Stuff that matters

Oxford Street’s iconic Christmas lights will be lit up for a third of their usual length of time this festive period due to soaring energy bills.

The lights in the central London shopping hotspot, which flickered to life on Wednesday, typically draw crowds of people in the lead up to Christmas.

The 2022 iteration of the display features 5,000 stunningly illuminated stars.

However, the lights will this year only be on from 3pm to 11pm, rather than being left on for the usual 24/7 period.

This was expected to reduce energy usage of the display over November and December by up to two thirds.

New West End Company who operate the lights, said: “We’re entering a challenging festive period with a cost of living and energy crisis.

“Our 300,000 LED lights will be on for shorter hours – from 3pm-11pm – reducing energy consumption by 2/3rds, while still offering a festive experience.”

The company told Metro it was “important” in the current climate to reduce energy consumption and help to promote a more sustainable Christmas.

This was in line with the organisation’s ambitions to make Oxford Street a leading sustainable district, it said.

In addition, this year’s stars are designed with sustainability in mind.

Made up of 300,000 LED lightbulbs, the recycled polymer-based lights are more than 75 percent more efficient than traditional bulbs as well as completely recyclable.

The major street’s lights will also be accompanied by a new campaign called “It’s The Love You Give”.

Aiming to honour the stars who deserve recognition this year, the campaign asks people to nominate those they believe should be “Star of The Week”.

Six individuals or groups will be given a special “Star Treatment” experience ahead of Christmas 2022, with Oxford Street set to offer three “Magic Days” where brands will offer exclusive deals and free gifts.

It’s also partnered with family support charity Home-Start UK and plans to donate 100 hampers to those who need it the most.

News of the shortened hours of the Christmas lights display comes after several councils have announced they cannot spare the extra cash for light displays.

Guildford Borough Council in Surrey was one of the first to axe its annual switch-on ceremony last month, while several others have since followed suit and one has cancelled its lights altogether.

Despite being one of the most affluent areas in England, Guildford said it could not “afford or justify” the thousands earmarked for the big sparkling event, which would see 7,000 people packed into its town centre.

Leader Joss Bigmore said the authority faced “significant financial challenges” this year and as a result would not be hosting its annual event.

“We cannot deliver a Christmas lights switch on event safely for the anticipated size of the crowd,” Cllr Bigmore said.

Other councils to have cancelled their switch-on events include Ely in Cambridgeshire, which said it could no longer afford the £9k for the ceremony.

The Devon coast town of Budleigh Salterton meanwhile looks unlikely to have any lights at all this Christmas after the council revealed lighting up the streets would be too costly.

While its display is normally funded by the local Chamber of Commerce, its chair Helen Warren wrote to the council saying this was no longer affordable, with councillors voting against a move to try and save the show.

“We no longer feel able to take on the sole responsibility and costs of supporting the Christmas Lights which have escalated year on year,” Helen wrote.