America's Most Dazzling: See Your State's Wildest Holiday Light Display

Whether totally tacky or spectacularly beautiful, ostentatious light displays are a true sign of the holiday season. Check out some of the most extravagant light shows in each US state (and DC, too!).

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London
London

London

Father Christmas and Mrs. Claus wave to the crowds during Harrods’ Annual Christmas Parade in London. 960 1280

Steve Finn/Harrods via Getty Images  

Kanagawa, Japan

Kanagawa, Japan

Santa Claus has no boundaries when it comes to spreading holiday cheer. He swims with a dolphin at Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. 960 1280

Junko Kimura/Getty Images  

Washington, DC

Washington, DC

Santa Claus must be equipped to travel through all types of weather. In this case, St. Nicholas dons water skis to glide across the Potomac River at the National Harbor. Through the magic of modern technology, it’s amazing how someone with a camera always happens to snap a photo of Santa’s daring waterskiing adventure on Christmas Eve each year. 960 1280

Mark Wilson/Getty Images  

Stavropol, Russia

Stavropol, Russia

Father Frost, aka Santa Claus, and his granddaughter Snegurochka the Snowmaid (center) visit a city park to meet and entertain residents in Stavropol, a city in southern Russia. Russians traditionally celebrate the coming of the New Year on December 31 and Orthodox Christmas in January. 960 1280

Reuters/Eduard Korniyenko  

Krasnoyarsk, Russia

Krasnoyarsk, Russia

A child and Father Frost pet an Evenki reindeer at the Christmas Food Fair in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Peasants, farmers, fishermen and hunters sell their crafts, goods and products at the city’s annual fair. 960 1280

Reuters/Ilya Naymushin  

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii

In Honolulu, HI, Santa Claus throws up the customary "shaka" sign from his canoe while sharing a wave with a surfer near Waikiki Beach. 960 1280

Reuters  

New York City

New York City

Dozens of Santas ring their bells while marching through Midtown Manhattan during the Volunteers of America's Annual Sidewalk Santa Parade. Fifty fully-suited Santas take to the streets of Manhattan the morning after Thanksgiving to raise money for those in need. 960 1280

Reuters/Adrees Latif  

Cook, Australia

Cook, Australia

Santa Claus poses in front of the Great Southern Railway’s Indian Pacific, in Cook, Australia. The train makes a 2,704-mile trip between Sydney and Perth twice a week -- crossing the world's longest stretch of straight railway track on the Nullarbor Plain. 960 1280

Ashlee Ralla/Getty Images  

Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso, Chile

Santa waves to people from a boat along the coast of Valparaiso, about 75 miles northwest of Santiago, Chile. Every year, fishermen in Valparaiso organize a Santa Claus boat trip to bring Christmas gifts and well wishes to people waiting on the shore. 960 1280

Reuters/Eliseo Fernandez  

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

In Seoul, South Korea, postmen dress up as Santa Claus and ride motorcycles to deliver the mail. Christmas has become increasingly popular over the years in South Korea, which is the only East Asian country to recognize Christmas as a national holiday. 960 1280

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images  

Yenisei River, Russia

Yenisei River, Russia

Along Russia’s Yenisei River, Santa can be spotted traveling on self-made water skis made of plastic foam. The sticks are designed to propel ole St. Nick forward. 960 1280

Reuters/Ilya Naymushin  

Manila, Philippines

Manila, Philippines

Santa -- also a professional diver -- gestures at a visitor inside a giant aquarium as part of a Christmas celebration at the Manila Ocean Park. The Philippines, a mainly Roman Catholic country in Southeast Asia, prepares for Christmas early. In fact, shopping malls begin playing Christmas carols in September, while the decorations, including lanterns and fireworks, go up in early December. 960 1280

Reuters/Romeo Ranoco  

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Santa Claus distributes candy from a special Christmas gondola in the canal city of Venice, Italy. 960 1280

Reuters  

Klampenborg, Denmark

Klampenborg, Denmark

More than 150 people donning Santa suits converge on Bakken amusement park in Sweden to attend the World Santa Claus Congress. Bakken, the world’s oldest operating amusement park is located near Klampenborg, Denmark. 960 1280

Reuters/Casper Christoffersen  

Gallivare, Sweden

Gallivare, Sweden

Santas from Sweden (right) and Spain (left) race on their sleighs during a competition in the Santa Claus Winter Games in Gallivare, a town in northern Sweden. Santas from all over the world compete in typical Santa sports, including chimney climbing, porridge eating, kick sledding and reindeer racing. 960 1280

Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski Odly  

Christmas in Salzburg, Austria
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

www.austria.info  

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

www.austria.info  

Cologne Christmas Market

Cologne Christmas Market

With 7 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

www.koelnerwelhnachtsmarkt.com  

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

Hannah Swithinbank, flickr  

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

Reuters  

Prague Christmas

Prague Christmas

Prague's wooden stalls bring Bohemian crystal, wooden toys and tasty food to the masses, plus the chance to pet a few live animals like these hungry llamas. 960 1280

Reuters  

Dresden's Christmas market, the Striezelmarkt

Dresden's Christmas market, the Striezelmarkt

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

Reuters  

Dresden's Christmas market

Dresden's Christmas market

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 is a grand affair that beckons nearly 2 million visitors annually from around the world, many of them children ready to enjoy the festival rides and tasty snacks. 960 1280

Nuremberg Tourism; Uli Kowatsch  

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

Nuremberg Tourism; Uli Kowatsch  

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
Christmas in Tivoli

Christmas in Tivoli

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  

Santa Comes to Town

Santa Comes to Town

Every year the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade ends with Santa coming to a stop in front of the department store on 6th Ave, marking the beginning of the Christmas season in the Big Apple. Come explore some of the timeless traditions of Christmas in New York City. 960 1280

Eric Liebowitz / NBC / NBC NewsWire / Getty Images  

Wollman Rink in Central Park

Wollman Rink in Central Park

Make the best of New York City's cold weather and enjoy ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park (on the east side between 62nd and 63rd Streets). 960 1280

Miguel Sanz / Moment Open / Getty Images  

Empire State Building

Empire State Building

At the center of the iconic NYC skyline sits the Empire State Building. During the months of November and December, the top of the building is lit up with red and green lights to celebrate christmas. The first lighting each year coincides with the opening night for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. 960 1280

Stuart Monk / iStock / Getty Images Plus  

The Rockettes

The Rockettes

Speaking of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, don’t miss out on seeing the Rockettes’ show-stopping leg kick precision chorus line 5 days a week during the holidays at Radio City Music Hall.

 

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Mike Pont / WireImage / Getty Images  

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Started in 1933, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has become a timeless tradition for New Yorkers and tourists alike. The tree is on average between 69 and 100 feet tall, and its lighting ceremony is accompanied with a live broadcast in early December. 960 1280

Rob Young from United Kingdom (Christmas @ Rockefeller Plaza) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

5th Avenue Holiday Window Displays

5th Avenue Holiday Window Displays

Shopping in NYC during the holidays can be a nightmare due to the tourist-packed streets. But there is definitely a redeeming quality to making the trek into the crowds: holiday window displays! Every year in mid-November, the biggest department stores in New York City create one-of-a-kind presentations of holiday-cheer in their exterior windows, usually with an original theme or throw-back to years past. (Shown here: one of Macy's Herald Square 2014 holiday window displays). 960 1280

Ben Hider / Getty Images  

Gigantic Holiday Cheer

Gigantic Holiday Cheer

Giant ornaments are displayed annually during the holidays at different locations in NYC, including Rockefeller Center (across the street from Radio City Music Hall) on 6th Avenue. 960 1280

Roff Bruderer / Blend Images / Getty Images  

Union Square Holiday Market

Union Square Holiday Market

Open yearly from mid-November to Christmas Eve, the Union Square Holiday Market is the perfect place to get unique handmade gifts for everyone on your list. 960 1280
Sledding in the City

Sledding in the City

If weather trends stay on course for New York City, you'll want to prepare yourself for some major snow this holiday season. Take advantage of the wintery weather and join the fun at any of the dozen local parks for some sledding! Prospect Park in Brooklyn (pictured here) or Central Park in Manhattan are classic locations to enjoy some slip-sliding fun. 960 1280

Spencer Platt / Getty Images  

Dyker Heights Holiday Lights

Dyker Heights Holiday Lights

For a look at what happens in the boroughs during the holidays, take a trip to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn and tour their annual holiday decorations. The residents won’t label it a competition, but it’s hard not to see it that way when each new year brings bigger and brighter displays. 960 1280

Christmas in NYC  10 Photos

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