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Travel

Piccadilly lights are switched off

London's Piccadilly Circus is known for its colorful illuminated advertising boards. Now, for the first time since World War II, the lights are to remain turned off for a length of time - until the autumn of 2017.

Millions of people pass through Piccadilly Circus every week. Its huge billboards are among the best-known outdoor advertising hoardings in the world. Ads placed here are guaranteed to be highly visible. 

Instead of the several large illuminated advertising screens currently on the facade, a single huge ultra-high definition curved LED display will be installed. Land Securities, which owns the advertising spaces, says the work is expected to take from January until autumn 2017.

In addition to advertisements, the new screen will be able to display weather and traffic reports as well as real-time feeds from social media channels such as Twitter and Instagram. 

Tim Bleakeley, CEO of Ocean Outdoor, the company in charge of the upgrade, has said, "Piccadilly Lights is one of the world's most sought-after advertising sites. We understand the need to protect (its) heritage while keeping ahead of trends."

Perrier was the first brand to appear in lights on Piccadilly Circus in 1908, while Coca-Cola has been a fixture on the corner of Regent Street and Piccadilly since 1954.

In the past, the billboards were turned off during World War II, for the funerals of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana, and to mark Earth Hour.

is/cho/ms (dpa, afp)