John Lewis Christmas adverts over the years: A look back as the 2021 ad lands on our screens

John Lewis Christmas adverts 2021

The arrival of the John Lewis Christmas advert marks the true start of the festive season for so many people, letting the nation know it's time to start shopping for top Christmas toys, best Christmas food and chocolate advent calendars.

This year's John Lewis Christmas advert has finally landed, bringing with it the emotional moments, unbreakable friendships and a John Lewis Christmas jumper that everyone wants to get their hands on. Last year's John Lewis Christmas advert was among the many 2020 Christmas adverts that gave viewers hope and joy during the UK’s lockdown. Now as we look forward to spending time with our loved ones again this festive season, the 2021 advert brings to life the idea of experiencing Christmas for the very first time. But regardless of how wonderful each year’s new offerings are, there will be many people who can’t help comparing each one to their favourite John Lewis Christmas adverts.

Here we look back on all the spectacular and heart-warming scenes of the John Lewis Christmas adverts over the years.

John Lewis Christmas advert 2021

This year’s heart-warming Christmas advert entitled Unexpected Guest has all the festive magic we’ve come to expect from John Lewis. Following 14-year-old boy Nathan as he befriends space traveller Skye, the two form an unlikely friendship as he introduces her to the magic of Christmas for the very first time. From mince pies to tree decorating and giving thoughtful gifts, Skye enjoys the festive season to the fullest before she sadly has to return to her home planet. Parting with a heartfelt present, she and Nathan will never forget each other and the wonderful vocals of up-and-coming singer-songwriter Lola Young provide the perfect accompaniment with a cover of Together in Electric Dreams. 

John Lewis Christmas advert 2020

The John Lewis Christmas advert 2020, Give a Little Love, was a departure from the live action adverts fans have enjoyed over the years as it focused on animation for this charming story. Throughout the advert, we see love, symbolises by a heart, being passed from person to person, transforming their lives and spreading kindness and joy throughout. The advert reflects how the small things really do make a difference and the song was written and recorded by Celeste, titled A Little Love.

John Lewis Christmas advert 2019

Who could forget Edgar the Dragon from the John Lewis Christmas advert 2019? So excited is the young dragon that he can’t quite control his fire, leading to a series of mishaps and him being outcast from the community. Only his best friend Ava sticks by him and after giving him the perfect Christmas present to help him control his flames, he’s invited to join in the celebrations. Bastille covered REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight This Feeling alongside the London Symphony Orchestra for the memorable advert. 

John Lewis Christmas advert 2018

Elton John fans will no doubt have loved 2018’s John Lewis Christmas advert which began with Elton playing the opening notes of "Your Song". From there the iconic singer then goes on to reminisce about his life and career in reverse and the advert eventually leads all the way back to Christmas Day in the 1950s when he received a life-changing piano as a gift. 

John Lewis Christmas advert 2017

Entitled Moz the Monster, the John Lewis Christmas advert 2017 featured a cover of Golden Slumbers by The Beatles, sung by Elbow and has the classic story of an unlikely friendship that we can’t help but adore. Following a little boy who’s afraid of the dark, he eventually discovers Moz the monster who lives under his bed and the two form an unbreakable bond. After receiving a gift of nightlight that no one else recognises at Christmas, he realises that when it’s on he can’t see Moz and fears he’ll never see his friend again. Thankfully for everyone watching at home and the boy himself, as soon as he turns it on, Moz is there waiting!

John Lewis Christmas advert 2016

If you’re a dog lover then Buster the Boxer might have been one of your favourite John Lewis adverts. Electronica band Vaults covered Randy Crawford’s One Day I’ll Fly Away for the song and follows little girl Eve. After her dad builds a trampoline in the garden for Christmas, the local wildlife get plenty of enjoyment out of it. Watching from the living room, Buster gets the right idea and on Christmas Day, it’s the excited dog who beats Eve to use her new present. 

John Lewis Christmas advert 2015

For their 2015 advert, The Man on the Moon, John Lewis teamed up with charity Age UK and it featured the powerful strapline, Show someone they’re loved this Christmas. Oasis’ Half the World Away was covered by Norwegian singer Aurora and the advert sees a young girl attempting to make contact with the faraway man on the Moon. Saddened when she fails to capture his attention, the girl comes up with a brilliant plan and sends him a telescope via a balloon. As the man finally gets to see Christmas on Earth, there’s many who will have shed a tear or two. 

John Lewis Christmas advert 2014

Another animal-focused John Lewis Christmas advert came back in 2014, though Monty the Penguin might be considered to be in a league of his own by many! The plucky penguin had bags of character, though despite his friendship with little boy Sam, he couldn’t help pining after a companion. Seeing Monty’s distress, Sam leaps into action and provides him with a female friend to keep him company. Even the reveal at the end that both penguins are toys that belong to Sam doesn’t do anything to lessen the emotion of this sweet advert. The song accompanying their exploits is a Tom Odell cover of John Lennon’s Real Love.

John Lewis Christmas advert 2013

Set to a Lily Allen cover of Keane's Somewhere Only We Know, the 2013 John Lewis Christmas advert had all the charm and beautiful animation of a classic Disney-style film. Entitled The Bear and The Hare, it showed a bear hibernating before Christmas before being persuaded by an excitable hare to wake up early to enjoy the true magic of Christmas. 

John Lewis Christmas advert 2012

Following a snowman’s quest to track down the perfect gift for his beloved Mrs Snowman, 2012’s The Journey was full of all the romantic moments, selfless acts and kindness that we love about these festive adverts. Gabrielle Aplin’s haunting cover of The Power of Love was the ideal accompaniment and quickly rose to become a UK Singles Chart number one. 

John Lewis Christmas advert 2011

Featuring The Smiths song Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want sung by Slow Moving Millie, the 2011 John Lewis Christmas advert was entitled the long wait and encapsulated that feeling of impatience as you excitedly wait for Christmas to arrive. The advert featured a little boy counting down the days to Christmas and in a tear-jerking twist, when he wakes up on Christmas morning, it’s not his own presents he’s been waiting for, but the chance to give his parents theirs. So sweet!

John Lewis Christmas advert 2010

Elton John featured once again in the John Lewis Christmas advert 2010 though this time it was Ellie Goulding who brought his classic, Your Song, to life. The soundtrack played over a collection of images of people eagerly preparing gifts for their nearest and dearest at Christmas. At the end of the heart-warming advert, a little boy takes a stocking of presents out to his pet dog, making sure he’s included in the festivities. 

John Lewis Christmas advert 2009

The 2009 advert featured a Taken by Trees cover of Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child o' Mine and tells the story of young children opening up seemingly unusual gifts, ranging from a coffee machine to a laptop, whilst the audience wonders if there’s been a shocking mix-up. However, things all fall into place at the end as the tagline “Remember how Christmas used to feel” is summed up as a girl unwraps a camera and becomes an adult woman, as delighted with her gift as she once was in childhood.

John Lewis Christmas advert 2008

The John Lewis Christmas advert 2008 included a cover of The Beatles’ song From Me To You recorded by unnamed John Lewis employees. The track was later made available to download and customers were encouraged to donate to Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation too. The advert itself featured a montage of clips of people receiving thoughtful gifts with the all-important tagline: If you know the person, you'll find the present. 

Will you be giving your favourite John Lewis Christmas adverts another watch this year?

Emma Shacklock
Senior Lifestyle Writer

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home,, and My Imperfect Life.