11 Streets Around the World With the Most Dazzling Holiday Lights

If you’re starting to feel the winter blues, it’s time to hit the streets for a dose of holiday cheer. Sure, the daylight hours might be dwindling in the northern hemisphere, but many cities around the world are making up for that lack of sunshine with dazzling holiday light displays. From neon lily pads in Medellin to an entire bridge that lights up in a rainbow hue in Tokyo, these 11 streets and areas with magical light installations will catch even the Grinch's eye. 

1. Oxford Street in London

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Paul Hudson

The Oxford Street Christmas lights were switched on with the help of British celebs like Craig David and The Vamps back in early November, but the more than 750,000 LED bulbs are still shining bright on this street in the West End of London. The blue-and-white snowball- and star-shaped lights add holiday cheer to this bustling shopping street, which boasts more than 300 stores. This year, visitors can also donate and name a light for someone special. Proceeds will benefit the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, a U.K. charity that helps keep children safe from abuse and neglect.

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2. Rockefeller Plaza in New York City

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Anthony Quintano

Standing tall at 94 feet, this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is the second tallest tree ever erected at the center. And it takes a lot of bling to cover this New York City holiday icon -- 45,000 LED lights and a Swarovski star with 25,000 crystals, to be exact. The tree remains in the area until the first week of January, so you can keep the holiday spirit going well after December 25. In addition to this Norway spruce, Rockefeller Plaza, which stretches around the ice rink, also features 12 angels blowing trumpets. These sculptures were created by artist Valerie Clarebout and have been part of the holiday display for 60 years. If you can't make it to New York this year (or simply can't muster up the courage to brave the tourist crowds), watch our video of the magical decorations in the nearby window displays on Fifth Avenue

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3. Kobe Luminarie Light Festival in Kobe

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Iasta29

The Kobe Luminarie isn’t a holiday display, but rather a memorial held during the first two weeks in December to honor the victims of the earthquake that struck in Kobe in 1995. The lights were first turned on in 1995 as a symbolic demonstration of the area’s resiliency. Since then, the event has become a tourist attraction with vendors selling food and crafts. The light designs look like Italian cathedrals, which makes sense because the lights they were donated by the Italian government. Views of the lights can also be seen from the 24th floor Kobe City Hall observation deck. This free light display begins at the Hanshin Motomachi station and goes to the Higashi Yuenchi Park, with the streets closed for pedestrians.

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4. King Street in Honolulu

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Daniel Ramirez

Mele Kalikimaka is a phrase meaning Merry Christmas in Hawaii, where the frosty winter weather may never blow in, but the holidays are nonetheless in full swing, especially in downtown Honolulu. Tourists and residents walk or drive down King Street to see the Honolulu City Lights, which run from December 3 to January 1. The focal point of the event is the Christmas tree and giant barefoot Santa and Mrs. Claus, who are dipping their toes in a fountain in front the Honolulu Hale. And be sure to check out the employee Christmas tree contest and wreath exhibits in Honolulu Hale, Hawaii’s historic city hall.

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5. Orchard Road in Singapore

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Michael Gwyther-Jones

The spirit of the holiday season is alive and well on Singapore’s Orchard Road. Once a rural area with pepper and nutmeg farms, this boulevard is now home to a huge interactive Christmas display that’s organized by the Orchard Road Business Association. Beautifully-lit decorations and sparkling arches are installed from the Tanglin Mall to the Plaza Singapura. And along the way are tons of shops, restaurants, cafes, and cinemas. The Christmas celebration also offers entertainment and faux snow at the Tanglin Mall. Buildings are even adorned in lights and decorators compete in the Best Dressed Building contest. 

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6. La Playa Avenue in Medellin

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Edgar Jimenez

The entire city of Medellin in Colombia shows off its holiday spirit come December. There are impressive displays in Parque Botero and the Cerro Nutibara, but the biggest of them all is the one on La Playa Avenue and Medellin River. During the holidays, the river becomes an electric wonderland with neon ripples, vivid lily pads, and illuminated floating fish. Food vendors and street performers also make their way to the area. The display runs from early December to early January and has become a big tourist draw, so expect crowds. The whole affair is sponsored by the Empresas Publicas de Medellin.  

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7. Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo

Photo courtesy of Flickr/y kawahara

It’s only for special occasions that the normally plain Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo puts on a rainbow show. Every year, for Christmas and New Year, the suspension bridge lights up in a variety of colors that spectacularly reflect off the water in Tokyo Bay. The spectacle is called the Millennium Illumination. The bridge runs from Tokyo to the island of Odaiba with pedestrian sidewalks on the lower deck. Lights can be seen from land or on the water in a boat. The lighting ceremony typically kicks off at the beginning of December and can be viewed from Decks Tokyo Beach. 

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8. Strøget in Copenhagen

Photo courtesy of Johan Wessman/News Oresund via Flickr

Follow the illuminated garland and heart-shaped lights on Strøget and you’ll wind up at Copenhagen’s Julemarked Christmas market in old town. Sip on gløgg and munch on honey and chocolate treats as you make your way down this one-mile pedestrian street, which also boasts designer boutiques and pop-up Christmas shops. 

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9. Virgin Money Street in Edinburgh

Royal Mile in Edinburgh, Scotland turns into the Virgin Money Street of Light during the winter, featuring castle-like structures and 26 arches that run from Tron Kirk to the West Parliament Square. The lights reach as high as 32 feet and twinkle in tune to music recorded by the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and other choirs. The 20-minute performances are put on by Virgin Money and the Royal Mile Business Association. The performances are held from St. Andrew’s Day to Christmas Eve and are free to the public, but attendees must secure tickets. 

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10. Callaway Gardens in Georgia

You’ve heard of drive-through movies and now you can get acquainted with drive-through Christmas light displays. What we mean to say is that you don’t have to brave the cold to see the Fantasy In Lights exhibit at the Callaway Gardens in Georgia. This forest road is illuminated by 12 holiday-themed scenes, including Christmas Tree Lane, March of the Toy Soldiers, Snowflake Valley, and more. In total, there are about eight million lights used. To put things in perspective, the event began in 1992 with five scenes designed by creatives from Disney’s Imagineering department.

Don't want the fun to stop? Spend the night. Callaway Gardens offers overnight packages that include VIP Jolly Trolley trips. Kids will love the Christmas Village, where they can take photos with Santa or partake in activities like cupcake decorating. 

11. Geneva Lux Festival in Geneva

The Geneva Lux festival doesn’t just take over one street, but rather spreads across the city center. This year, there are 18 illuminated sculptures, including Cédric le Borgne’s “The Travellers” installation, which features life-size men and women perched on rooftops and flying over the city. The captivating festival was first put on in 2014, thanks to Geneva's mayor, Guillaume Barazzone. The modern artworks, which are created by Swiss and international artists, stay in place in the Jardin Anglais, Place Bel-Air, Place Simon Goulard, Place Longemalle, and Rue de Mont-Blanc from early December to the end of January. 

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