Beautiful Holiday Lights
Collected by Bryan Kitch, AFAR Contributor
The festive feel, and delicate beauty, of holiday lights bring cheer to long, cold winter nights. Here are 26 places to celebrate.
Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V, Denmark
I got to Copenhagen with zero idea that there would be an amusement park right in the middle of it. Let alone a 19th century amusement park, which makes it all the more magical and romantic (in the antiquated sense). At age 23, I still enjoyed...
27 Rue des Cordeliers, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
Unfortunately, I haven't been to enough European Christmas markets to know whether this one is truly extraordinary, but I really love the marché de Noël in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. The little stalls are set up along the Cours...
75009 Paris, France
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is worth a visit if only to stand under its magnificent glass dome. The family business has survived as a one-stop-shopping hub for five generations, thanks to steady innovation and an emphasis on high fashion and...
Warmoezeniersweg 20, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Went over to Brugge the other day to see the ice sculptures and also had a walk through the city. The main square was lit up very nicely and there was an ice rink right in the center. The weather was cold but the atmosphere was poetic.
North University, Austin, TX 78705, USA
The massive display of Christmas light pageantry on 37th Street draws thousands of spectators to this north campus neighborhood on an annual basis in December, but you won't find any nativity scenes here! The theme of this display every year is...
Florence, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy
Food in Italy is still largely about seasonality, and never more so than in late fall when the new olive oil (‘olio nuovo’) begins to arrive in the shops. Take a drive into the Tuscan countryside anytime between late October and December and you...
Marienplatz 1, 80331 München, Germany
Đồng Khởi, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
To know Saigon is to know the traffic and the madness that it is as compared to the rest of the civilized world. Every aspect of moving around the city by foot, motorbike, or taxi is made more complex by the whistling wheels of the common Honda...
Römerberg, 60329 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
There’s no better way to experience the festivities of the holidays than Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) in Germany, and Frankfurt's is particularly beautiful. The markets take place usually in the center of the town, and you'll find all...
Cinnamon, vanilla and anis lead the way. Bells and laughter invite. Two golden angels greet you as you walk through the gate. It's such a special time and no place really seems to bring the joyful feeling of Christmas closer to my heart than the...
V Kotcích 516/15, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město, Czechia
One drizzly December day I came across this intrepid soul teaching archery to a knot of bored preteens in the Czech Republic. I couldn't put my finger on why, exactly, but the scene very much seemed to belong in a tenth story from "Nine Stories."...
Barfüsserpl., 4010 Basel, Switzerland
Switzerland’s favorite cold weather libation is a piping hot glass of glühwein, a German-inspired mulled wine infused with the sweet and spicy flavors of cinnamon, clove, and star anise. The best place to enjoy a glass? The Basel Christmas Market,...
3 Taiyang Ave, Songbei Qu, Haerbin Shi, Heilongjiang Sheng, China
My sister's invitation to participate in the Harbin Olympiade for synchronized skating meant that our Christmas trip was delayed until February. Being from Chicago, I thought I was accustomed to the biting cold, but ending up practically in...
1000 Brussels, Belgium
If you were in Brussels last weekend, you were lucky because the city had laid down the flower carpet in the main square. This is done every five years and I decided to head up the road to have a look since it had been some time since the last...
Plaza de Armas, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile
For the uninitiated northerner, spending Christmas in Santiago can be a little odd. First, it is HOT. December 21 is the summer equinox and the temperature can heat up well into the 90s. There are no cookies in sight here; yuletide cheer comes...
Nong Han, San Sai District, Chiang Mai, Thailand
One of my favorite festivals in the world is the Loi Krathong / Yi Peng ‘festival of light’ in Thailand. Both occur at the same time and although differing slightly, both represent the cleansing of sins. Yi Peng takes place mainly in Chiang Mai in...
700 W 34th St, Baltimore, MD 21211, USA
Every year from the weekend after Thanksgiving until New Years' Eve, the typically quiet street of 34th street in Hampden transforms into an over-the-top Christmas light display, affectionately called "Miracle on 34th Street." Folks moving into...
Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, USA
Balboa park is a landscape of arts and culture in San Diego, including museums, such as The Natural History Museum, and the Museum of Photographic Arts. The photo above is of the large koi pond outside the botanical garden house. It makes for a...
Seongji-ro 153beon-gil, Choeup-dong, Busanjin-gu, Busan, South Korea
The temples of South Korea are always one of my favorite things to check out while traveling there. For one, the temples in South Korea are usually accessible by hike and are often perched on the top of a mountain so just getting to the temple can...
Adamič-Lundrovo nabrežje 6, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Stall after stall of kitschy folk art? Sure. But December’s monthlong Festive Fair also has homemade pear brandy, piles of fresh sauerkraut, and hours of great stories about the days of socialism. Lights on the Triple Bridge add a warm glow. This...
1345 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, USA
The Atlanta Botanical Garden has been voted the city's best place to commune with nature and upon visiting you'll agree. Located next to the sprawling Piedmont Park, the gardens boast 30 acres of plant life. But you'll find more than just flowers...