Happy Holidays

Step Aside, Clark Griswold! The World's Most Extravagant Christmas Light Displays (Photos)

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Medellín, Colombia

This Colombian city puts Christmas on overdrive with its annual Los Alumbrados festival of lights, a citywide tradition since 1967. Some 27 million flickering bulbs, 10 tons of colored foil, and dozens of animated figures blanket the city—some of the best displays are found along the Medellín River, the Avenida La Playa, and the Cerro Nutibara hilltop.

Wientourismus/Claudio Alessandri


Experience old-world Christmas at its most exquisite in Vienna, a city set aglow in 2.5-million-bulbs and trimmed with giant chandeliers, floating globes, and other assorted baubles. Don’t miss the nearly 200-foot-high illuminated tree affixed to the Ringturm building in Schottenring; the sparkling lights of shopping strips Graben and Kärntnerstrasse; or the imposing Rathaus (town hall), with its transporting illuminations and Christmas market out front. 

Hitoshi Yamada/Andia.Fr


High-tech highlights in Tokyo include the Roppongi Hills district, blanketed in blue and white LEDs; Tokyo Midtown's "Starlight Garden," enveloped in a 360-degree arch of light and some 280,000 blue lights; and the Caretta Shiodome complex, with its "White Xmas in the Sea" theme, featuring an ocean of LED illuminations and 3D projection mapping. 



The historic Grand-Place, the main square of Brussels, transforms into a veritable winter wonderland each year. An enormous, quintessentially European Christmas Market (where you can order up Belgian waffles, naturally) sits underneath the gloriously illuminated facades of the surrounding buildings, including the gothic 15th-century Town Hall, which is the setting for a sound-and-light show and fronted by a towering Christmas tree. 

Christine Hess

Niagara Falls, Ontario

Each holiday season, Niagara Falls hosts the "Winter Festival of Lights," featuring more than three million colored lights and some 120 animated displays, largely clustered on a four-mile stretch of Ontario's Niagara Parkway. Even the falls themselves are lit up, and as if all that weren't enough, expect fireworks on select weekend evenings.

Goteborg & Co

Gothenburg, Sweden

Braving the big chill and long nights of a Scandinavian winter rewards savvy travelers with the warmth of the festive riverfront city of Gothenburg, Sweden. Visitors can follow the nearly two-mile-long "Lane of Light," leading from the Gothenburg's harbor to the local traditional Christmas market at Liseberg Amusement Park (Scandinavia's largest), which comes draped in no fewer than five million Christmas lights.

Hong Kong Tourism Board

Hong Kong

Combining traditional Christmas elements from the West, with a Far East-inspired flair for festival—and lights—Hong Kong's "WinterFest" highlights mega-malls bedecked with over-the-top decor, skyscrapers twinkling in cheerful hues, a very Christmas-y Hong Kong Disneyland, the "Starlight Romance" 3D illumination show, and much more.

Alamy/BL Images Ltd.


Predictably, the City of Light doesn't disappoint in the holiday lights department. Follow the famous Champs-Élysées, flanked by shops done up in holiday décor, under a canopy of 200 trees draped in color-changing light schemes. More displays are found about town at Notre-Dame Cathedral's shining Christmas tree, swanky shopping strips Avenue Montaigne and Rue Saint-Honoré, the ritzy Place Vendôme, and the outdoor shopping complex at Bercy Village.


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