Top 10 Christmas Lights Displays

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There’s nothing like a good holiday lights display to spark off the festive season.

A steaming hot drink cupped in your gloved hands, a woollen cap on your head, a fluffy scarf wrapping you up tight as you soak up the Christmas spirit in a city sparkling with the glow of lights (main image by David Blackwell).

The tradition of hanging lights began in 18th century Germany where upper-class families would use candles to decorate their Christmas trees. Thanks to the introduction of electric lights, public displays grew and the custom spread across the globe with people lighting their homes, streets and public buildings and the displays becoming more and more intricate.

If you like these lights displays, check out our 12 Christmas trees with real bling.

Singapore

In recent years, the magic of Christmas lights has spread even further afield to countries throughout Asia.

Every evening from November 20 to January 2, Orchard Road and Marina Bay in Singapore are lit up in full-on seasonal splendour with its Christmas in the Tropics light display.

Singapore’s famous shopping district celebrates with twinkling street lights, dressed-up shop windows, concerts, musicals and exhibitions.

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Orchard Road Lights Photo
Orchard Road Lights. Photo by soeperbaby
Orchard Road Lights, Singapore. Photo
Orchard Road Lights, Singapore. Photo by hslo

Toronto, Canada

In Toronto, the annual Cavalcade of Lights marks the official start of the holiday season with music , skating, dancing and a whole heap of Christmas lights!

Now in its 46th year, the Cavalcade was created in 1967 to showcase Toronto’s newly constructed City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square.

The festive usually falls on the final weekend of November when the Square and a giant Christmas tree are illuminated by more than 300,000 energy-efficient LED lights that shine from dusk until 11pm, November 17 to January 1.

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Cavalcade of Lights, Toronto. Photo
Cavalcade of Lights, Toronto. Photo by Daniel Wei
Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto. Photo
Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto. Photo by DCITourism

Paris, France

With a name like the City of Lights you’d expect Paris to shine at Christmas and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

During the day you’ll come across the usual bustle of tourists at the iconic sites, but night time is when the magic really happens. With the sparkling Eiffel Tower, glitzy Champs-Élysées and starry streets the city feels like a real-life fairy tale after dark.

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Christmas on the Champs-Élysées. Photo
Christmas on the Champs-Élysées. Photo by Trey Ratcliff
Christmas Tree outside Notre Dame, Paris. Photo
Christmas Tree outside Notre Dame, Paris. Photo by couscouschocolat
Galeries Lafayette, Paris. Photo
Galeries Lafayette, Paris. Photo by Alessandro Trupo

Medellin, Colombia

Christmas in Medellin, Colombia, is a time of families coming together to celebrate and enjoy the simple pleasure of looking at amazing decorations.

In December the city’s thoroughfares, roads and parks are covered in thousands of fairy lights, with the most impressive displays found in Avenue la Playa and the Medellín River.

Every year thousands flock to the Medellin River to gaze at the million dollar displays, sample delicious food and enjoy street performances.

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Christmas lights in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by I.D. R.J.
Christmas lights in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by I.D. R.J.
Christmas Lights in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by I.D. R.J.
Christmas Lights in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by I.D. R.J.
Christmas Lights in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by I.D. R.J.
Christmas Lights in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by I.D. R.J.
Christmas Lights in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by I.D. R.J.
Christmas Lights in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by I.D. R.J.
Christmas Lights in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by I.D. R.J.
Christmas Lights in Medellin, Colombia. Photo by I.D. R.J.

Kobe, Japan

Seasonal illuminations around Christmas time have become a popular attraction in cities across Japan and none is more beautiful than the Kobe Luminarie.

After the Kobe earthquake of 1995, Italy donated thousands of hand-painted bulbs to the city and these were transformed into an intricate, gothic-style luminarie designed by Valerio Festi and Hirokazu Imaoka.

The tradition continues, and every year from December 1-12, around four million locals and tourists alike come to celebrate Japan’s enduring resilience near Higashi-Yuenchi Park.

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Kobe Luminarie, Japan. Photo
Kobe Luminarie, Japan. Photo by gwaar
Kobe Luminarie, Japan. Photo by gwaar
Kobe Luminarie, Japan. Photo by gwaar
Kobe Luminarie, Japan. Photo
Kobe Luminarie, Japan. Photo by ideyuki KAMON

Baltimore, Maryland

For 11 months out of the year 34th Street in Baltimore is like any other street in North America, but in the month of December something truly magical takes place.

Now in its 62nd year, the “Christmas Street” light display sees thousands of visitors descend on this unassuming neighbourhood to view some of the most fantastic, and quirky, lights in North America.

Each house on the block is decorated in the owner’s unique style and some homes include toy trains on rooftops and hubcap Christmas trees.

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Miracle on 34th Street. Photo by sneakerdog
Miracle on 34th Street. Photo by sneakerdog
Hubcap Christmas Tree, Miracle on 34th Street. Photo by sneakerdog
Hubcap Christmas Tree, Miracle on 34th Street. Photo by sneakerdog
Miracle on 34th Street. Photo by sneakerdog
Miracle on 34th Street. Photo by sneakerdog

Vilnius, Lithuania

For the Christmas season, Lithuania’s capital city Vilnius gets covered in colourful garlands of electric lights and the country’s largest ‘Christmas tree’ (the Vilnius television tower under a vale of lights) is lit up.

In the Old Town Christmas Markets, taste festive treats and mulled wine;, see if you can spot Santa or listen to carols in one of the city’s many churches.

For a dazzling performance like no other, check out the popular Magic Christmas display. This state of the production sees the city’s cathedral transformed into a colourful storyboard with a “4D” projection of light, sound, and even scent.

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Gediminas Avenue in Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo
Gediminas Avenue in Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo by Eugenijus Radlinskas
Christmas Decorations in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Christmas Decorations in Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo by Eugenijus Radlinskas
TV Christmas Tree, Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo by Albertas Agejevas
TV Christmas Tree, Vilnius, Lithuania. Photo by Albertas Agejevas

Vienna, Austria

If experiencing a traditional European Christmas is on your list, it doesn’t get more perfect than celebrating Weihnachten in Vienna, Austria.

From mid-November 10 of Vienna’s city squares are transformed into beautiful Christmas Markets decorated with bushy trees and strings of twinkling fairy lights hanging from every available surface.

Top this off with stalls selling crafts, gifts, local produce, season foods and festive drinks and you’ve got enough Christmas spirit to cheer even the biggest Grinch.

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Christkindlmarkt in Wiener Rathaus, Vienna, Austria. Photo
Christkindlmarkt in Wiener Rathaus, Vienna, Austria. Photo by Honza Soukup
Christmas Lights, Vienna, Austria. Photo by Sandy Kirchlechner
Christmas Lights, Vienna, Austria. Photo by Sandy Kirchlechner
The Rathaus, Vienna, Austria. Photo
The Rathaus, Vienna, Austria. Photo by Sandy Kirchlechner

Berlin, Germany

Germany is the home of Christmas Lights so it’s no wonder the country’s capital really shines during the holiday season.

When the sun goes down on Berlin, the city’s historic buildings, streets and every available tree branch is lit up with colourful projections and row upon row of fairy lights.

Berlin’s illuminations are such a drawcard that visitors with a passion for photography can sign up for special guided tours of the lights.

Within the city squares and boulevards nearly 60 different Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Markets) provide even more glistening sights along with all the shopping, food and Glühwein (mulled wine) you’d expect from a Christmas market.

You’ll find some of the best illuminations at the 368m Fernsehtur (TV Tower), Alexanderplatz Market, Opera Palace, National Opera and the famous Brandenburg Gate and Charlottenburg Palace.

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Sternensammler (Star Collector), Berlin, Germany. Photo
Sternensammler (Star Collector), Berlin, Germany. Photo by onnola
Weihnachtsmarkt at Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin, Germany.
Weihnachtsmarkt at Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Olivier Bruchez
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany. Photo by Ron Gilmore
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany. Photo by Ron Gilmore

Disneyland, Los Angeles, United States

The happiest place on earth gets even merrier over the holiday season as Disneyland is transformed into an extravagant winter wonderland right in the heart of California.

Classic rides such as It’s A Small World and the Haunted Mansion are given luminous festive makeover, while Main Street is decked out in the all the best Christmas trimmings.

Heralded by trumpeting toy soldiers, prancing reindeer, joyful gingerbread men and skating snowflakes, the Main Street Christmas Fantasy Parade sees all of Disney’s most popular characters dressed up in their holiday best.

The centre piece of this magical display sees Sleeping Beauty’s Castle covered with snow-capped turrets, shimmering icicles and twinkling lights. Finally, everything is topped off by a dazzling pyrotechnics and fireworks spectacular.

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It's A Small World: Disneyland, LA. Photo by HarshLight
It’s A Small World: Disneyland, LA. Photo by HarshLight
Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Christmas, Disneyland, LA. Photo by HarshLight
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Christmas, Disneyland, LA. Photo by HarshLight

If you liked these Christmas lights displays, check out our 12 Christmas trees with real bling.

Author: Kara Segedin (255 posts)

Writer, traveller, Tweeter, blogger and part-time adventurer. A kiwi living in London off to explore the world! I can never travel enough!