It’s hard to imagine that Vienna can become any more majestic than it already is, but once the Holidays arrive, it transforms into a romantic display of lights. The Austrian capital is renowned for its Holiday traditions — such as its Christmas markets and New Year’s Eve Waltz. Take in the spectacle at the Rathaus (city hall) while listening to carolers, or attend a concert at the Schönbrunn Palace. At the very least, wander down the streets strung with garlands and chandeliers near St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
This Colombian city transforms itself into a glowing winter wonderland each December. Millions of lights adorn the Medellín River and its surrounding areas, painstakingly placed by dedicated sponsors and volunteers. With different themes for each area, visitors who flock to Medellín will discover extravagant light creations in natural forms such as clouds and flowers in a celebration that begins on December 7 each year.
To commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, people in Israel (as well as Jewish communities around the world) fill their homes and businesses with miniature menorahs that serve as a symbolic gesture of the original lighting miracle. A candle is lit each evening until the final night when the menorah is aglow with eight blazing candles. Take a walking candle-lit tour of historical Nachlaot or Jerusalem’s Old City for a wondrous and contemplative experience of the iconic Jewish celebration of hope and freedom.
Tokyo & Kobe
Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills urban redevelopment is transformed into a glowing sight during the winter time; the foliage-lined Keyakizaka Street and the base of the Mori Tower are dressed with thousands of LED lights. This display glows brightly in blue and white, but stay a little while and watch the colors become a warming red a couple of times each hour. Understated, the Roppongi Hills lights are characteristic of the aesthetic closely associated with Japan — minimal, open and clean.
In Kobe, the Luminarie Light Festival commemorates the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, one of the most devastating to hit the area. The disaster plunged the city into darkness, and the first Luminarie festival was created to light up the city and give the citizens hope that their home could be restored again. For the first event, the Italian government donated lights and designer Valerio Festi collaborated with Kobe native Hirokazu Imaoka to create the display. The ornate result was such a draw that it has since become an annual event.
London’s famous Holiday light displays are equally as stunning as a fireworks show. The English capital’s West End lights up each year with designs suspended above Oxford and Regent Streets for Lumiere London. As these streets are amongst the most popular shopping destinations, the lights add to the festive (if at times frenzied) atmosphere for Holiday shoppers.
Rio de Janeiro
Each year, Rio de Janeiro hosts one of South America’s most spectacular Holiday light displays. The annual event is the third largest in the Brazilian city, featuring an unparalleled fireworks show in the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, complete with an 85-metre tall floating Christmas tree as the centerpiece. With 3.1 million micro-light bulbs, 2,150 strobe effects and 100 LED reflectors, the tree is lit up against a backdrop of brilliant fireworks to reflect the theme each year, and it’s a sure sign that the Holiday season has begun.
Written by Nicole Wong
Headline photo by Laitr Keiows/Shutterstock