Each year, as the days grow shorter, we are reminded of all the hope and good in the world through the magic of Christmas. Truly the season of light, Christmas is most recognizable in the glow of lights on houses, trees, lampposts, and pretty much anywhere else people can figure out where to stick lights. The beauty of Christmas tree lights is a draw for anyone looking to make amazing holiday memories and enjoy the illumination of the season.
Nowadays, international travelers have their pick of where they want to go to see one-of-a-kind Christmas tree light displays. In addition to all the warm feelings that these displays trigger in the hearts of tourists, Christmas tree displays tell a great deal about their home city, representing the culture and passions of communities.
Village de Noël — Nice, France
Nice’s Village de Noël is so exquisite and cheery, visitors might expect to bump into Santa Claus and his elves walking down the street. By far the most well-known attraction at the Village de Noël is the Christmas market, which boasts 60 chalets of handcrafted goods and delectable Yuletide treats. Along with a unique shopping experience, the Village de Noël also features several fun attractions for kids and adults alike, including a skating rink and a Ferris wheel.
By night, the Christmas village takes on a whole new character with an abundance of twinkling lights on the city’s trees. Visitors should be sure to walk down the Place Messena and Promenade du Paillion for the best views, which include a Nativity scene and the Fontaine du Soleil, a large fountain that locals transform into a giant snow globe.
Canyon Road Farolito Walk — Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe’s Canyon Road Farolito Walk proves that a community does not need the most powerful LED lights to create a truly inspiring Christmas display. The light display on Santa Fe’s Canyon Road, one of the oldest districts in the city, is made up of farolitos, a type of lantern made by placing sand and a tea light into a paper bag.
Lit every Christmas Eve from sundown till late in the evening, the farolitos cast a soft glow on the neighborhood’s historic adobe buildings and create a degree of quiet awe in the hearts of visitors, reminding them of the solemnity of the celebration. In addition to the thousands of farolitos, visitors can also look forward to seeing luminarias, small bon fires that dot the city street. While most businesses are closed during the event, some remain open for shoppers interested in last minute Christmas deals.
Rockefeller Center – New York City
New York City’s Rockefeller Center is home to the most famous Christmas tree in the world. Since 1933, New York City has pulled out all the stops to make the Christmas experience at Rockefeller Center memorable for tourists and natives alike. Typically a Norway spruce that stands at a mighty 100 feet tall, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is adorned with over 45,000 multi-colored lights and crowned with a star of three million Swarovski crystals.
In an average day, about half a million people visit the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Visitors to Rockefeller Center can also go ice skating in a rink that sits just below the tree’s resting place and check out the Christmas display at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which is directly across the street.
Calle Larios — Malaga, Spain
Malaga’s Calle Larios is one of the most famous high-end shopping districts in the world. During the Christmas season, visitors to the area are treated to one of the most spectacular light displays in Europe. Following a different theme each year, organizers at Calle Larios deck the street out with almost two million LED lights that form angels, Christmas trees, snowflakes, and whatever else matches the theme of the year.
Recently, planners at Calle Larios have even set the light displays to music for fantastic shows. Usually lasting less than five minutes and offered several times during the evening hours, these shows see the light displays dance to the beat of classic Christmas songs like “Jingle Bells” and “Carol of the Bells.” millions of people visit Calle Larios’s Christmas light display each year from the end of November until early January.
Luztopía — Monterrey, Mexico
Christmas vacationers who love the spirit of the holiday but nonetheless loathe chilly December weather should head to Monterrey’s Luztopía, a Mexican Christmas celebration that spreads holiday cheer with a warm breeze. Running from late November to early January, Luztopía is the largest Christmas festival in Mexico.
Along with fanciful decorations and over 15,500 lights on the city’s trees, Luztopía is best known for its large lighted figures. Some 200 figures, ranging from Santa and his reindeer to global landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, illuminate the Paseo de Santa Lucía, which runs along the city’s breathtaking canals. Alongside its iconic lighted Christmas figures, Luztopía also caters to those looking to get better acquainted with Monterrey by featuring a craft market and a fleet of food trucks from some of the community’s best eateries.
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Christmas Lighting Festival — Medellín, Colombia
The Medellín Christmas Lighting Festival transforms the “City of Eternal Spring” into a Winter Wonderland. One of the most visited Christmas scenes in the world, the Medellín festival is decorated with over 27 million LED lights in the form of castles, Nativity scenes, and even animals like birds and fish. The celebration begins with the ceremony known as Alumbrados, which translates to “Night of the Candles.”
Held in early December each year, Alumbrados is a major draw for tourists and attracts tens of thousands of visitors to the city. Most of the festival’s light displays are near the Medellín River in Parque Norte and Parques del Río. During the Christmas Lighting Festival, admission to these parks is free. The immense popularity of the Medellín Christmas Lighting Festival has become a source of pride for the residents of the city, and many restaurateurs and small business owners make special efforts to welcome visitors to their hometown.
VanDusen Festival of Lights — Vancouver, Canada
The VanDusen Festival of Lights is one of the largest Christmas light displays in the world, boasting over a million multicolored bulbs on trees in Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Garden. Guests of the festival walk through 15 acres of Christmas cheer. In addition to adorning the center’s well-known trees, lights also illuminate the VanDusen’s iconic rose garden and carousel.
Among the latest attractions of the festival is the Glacial Passage, an indoor lounge that allows guests to enjoy some of the Great White North’s tastiest winter treats. The highlight of each visit, however, is Dancing Lights on Livingston Lake, a light show that is offered every half hour. At the end of their journey through the park, visitors are given the opportunity to donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which serves as the festival’s charitable partner.
Do you have a favorite Christmas display somewhere around the world? Tell us about it in the comments below!