routine visits into remarkable moments. Events like Winter on the Peninsula at Greenwich Peninsula and activations in prominent areas like King’s Cross offer artisanal goods, street food, and cultural experiences. These not only attract crowds but also ensure repeat visits, playing an active role in rekindling the community not limited to tourists, but also encouraging locals to return to neighbourhoods.

Winter on the Peninsula, starting on 17 November, features Lucy Hardcastle’s Bubbles of Serenity installation, which provides a serene festive break, inviting both visitors and residents to journey across the Peninsula and into London’s Design District.

Beyond being a standalone event, Winter on the Peninsula offers a broader cultural experience, from culinary experiences at Canteen Food Hall & Bar to crafts at Greenwich Peninsula Market. From a local economy growth perspective, events such as Winter on the Peninsula and The Crafty Fox Market in King’s Cross significantly impact London. With over 100 handpicked traders, these events boost foot traffic, leading to increased sales, benefitting local businesses, restaurants and transportation services.

Club Curling in King’s Cross brings a nostalgic '90s vibe, offering an affordable and inclusive experience for everyone, while initiatives like the Thursday Lates ensure a tranquil environment with extended shopping hours. Beyond their immediate impact, activations like the 50-foot Christmas tree in Coal Drops Yard and Liliane Lijn’s Temenos installation in Lewis Cubitt Square, craft enduring legacies that define London's identity, marking it as a place where celebration and community thrive, leaving a lasting influence year-round.

The future of festive events in London is promising. As the city continues to evolve, these experiences will adapt to new trends and technologies. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and interactive displays are likely to become more prevalent, enhancing the visitor experience.

By Fiorella Lanni
Account Manager at LCA