HomeNews‘Tis the season: 11 of the world’s greatest Christmas illuminations

‘Tis the season: 11 of the world’s greatest Christmas illuminations

With the days getting shorter and darker, nothing soothes the soul as much as strolling through brilliant festive light displays with a hot drink in hand. Below, discover 11 of the world’s most spectacular Christmas illuminations worth travelling for this season. 

And if you want to check out some incredible illuminations closer to home, Dublin Zoo’s Wild Lights is wonderful. Read about them here.

11 of the world’s greatest Christmas illuminations

UK & EUROPE

Enchanted Adventures at Fonmon Castle – Vale of Glamorgan, UK

Fonmon Castle, Vale of Glamorgan

njoy the Christmas Enchanted Adventures at Fonmon Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales. There’s a Santa Show, festive lights, themed walks, rides and a festive market, alongside the existing popular medieval and dinosaur attractions. Enjoy the beauty of Fonmon walled gardens as the fortified medieval castle teams up with local lighting specialists to create an atmospheric festive walk. Tickets start from £14.50 (+50p booking fee).www.visitthevale.com  

Llums de Vivers offers a surprising Christmas light display – Valencia, Spain 

Valencia town square at Christmas

The Viveros Gardens in Valencia will be filled with light and unique experiences by Llums de Vivers this winter as millions of lights create a romantic path through the city’s most beautiful garden. From now until 9 January 2022, visitors can enjoy a 1.5-kilometre walk filled with enchanting fairytale-esque installations and figures created by the specialist light company. The experience has already been presented to great acclaim in several English cities, as well as Berlin and Stuttgart, in Germany. Tickets start at €12 and open from 6-11pm. www.visitvalencia.com/en 

Ljubljana and Maribor – Slovenia

Ljubljana at Christmas

The capital of Slovenia will dazzle visitors with its amazing Christmas decorations and illuminations this year. Considered one of the most beautiful in Europe as well as one of the greenest, Ljubljana will see 50 kilometres of lights switched on as part of a holiday light installation designed by Urban Modic, this year celebrating the importance of community and harmony. A straw nativity scene will also be on display on the Ljubljanica river bank and Zvezda Park will be adorned with lanterns made by primary school pupils. Visitors are also invited to decorate one of 79 green trees on four streets in the city centre. Over in Maribor, Slovenia’s second largest city, light sculptures called Lumina will greet visitors in city streets and squares. slovenia.info/en 

The Forest of Christmas – Malaga, Costa del Sol 

During the Christmas season once dusk begins, the streets of the Costa del Sol are illuminated with Christmas lights flooding the area with joy. The city of Malaga is known for having one of the best Christmas light displays in Europe. This year’s theme is The Forest of Christmas with 22 arches running the length of the entire street illuminating Calle Larios.  www.visitcostadelsol.com 

USA

Kennywood amusement park – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Kennywood is a must visit for thrill-seeking families holidaying in Pittsburgh, but the amusement park becomes even more spectacular over the festive period. Not only is the park transformed with more than one million twinkling lights but it’s also home to the tallest Christmas tree in Pennsylvania, aglow with 250,000 spectacular lights. Visitors can enjoy the merriment by feasting on festive food, watching the dazzling lights show surrounding the Lagoon, or experiencing the wonders of an interactive magic show with local magician Doc Dixon. www.visitpittsburgh.com

Downtown Holiday Lights and Delights – Seattle, Washington

This winter, Occidental Square and Westlake Park in downtown Seattle have been transformed with beautiful, festive light sculptures. There are plenty to admire, taking the shape of presents, arches and trees, as well as a dazzling 40-foot Christmas tree. Tech-savvy travellers can discover hidden wonders with an augmented reality game available to play on Snapchat. www.visitseattle.co.uk 

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights – San Diego, California

The 50th annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights takes place 12 and 19 December 2021 and sees more than 80 boats transformed with festive lights and decorations. Boats will sail to the pier at Cesar Chavez Park and towards Coronado Island, giving spectators plenty of opportunities to see the twinkling lights. This year, participants will decorate their boats to the theme of ‘the twelve days of Christmas’. www.sandiego.org 

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade and Ring of Lights, California 

Ring of Lights, Newport Beach

Watch beautifully decorated yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes sail along the picturesque Southern California harbour of Newport Beach in the 113th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. The parade began as a nine boat affair during the turn of the 20th century and has grown into hundreds of ships and homes in full décor with over two million people viewing each year. This year’s parade will be held 15 – 19December and is once again hosted by the Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce. www.visitcalifornia.com 

Holiday Plaza in SLO CAL, California

From festive parades to Christmas light displays and shopping showcases, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the festive season in San Luis Obispo County. Kick off the celebrations on California’s picturesque central coast with a stroll through San Luis Obispo’s Holiday Plaza, where visitors can admire dazzling displays, take photos in front of festive backdrops, enjoy a 20-foot tall holiday tree, ride the Classic Carousel, visit Santa’s House, and more.www.slocal.com 

Snowmass Luminescence, Aspen Snowmass

Snowmass Luminescence, an interactive art and light display created by Snowmass Tourism and Aspen Snowmass, will immerse visitors in a dazzling world of light and art. Skip the Skittles Gondola ride between the Snowmass Mall and Base Village and, instead, stroll through The Tunnel, an interactive series of LED illuminated walkways and arches designed to ignite the senses. In addition, visitors can experience a large-scale interactive LED installation by acclaimed artists, Submergence by Squidsoup. Snowmass Luminescence runs 17 December – 27 February from sunset to 9 p.m. daily. www.aspensnowmass.com 

Tenaya Lodge’s epic Christmas Tree, Yosemite Mariposa 

Tenaya Lodge Christmas Tree

While munching cookies, sipping cocoa and rubbing elbows with Santa as the fire roars and the snow falls, guests can marvel as Teyana Lodge’s towering tree glows and the lobby is transformed into a cheery holiday haven. Staying true to green sensibilities, Tenaya’s tree is not only the biggest in Central California but it’s sustainably harvested, too. The lodge just “tops off” a Douglas Fir each year so the rest of the tree can continue to grow healthily for years to come. www.yosemite.com 

EAST ASIA

Nagasaki Kingdoms of Light  – Kyushu, Japan

Nagasaki Kingdom of Lights, Kyushu

Winter illuminations around Christmas have become a popular attraction in cities across Japan. Some of the country’s largest displays can be found at Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch-themed amusement park which transforms into a magical wonderland during the winter season. Don’t miss the Art Garden of Light’s glass floor or the Bungee Bridge, where visitors drop 20 metres into the garden below. www.visit-kyushu.com/en 

Nabana no Sato Illumination – Mie Prefecture, Japan 

Nabana no Sato Illuminations

Every year, one of Japan’s finest and most famed winter illuminations uses over 5.8 million LEDs to light up the darkness of a chilly winter night, creating romantic images of mountains, oceans, flowers, shapes and figures in an immense flower garden. Nabana No Sato – a family theme park and famed flower garden in Kuwana City – offers this dazzling display. Regular illuminated attractions include the walk-through Tunnel of Light and Cloud of Lights. www.japan.travel 

Lake Towada’s Winter Story – Hachinohe, Japan

Hachinohe, Japan

Brave the frozen winter in Japan’s northern frontier and discover the biggest winter festival in the Tohoku region. Hidden away in the mountains of Central Aomori lies Lake Towada, a caldera lake of sky blue water encircled by nature. During the festival, visitors can enjoy musical performances and traditional dances, a number of hot spring foot baths, food tents ranging from ramen to local delicacies, a sledding hill and giant snow sculptures – samurai and demon faces carved out of snow tower over 10-metres high. www.visithachinohe.com 

The Beautiful Earth – Gifu Prefecture, Japan 

One of Japan’s largest national parks, Kiso Sansen Park, spans three prefectures: Aichi, Gifu and Mie. The park’s visitor’s centre, located in Gifu, comes alive with magnificent displays of 500,000 lights. Head to the top of the 65-metre-tall observation tower for the best view of the brightly decorated landscape. www.visitgifu.com 

Subzero Forest – Three Star Road, Japan

Subzero Forest

Every year since 1971, the Akigami Onsen Ryokan creates an icy forest by spraying water on the trees.. This artistic and captivating forest of ice enchants all visitors. Blue in the afternoon, the Subzero Forest lures visitors into a breathtaking world of fantasy when its nightly illumination turns various shades of red, blue and green. Delicious local food and lush accomodation add further enticing reasons to visit. www.mitsuboshi-kaidou.com 

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