CARNABY Street, in the heart of London’s West End has always had a certain funky panache.

The thoroughfare was the epicentre of Swinging London in the ‘60s and the haunt of punk-rockers in the ‘70s. And while it may have been on a roller-coaster ride of its own, it is once again home to all that is hip and cool in the country’s capital – boutiques, fun restaurants and lots of creative energy.

This Christmas, Carnaby and its neighbouring quarter, encompassing 14 streets, is celebrating its alternative credentials – and serious rock heritage – with the capital’s finest display of lights. And if you are a fan of one particular band, you won’t want to miss out.

To celebrate the launch of the film Bohemian Rhapsody, and to raise a festive glass to the musical legacy of Mercury, May et al, Queen’s lyrics have been rendered in lights and strung along the street – where they will remain until early January.

Giant colourful, neon lyrics including Queen’s iconic opening ‘Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?’ and a playful ‘Galileo’ and ‘Figaro’ pull punters along the street in a display which is more art installation than mere Christmas lights.

Being a huge Queen fan, I couldn’t resist the chance to see – and sing along as we walked along the luridly-lit pedestrianised street. I mean, the things were switched on by Brian May and Roger Taylor themselves – which is quite the celebrity endorsement.

We were delighted to see the traders had entered the spirit, with Queen-themed displays of their own along with the already-impressive displays at the more than 100 shops – many independent retailers or hip brands.

We reached ‘peak Queen’ at 3 Carnaby Street, which has been transformed into a pop-up shop dedicated to the Don’t Stop Me Now stars. Featuring a showcase of photographs, prints, footage and Freddie’s show-stopping costumes, it also tempts in fans with film merchandise and Queen-inspired products. It has even been visited by Mr Mercury – sadly only in the form of the official Madame Tussauds’ London figure though. But still!

A real find was Newburgh Quarter, a gorgeous little cobbled shopping destination where we took a break for beers before checking out Laurel Wreath by Fred Perry, tailors Mark Powell and, more in my bracket, Levi’s Vintage Clothing. A gawp at The Ragged Priest, Lazy Oaf, Drop Dead Clothing and Oi Polloi reminded me why I needed to save for my next trip.

We ended the day with Peruvian treats at Señor Ceviche ( in the buzzing Kingly Court – with wonderful grilled beef, tangy citrus-cured fish and a few of their signature Pisco Sours. I felt it the next day of course but, like Freddie sang: “ Who wants to live forever?”

@CarnabyLondon /