Christmas is a magical time of the year. Parents take their young ones to fun holiday events such as visiting Santa at the local mall and driving around neighborhoods to see beautifully-lit houses. Outdoor light displays have become even more intricate and impressive over the past few decades in both the U.S. and abroad.
Each country has its own spin on light shows. In fact, some of the most extravagant light displays in the world may cost an admission fee, while others are free for all to enjoy amid public spaces.
For example, one of the most stunning light displays in France is on Champs-Elysées, where thousands of colorful lights illuminate the famous street. A similar experience, yet totally different in aesthetic, is found along Oxford Street, the shopping capital of London, England.
Other countries, such as Austria and Germany, offer a different kind of Christmas light experience altogether. In these countries and others, the main event is the Christmas market, which often features a towering Christmas tree, various stalls of vendors, and other attractions like carnival rides and carousels. The whole area is often adorned by twinkly lights, lending the whole market, which is usually outdoors, a brilliant glow.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed several travel publications and government sites to identify 25 stunning Christmas lights around the world. We attempted to include as many nations that celebrate the holiday as possible. Three nations — Japan, United Kingdom, and United States — appear twice on this list because all three have at least two extravagant light displays.
> Where you can see the display: Viennese Dream Christmas Market
> Location: Vienna
The Viennese Dream Christmas Market is not one to miss while visiting Austria over the holidays. This year, the event is held on the Rathausplatz in front of City Hall from Nov. 17 – Dec. 26. The market glows from a radiant carousel, dazzling lights that are strung from vendor to vendor, and bright colorful lights that give the surrounding trees a pink and purple hue. A luminous sign that says “Frohe Weihnachten,” which means Merry Christmas in German, greets visitors at the market’s entrance.
> Where you can see the display: Plaisirs d’Hiver
> Location: Brussels
Brussels’ annual Plaisirs d’Hiver, or Winter Wonders, festival began on Nov. 30 and will continue until Jan. 6. According to the festival’s site, Plaisirs d’Hiver attracts 2.5 million visitors and tourists every year. Under bright lights and a towering Christmas tree, food vendors offer their goods. The market also offers a skating rink and several exhibitions. A high-tech dome that offers an immersive experience for visitors as they enjoy performances, concerts, films, and other entertainment was added for this year’s 18th edition of the festival.
> Where you can see the display: Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon
> Location: Rio de Janeiro
For over 20 years, Brazil has been known for its floating Christmas tree. In 2012, a 280 feet tall structure weighing over 500 tons was unveiled in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This year, the tree stands at 230 feet tall and floats in the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. More than 2 million lights, which change color periodically, adorn the tree. The floating tree had previously been absent for two years. In 2015, the tree was severely damaged by strong winds from a storm. It just re-launched on Saturday, Dec. 1 and it will be lit every evening until Jan 6.
> Where you can see the display: Nathan Phillips Square
> Location: Toronto
Toronto hosts a free, annual holiday fair at Nathan Phillips Square. What makes this event so bright — literally — is the lights that cover the three arches that hover over the square’s outdoor ice rink, as well as the lit Christmas tree. The fair includes a slew of vendors, a handful of performances, a carousel, and even a visit from Santa Claus. The event opened on Dec. 1 and will continue until Dec. 23.
> Where you can see the display: Medellín Lights Festival
> Location: Medellín
The Medellín Christmas lights display, also known as Alumbrados Navideños or El Alumbrado, is one of the city’s most famed events. This year, the lights display will comprise 35,000 hand-woven figures, 26 million LED lights, and 11 tons of metalized paper. About 90,000 people are projected to visit the display, which opened on Nov. 30 and will close on Jan. 7.
> Where you can see the display: Tivoli Gardens
> Location: Copenhagen
Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, has reportedly been the holiday hub since it was established in the mid-19th century. Today, the site known for its extravagant light display, with thousands of Christmas lights adorning the area. A Christmas market is also a part of the experience, offering 50 different stalls with vendors selling anything from art and decorations to snacks and warm drinks.
> Where you can see the display: Avenue Champs-Elysées
> Location: Paris
Unlike most of the light displays on this list, the most extravagant light show in Paris is not an event but rather a street lined with trees decked out in thousands of colorful lights. Champs-Elysées is arguably the world’s most well-known avenues, and during the holidays it becomes even more transcendent in beauty. In fact, it may just be the only time of the year where sitting in traffic is not completely unpleasant.
> Where you can see the display: Christkindlmarkt in Römerberg
> Location: Frankfurt
The Christkindlmarkt, or Christmas market, in Frankfurt is one of the largest of its kind in Germany. A tall, well-lit Christmas tree brightens the market, as do the vendor stalls and carousel. The market spans the historical market square of Römerberg. Among some of the vendor offerings are warm sweets and treats, such as Bethmännchen Christmas cookies and hot apple wine.
9. Hong Kong
> Where you can see the display: WinterFest
> Location: Central
Hong Kong’s annual WinterFest is an event that won’t disappoint. The festival is full of different events, ranging from ballet and philharmonic performances to an extravagant light show known as Pulse 3D. The show includes luminescent art made by artists from numerous countries. Of course, the Statue Square Christmas tree is a must-see attraction. It will light up the entire district until New Year’s day.
> Where you can see the display: Luci d’Artista
> Location: Salerno
Each year, the city of Salerno hosts a dazzling light show event called Luci d’Artista. The event stretches across a long period of time, this year beginning Nov. 9 and ending Jan. 20. The light show has a different theme every year, and for 2018, the theme is marine life.
> Where you can see the display: Kobe Luminarie
> Location: Kobe
Kobe, Japan, hosts a spectacular light show around Christmas time every year to pay tribute to the 6,400 lives lost in the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995, which struck the Kobe metropolitan area. More than 3 million people visit the radiant light displays every year.
> Where you can see the display: Winter Illuminations at Shibuya Ao no Dokutsu
> Location: Tokyo
Another extravagant light show in Japan is Tokyo’s Winter Illuminations. There are 15 places in Japan’s capital that have the winter illuminations on display. The one in Ao no Dokutsu in Shibuya, also known as the blue cave, stretches across the 820 feet-long pedestrian street. More than 2.6 million visited the light display last year.
> Where you can see the display: Christmas in Vilnius, Cathedral Square
> Location: Vilnius
This event is dubbed Vilnius’s largest and most spectacular festival. The vast Christmas tree is the main attraction, having been named one of the most beautiful trees in all of Europe and the world by several online publications.
> Where you can see the display: Luztopía at Fundidora Park
> Location: Monterrey
Monterrey hosts the annual Luztopía light display, which includes 250 illuminated figures and over 15,000 lights. The centerpiece of the event this year is the near 60-foot Christmas tree. The event, which takes place in Fundidora Park, will also include other treasures like a 50-foot-tall castle and a wintry village where Santa Claus will be awaiting to hear children’s Christmas wishes.
15. New Zealand
> Where you can see the display: Christchurch Christmas Lightshow
> Location: Christchurch
During the month of December, those living in or visiting Christchurch may want to check out the Christmas light display in town, which the city council dubs “The most spectacular light show in New Zealand.” The light display consists of more than 400,000 lights that are synchronized to rock music.
> Where you can see the display: Festival of Lights in Ayala Triangle Gardens
> Location: Manila
This will be Manila’s 10th year hosting The Festival of Lights in Ayala Triangle Gardens. This year, the light show teamed up with Disney Philippines to create a Disney-themed light show called, “Reimagine the Magic: A Festival of Lights.”
> Where you can see the display: Royal Castle Square
> Location: Warsaw
Poland’s capital and largest city, Warsaw, is home to a beautiful Christmas tree. The lights on the tree form figures of lollipops, wrapped candies, candy canes, and even garland. Below the tree are illuminant figures of presents, all making for a quaint yet extraordinary light display.
> Where you can see the display: Christmas Festival on Manezh Square
> Location: Moscow
Moscow is the place to be in Russia during the holidays. The Christmas festival begins on Manezh Square, home to one of the main attractions — the big glowing ball. The ball consists of about six miles worth of LED lights and is roughly 56 feet tall. Of course, no Christmas light display would be complete without a Christmas tree. Manezh Square is also home to a 56 foot-tall LED light-covered tree.
> Where you can see the display: The center of Seville
> Location: Seville
While you cannot go wrong visiting any of Spain’s major cities during the Christmas season, Seville has a special holiday flair. The historic city is chock-full of outdoor Christmas markets and neighborhoods with beautiful lights and illuminescent figures of stars suspended above the streets. Perhaps the most impressive and magical light display is the Christmas tree, located in the center of the city.
> Where you can see the display: Christmas Market at Liseberg Amusement Park
> Location: Gothenburg
Gothenburg’s own Liseberg Amusement Park is home to an annual Christmas market decked out in nearly 5 million lights. The idea of the festival is to bring light during a very dark time of the year. In northern Sweden, there are weeks during the winter season where the sun doesn’t even rise. The Christmas market brings in between 450,000-500,000 visitors each year. Visitors can take the Lane of Lights, a near 2-mile-long walk full of illuminations from the harbor to the Christmas market.
> Where you can see the display: Christmas Fair at St. Sophia Cathedral
> Location: Kiev
While there are several places in Kiev to enjoy a light display, it’s likely that the most breathtaking of them all is the blue-lit Christmas tree located in front of St Sophia Cathedral. The near 90-foot-tall tree is decorated with an estimated 1,000 lanterns and nearly 12,000 feet of programmatic garland that change the colors of the entire tree each day.
22. United Kingdom
> Where you can see the display: Kew Gardens
> Location: London
For the past six years, Kew Gardens in London has hosted a light show called “Christmas at Kew.” Visitors can travel along the garden’s “winter trail” where more than 1 million pea-lights and thousands of laser beams illuminate the walk.
23. United Kingdom
> Where you can see the display: Oxford Street
> Location: London
London’s go-to shopping destination always rings in the holiday season with style. This year, 1,778 decorations and 750,0000 shimmering lights line the stores along Oxford Street. The familiar white globe lights are joined by purple ones this year, as well.
24. United States
> Where you can see the display: Dyker Heights
> Location: Brooklyn
What first comes to mind when one thinks of New York City during the holidays is likely the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center or the light show on the wall of Saks Fifth Avenue. However, an even more impressive and underrated light show takes place right outside of Manhattan. Dyker Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn offers a flashy Christmas light experience unlike any other. More than tens of thousands of lights decorate the homes in the neighborhood. Inflatable Santa Claus and snowmen and Christmas carols complement the light display.
25. United States
> Where you can see the display: Disney World
> Location: Orlando
It’s called the most magical place on Earth for a reason, right? Over the Christmas season, Disney World becomes even more magical and festive. For example, the medieval-styled Cinderella Castle glistens with icicle lights covering each individual tower. The lights give the castle an enchanted look.
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