10 of the Most Magical Christmas Displays Across the World

10 of the Most Magical Christmas Displays Across the World
Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe lit up for Christmas, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In a few places across the world, holiday cheer transcends contours, and spills into elaborate displays that translate the Christmas spirit into sublime manifestations of the festival

Urvi Shah
December 25 , 2020
14 Min Read

For most of us, piping hot chocolate, warm duvets, and lit-up trees are enough to encapsulate the commencement of Christmas. However, in a few places across the world, holiday cheer transcends these contours, and spills into elaborate displays that translate the Christmas spirit into sublime manifestations of the festival. We’re not talking about the iridescent trees nestled in our homes, or the festive touches gracing the recesses of our rooms. We’re referring to Christmas displays travellers predicate their trips around. We’re talking about monumental trees, congregations of lights, and decorations galore that have shuttled tourists into Christmas wonderlands, and set world-records in the past.

We’ve hand-picked fifteen of our favourite installations around the world to drive away those Christmas blues.


Christmas Boat Parade, New Port Beach, California
A succession of yachts, boats, and canoes, festooned with decorations, traverse the waters in a bid to outdo one another’s extravagance, and emerge victorious. A distinct parade summoned during the holiday season, the Christmas Boat Parade bestows upon its winners awards specialising in half a dozen categories.

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It isn’t a rarity to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on one’s boat. Neither is it unusual for 1.5 million people to convene before this dazzling display every season. Watch as this procession sails past you- from New Port Beach shore’s point of view- and morphs into a Ring of Lights, almost halo-like, around the beach.

Caretta Shiodome Winter Illumination, Tokyo, Japan
Illumination event held at large commercial facility A November-February affair, the Caretta Shiodome Winter Illumination features 250,000 LED lights at once- each swaying to soundtracks distinct to one Disney movie every year, while chaperoning the centre to the likes of a world that bears an uncanny resemblance to fantasies we’ve all yearned to experience at some point in life. In 2019, the display imbibed the story of Aladdin through its music: an Arabian night at your disposal just like that.

The Caretta Shiodome Illumination is one of the many light-shows Japan hosts. Blue Cavern in Shibuya is another one. Watch the country’s multiple displays compete with one another for months on end through a single medium.

The Boulevard, Ivanhoe Melbourne, Australia

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An evening promenade along The Boulevard is enough to testify to the lack of mediocrity people inhabiting the area foster. Or the absolute expertise they’ve acquired in discarding the everyday look of their homes, and restructuring them into harbingers of the festive season. Each house imbibes a different theme: some adopt a scene of Nativity, while others embody a more-humorous set-up. A carnival-like atmosphere cocoons the neighbourhood, as live performances, coffee carts, ice-cream trucks, and glow-stick stalls complement the overall landscape. Marvel at a series of colourful homes as you saunter past two-kilometres of houses, gardens, windows, and community spaces in The Boulevard during Christmas. 

Champs Elysées, Paris, France

Long exposure photo of people walking on the street passage at Avenue des Champs Elysées in Paris during Christmas light illumination celebratingDuring Christmas, the stunning Avenue des Champs Elysées transitions into an extensive sea of lights: the two-hundred trees scattered along its length are drenched in a multitude of colours during the holiday season. Starting from Charles de Gaulle, the trees dovetail into Arc de Triomphe, and conclude at Place de la Concorde.  The recurring trees mimic the feel of an exquisite welcome, don’t they?

Celebration in the Oaks, New Orleans, Louisiana 

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New Orleans’ grove of oak trees is nothing short of beautiful as is. However, decked out in a million lights and varying holiday decorations during Christmas, it lends to the city a streak of authenticity that cannot be mimicked by any other. Some of these trees are 800 years old. It is admirable to witness the manner in which they are cherished by the city.

Medellin Christmas Lights, Medellin, Colombia
Lightings in Medellin River, Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia

Every year, Christmas is nudged into existence by hundreds of sparkling lights peppered along the Medellin River. This is seen during Los Alumbrados- the city’s annual festival that features 31 million LED lights, along with multiple 3D figures ensconced in them, across two locations in the city: Parque Norte Amusement Park, a secondary set-up that presents to tourists a trip through Antioquia’s nine sub-regions, and Parques del Río, a primary display showcasing Christmas figures on, along, and over the Medellin River. A 1971 tradition, Medellin witnesses its inhabitants’ convergent efforts result in one of the best light-displays in the world.

Blossom of Lights, Denver Botanic Garden, Colorado
A night view of a winding path lit by colorful lights at Denver Botanic Gardens during its holiday Blossoms of Light event

Blossom of Lights is an ever-changing light show that has become Denver Botanic Garden’s signature over the course of thirty years. Adorned with animated LED lights, the garden displays holiday-themed installations that are tweaked to capture varying vibes each year. Glowing spheres and light sculptures bedeck a majority of the garden’s twenty-four acres. Apart from being a visual delight, the arrangement also employs sound-effects that accentuate the charm of the place. The display is a culmination of thirteen months of work, and uses custom-strung lights- weaved by hand- in colours that aren’t manufactured as much.

Visitor favourites include the illuminated O'Fallon Perennial Walk, and interactive light display in the UMB Amphitheatre. Other special areas include the Romantic Gardens, Japanese Garden, and South African Plaza. Savour holiday treats and warm drinks at cafes, or halt at beverage stations to maximise your experience.

Fantasy in Lights, Callaway Gardens, Georgia

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Glide past an illuminated forest in an open-air Jolly Trolley as lights flicker, and fixtures blink with every move of yours. It’s almost as if eight million lights function according to your advances. Holiday scenes like March of the Toy soldiers, and nature themes similar to Snowflake Valley are recreated as well. Each display is associated with an important narrative. Recognised by National Geographic as one of the most dazzling light displays around the world, Fantasy in Lights is a tradition that has subsisted for more than twenty years.

Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
Christmas decoration of a house in Dykers Height, New York City

Remember The Boulevard? Dyker Heights, too, condenses Christmas into avenues, lanes, and blocks. Home to elaborate decorations like life-sized Santas, lawn-ornament reindeers, gargantuan snowmen, larger-than-life nutcrackers, merry garlands, and traditional figures, the neighbourhood throngs with travellers, carols, and vibrant music throughout the holiday season.

The Floating Tree, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Christmas tree of the world. Rio de Janeiro Christmas tree. Christmas Tree in the middle of Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon.

What can a Christmas tree evolve into? Rio demonstrates just that. Loaded with three million LED lights, the largest floating tree in the world lends a soft glow to the fireworks exploding right above it in the background, while complementing the music pulsating through the area. Witness it metamorphose into different colours every now and then.

Luci D’Arista, Salerno, Italy

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Every year, the city of Salerno organises light-shows, installations, and multiple displays along its streets and public squares, and sends Christmas into overdrive. A different theme is replicated annually: you’ll stumble upon adaptations of the Nativity scene, light-riddled sea creatures, and trees of golden fairy lights in one-go. These works are conceived by contemporary artists with the aim of coaxing art out of institutional places, and letting them take on a life of their own in conventional spaces.

Zilker’s Park Trail of Lights, Austin, Texas

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A drive-thru concept this year, this park-trail acquaints you with a succession of two million lights, ninety holiday trees, a number of lighted tunnels, and seventy other displays. This event necessitates the unification of 1,500 volunteers, and requires 15,000 hours to be embellished perfectly. It’s almost utopian to visualise your family tucked into a car, soaking in the sights, while swaying to the soft music emitting from your speakers. But it’s real. And possible.

Zoolights, Chicago, Illinois
Trees lit up in Christmas Holiday lights or Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago,

Available for viewing against the cost of a nominal fee, Zoolights, a family-oriented tradition, is set to feature 2.5 million lights, and showcase 3D displays for a winter-wonderland experience. Click a few photos with Santa while conforming to social-distancing norms, browse through a range of gifts, indulge in seasonal activities, and treat yourself to some holiday snacks amidst dazzling luminous works.

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen Christmas at Tivoli GardensTivoli Gardens’ holiday displays seem like they’ve been pulled out of a Hollywood Christmas movie. And how obsessed are we with those? Twinkling lights illuminate the Tivoli river, and on some nights during the holiday season, a coruscating display of fireworks engulfs the night sky for a few minutes. Wooden homes, snow-laden grounds, and festive touches complement its amusement park and Christmas market in equal proportions.

The Seoul Christmas Festival, Cheonggyecheon Stream, South Korea

Seoul Christmas Festival in Cheonggyecheon stream at Seoul, South Korea.With an increasing determination to showcase some of its most lustrous displays, The Seoul Christmas Festival features LED lights, lanterns, Santa’s Village, Dream Castle, and other works of art during the holiday season. Live performances accompany the scene as well. In 2018, the metropolitan area of Cheonggyecheon was segregated into five lit-up sections conforming to a spectrum of themes: Dream, Hwanhee, Santa, Happy, and Hope.

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