There’s something about festive Christmas lights twinkling and blinking in the night that enhances entire cities at once. Thousands of decorations, led light displays, over-sized ornaments suspended high above busy shopping areas, and magical state-of-the-art lighting that transforms everyday streets into an extravaganza. Some destinations around the world are well known for their festive lighting displays that attract visitors from near and far to stand in awe of inspiring themes.
Close to home for American readers is New York, where the festive lights magically bedazzle the city. In the heart of the metropolis is perhaps the most famous Christmas tree in the USA: the 85-foot Rockerfeller Christmas Tree. It is wrapped in 5-miles of Christmas lights and features a Swarovski crystal star which weighs in at about 550lbs. Then there are the Park Avenue Memorial Trees, found between 54th and 96th Street. Every year, about 104 balsam fir trees are lit in remembrance of those who lost their lives defending the country. It is a tradition that began in 1945 and has its own switching-on ceremony alongside the songs of carol singers.
For the ultimate winter light show, you need look no further than the local shop buildings and their window displays. Nowadays, you can forget the plastic mannequins dressed in festive red outfits; modern technology has introduced state-of-the-art animated window displays, as used by bigger department stores such as Saks, Macy’s, and Lord and Taylor. Shoppers can feast their eyes on the window displays that conjure up joyous holiday traditions. On the shops’ fronts, you’ll find renowned holiday 3D light shows projected onto the entire shop front. You can look for this from the beginning of November to the first week in January.
The festive lights in Orlando prove that even an evergreen Christmas display can produce a magical wonderland. ‘The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Christmas Lights’ is found on the ‘Streets of America’ located within Disney’s Hollywood Studios park. Visitors will be dazzled by more than five million lights that are choreographed to give a stunning dance routine set to Christmas music . The lights illuminate the street buildings and props of the city. Of course, in true Disney style, no Christmas is complete without snow, so machines pump out a fine dusting of artificial snow to enhance the wintry cityscape.
There’s nothing like the sparkle of Christmas in good ole London town. From the world famous lights on Regent Street, Oxford Street, and Piccadilly Circus, to the bright lights of Westfield, and Covent Garden, the breathtaking yet familiar twinkling of the Christmas lights will be sure to captivate your entire party. The switching-on of the lights at the various locations is a razzle-dazzle affair reserved for topnotch celebrities. Crowds gather for this heralded event to see the lighting of the huge illuminations strung across and up-and-down the designated streets. Open air bus tours are available that will make you feel like you can simply stand up and touch the giant decorations that adorn the capital’s streets and squares. And, don’t forget to buy a bag of roasted chestnuts to warm you up!
In Medellín, the extravagant Christmas light displays are known as ‘Los Alumbrados’. They are a big part of the area’s tourism and Los Alumbrados is officially known as the biggest display in Colombia. It begins around December 7th and is especially visible along the Medellin River where visitors enter an illuminated fantasy world. The electrifying displays take the form of anything and everything, from oversized lily-pads and peacocks to hot-air balloons! Some of the displays are practically three-storeys tall, creating a multilayered wall of colors. The river side is generally packed with people who are not only there to see the festive display, but also to sample the flavour of Colombian dishes and to take in the sounds of the local entertainers.
Paris becomes a ‘City of Lights’ from the end of November to the first week in January. The capital city hosts an incredible lighting display at the world famous avenue of the Champs Elysees. Rows of heavily decorated Christmas trees line the avenue from the Place de l’Etoile and the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. The area is flooded with the twinkling of lights that magically bloom – with the help of many a projector – and gradually transform the color of the lit Christmas trees in unison. The lights are switched on at about 6pm every evening and stay on until 2am in the wee hours of the morning. No visit is complete without a stroll through the ‘Mache’ de Noel’, which means ‘Christmas Market’. It is regarded as one of the top markets in Europe with over 100 chalets selling Christmas crafts and food.
Faraway in Singapore, you’ll find the Christmas lights on Orchard Road. This is a majestic lighting display by any standard, with gigantic trees, dazzling lights and everything from enchanted fairytale castles to scenes from the North Pole. In 2014, David Beckham turned on the lights to this Christmas bash that covered five kilometers of the long road. Buildings along the road compete for the ‘Best Dressed Building’ which only seeks to enhance the beauty of the Christmas experience. Of course, in a place like Singapore state-of-the-art decorations come to life with rotating Christmas trees, huge stars emitting light and a sprinkling of artificial snow fall as part of the Yuletide-season.
So this year, don’t settle for seeing the lights on TV – get out there and really experience the beauty of the Christmas lights! From the spectacular state-of-the-art extravaganzas in the US to the festive overseas displays, the options are as endless as the new year’s opportunities.