Christmas Crazy

Go "Christmas Crazy" with a German-style market, a gingerbread house competition and the brightest light displays, plus the coolest ice sculptures and the most extreme Santas on Earth.

Photos

Leicester, England

Leicester, England

The Festival of Lights, as Diwali is known, celebrates the victory of good over evil, and is India's biggest and most important holiday of the year. Hindus, Sikhs and Jains celebrate the 5-day festival worldwide as well. The largest Diwali celebration outside of India takes place in Leicester, England’s Golden Mile section. 960 1280

Reuters/Darren Staples   

Paramaribo, Suriname

Paramaribo, Suriname

Young boys chant prayers in celebration of Diwali at a children’s orphanage in Suriname’s capital city of Paramaribo. The South American country is home to a sizable population of Indian origin; nearly 40% of Suriname’s population descend from 19th-century contract workers from India. 960 1280

Reuters/Ranu Abhelakh  

Paramaribo, Suriname

Paramaribo, Suriname

Children in Suriname dress up as Hindu goddesses on the eve of Diwali. On the left is Parvati, the goddess of power who gives life energy to all. She's also said to engage in an eternal game of winning and losing with her husband Lord Shiva. In recognition of that cosmic roughhousing, gambling (or playing cards) during Diwali is considered auspicious. Or maybe just a good excuse to gamble. 960 1280

Reuters/Ranu Abhelakh   

Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Young women put the finishing touches on a rangoli in a neighborhood courtyard. The decorative design, created with materials such as colored rice, flour and sand, as well as flower petals, symbolizes a sacred welcoming area for Hindu deities -- and is a common sight during Diwali. In the western Indian state of Gujarat, the day following Diwali also marks the New Year. 960 1280

Reuters/Amit Dave   

Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Different regions and faiths of India incorporate various narratives into the celebration. In Gujarat, the festival honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. In North India, Lord Rama, after a 14-year exile. In South India, Lord Krishna, after his defeat of the demon Narakasura. In Jainism, the nirvana of Lord Mahavira. In Sikhism, the sixth Sikh guru's release from prison. The unifying theme: the victory of good over evil. 960 1280

Reuters/Amit Dave  

Amritsar, Punjab

Amritsar, Punjab

Indian Sikhs light candles at their spiritual center, the Golden Temple, in Amritsar, India, for Diwali. Sikhs celebrate Diwali to mark the release from prison of their sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, along with 52 other political prisoners, by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619. Sikhs celebrated the return of Guru Hargobind by lighting diyas around the Golden Temple. The tradition continues today. 960 1280

Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images  

The White House

The White House

President Obama extends greetings to Sri Narayanachar Digalakote, a Hindu priest and Sanskrit scholar, after lighting an oil lamp for Diwali at the White House. The holiday was first celebrated at the White House in 2003, with a public liaison officer hosting Indian Americans. Six years later, Barack Obama became the first US president to serve as Diwali host. 960 1280

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images  

Felicity, Trinidad

Felicity, Trinidad

Handmade diyas, or earthen oil lamps, add a personal touch to households celebrating Diwali. Here, a boy prepares a lamp at his family home in Trinidad-Tobago. The largest Hindu festival in the Caribbean nation, Diwali is celebrated with the symbolic lighting of diyas, each meant to dispel darkness. 960 1280

Reuters/Andrea De Silva  

Varanasi, India

Varanasi, India

A young woman lights an earthen lamp on the steps leading to the Ganges River. Every year, 15 days after Diwali, the steps leading to “Ganga” are adorned with more than 1 million lights in tribute to Hinduism’s most sacred river. The celebration, known as Dev Deepavali (meaning “light festival of gods”), is led by Hindu devotees in the city by its banks, Varanasi. 960 1280

Reuters/Jitendra Prakas  

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A Hindu devotee's baby is placed on a temple floor for good luck during Diwali celebrations in the small town of Bangi, near Maylaysia’s capital of Kuala Lumpur. Hindus make up roughly 7% of Malaysia’s population of 25 million. However, Diwali is recognized in the predominantly Muslim country as an official holiday. 960 1280

Reuters/Bazuki Muhammad   

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is home to a sizable Hindu community, as much as 12% of the population. Here, Hindu devotees pray during Diwali at the Shivm Kovi temple in Sri Lanka’s cultural capital of Colombo. Alongside India, the island country recognizes Diwali as an official holiday. 960 1280

Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatt   

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

The Vienna Magic of Advent fair features more than 150 stands where shoppers can purchase Christmas gifts, decorations and warm drinks. 960 1280

DIETER NAGL  

Bath, England

Bath, England

In the center of Bath, 170 “chalets” offer holiday shoppers an array of typical British goods from mince pies to Christmas ornaments to toys.  960 1280

Paolo Ferla  

Dresden, Germany

Dresden, Germany

Dresden hosts Germany’s oldest Christmas market, which features crafts made by local artisans, toys and holiday treats, most notably, Dresdner Stollen, a traditional sweet bread stuffed with dried fruits.  960 1280

Sean Gallup  

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

In addition to traditional crafts and food, Tallinn’s picturesque Christmas market, in the Estonian capital’s center, features reindeer, a mini zoo and snow sculptures. 960 1280

AFP  

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg, France

Billing itself as the Capital of Christmas, Strasbourg is not to be missed during the holiday season. The Christkindlesmarik was established in 1571, the first market of its kind in Europe. Indulgent foods such as foie gras, locally brewed beer, and baked goods are signature items, as are traditional Alsatian handicrafts. 960 1280

The Image Gate  

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden

An abundance of holiday items are on display at Stockholm’s Old Town Christmas Market. Specialties include smoked reindeer, elk meat, knitted hats and Glogg, a traditional hot, mulled wine. 960 1280

SVEN NACKSTRAND  

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

In Budapest, at the annual Christmas market on St. Stephen’s Square, you’ll find traditional crafts in wooden market stalls. The center of the market is home to a skating rink. 960 1280

ATTILA KISBENEDEK  

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

The market is one of many attractions that make up Edinburgh’s Christmas Festival in Princes Street Gardens. The Festival, which also includes games, rides and an ice rink, runs from mid-November until January 7 each year. 960 1280

Jeff J Mitchell  

Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain

Christmas vendors take over Madrid’s Plaza Mayor from late November through December. The prime products pedaled are tiny clay figurines to set in the Christmas Belen (nativities). 960 1280

Denis Doyle  

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

The Christmas Market at Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens is a winter wonderland that includes 60 stalls selling holiday wares, as well as rides, games, music and more. Other markets in Copenhagen include this one in Hojbroplads. 960 1280

Francis Dean  

Christmas in Salzburg, Austria

Christmas in Salzburg, Austria

The squares and streets of Salzburg, Austria, come alive with the sound of Christmas music during the festive holiday season. In Cathedral and Residence squares, you’ll find stalls, shops and street performers. 960 1280

JTB Photo, Getty Images  

Christmas in Salzburg, Austria

Christmas in Salzburg, Austria

The musical town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and setting for The Sound of Music, celebrates the Christmas season with plenty of music and carols amid the festive holiday shopping. 960 1280

JTB Photo, Getty Images  

Cologne Christmas Market

Cologne Christmas Market

With seven separate Christmas markets, the Cologne Christmas Market, nestled amid the town's landmark cathedral and Old Town Hall, attracts 2 million visitors annually. 960 1280

bernsmann, iStock  

Cologne Christmas Market

Cologne Christmas Market

The Cologne Christmas Market showcases 160 wooden stalls, helmed by merchants selling wares such as classic holiday ornaments, wooden decorations and children's toys, as well as plenty of snacks and warm, spiced wine. 960 1280

bernsmann, iStock  

Prague's Old Town Square

Prague's Old Town Square

Prague's Old Town Square is home to the city’s annual Christmas market, complete with an illuminated tree -- the centerpiece of plenty of holiday cheer that runs from late November through the first days of the New Year. 960 1280

IRYNA BERESTYUK. Adagi0, iStock  

Prague Christmas

Prague Christmas

Prague's wooden stalls bring Bohemian crystal, wooden toys and tasty food to the masses. 960 1280

gornostaj, iStock  

Dresden's Christmas Market

Dresden's Christmas Market

Dresden's Christmas market, the Striezelmarkt, has been a holiday tradition since 1434, making it Germany's oldest Christmas fair. Check out market’s centerpiece attraction -- the world's tallest Christmas candle pyramid, more than 45 feet tall. 960 1280

Juergen Sack, iStock  

You’ll find shopping galore at Dresden's Christmas market, with holiday decorations, toys and unique handicrafts in the city's historic district. 960 1280

iStock  

Nuremberg's Christkindlesmarkt

Nuremberg's Christkindlesmarkt

Nuremberg's Christkindlesmarkt takes place in the city’s Main Market Square. As one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany, the event features some 180 booths selling Christmas goods such as mulled wine, spicy gingerbread and roast sausages. 960 1280

Thomas Langer, Getty Images  

Copenhagen Christmas at Tivoli Gardens

Copenhagen Christmas at Tivoli Gardens

Copenhagen hosts a Christmas market with a twist at the city's famous Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world. 960 1280

Arjan de Jager, iStock  

For a small fee, Christmas in Tivoli offers the classic market experience, combined with amusement park rides like swings and carousels, as well as live entertainment. 960 1280

Esben Theis Jensen, flickr  

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