12 Best Places To See Christmas Lights

The holiday season is upon us, and cities around the world have begun stringing up millions of lights into breathtaking festive displays.

Holiday lights have their origin in the 17th century when trees and candles were decorated with lit candles – only for a few minutes at a time, though, and buckets of sand and water were kept nearby in case anything caught alight.

Modern light displays owe their origin to Thomas Edison, who introduced the first outdoor electric holiday light display to the world in 1880, and his colleague Edward Johnson, who created the first string of Christmas lights a couple of years later.

Over time, the tradition spread around the world, with many cities creating elaborate, beautiful displays. From London to Japan, here are 12 of the best places around the world to see the holiday lights.

Somerset House – London, UK

Somerset House is London’s ultimate winter destination for ice skating, contemporary music, festive shopping, and gourmet food and drink. Every year, the neoclassical courtyard is transformed into a wintry haven complete with a stunning 40-foot Christmas tree. The ice rink is open late into the night and remains open to visitors even in January.

When you can see it: Until 13 January 2018.

What it costs: From £12.65 for adults and £8.80 for kids for access to the ice rink.



Winter Illuminations – Tokyo, Japan

Every winter, Tokyo transforms into a sparkling winter wonderland as districts around the city compete with each other to present the most incredible light display. Called Winter Illuminations, the popular lights remain up in the city until February. The illuminations are typically displayed between November and December, but some run longer, starting as early as October and running until Valentine’s Day or even into spring.

When you can see it: Until 17 February 2019.

What it costs: Free.



Luci d’Artista – Turin, Italy

Every year, artists from around the world gather in Turin and Salerno to light up the streets and squares for Luci d’Artista – literally Artist’s Lights – for an exhibition of light artwork. The spectacular mix of contemporary art and historical buildings attracts visitors from around the world.

When you can see it: Until 19 January 2019.

What it costs: Free.



Luztopía – Monterrey, Mexico

Luztopía is a festival of lights featuring more than 15,500 lights and 250 illuminated figures standing up to 8m (26ft) in height, making it the largest festival of lights in Mexico. The displays are open late into the night and are available into January.

When you can see it: Until 6 January 2019.

What it costs: The entrance fee is 50 pesos but children under three enter free.



Tivoli Gardens – Copenhagen, Denmark

At Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, beautiful decorations and light displays light up the dark amidst market stalls and illuminated parades. The festivities extend into the new year, with a spectacular fireworks display on New Year’s Eve.

When you can see it: Until 31 December.

What it costs: Entrance into the gardens is 110 DKK per person.



Champs-Elysées – Paris, France

During the winter months, the 200 trees that line the iconic Champs-Elysées are lit with hundreds of LED lights. There is also a popular market in the Tuileries gardens situated right in front of the Louvre that attracts some 15-million visitors every year.

When you can see it: Until 9 January 2019.



Dyker Heights – Brooklyn, New York

As the year draws to a close, the King’s County neighbourhood of Dyker Heights is lit up by over tens of thousands of lights in a spectacular festive display. The area is decorated by both homeowners and professional decorating companies, and includes inflatable Santas, snowmen and houses blasting Christmas carols from loudspeakers.

When you can see it: Until 3 January 2019.

What it costs: Free.

What it costs: Free.

Kobe Luminarie – Kobe, Japan

The Kobe Luminarie is an annual winter light-up held in memory of the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. Now running for over 20 years, the impressive display has become a great showcase for the city’s recovery.

When you can see it: 7 – 16 December 2018.

What it costs: Free, but donations are appreciated.



Rockefeller Center – New York, USA

The massive Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has become a worldwide symbol of the holidays in New York City, and The Rink is one of the city’s most celebrated attractions. Over 45,000 lights normally go up late November and remain up into the first week of January.

When you can see it: Until 7 January 2019.

What it costs: Visiting is free, but the cost of an ice skating session starts at $25.



Puerta del Sol – Madrid, Spain

Every year, from the end of November until the beginning of January, the streets, buildings, and squares in Madrid twinkle with colourful lights, trees, and nativity scenes. The impressive lighting installations vary from street to street, and are designed by renowned Spanish designers, architects, and graphic designers.

When you can see it: Until 6 January 2019.

What it costs: Free.


Ayala Triangle Gardens – Manila, Philippines

For the past 10 years, the Ayala Triangle Gardens have celebrated the beautiful Ayala Land Festival of Lights, which includes an impressive music and light show every 30 minutes, where colourful bursts of laser lights are played in sync with popular tunes. This year, Ayala Land is partnering with Disney Philippines for their 10th Anniversary, so expect to hear all your favourite Disney songs.

When you can see it: Until 8 January 2019

What it costs: Free.



Federation Square – Melbourne, Australia

Known as Christmas Square during December, Melbourne’s Federation Square lights up with a giant tree and nightly sound and light shows until Christmas Day. Throughout Melbourne, other iconic city locations are also illuminated with fun, free animated shows and stunning light displays.

When you can see it: Until 25 December 2018.

What it costs: Free.



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