Holiday Lights Around the World

We need these glittering displays more than ever this year.

Holiday Lights Around the World

Pedestrians pass a Christmas tree next to Taksim mosque at Taksim square in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday, December 10, 2021.

Photo by AP Photo/Francisco Seco

In the darkest days of the year, in a very dark time, there is a longing for illumination.

And so, all around the world, the holiday lights go on—some of them humble, some of them spectacular, all of them a welcome respite from the dark.

They make the streets an interactive experience. There are tunnels of light—to walk through, as pedestrians do in Tokyo, at the zoo in Johannesburg, South Africa, and at the Holiday Road light show in Calabasas, California; to drive through, at a mall in Panay, the Philippines, where visitors remained in their cars to curb the spread of COVID-19.


People walk through a tunnel of the holiday light displays Thursday, December 9, 2021, in Tokyo.

Photo by AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato

There are real trees and man-made trees and ginormous trees, like the light sculpture in Vigo, Spain, said to be the biggest tree in the world, so big that adults and children stroll inside. Vigo goes all out for Christmas, stringing 11 million LED lights on more than 350 streets.

Some displays are municipal, like the silvery strings of light that adorn the lampposts of Moscow. Some are commercial, like the lights that wrap an electronics store in Syntagma Square in Athens, turning it into a massive giftbox. And some are private, like the over-the-top trimmings of homes in the Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood of Dyker Heights.


People walk in the Old City of Damascus, Syria, decorated for the upcoming Christmas holidays, Tuesday, December 14, 2021.

Photo by AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki

All are wonderful, in the most literal meaning of the word.

Is it possible that as the world struggles through its second Christmas season beset by disease, we need the lights to be brighter than ever? And so we spread them above like a celestial canopy in places from Barcelona, Spain, to the Old City of Damascus, Syria?

Is this how we rage against the dying of the light?


A woman holds a child as they stand inside a Christmas tree made of lights in Vigo, Spain, Sunday, December 12, 2021.

Photo by AP Photo/Lalo Villar


A person dressed as La Santa Muerte poses for a photo in Mexico City’s main square, the Zócalo, as the Christmas lights shine, Thursday, December 9, 2021.

Photo by AP Photo/Marco Ugarte


A nun cleans the floor after decorating the entrance to a church with Christmas lights, in Jerusalem’s Old City, Sunday, December 12, 2021.

Photo by AP Photo/Oded Balilty


A car passes Christmas displays at a drive-through Christmas installation outside a mall in Pasay, Philippines, on Monday, December 13, 2021. Visitors need to stay inside vehicles as they drive around tunnels and zones filled with Christmas displays as a safety measure to help curb the spread of COVID-19 while this predominantly Roman Catholic nation prepares to celebrate one of its most important holidays.

Photo by AP Photo/Aaron Favila


Children walk through a light tunnel at the Johannesburg, South Africa, city zoo Sunday, December 12, 2021. The display is part of the Christmas celebration’s Festival of Lights.

Photo by AP Photo/Jerome Delay


Row homes are covered in holiday decorations along the Miracle on 34th Street Hampden Christmas Street Holiday Show, Thursday, December 9, 2021, in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore.

Photo by AP Photo/Julio Cortez


Visitors interact with clock lighting on the “Palace of Stardust” light trail held for the Christmas season at Hampton Court Palace in southwest London, Tuesday, December 7, 2021. The River Thames–side palace was a home of King Henry VIII and last used as a royal residence more than 200 years ago.

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Dunham


A boy is silhouetted against Christmas lights reflected on a pond as he walks through a park Thursday, December 9, 2021, in Lenexa, Kansas.

Photo by AP Photo/Charlie Riedel


Visitors walk through a light tunnel at a Holiday Road light show in Calabasas, California, Friday, December 10, 2021.

Photo by AP Photo/Jae C. Hong


A man walks by a Christmas tree during the lighting ceremony, outside the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, in Nazareth, Israel, Sunday, December 12, 2021.

Photo by AP Photo/Oded Balilty


People crowd around holiday lights and decorations that adorn a house in Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood, Saturday, December 11, 2021, in New York. Residents are renowned for their displays of over-the-top Christmas light decorations with life-sized Santas, reindeer, toy soldiers, sleighs, and snowmen.

Photo by AP Photo/Wong Maye-E


The Kremlin Wall, the Spasskaya Tower, Red Square, the GUM department store, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge are decorated for Christmas and New Year festivities in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, December 12, 2021.

Photo by AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko


People walk in front of a Christmas-decorated electronic store at Syntagma square in Athens, Greece, Wednesday, December 15, 2021.

Photo by AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis


An Aymara woman talks on her cell phone at the Tejada Sorzano square adorned with holiday lights, in La Paz, Bolivia, Monday, December 13, 2021.

Photo by AP Photo/Juan Karita


Christmas decorations illuminate one of the main avenues in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, December 14, 2021.

Photo by AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti


Raindrops on a car window are backdropped by city lights and a giant lit figure of Santa Claus in Naples, Italy, Thursday, December 9, 2021.

Photo by AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

>> Next: European-Style Christmas Markets Right Here in the States

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