In an epic scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, the one and only Clark Griswold takes decorating his house to a whole new level:
In honor of this remarkable decorating achievement, we thought it would be fun to look at 10 spectacular holiday displays around the world:
Luminarie Lights Festival
Where: Kobe, Japan
Photo credit: kobe.travel.coocan.jp
This festival started in 1995 to commemorate the victims of the Great Hanshin earthquake, which devastated the city of Kobe on January 17 of that year. The earthquake’s epicenter was located on the northern end of Awaji Island, which is 12.4 miles/20 km away from the city of Kobe. Each year, over 200,000 individually hand painted lights are illuminated. These lights are turned on for a few hours each evening and remain lit for about two weeks in December. Major streets in the vicinity are closed to vehicle traffic during these hours, in order to allow pedestrians to fill the streets.
The Dolder Grand
Where: Zurich, Switzerland
Photo credit: The Dolder Grand
Switzerland is renowned for chocolate, alpine skiing, and luxury watches. But around the holidays, a hotel in Zurich called the Dolder Grand transforms into a winter wonderland, complete with a 33-foot- high tree adorned with more than 11,000 LED lights, which rises from the center of an outdoor skating rink. How perfect does that sound?
Where: New York City
Photo credit: RockefellerCenter.com
Each year, millions of people flock to New York City’s Rockefeller Center so they can go for a skate and gaze upon the majestic Christmas tree — usually a Norway spruce between 70 and 100 feet tall. The tree is placed in mid-November, and then lit in a public and televised ceremony the week after American Thanksgiving. And if you think your tree at home is a bit of a wiring headache, consider this: The tree in Rockefeller Center is wrapped in 5 miles/8 km of wire, which power around 45,000 lights.
Christmas Lights in Madrid
Where: Madrid, Spain
Photo credit: CityLifeMadrid.com
Starting in late November each year, Madrid comes alive as millions of lights are strewn across the downtown area. These are created by a group of Spanish graphic designers, architects, and designers, who collectively ensure that the display enhances Madrid’s image as one of the most fashion-conscious cities in the world. Some of the most popular displays are found in Puerta del Sol, Plaza San Juan de la Cruz and Plaza España, Red de San Luis (Gran Vía-Montera), Calle Fuencarral, Plaza de Callao, and Plaza de Colón (Calle Génova).
Where: Dresden, Germany
The Christmas Market in Dresden, Germany, should be on the “bucket list” of anyone who loves the holidays. It is considered the very first Christmas Market in the history of the world, first appearing all the way back in 1434. It features the world’s largest usable Christmas arch, which measures 44 feet/13.5 meters in width, and 16 feet/5 meters in height. Some of the most popular aspects include the Erzgebirge Christmas pyramid, children’s railway, puppet theater, and much more.
Alumbrados Navideños (also known as El Alumbrado)
Where: Medellín, Columbia
Photo credit: Aliman5040
Each year, Medellín, Columbia (located about 257 miles/415 km Northeast of Bogota), displays nearly 30 million stunning lights, mainly around the Medellín River that flows right through the heart of the city. The lights are usually on from late November/early December. Accompanying this incredible one-of-kind light show are more than 30,000 hand-woven figures and unique Christmas art installations.
Where: Vilnus, Lithuania
Photo credit: vilnius.lt
The amazing and unconventional Christmas tree that rises in Vilnius’ Cathedral Square each year — which, by the way, is actually a metal frame! — is so bright that its more than 70,000 lights can be easily seen by passengers in planes that are flying many miles away. The 2020 tree was a staggering 85 feet/26.3 meters in width and 24 feet/78.7 meters in height, and was surrounded by over 6,000 naturally-fragrant spruce branches decorated with 2.5 miles/4 km of LED lights, 800 silver toys, and 492.1 square feet/150 square meters of shining mirrors (the word that you’re looking for is: WOW!).
Where: Laval, Canada
Photo credit: Illumi Cavalia
If you find yourself in our part of the world this holiday season, then set aside some time to visit Illumi, which is located in Laval (about 18.6 miles/30km Northeast of Montreal, and about 39 miles/63 km from Devolutions HQ). Now in its third year, Illumi features thousands of larger-than-life structures that are illuminated by over 25 million lights. You can stroll through the magic on foot, or if you wish, you can stay in your car on a specially-designated route and enjoy the adventure. Plus, for one evening per month, you can wander through the dazzling world of lights accompanied by your dog!
Where: Gramado, Brazil
Photo credit: natalluzdegramado.com.br
Natal Luz — which means “Christmas of Lights” in English — illuminates Gramado, Brazil (984 miles/1584 km Southwest of Rio de Janeiro). Unlike many of the other destinations on our list, Natal Luz kicks off in October, so that locals and tourists can enjoy nearly three months of spectacular lights, decorations, and more. The folks over at Bestlifeonline.com put it perfectly: “To get a sense of what the season feels like in Gramado, simply imagine a Christmas Hallmark card that lasts for a total of 81 days — with the festivities lasting for nearly three months never seeming to bother the locals, who all cheerfully chip in to make every visitor feel welcome in their Christmas oasis.”
Liseberg Amusement Park's Christmas Market
Where: Gothenburg, Sweden
Photo credit: liseberg.com
Have you ever dreamed of living inside one of those quaint Christmas globes that you shake up and the snow flies around? Well, you can turn that dream into a reality if you make your way to Gothenburg, Sweden (located 289.5 miles/466km Southwest of Stockholm), this holiday season. You will enjoy more than 5 million twinkling lights, an ice ballet, skating rinks, Christmas markets, carousels, and so much more. Ha så kul! (Have fun! in Swedish).
If you could see and experience one of the spectacular displays above, which one would it be? And are there other amazing displays that you recommend — perhaps in your own city or nearby? Please comment below!