15 Dazzling Christmas Lights Around the World [UPDATED 2020]

10 Dazzling Christmas Lights Around the World [UPDATED 2020]

All we want for Christmas is to see these magical lights someday.

All it takes is a glimpse at Christmas lights to stir up those old feelings again. Suddenly, you’re tempted to put on your favourite Christmas movie, blast festive songs all night long, and chill with a cosy blanket over a cup of hot cocoa. In 2020, Christmas will be a silent night for many countries, as a majority of Christmas markets and light displays around the world have been cancelled to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

From the festive marketplaces of Europe to the stunning light displays of the Philippines, we’re looking back on the places that have brought joy and inspired holiday cheer — however nostalgic that may be. So, consider this a visit from the spirit of Christmas Future, and let’s relive all the best Christmas lights that we can look forward to! 

Note: For the latest information, always check the official websites of each festival before making plans.

1. Galeries Lafayette in Paris, France

Christmas Light Displays Around the World: Galeries Lafayette

Galeries Lafayette in Paris, France

We can’t argue with a holiday in France, especially when it’s set in the City of LightsOver the holidays, the Galeries Lafayette in Paris turns into a shopper’s paradise of lights featuring Christmas ornaments and a glass walkway under a dome. This high-end department store will catch anyone’s eye with its festive shop windows and giant Christmas tree. It definitely takes the excitement of the holidays to new heights — and it’s still open, by the way!

2. Rockefeller Center in New York, United States

Christmas Light Displays Around the World: Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center in New York, United States | Image credit: Michael Vadon

At the end of each year, the lighting ceremony of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center draws thousands of visitors to New York. And the famous tree, almost as tall as the skyscrapers nearby, is crowned with a star that’s made from not one, not two, but three million Swarovski crystals. Needless to say, this iconic holiday destination is a must-see in the city that never sleeps! 

3. Carnaby Street in London, United Kingdom

Christmas Lights Around the World: London, UK

Carnaby Street in London, United Kingdom

Carnaby Street, one of the prettiest streets in London, turns into a vibrant walkway with neon lights over the holidays! Once hailed the “Capital of Cool,” this street is lined with independent shops, restaurants, and bars that call back to the “Swinging Sixties” in London’s history. Even today, it’s easy to appreciate this street’s appeal among Britain’s youth. Festive light installations appear during Christmas time, and they take on a different theme each year! 

4. Red Square in Moscow, Russia

Christmas Lights Around the World: Moscow, Russia

Red Square in Moscow, Russia

Step right into a Christmas extravaganza at the Red Square in Moscow, where the streets become the site of a Russian fairy tale. It’s the perfect place to go snowboarding down an ice slide with a view of the Kremlin or take a ride on one of the brightly-lit carousels, just to name a few ideas. Packed with kiosks selling pastries and mulled wine, the joyous scenery in this historic square will keep you warm on the coldest of winters.

Also read: 8 Incredible Reasons Why You Should Travel to Russia

5. Rynek Główny in Kraków, Poland

Christmas Lights Around the World: Kraków, Poland

Rynek Główny in Kraków, Poland

In Central Europe, the Christmas light displays in Poland are guaranteed to impress! Christmas decorations and fairy lights adorn Kraków’s main market square, Rynek Główny, where they form a gorgeous backdrop in front of the 14th-century Town Hall Tower. Moreover, this UNESCO-listed Old Town boasts cultural performances and charming wooden stalls, as well as a truly magnificent tree in the medieval square. And how can you resist the Cinderella-esque coach waiting to steal you away?

6. Cathedral Square in Vilnius, Lithuania

Christmas Lights Around the World: Vilnius, Lithuania

Cathedral Square in Vilnius, Lithuania

If you can’t hitch a ride on Santa’s sleigh, what’s the next best thing? Why, hopping on a Christmas train, of course! The Vilnius Christmas Train takes you through the historic Old Town in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, where you can treat yourself to handmade gifts, candied nuts, and hot chocolate. Another beloved holiday tradition in the city is the annual lighting of the Christmas tree on Cathedral Square, which resembles a giant queen chess piece. 

7. Calle Larios in Malaga, Spain

Christmas Lights Around the World: Malaga, Spain

Calle Larios in Malaga, Spain

When it comes to Christmas lights around the world, the port city of Málaga can definitely give other European countries a run for their money! In December 2019, the glitzy shopping haven of Calle Larios was decked out in a themed “Christmas Forest,” complete with illuminated angels, suns, and autumn leaves. Swing by this city on any other year but 2020, and the street will be filled with people gazing at the glowing lights and arches. Past visitors have said that it feels like walking through a cathedral.

8. Medellín in Antioquia, Colombia

Christmas Light Displays Around the World: El Alumbrado

El Alumbrado in the city of Medellín in Antioquia, Colombia | Image credit: Iván Erre Jota

Known as the “City of Eternal Spring,” the Colombian city of Medellín in Antioquia province showcases over 20 million LED Christmas lights in the form of castles, water lilies, boats, fish, rainbows, and more. This annual Christmas show is called “El Alumbrado” (“Lighting”), and it’s a huge source of pride for the locals, who enjoy helping out in the event preparations all over the city. Consider visiting the Parque Norte, Medellín River, and Parques del Río for the best spots to see the Christmas lights, which have ranked among the most captivating in the world. 

9. VanDusen Festival of Lights in Vancouver, Canada

Christmas Light Displays Around the World: VanDusen Festival of Lights

VanDusen Festival of Lights in Vancouver, Canada | Image credit: VanDusen Botanical Garden Official Facebook Page

How about an enchanting stroll across flower beds, tunnels, and garden pathways — lit up with a million lights? At the VanDusen Festival of Lights in Vancouver, Canada, thousands of visitors arrive just to explore Christmas-themed attractions that are named the Gingerbread Walk, Candy Cane Lake, and more. No matter how old you might be, the holiday cheer around these beautifully decorated grounds will have you smiling from ear to ear! 

10. Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark

Christmas Light Displays Around the World: Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark | Image credit: Tivoli Official Facebook Page

If you happen to be in Copenhagen over the holidays, consider yourself incredibly lucky! One of the biggest highlights in this Danish city is the Tivoli Gardens. From scenic gardens to fireworks displays to merry-go-round rides, this beautiful amusement park in Denmark is straight out of a storybook. So charming are the gardens and the lake inside the park, that the attraction has inspired storytellers like Walt Disney and Hans Christian Andersen with its peaceful, fairy tale atmosphere. 

11. Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin, Germany

Christmas Lights Around the World: Berlin, Germany

Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market in Berlin, Germany 

Offering no fewer than 50 Christmas markets, Berlin is practically synonymous with the season itself. If your idea of Christmas includes tasting mouth-watering delicacies and shopping until your legs get tired, then the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market makes the perfect addition to your bucket list. Situated between Französischer Dom and Deutscher Dom, the tents at the market sell candles, jewellery, glass-blown products, a special mulled wine called glühwein, and traditional handicrafts from artisans in Berlin.  

Also read: 7 European Cities With the Best Christmas Markets

12. Viennese Dream Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria

Viennese Dream Christmas Market

Viennese Dream Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria

Some cities are just made for wintertime celebrations, wouldn’t you agree? Austria’s capital brings a unique kind of holiday magic with the Viennese Dream Christmas Market, which resembles a full-blown Christmas village with more than 150 stalls. It’s held on the Rathausplatz, the public square located in front of the Rathaus City Hall. Some of the exciting activities at this festival include buying gingerbread cookies, participating in crafts workshops, skating on the ice rink, and shopping for traditional souvenirs

13. Kobe Luminarie in Kobe, Japan

Kobe Luminarie

Kobe Luminarie in Kobe, Japan 

In the city of Kobe, a dazzling light display called the Kobe Luminarie is commemorated to honour the 6,000 people who lost their lives during the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. Originally, this light festival in Japan was only meant to raise funds and bring hope to the city’s inhabitants for one year. But since its inception in 1995, it has only grown in popularity since then. Over 200,000 painted bulbs adorn the downtown area of Kobe in a sea of lights. 

14. Luci d’Artista in Salerno, Italy

Luci d'Artista in Salerno, Italy

Luci d’Artista in Salerno, Italy | Image credit: Marco Ebreo

Fancy a winter holiday on the Amalfi Coast? In December, the medieval squares and cobblestone streets in the city of Salerno sparkle with the Luci d’Artista (“Artists’ Lights”), an open-air festival with Christmas activities and lights. The most recent illuminations depict a star-filled sky with LED lights, while other past installations of the festival have included floating light displays of dolphins, mermaids, and the Roman god Neptune. But the greatest view can be found atop the 60-metre-high Ferris wheel on the Piazza della Concordia, where you can enjoy a lookout over this glittering city.

15. Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati City, Philippines

Festival of Lights at Ayala Triangle Gardens

Festival of Lights at Ayala Triangle Gardens in December 2019 | Image credit: Ayala Triangle Gardens Official Facebook Page

The Philippines can give the world a master class on how to celebrate Christmas. As early as September, the country is decorated with bright lights and unique star-shaped lanterns called paroles. Shopping malls try to outdo one another with massive Christmas trees and reindeer installations. And on Christmas Eve, it’s considered rude to stick to your diet at the family table, where the spread includes everything from glistening Christmas hams to piping-hot bibingka (smoky rice cakes cooked in traditional claypots) to puto bumbong (purple rice cakes steamed in bamboo). 

For those in Metro Manila, the Festival of Lights at the Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati City is a must-see experience. It features dancing lights and holograms with a medley of Christmas songs. But like many events with a potential to attract crowds, this festival has gone virtual in 2020. With large gatherings and Christmas carolling banned in the metro, Christmas will be a quieter affair for many Filipinos. But the heartwarming value of generosity and the spirit of gratitude, despite a tumultuous year — these won’t be going away anytime soon. 

Also read: 7 Unique Ways to Celebrate Christmas in the Philippines

December is still a wonderful time of the year, and these stunning Christmas lights around the world are guaranteed to melt the hearts of even the grumpiest of Grinches. 

Got any photos of Christmas light displays that you’d like us to feature? Feel free to tag us on IG: @tripzillamag!

About Author

Tiffany Conde
Tiffany Conde

Tiffany is a writer based in Manila. When she was younger, she knew she wanted to write stories or go on adventures—and now, she's learning to do both. She enjoys reading books that spark her curiosity for new places.

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