Rita Ora could be excused a little flutter of excitement when she was called up on to switch on the Christmas lights on the nation’s favourite shopping street.

“London is my home,” she gasped, “so switching on the Oxford Street lights means a lot to me. I used to love coming to Oxford Street to see the Christmas lights when I was younger so this means even more to me.”

Every town and city has its high street, but none come close to Oxford Street. Over the course of a mile, this much-loved thoroughfare plays host to grand department stores, 88 flagship stores, glamorous boutiques and supersized branches of our favourite chains.

And while it is popular all year round, it comes into its own at Christmas.

When Rita, with help from X Factor stars Matt Terry and 5 After Midnight flicked the switch last month, they sparked up more than 750,000 bright white LED bulbs and 1,778 baubles – the most impressive display not just of London’s West End, but the country, and – arguably – the world.

Those lights, fashioned into falling snowdrops have been matched by the real thing over the past week, giving an extra festive feel to the build-up to Christmas.

And shoppers have come flocking, as they always do.

Joining the good natured crowds on a late afternoon, it was impossible not to be charmed.

The store displays are eye-popping; glamorous, sparkly and fun. And the prize for ‘best in class’ goes to that ‘grande dame’ of department stores, Selfridges. Its displays are a source of pride and take months in their design and execution, and this year’s are a prime example of the window dresser’s art, with a succession of scenes depicting an idealised tourist’s-eye vision of London. So we have the capital’s best-dressed brass band, Pearly King and Queen-style Santas embellished with about 120,000 buttons, commuters on golden bicycles, a street market with 5,000 hand-painted Brussels sprouts and an oversized festive-looking ruddy-chested robin – and acres of red velvet.

It’s a work of art worthy of a gallery.

We also loved the displays at Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and John Lewis, which runs with the theme of its adorable Christmas advert with giant snoring, breathing, moving models of Moz the monster , sleeping, hiding and playing in various rooms of the little boy’s house.

It’s a work of genius, made magic by the glittering curtain of fairy lights which cascade down the store’s facade.

Shopping is serious business here, and for good reason. The 1.5 mile-stretch of road between Tottenham Court Road and Marble Arch is home to more international fashion brands than anywhere else in the world and attracts 200 million visits a year. What else would you expect from Europe’s longest high street.

While the street is first and foremost a shopping haven, the street is moving with the times by laying on activities for shoppers, such as a series of masterclasses hosted by retailers along with gift advisers and personal stylists designed to help take the stress out of shopping.

Though, stress didn’t come into it for us, as we tested out this year’s kids toys in Selfridges and John Lewis – Lego Star Wars once again providing the widest eyes – treated ourselves to party clobber and, to my delight, immersed ourselves in CDs, books and vinyl in the biggest of the last two remaining HMV stores – which is surely reason enough to visit.

All huge fun then – with loads of bargains to be had. And with the Oxford Tube and X90 coaches stopping off at Marble Arch on their way to and from Oxford city centre, Headington and Thornhill Park-and-Ride, it really couldn’t get any easier.

The facts:

Get there: Oxford Tube or X90 coach from Oxford city centre or Thornhill Park-and-Ride, or train from Oxford to Paddington or Oxford Parkway to Marylebone.

Shop: Friends and family can indulge in a shopping trip to all their favourite stores with the OXST Gift Card. The card can hold from £10 to £5,000 and is accepted in all OXST stores. It is available to purchase online only, and will be despatched the next day (if ordered before 11am), or can be pre-ordered.

Details: Go to oxfordstreet.co.uk