Magical Christmas light displays are part of what makes the holidays the most wonderful time of the year. Recently, TravelAwaits writers told us about their favorite holiday light displays across the U.S. Now, they’re sharing the most gorgeous holiday light displays they’ve seen around the world.
“Munich, the capital of Bavaria in the south of Germany, really pulls out all the stops when it comes to Christmas light displays. It usually snows at that time of year, which adds even more sparkle to the lights all over town. Munich puts on more than five huge Christmas markets, each with its own themes and lights. One of the markets is even plunged into a pink glow.”
“The city center is awash with lights, angels, and huge illuminated Christmas trees, all of which can be enjoyed by a round trip in a specially decorated Christmas tram. Even the ‘Theresienwiese’ — usually the venue of the world-famous Octoberfest — is converted into a winter wonderland. The largest tree of all stands next to the Town Hall on Marienplatz in the center of Munich. This is certainly the most beautiful light display in Europe I have ever seen.” — Inka Piegsa-Quischotte
North Vancouver, British Columbia
“Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a magical experience. The park is located in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This outdoor experience will take you through the rain forest on a tree walk high above the ground between eight of the largest Christmas trees in the world. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is lit from end to end and the river is illuminated, creating a special experience as you cross the bridge and view the canyon. This is one of the most unique holiday light displays I have ever seen.” — Peggy Cleveland
“Add twinkling lights to an already magical city and the wow factor goes stratospheric. Paris embraces the Christmas season with magnificent light displays. Stroll up the Champs Elysées, the famous boulevard that stretches up to the Arc de Triomphe, and marvel at the shimmering trees. Chic Avenue Montaigne pulls out all the stops with its stylish Christmas light displays, and the sparkling lights at Place Vendome make the elegant square even more romantic.”
“Christmas in Paris is not complete without stopping by Galeries Lafayette, where a dazzling Christmas tree soars to the heights of the art deco dome. Each year a different decorative theme delights adults and children alike. Enchanting Christmas markets are set up in the Tuileries Gardens and in front of the Hotel de Ville. Little chalets strung in Christmas lights and the aroma of mulled wine create the perfect Christmas vibe. Paris glimmers at Christmas, making it easy to fall under her spell.” — Alison Browne
Carnaby Street In London, England
“London’s funky Carnaby Street has been a favorite of visitors and locals alike since The Beatles helped put it on the map back in the ’60s. But the West End district, filled with shops and boutiques, really shines during the holiday season. Carnaby is renowned for its dazzling, mind-bending light displays, and this year is no different.”
“The Carnaby Christmas Kaleidoscope will feature more than 600 shimmering, gorgeous butterflies stretched over the street, each hand-painted in bright, festive neon colors. Organizers say the glittering butterflies symbolize hope, rebirth, and transformation, a theme that truly resonates with us all. This year, visitors are encouraged to donate to Choose Love, a non-profit that supports refugees around the world. There will also be street performances, pop-ups, and other special events you won’t want to miss; make sure you take a look at the schedule before heading down.
Pro Tip: For a perfect selfie spot, look down. Organizers have marked prime photo spots with special stickers on the pavement!” — Erika Ebsworth-Goold
Upper Canada Village In Morrisburg, Ontario
“I am absolutely obsessed with the annual holiday light display at Upper Canada Village. This heritage site, about an hour away from Ottawa, Ontario, and just minutes from the U.S. border, usually runs seasonal programming relating to the lives of the region’s early settlers. But every December, it utterly transforms into a gorgeous fairyland of lights.”
“In an event known as Alight at Night, more than one million lights are used to coat the historic buildings, the fences, and the trees. The route through the village is less than a mile, but most people take close to an hour to gently stroll through and take in the sites and sounds. Access is via advanced ticketing for an extremely reasonable $15 and the experience goes ahead each night regardless of weather, so you may just find yourself in a snowy wonderland. Hot chocolate is available at the end, along with delicious Beavertail pastries, my personal favorite.” — Vanessa Chiasson
“Spending the holiday in Cascais, Portugal is simply magical. Enjoying the sparkling lights while being in a warmer climate near the sea makes it even better. In December, the town becomes a Christmas wonderland lit with over five million LED and micro LED lights.”
“The streets of downtown Cascais are fun to stroll along any time of year, but during the holidays each street is uniquely decorated and brighter than the next. Alameda Combatentes da Grande Guerra that heads to the Town Hall is surrounded by live poinsettias, while thousands of lights overhead wrap the palm trees that line the street.”
“A giant golden archway leads you to the decorated Town Hall, a very large illuminated tree, brightly lit gift packages, and more. The Christmas market kiosks full of gift ideas and tasty snacks line the sea wall and beckon you to check out their wares.
Pro Tip: Head over to the Casino Estoril Gardens for a ride on the Ferris wheel. It’s in a new location this year, but its sparkling lights will instantly put you in the holiday spirit and you’ll get a nice view, too!” — Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris
“If there’s a European city that takes Christmas lights more seriously than Vigo, Spain, we don’t know what it is. The mayor of Vigo has been on a quest for many years to make the Christmas lights displays in Vigo the very best in the world. Lighted, giant storybooks, a Christmas village, Santa’s House, 10 million lights, more than 450 Christmas trees on display.”
“Decorating that begins in the summer indicates that this is a real effort. The effort seems to be paying off as visitors to this largest city in Galicia delight in the bright and festive atmosphere. Vigo offers guided routes for free walking tours that feature the impressive Christmas lights displays, decorations, ornaments, and attractions.” — Diana Laskaris and Sue Reddel
Czech Republic, Prague
“Romance flourishes during Christmas in Prague. The Old Town Square dazzles with brilliant lights, a large twinkling tree, and fairy tale holiday decor, bringing a glow to the city as well as to the hearts of those spending holiday moments there. Historical buildings, beautiful churches, and architecture, ranging from Romanesque and Baroque to Gothic, add a touch of drama to the storied city landscape.”
“Christmas lights displays add to the festive atmosphere as locals and visitors alike enjoy the city’s beauty. Mulled wine, Czech Christmas cookies, hot roasted chestnuts, and gingerbread treats warm from the inside. The beautiful glow of Christmas lights against the stately buildings with centuries of history makes for an unforgettable dose of European holiday spirit.” — Diana Laskaris and Sue Reddel