Culture

The Best Christmas Light Displays Around The World And How To See Them From Your Couch

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The holidays are (supposed to be) the best time of the year and yet 2020 is really giving us a serve, right down to its last godforsaken week. But nothing softens the existential blow of realising we have literally no control like some magical Christmas lights!

Every year, cities the world over get festive and twinkly, turning on sparkling lights for us to ‘oooh and ahhh’ at. Thankfully, many of those are still going ahead despite the pandemic – and you can even catch the sights and sounds of these beautiful shows online, thanks to a browser extension called Tab with A view.

So cast these world-renowned light displays to the TV, throw on Bublé or A Legendary Christmas in the background and let your worries melt away for a few minutes.

Here are some of the best Christmas lights around the world (that are open this year), in no particular order.

#1 Zilker Park Trail of Lights, Austin, USA

 

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One thing you can say about Austin is that it’s creative and this year’s Trail of Lights (which is in its 56th year!) is a testament to that; the event has pivoted to offer punters all the magic via Drive Thru.

The Trail now features more than 2 million lights illuminating the park, 90 lighted holiday trees and more than 70 other holiday displays and lighted tunnels.

#2 Kurfürstendamm, Berlin, Germany

 

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Germany is a magical place come Christmastime and this year is no different. Not only are there spectacular light displays but oodles of charming Christmas markets, too (although this year, Ku’Damm’s are closed until December 22 due to restrictions).

One of the best places to catch lights is the streets along Kurfürstendamm (Berlin’s most famous shopping boulevard). There are two 20-meter high entrance portals with stars, huge figures of the Nutcracker and Snowman and 550 trees twinkling their leaves off.

#3 Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland

 

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Known as Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi in the Arctic Circle turns it on in the holidays, with the village lighting up. You can see literal reindeer and hand-deliver your letter to the resident Santa (and this one is legit, no expense has been made on that beard). There’s a webcam this year so you can stream the magic, too.

#4 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City, USA 

It isn’t Christmas in New York without the lighting of the tree outside Saks Fifth Avenue in the Rockefeller Plaza. All the department store windows get the holiday treatment, too. This year, there are multiple new procedures in place to ensure social distancing measures are respected.

#5 Red Square, Moscow, Russia

One of the most famous squares in the world has one festive AF Christmas market in addition to incredible light displays. Millions of LED lights, thousands of Christmas toys, and fancy Christmas trees create a pretty damn special atmosphere while you warm up with Russian snacks and hot drinks as you browse the stalls. There’s also an ice-skating rink right under the glittering lights.

#6 Melbourne Christmas Festival, Melbourne

 

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Melbourne puts Australia on the world map of Chrissie lights with its annual festival, where the entire city turns it on. There are so many events and things to see, like Piazza Di Natale on Argyle St; state-of-the-art Christmas-themed light projections that cover the State Library and Melbourne Town Hall; Santa workshops; and Christmas Square, decked out in twinkling lights and a giant 16m Christmas tree.

Bonus: After everything Melbourne has been through this year it was only inevitable that Dan Andrews’ ‘Get on the beers’ remix was worked into a perfectly-timed Christmas lights display at Kings Park.

#7 Malaga, Spain

 

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While COVID-19 has put a dampener on the concert and street party aspect of Malaga’s renowned Christmas festivities, their incredible light show is still going ahead. This is no amateur hour – we’re talking 2 million LED lights, people. The decorations in the theme ‘Christmas Forest’ adorn nine main streets including the famed Calle Larios, including five giant trees.

#8 Blossoms of Light, Denver, USA

The Denver Botanic Gardens’ signature event for over three decades, this annual holiday lights extravaganza transforms the York Street location into a twinkling winter wonderland with ever-changing colours and lights.

#9 Città Dei Balocchi, Como, Italy

 

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For the last 25 years, Como has been charming visitors with its Magic Light Festival, lighting up the Piazza Cavour and Teatro Sociale. Images are projected onto historical buildings in a light show that is not only beautiful, but shares a slice of Italian history. Usually there are markets, but this year it’s mostly online.

#10 Tokyo, Japan

 

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Tokyo’s holiday lights usually draw 7 million tourists each year with multiple installations across the city, including Roppongi, which features a display of roughly 190,000 LED bulbs. However, for obvious reasons, a few of this year’s installations have been cancelled but Marunouchi, Roppongi Hills, and the Tokyo Midtown lights are still going ahead.

#11 Paris, France

 

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Paris is already magical – known as the ‘City of Light’ – and for the holidays it lives up to its moniker on another dazzling level.

The Ile-de-France and Champs-Elysee, avenue Montaigne, Place Vendôme, the Montmartre district, Bercy Village and many other places across the city will be shimmering in all their glory. The square in front of the City Hall is all lit up and decorated with Christmas trees and little chalets. Place de la Bastille and Place de la Concorde are illuminated with light projections, and a glittering Christmas forest has sprung up at the foot of the July Column and the Obelisk. What’s more, the lights extend along the Rives de Seine, Avenue Victoria and Rue d’Arcole.

#12 Christmas Wonderland, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

 

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Christmas Wonderland offers specially curated stunning light installations including the Spalliera, Path of Tranquility, Cassa Armonica and more at Gardens by the Bay in the Walk of Lights. The light display features luminarie light sculptures handmade by Italian craftsmen, a luminarie mirror maze, and Asia’s tallest luminarie Christmas tree. You can catch it all virtually, too.

#13 Medellin, Colombia

 

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Known as the Alumbrados Navideños or El Alumbrado, Medellin’s Christmas lights display is split into two: one more traditional light show and another with Christmas figures from the natural regions of Colombia according to their political division: Caribbean, Pacific, Andean, Orinoquia and Amazon. Each year, they get better and better, with colour-changing lights along the river, 28 million LED lights as well as stands selling food and drinks.

(Lead Image: Instagram / @denverbotanic)