The 7 Best Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremonies in the World

The holidays are quickly approaching and there is perhaps no better way to embrace them by attending a tree lighting ceremony. Christmas trees are erected all over the world, some man-made, some shipped from other countries and some famous. Whether you prefer a traditional tree complete with garland and twinkling lights, or prefer one made out of lobster crates, we have discovered some of the best tree lighting ceremonies in the world.

7. Lobster Trap Tree Lighting, New England Area

For a really unique Christmas Tree lighting ceremony you will want to head to any number of towns around New England- including Rockland, Maine and Gloucester, Massachusetts. It is here where apparently lobsters and Christmas go hand in hand. Rockland is home to the world’s largest Lobster Trap Tree, dating back to 2003 when the tree was built with 152 traps, all by volunteers. Each trap is outfitted with a red door and 480 ft of garland is used to decorate, along with 125 lobster buoys that were brought to the tree by lobstering families. The tree is lighted both from the inside as well as with twinkle lights throughout the garland. And the topper, a 5 foot fiberglass lobster that reigns over the tree for the holiday season.

Lobster Trap Christmas Tree

6. Rodeo Drive Holiday Lighting, California

On November 22, 2015 the Holiday Lighting Ceremony takes place on Rodeo Drive, a place where Christmas shopping is taken to the extreme. This free event takes places on 200,200 and 400 Blocks of Rodeo Drive and features live performances, music and a whole lot of lights. It’s not just one tree that gets lit up here, instead it is 42 Palm trees that get illuminated along with twinkling birches and chandeliers. In the past, the ceremony has included a fireworks show and a snow shower of confetti. You never know what you are going to get when you show up for this over the top holiday lighting celebration.

Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock.com
Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock.com

5. Zilker Holiday Tree, Texas

This man-made tree stands a whopping 155 feet tall, featuring 39 streamers that each hold 81 multicolored bulbs, making the total number of lights 3,309. The top of the tree features a double star that measures 10 feet from point to point and displays 150 frosted bulbs. The tree was actually created by City of Austin electricians in the 1960’s and manages to hold on to its retro, mod like vibe. On November 29th this mammoth tree gets lit up in the official tree lighting ceremony where one lucky winner gets to flip the switch. Featuring local entertainment, food, novelties and live music; this celebration is truly epic. Make sure to come back to this tree after December 7th to walk the Trail of Lights, a 1.25 mile long path with over 50 displays and decorated trees. Austin, Texas certainly knows how to make its residents get into the holiday spirit.

Photo by: City of Austin
Photo by: City of Austin

4. National Christmas Tree Lighting, Washington, D.C.

In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse to light a 48-foot tree decorated with 2,500 red, white and green bulbs. A local choir along with a quartet from the U.S Marine Band performed. All these years later this holiday tradition continues and brings citizens together to share messages of peace and hope. The lighting ceremony this year takes place on December 3rd and those hoping to attend must apply for a free ticket through the online lottery. Expect a televised ceremony complete with celebrity hosts, live music performers and of course, the President and First Family.

National Christmas Tree Washington

3. Ski Tree Lighting, Colorado

This entire ski town is loaded with Christmas trees and thus they have decided to put their own spin on a holiday tradition. Instead of cutting down one of the many trees in the area, Telluride has created a huge Christmas tree out of old skies that the community has donated. The ceremony takes place December 5, 2015 between 5:30-7:30pm and includes a ceremonial bonfire where old skis go up in flames to honor Ullr, the old Norse patron saint of skiers.

Photo by: Lodging Telluride
Photo by: Lodging Telluride

2. Trafalgar Square, London

Every year since 1947 a Chrstimas tree has been given to the people of London from the people of Norway, in gratitude for Britain’s support during WWII. The tree is normally a Norweigan Spruce, measuring over 20 meters high and aged about 50-60 years. The tree lighting is performed by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, the British Ambassador to Norway and the Mayor of Oslo. It is decorated in typical Norweigan fashion with vertical strings of lights and energy efficient light bulbs. Different groups performs carols in the square alongside this beautiful, handpicked and carefully delivered tree.

Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.com
Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.com

1. Rockefeller Center, New York

It has been a tradition since 1933, when a tree was placed in NYC’s famous Rockefeller Center and continues to be one of the most famous tree lighting ceremonies in the world. The lighting of the tree is considered to be a symbol of the start of the holiday season all over the world. The annual tree lighting ceremony is free and open to the public and takes place on Wednesday December 2nd, 2015 between 7-9pm and if you can’t be there, you can still watch it on TVO. The ceremony involves tens of thousands of spectators, live performances and the magical moment that the tree is illuminated.

Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock.com
Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock.com

America’s 10 Best Towns to Visit During the Holidays

It’s that time of year again, sleigh bells are ringing, Christmas lights are strung from rooftops and around trees, carols are playing over the radio and there is a feeling of holiday cheer in the air. Some towns in America take the holidays extra serious, with festive decorations, tree lighting ceremonies, parades, contests and more. From traditional Victorian Christmas Festivals to those that feature over 5 million lights, here are America’s best towns to visit during the holidays.

10. Woodstock, Vermont

The air smells like pine needles, the ground lightly dusted with snow and the twinkling of lights shine down on this town during the holiday season. For the past 25 years this town has hosted Wassail Weekend, a pre-Christmas festival that is rooted in 19th century Norse culture and traditions. Wassail is a hot beverage, something like cider that is associated with Christmastime. The festival brings a parade of over 50 horses and riders that are in holiday costumes and period dresses, as well as wagon and sleigh rides. Don’t forget about the feast and the tours of the most notable historic buildings as well. Add in local shops that decorate their windows and stay open late for shoppers during the festival, friendly locals and an old-world charm, and this may be the perfect town to visit this holiday season.

Photo by: Scenic VT PHotos
Photo by: Scenic VT PHotos

9. McAdenville, North Carolina

This small town just 20 minutes outside of Charlotte has actually renamed itself “Christmas Town USA” during the month of December each year. This small town draws an average of 600,000 people each year who come to gaze at the 500,000 lights that decorate this town. This town kicks off its holiday cheer with a tree lighting ceremony on December 1st where the big switch is turned on to reveal the 500,000 red, white and green lights. It takes about 375 trees to house all these lights and they light a route that is perfect for a winter stroll through the downtown. Along with these lights are homes that are lit up by owners, who all love to take part in this holiday celebration. Enjoy hot chocolate and kettle corn as you stroll through the downtown and down to the nearby lake which features 33 trees liming the perimeter and a 75 foot water fountain that is lit with vibrant colors. It’s truly Christmas here all December long.

McAdenville, North Carolina

8. Ogden, Utah

Located in Northern Utah, this great railway hub of a town welcomes in the holiday season each year with their downtown Christmas Village. From the Saturday after Thanksgiving through January 1st the downtown area is aglow with magnificent displays and holiday lights. Every year thousands of tourists come to view the Christmas lights and replica cottages that are modeled after Santa’s Village at the North Pole. To open the Christmas Village an Electric Light Parade fills the streets, loaded with elaborate floats, themes and performers. Santa also happens to arrive this day and flips the switch to turn on the lights and illuminate the village. Each of the 59 cottages have their own theme, including The Elf Workshop, The Grinch and of course, Santa’s Castle. Ride on the Polar Express Train, shop at Santa’s store and marvel at the millions of lights that light this village up.

Photo by: Our Beck Treks
Photo by: Our Beck Treks

7. Vail, Colorado

This town turns into a true Winter Wonderland when the holiday season hits. December brings the festivities of Snowdaze to the town, when fresh snow is celebrated with live concerts each night. The village is filled with sponsors and après parties and former performers include the Barenaked Ladies, Wilco and O.A.R. Vail also plays host to Holidaz, a celebration that includes the tree lighting ceremony, a New Year’s Eve torchlight parade and some incredible fireworks. Enjoy outdoor skating, hot coffee from local producers and equally warming cocktails. This incredible winter destination has more than 5,2000 acres of ski and snowboard terrain and things only get better during the holiday season. Get here and discover why this is one of America’s most loved towns, especially in December.

Photo by: Panoramio/Ash Cook
Photo by: Panoramio/Ash Cook

6. Nantucket, Massachusetts

The festivities in this town really started in the 1970’s, as too many locals left town to shop in Cape Cod, and there needed to be a solution. This island town quickly came up with an annual Christmas Stroll, in which stores stayed open late and shop owners entertained shoppers with wine, hot chocolate, cider and Christmas cookies while they browsed. Nowadays this Christmas Stroll lasts for the whole first weekend of December and visitors can take part in walking amid dozens of seven foot Christmas trees that are illuminated at night and the 20-foot tree that talks to all visitors who visit it. Carolers sing at various downtown locations, live entertainment takes place, craft shows happen and Santa and Mrs. Claus always make an appearance.

Nantucket, Massachusetts Christmas

5. Ogunquit, Maine

It used to be an artist’s colony but has transformed into a summer getaway, not the first place one would think of when it comes to the Holiday season. But visiting here during the holidays means lower prices, a laid-back feeling and enough festivities to keep you going. Christmas by the Sea Festival features a town tree lighting ceremony with caroling and warm drinks, concerts, a meet and greet with Santa, beer and wine tasting, nightly bonfires, Christmas craft making workshops and more. There are plenty of local shops for those last minute gifts and plenty of friendly locals, and great deals on accommodations and dining here.

Photo by: Discover New England/Paul LaCedra
Photo by: Discover New England/Paul LaCedra

4. Naples, Florida

If you want to avoid the snowy weather but still want to enjoy that festive feeling, there is no better place than Naples to head to. This snowbird-style winter wonderland lures visitors with its festive ambiance, luxury stores, fantastic dining and warm weather. The headquarters for the official Christmas tree is Third Street South where twinkling lights and red and silver decorations adorn the streets. It is here where Santa comes to visit, snow falls out of the lampposts and shows take place throughout the month. On Fifth Avenue South is where the Christmas Parade takes place, along with awesome shopping for the Holidays event, which features live music, dancing and dining. Those who still want holiday cheer but want to avoid the snow, this is the town for you.

Naples Florida Christmas

3. Nevada City, California

Nevada City is located about an hour northwest of Sacramento, population of just over 3,000 and it happens to take great pride in its annual Victorian Christmas Festival. Already picturesque all year round with its historic buildings and mountain surroundings, this town transforms into a beautiful picture perfect Christmas Card during the holiday season. The town brings in authentic gas lamps, twinkling white lights and carolers that dress up in Victorian apparel. The smell of roasted chestnuts and holiday food will fill the air as you wander through the streets that over-flow with Christmas treasures. Make sure to check out the famous walking Christmas tree and the living nativity scene, as well as take a ride in a horse drawn carriage. Visitors are also encouraged to dress up in period attire, complete with feathers, scarves and top hats.

Photo by: Nevada City Chamber of Commerce
Photo by: Nevada City Chamber of Commerce

2. Branson, Missouri

It is known as the Ozark Mountain Christmas here in this town, as Branson transforms into a winter wonderland complete with twinkling lights, live shows and plenty of shopping. Here in this town they don’t even wait until thanksgiving has passed to start their holiday cheer, celebrations run from the beginning of November through New Year’s Day. Branson is the live music capital of the world and visitors should plan on attending one of the famous events that incorporate traditional Christmas music. Visiting the Silver Dollar City’s an Old Time Christmas Festival is a must when you are here, where 5 million lights, two live chows, 1,000 decorated Christmas trees and the awesome light parade all take place. Many of the hotels and resorts in this town pull out all stops for the holidays and expect visits with Santa, special activities for kids and lots of yummy treats.

Photo by: Branson Ticket Travel
Photo by: Branson Ticket Travel

1. Historic Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

It is Washington D.C.’s oldest neighborhood, beautiful already with its historic buildings that line the streets, but it really comes alive during the holiday season. With over 450 stores, restaurants and galleries, the streets come alive with Yuletide decorations. The Holiday Window Competition that takes place each year means visitors are privy to the gorgeous and innovative displays that shop keepers come up with. Think roasted chestnuts, horse-drawn sleigh rides, appearances by St. Nicholas, carolers in Victorian costumes, dancers and other entertainment.

Photo by: Hotel Junkie
Photo by: Hotel Junkie

6 Christmas Attractions You Can Visit Year Round

For most of us, Christmas only comes once a year and although festivities may start as early as November, most are over by January. For those looking to extend the holiday season just a little bit longer, you are in luck. Cities, towns and attractions all over North America have taken the Christmas spirit and started celebrating it all year round. From towering Santa Claus statues to the largest Christmas store in the world, to roller coasters and even breakfast with the big guy, here are six attractions and towns where Christmas is celebrated all year round.

6. Santa Claus, Indiana

The southern Indiana town was originally called Santa Fe when it was established in 1854 but quickly had to change its name as there was already another Santa Fe in the state. The town meeting was held on Christmas Eve to determine the town name and thus in the Christmas spirit, it was named Santa Claus. The town boasts street names such as Jingle Bells Drive and Candy Cane Lane as well as themed attractions such as Santa’s Candy Castle, Santa Claus Museum and Santa’s Lodge. Visitors pack the Holiday World theme park which is loader with wooden roller coasters and waterslides. The most visited attraction here may just be the post office where residents make it a habit to stop in and read and respond to the letters addressed to the town’s namesake.

Photo by: Napkin Dreams
Photo by: Napkin Dreams

5. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Today the city is known as “Christmas City, USA” and indeed it was born on Christmas eve in 1741, founded by missionaries who set up a commune on the banks of the Lehigh River. This city attracts visitors all year round with its impressive 91 foot tall star that is lit from 4:30 pm until midnight every night of the year. Along with the star are many displays where visitors can learn about three centuries of Christmas history. Although accessible year round, the holiday season is really when this city shines offering one of the country’s most impressive Christmas markets. Stock up on presents while you enjoy traditional German cuisine and the sounds of holiday tunes. Horse drawn carriage rides and walking tours are also offered throughout the city.

Photo by: CN Traveler
Photo by: CN Traveler

4. Castle Noel, Ohio

It calls itself America’s largest indoor year-round Christmas entertainment attraction and Castle Noel is sure to get visitors into the holiday spirit no matter what time of year it is. It is here where you can find the largest collection of Hollywood Christmas movie props and costumes from movies such as “the Grinch” and “Elf”. Castle Noel also boasts an incredible array of animated New York City Christmas windows featuring thousands of toys from stores such as Sak’s and Bloomingdale’s. Make sure to take a ride inside the 25-foot-tall animated Christmas tree where it is snowing inside and you will earn a place on the “Wall of Fame”. The gift shop is the perfect place to pick up any Christmas themed presents as well as check out the world famous Mark Klaus sculptures.

Photo by: Castle Noel
Photo by: Castle Noel

3. North Pole, Alaska

Situated 1,700 miles south of the actual North Pole, visitors to this suburb of Fairbanks can celebrate Christmas all year round. The town was named North Pole when a development company bought the area in 1952 and named it that in hopes of attracting a toy manufacturer or theme-park developer to the area. That didn’t happen and instead the town turned itself into a Christmas destination all year round complete with candy colored street signs for St. Nicholas Drive and Snowman Lane. Santa Claus House is where visitors will find live reindeer, Santa photo ops, ornaments and gifts to purchase. If you really want to experience the Christmas Spirit head here during the annual Winter Festival where fireworks and an ice festival brings in sculptors from around the world. Completing the town is a 42-foot tall, 900-pound Santa statue.

Photo by: Alaska.org
Photo by: Alaska.org

2. Santa’s Village, Ontario

Although you cannot visit this attraction year round (as it closes during the winter for a few months) it is one of the only outdoor Christmas attractions you can visit during the summertime, and thus deserves a spot on this list. The unique 60-acre attraction features Santa Claus and his elves along with his deer in various forms and activities. Have breakfast with Santa in the morning to start your day or take a ride on the Ferris wheel or paddle boats. Cruise the river on Santa’s Summer Sleigh Jet Boat or tour the village by miniature train. Daily live shows featuring magicians, entertainers and musicians.

Photo by: Santa’s Village
Photo by: Santa’s Village

1. Frankenmuth, Michigan

This whole city just screams Christmas and regardless of the time of year, visitors will leave feeling in the holiday spirit. Founded in 1845 as a Bavarian mission colony for Lutherans, this tiny village is now known as Michigan’s “Little Bavaria”. Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland is at the forefront of things to experience here. It is considered one of the world’s largest Christmas stores with a half-mile walk lined with thousands of lights. Vivid outdoor displays wow visitors along with a life-size replica nativity scene. The Silent Night Chapel is also a big draw, a replica of a church in Austria where the song “Silent Night” was written and sung for the first time. Other than Bronner’s, visitors here can explore the Old Christmas Station, a German museum that features incredible old-fashioned pastries.

Bronner's Christmas Frankenmuth, Michigan

The 8 Best Holiday Window Displays in the World

The unveiling of window displays for the Christmas season is felt all over the world, though most notably in New York City as thousands of people turn out each year to experience this magical time of year. From interactive displays with animated figures to seven million crystals which were hand set to teams of ice sculptors there seems to be no bounds as to what can be done inside these windows. Huge teams spend months and thousands of hours creating these magical works of arts so without further delay, here are the 8 best holiday window displays in the world to check out in 2015:

8. Barneys, New York

The theme in 2015 for Barneys is “Chillin’ Out” and they have worked hard to bring the ice from outside, inside. Two of the giant windows have been transformed into giant walk in freezers that feature more than 2000 individual icicles. These icicles receive a steady stream of mist which allows them to morph and grow, and choreographed lighting along with music makes this a unique frozen experience. Another window features Penny, the very chill penguin who inspired creators to re-imagine the classic childhood “Penguin Chase” toy that sends chilly birds around a track. Recreated into a full size racecourse, watch as these crystal-encrusted birds sail through an icy mountain-scape. Throughout the holiday season a team of ice sculptors can also be seen transforming blocks of crystal clear ice into holiday themed works of art.

Photo by: Barneys New York
Photo by: Barneys New York

7. Selfridges, London

It was the first store in the world to unveil its festive window display, featuring over 12 windows dedicated to the 12 zodiac signs. Influenced by a ‘Journey to the Stars’, planning these windows took well over a year and staff responsible for these windows actually took courses in astrology in order to get these right. Each window takes a very modern take on the zodiac with a mannequin representing each sign, complete with a bespoke headdress from various designers. For example, Pisces sees three mermaids dubbed as the ladies of the lake, each wearing a handmade tail made of 1,000 laser cut scales and 1,500 crystals. Interestingly enough, there are no signs of Christmas trees or Santa Claus and unlike other competitors, these windows do not feature a single product. The result, an ultra-modern take on Christmas featuring a unique twist on the holiday season.

Elena Rostunova / Shutterstock.com
Elena Rostunova / Shutterstock.com

6. Bergdorf Goodman, New York

The theme of these holiday windows is “Brilliant Holiday” and these windows certainly shine, adorned with more than seven million crystals. Designed to celebrate Swarovski’s 120 years in business, Bergdorf certainly did not hold back this year. The windows here take on a fantastical feeling, featuring a monkey fortune teller who is gazing into a crystal ball and a faux-pearl-studded Poseidon who is presiding over the sea. Considered one of the sparkliest windows of all time, it is certainly worth checking out. Just don’t expect to be able to afford anything in this window, as the dresses are even covered in hand-set crystals.

Victoria Lipov / Shutterstock.com
Victoria Lipov / Shutterstock.com

5. Printemps, Paris

In what appears to be a very clever play, Printemps took advantage of the Climate Change Conference held in Paris this year and dedicated their windows to bringing a little spring into winter. Celebrating their 150th anniversary this year, Printemps brought to life a story about a fairy which has the power to conjure spring in the middle of winter. Window displays are filled with beautiful flowers as well as a light show on the façade of the store. The rose-tinted windows overflow with said flowers, ensuring that Paris is always in bloom.

Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock.com
Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock.com

4. Tiffany & Co, New York

Step back into the 19th century at these windows at Tiffany & Co where each window depicts a fairy-tale like winter diorama. It seems the closer you get to these windows the more one can see, including tiny porcelain people browsing miniature shops, crystal encrusted chandeliers, a tree covered in Tiffany designs and a bridge made of bows. It’s not just the windows that make this display so incredible though, the whole exterior is actually part of the show and host an eye-popping light show that is inspired by the Tiffany diamond’s display at the 1939 World Fair.

Photo by: Vogue/Ricky Zehavi
Photo by: Vogue/Ricky Zehavi

3. Harvey Nichols, London

It’s a Studio 54-inspired Christmas window display at Harvey Nichols in London featuring a million glitter flakes, 300,00 sequins and 600 mirror balls. Celebrating the disco-era made famous by John Travolta in the film Saturday Night Fever, each window features giant faces that have been hand-crafted from 15,000 gift boxes as the centerpiece in each. Each character portrays the different personalities of the disco movement, from a diva with light up hair and sunglasses to a prince of ice with hair frozen into icicles. Each 3D character is surrounded by twinkling lights and stars and everything from mannequins to disco balls is used to emphasize the facial features. The enlarged sequins were actually applied by hand, designed to gently shimmer as shoppers go from one window to the next. Over 15 kg of glue sticks and 30,000 staples were used to create these magical window displays which will turn thousands of heads this season.

Photo by: Harvey Nichols
Photo by: Harvey Nichols

2. Galeries Lafayette, Paris

‘May the force be with you this holiday season’ is the message these window displays are throwing out. Experience Christmas from another planet as you explore this intergalactic world that is full of cheer and humor. First off experience the windows full of robots, spaceships, cosmic gardens full of strange insects, the milky way and plenty of stars. Disney also makes an appearance in some of the window displays here as Jedi and his robots take center stage in anticipation of the new Stars Wars movie, as well as a collection of Storm Trooper helmets designed by artists. A huge Christmas tree outfitted in gold and silver is also displayed under the dome.

Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock.com
Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock.com

1. Lord & Taylor, New York

“A few of our favorite things” is the theme for this epic window display at Lord & Taylor. Take for example the sweetshop where the cupcakes look so real you can almost taste the buttermilk, or how about the cheesy gingerbread kingdom where adorable gingerbread men line the window. A larger than life cuckoo clock is littered with woodland critters including bunnies, squirrels and owls, while 24 windows open and close in a mansion revealing surprises during the countdown to Christmas. The scenes are highly detailed and animated, complete with moving parts and projections and its one of the most animated displays of the season. There is in fact so much motion in the window that every time you look, you see something new. Traditional, festive and highly creative , it’s easy to spend hours looking through these holiday windows.

DW labs Incorporated / Shutterstock.com
DW labs Incorporated / Shutterstock.com

The 6 Craziest Christmas Displays Around the World

‘Tis that time of the year again when home and business owners go completely over the top with Christmas lights and displays. With the passing of each year it seems there is an unspoken competition with oneself to top last years displays and visitors are constantly delighted with new innovative and interactive Christmas displays. All over the world this tradition takes place, although most notably in the United States where some entire towns transform their houses, buildings and streets. From inflatable characters to dressed up dolls to millions of lights and robots, here are six absolutely crazy over-the-top Christmas displays around the world:

6. Garabedian Family Christmas House -Pelham Gardens, New York

It is known to many as “The Christmas House” and once pulling up to this house, you will understand why. It is one of the craziest Christmas displays in all of America. There is a traditional nativity scene of course but along with that comes nearly 200 animated figures, all dressed up in old-school Hollywood-style gowns. These figures dance to upbeat holiday music all night long. Think Disney princesses, occulted angels, and dolls dolls and more dolls. The Garabedian family is in the fashion business throughout the year but it is the holiday season when they really get to work, having to assemble and take down the dolls each and every single night (weather depending). Although other houses in the neighborhood are decorated, this is a must to anyone looking for a unique, crazy Christmas display.

Photo by: Business Insider
Photo by: Business Insider

5. Richmond, Virginia

The city’s mayor has deemed Richmond as the “tacky lights capital of the world”, whether that makes this city more attractive to future residents or not, they have some of the craziest Christmas displays in the world. The Tacky Light Tour has been created here, a registry that lists houses with more than 40,000 lights that people can visit. A tacky Light Tour is a trip made by family and friends from one insanely decorated home or business to the next in the city of Richmond and here people go all out, even renting a limousine to ride in. Expect timed musical lights, giant inflatable characters, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus and more than 70 million lights in total.

Photo by: Abby Pie Photography
Photo by: Abby Pie Photography

4. Jamaica Estates, New York

This property is so massive it takes up an entire block and owner Anthony Gurino has made it his mission to celebrate Christmas to the extreme. Not only is this property fun to look at but the house is also interactive. Included here is a coffee and hot chocolate station, free cookies for all and holiday music playing. Expect to see carolers, donation boxes and sometimes even Santa and Mrs. Claus show up and pay a visit to unsuspecting visitors. The wires are covered so walking through the property is easy and there are plenty of benches for you to sit on for the incredible photo opportunities. Make sure to get close to the windows to see the incredible displays inside as well. From flashing lights to reindeer on the roof to more colors than you can imagine, this is one light display you wont want to miss.

Photo by: Christmas In Jamaica Estates
Photo by: Christmas In Jamaica Estates

3. Policarpio Street -Mandaluyong, Philippines

This street screams Christmas, despite the obvious lack of snow as a collection of neighbors have made it their collective goal to decorate their houses to the extreme to celebrate the holiday season. Millions of sparkling lights seem to cover every inch of the houses while rooftops and gardens are adorning with figures, toys, holiday décor and nativity scenes. The House of Santa Claus is worth checking out as it boasts the largest Santa Claus collection in Metro Manila. From twinkling lights to neon strands to food stalls that line the street to fill your belly with goodness, Policarpio turns into a whimsical Christmas village for the entire month of December.

Photo by: PhotoBento
Photo by: PhotoBento

2. Hyatt Extreme Christmas -Plantation, Florida

The Hyatt family has taken things to the extreme when it comes to Christmas displays and although the city of Plantation does not support this cause and has even threatened fines of up to $7,000, for now this house is completely decked out and the tradition continues. Think snow-blowing machines, a whopping 200,000 lights, visits from Santa and his live reindeer, a movie screen showing holiday films, a Ferris Wheel of stuffed animals and endless moving characters. Starting preparations in August, this family and its team adds new excitement every year including a complete Santa’s workshop, M&M candy disco and 24-foot sign celebrating the magic of Christmas.

Photo by: Hyatt Extreme Christmas
Photo by: Hyatt Extreme Christmas

 

 

1. Robolights -Palm Springs, California

This sci-fi holiday spectacle has been tradition since 1986, when Kenny Irwin Jr. decided to do something a little different for the holidays. This year-round event can be viewed from the street but Christmas time is when Robolights really comes alive. Free to the public, with donations accepted there are millions of lights that twinkle in some pretty epic sci-fi ways. This landscape of art includes Nuclear Elves in the tennis court while Santa’s sleigh (or battle wagon as it’s referred to) is pulled by 12 robotic reindeer. Think wise men laden with microwaves, robots standing over 50 feet tall, animal heads on toilet seats, solid colored rooms and more alien like art. The property is over 4 acres and provides more unusual and crazy looking things than you have ever imagined, and all lit up in Christmas lights.

Photo by: Robolights
Photo by: Robolights

8 Tips for Surviving the Airports at Christmas

Airports are extremely busy during the holiday season and often full of weary travelers, some stranded because of weather delays, some with crying kids in tow and all wanting to get to their destination as quickly as possible. Traveling through an airport during the Christmas season promises to be stressful, irritating and normally necessary. In order to make your travels worry-free, here are eight tips for surviving these crazy busy airports during the Christmas rush.

8. Baggage Allowance

Knowing the baggage allowance before arriving at the airport is essential in keeping your cool when it comes time to check those bags. More and more airlines have started charging for first bags, even if you are flying domestically. It is up to you to check with the airline before hand to see how much money you will have to cough up. Also make sure to check with weight allowances as it is often cheaper to check a second bag rather than pay for an overweight one. We can’t think of anything worse than waiting in an hour long line up only to get up to the front and them tell you your bag weighs too much and you will have to rearrange. Not only is it frustrating for you as the peering eyes of those behind you are drilling into your skull but its also frustrating to the agents who are just trying to do their jobs.

Checked Baggage

7. Arrive Early

This sounds like a no-brainer but arriving early during the busy holiday season is an absolute MUST. Gone are the days when you can show up an hour before your flight and have enough time to check in, go through security and grab a coffee. The holiday season throws everything you thought you knew about travel out the window. Lines are going to be longer for everything as the amount of travelers has just increased tenfold. From check in to security to lines to getting your coffee, expect to wait longer. There is no trick to beating these lines during the holiday season either, just give yourself enough time. Don’t despair too much though, most airports are offering holiday entertainment in terms of carolers, Santa Claus and more to keep you entertained during the long process.

Oleg Mikhaylov / Shutterstock.com
Oleg Mikhaylov / Shutterstock.com

6. Check in Online

We cannot stress this enough, seeing as it is the 21st century and pretty much everyone knows how to use the internet, or knows someone who can use it for them. The option to check in online is available through most major carriers and will save you loads of time at the airport. Not only do most companies now have kiosks that you can use instead of waiting in line, but checking in online cuts down your check in time in half, especially if you are traveling internationally. Normally the time to check in online is 24 hours ahead of your flight and not only can you check in, choose your seat and input your passport details but in some cases you can even pay baggage fees. This easy solution will save you time and frustration when you arrive at the overly busy airport.

computer research

5. Prepare for Delays

Christmas happens to fall in winter for half of the world and with winter comes snow, fog, rain and ice, which means your plane will most likely be delayed at some point. First things first, Mother Nature listens to no one which means the airlines are just as frustrated as you when there are delays and cancellations. Secondly the airport is at its busiest which means even more flights are cancelled and delayed and more people are stranded alongside of you. The best way to prepare yourself for this is to do so ahead of time. Pack snacks and activities that will keep you entertained. Make sure to snag a seat near a plug so you can charge your electronics. Bring an eye mask and try to snooze the hours away. Explore the shops and restaurants in the airport, many of them offering Christmas specials or turkey dinners. And remember, the airlines can’t control the weather.

Photo by: Twin Cities
Photo by: Twin Cities

4. Don’t Joke about Bombs

It sounds simple really, don’t joke about bombs or guns or anything that may arouse suspicion with security. Security is already heightened during the holiday season and you can bet that security guards are closely listening to passengers as they go through the check in process. Now is not the time to joke about the bomb in your bag or the envelope of anthrax you packed (although this is never appropriate no matter the time of year). In regards to guns or weapons, if you are traveling with them do make sure you are filling out the appropriate paperwork in order to travel with them. And if you happen to leave your Swiss Army knife in your pocket and try to go through security, chances are they will confiscating it and you won’t be seeing it ever again.

robert paul van beets / Shutterstock.com
robert paul van beets / Shutterstock.com

3. Don’t Forget Your Kids

No we aren’t talking about forgetting your kids as in Home Alone style when they left poor little Kevin alone over the holidays. We are talking about remembering to bring things to entertain the wee ones at the airport. Nothing is worse for kids than being stuck in an airport, lugging around a suitcase and a backpack, meanwhile having to wait in lines. Kids get bored and it is imperative to remember that when traveling through the airport at Christmas. Make sure you pack extra snacks, coloring books, iPads, mini cars, Barbie’s, etc. to keep them occupied during long waits. If you happen to have time to kill make sure you go check out the kid’s area in the airport, most big hubs have great areas designed with kids in mind. At your wits end? Find Santa and remind your kids that he is the one who decides whether or not they get presents.

child at airport

2. Check Airline Rules

This is another thing that passengers tend to forget or don’t know about, airlines actually change their rules over the holidays because of how busy it gets. For example, some airlines that normally accept large animals will no longer accept them over the holiday season. If you were planning on bringing Storm, an 80 pound Black Lab with you on holidays, you may be out of luck. Also reward programs may not be in effect during the holiday season which means if you were planning on flying on reward miles, you are also out of luck. Again all it takes is a simple phone call or google search on the airline to find out these rules ahead of time.

liquids airport

1. Be Nice

There is something about airports that turn regular people into very scary monsters and during the Christmas rush it seems to get even worse. Being nice is the number one tip on surviving your holiday airport experience and getting the most out of. Nothing means more to airport employees than a kind word from a passenger, or even a box of chocolates. And hey, we can’t promise this will happen but there is a high chance of being bumped up into first class, or escorted to the front of the line when you are nice to the employees, especially at Christmas. Wishing them a Merry Christmas, letting someone go in front of you in line because they are late or even buying a coffee for a fellow passenger are all ways to make both yours and their holiday better.

airport counter

12 European Christmas Market Images To Get You Into The Holiday Spirit

For many, the holidays just seem to kind of sneak up on us. It’s not that we don’t know they’re coming, or that we’re not feverishly planning with them in mind, but it seems that we rarely get into the Christmas spirit until we’re well and truly in the midst of it. Many European countries enhance the lead up to December 25th with the appearance of Christmas Markets in many cities and towns, which celebrate the season and get everyone into the holiday spirit. The Christmas Market is a long standing European tradition, with roots dating back as far as 1294. To help you get into the holiday spirit a little earlier this year, here are 12 great images from Christmas Markets around the world:

12. Strasbourg, France

Founded in 1570, Strasbourg’s Christmas Market is the oldest and most famous in all of France. The city is known as “the Capital of Christmas” and proudly displays the deep rooted history and traditions of Alsatian Christmas.

Strasbourg France Christmas market

11. London, England

There’s no shortage of beautiful Christmas Markets to explore and enjoy in the city of London. The Southbank Centre Winter Festival, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and the Christmas Market at Tate Modern are all excellent choices for shopping and general holiday merriment!

Christmas market london UK

10. South Tyrol, Italy

In the South Tyrol region of Italy, each little town has it’s own unique Christmas Market with plenty of holiday cheer. The market in Bolzano is known as Italy’s largest Christmas Market and draws visitors from far and wide to the beautifully decorated Piazza Walther.

christmas market Tyrol Italy

9. Dresden, Germany

Also known as the Striezelmarkt, the Christmas Market in Dresden is one of the oldest documented markets in Germany. The market which runs through the Advent season up until Christmas Eve, celebrated its 580th anniversary in 2014.

Christmas market Dresden Germany

8. Trento, Italy

Each year at the end of November, the little wooden stalls are set up against the historic walls of Castle of Buonconsiglio for Trento’s annual Christmas Market. One of the market highlights is “I sapori del mercatino”, which means “The flavor of the Christmas Market”, in which visitors can sample delicious sweets, schnapps, wine and sausage products.

Orietta Gaspari / Shutterstock.com
Orietta Gaspari / Shutterstock.com

7. Berlin, Germany

Germany knows how to do Christmas Markets extremely well, and visiting them is a popular tradition for many in December. The city of Berlin has over 60 individual Christmas Markets to be explored and while it would be a shame to visit just one, a favorite is Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt.

Christmas market Berlin Germany

6. Basel, Switzerland

The Christmas Market at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz in Basel is considered by many to be one of the prettiest and largest in Switzerland. Over 180 sellers and artisans sell gifts, decorations, food and more from the market’s traditional wooden chalets.

ornaments christmas market basel switzerland

5. Vienna, Austria

Christmas Markets are a celebrated and well-established tradition throughout all of Austria. In the capital city of Vienna there are over 25 different markets to explore, shop, eat and get into the Christmas spirit!

Christmas Market Vienna Austria

4. Hannover, Germany

The Hannover Christmas Market takes place in the city’s historic Old Town center and features a wide array of vendors for your shopping enjoyment. Over 150 artisans sell their wares including hand carved decorations and locally produced food products.

sweets at Christmas market Germany

3. Vilnius, Lithuania

The Vilnius Christmas Market in Lithuania takes place in the city’s historic Cathedral Square each year in the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas. One of the most recognizable features of this market is the 25 meter high Christmas tree decorated with thousands of twinkling lights.

Christmas market vilnius lithuiania

2. Vipiteno, Italy

This town of South Tyrol Italy features it’s Christmas Market high up in the snowy mountains. Vipiteno is located at 1000 meters above sea level and the tiny town’s market offers visitors a beautiful small-town Christmas atmosphere.

Christmas Market Vipiteno, Italy

1. Frankfurt, Germany

The Frankfurt Christmas Market is widely known as one of the most beautiful in all of Germany. Each December, the town square is transformed with lights and decorated, traditional wooden stalls while visitors enjoy the festive atmosphere of the season.

christmas market frankfurt germany

The 6 Busiest North American Airports at Christmas

North American airports are notoriously busy, especially when you look at holiday times. It’s not just the influx of passengers that makes these airports so busy, although that helps, it’s also the weather that cancels and delays flights and the security lines that get extra slow. Luckily some of these airports do what they can to make flying over the holidays easier, such as bringing in Santa Claus to amuse the little ones or even bringing out adorable puppies for weary travelers to pet. Discover the busiest Christmas airports in North America, and which ones are the best and worst to fly through during the holidays.

6. LaGuardia New York Airport

It is one of the worst airports in the country, that we can all agree on, however you choose to measure it. Crowded and stranded travelers often pace the terminals as there is inadequate gate seating, a lack of power outlets and even a lack of restrooms for the 27 million travelers a year that cross through the gates of LaGuardia. At Christmas time this gets even worse and as the bad weather often hits, the runways become congested leaving passengers trapped in the airport. Luckily at Christmas time the staff try to make your day a little more pleasant by offering holiday greetings as you board the plane, unfortunately that’s about the only Christmas spirit you will find here. We recommend you try to avoid this airport at all costs during the Christmas season.

Photo by: Business Insider
Photo by: Business Insider

5. Calgary International Airport

Although it is one of the busiest airports in Canada around the holiday times, this airport is big on sharing the Christmas spirit with traveling guests. As the hub of WestJet airline, you can expect friendly service from these workers, donning blue Santa hats and festive Christmas sweaters. As you walk through the Calgary airport expect to find a brightly lit Christmas tree and carolers singing merry tunes. Mrs. Claus will even be offering story time in the terminal. Although security lines tend to get long here, flyers are often quite friendly and the line will pass quickly as you are swapping stories with a cowboy boot wearing guest behind you. It may be busy, but this is one of the friendliest airports to fly out of at Christmas.

Photo by: Vimeo/WestJet
Photo by: Vimeo/WestJet

4. Ronald Reagan Washington Airport

This airport promises to be busy, especially considering all the government employees that fly home to see their families around Christmas time and expect to be fighting lines and crowds of people. Luckily this airport makes it a little less stressful around the holidays with some awesome ways to pass the time. Make sure to check out the humongous Christmas tree that gets erected and this year keep your eyes out for more than just one. Kill time by browsing through more than 100 shops and restaurants located throughout the three terminals. The Gallery Walk located in historic Terminal A is a great place to view paintings, sculptures and other works of art from local artists. This airport also hosts singers, dancers and performing artists throughout the holiday season.

Photo by: Washington Post
Photo by: Washington Post

3. San Francisco International Airport

It’s no wonder this is one of the busiest airports during the holiday season as people flock to the warmer temperatures often found here. The bad news for fliers is that this airport does get overly crowded with long line ups as more than 2 million passengers come through over the two weeks surrounding Christmas. Luckily everyone at this airport is committed to making the holiday travel season as enjoyable as possible. Think festive holiday lighting, live music, social media events and mobile performers delighting passengers with music, magic tricks and storytelling. With kids spots located throughout, plenty of power outlets to charge those iPads and art displays throughout, passengers will forget it’s even the busy season, that is until they hear those carolers busting out their holiday tunes.

Photo by: SanFrancisco Airport
Photo by: SanFrancisco Airport

2. Toronto Pearson International Airport

An airport that is notorious for its long security lines, cancelled and delayed flights because of weather and its business at Christmas. Toronto Pearson promises to be busy during the holiday season but in recent years has done its best to ease stress on travelers. Airport ambassadors are now out roaming the terminals, helping guests figure out where to go, helping with bags and otherwise on hand to deal with any questions. Christmas carolers are set up throughout the airport bringing merry tunes to all who pass them and Mrs. Claus is often seen reading stories to little ones. There is even a spot set up where families can have their picture taken in a holiday setting. Yes, you will be waiting in line, yes you will be dealing with throngs of other passengers and yes you will most likely be delayed, but hey at least there are carolers.

rmnoa357 / Shutterstock.com
rmnoa357 / Shutterstock.com

1. Los Angeles International Airport

It is one of the busiest airports in North America and at Christmas time it only gets worse, although thankfully they don’t have to worry about weather delays on their end. Still snowstorms that blanket the Northeast will delay flights in LA. There are an estimated 3 million passengers that go through this airport over the two weeks near Christmas but luckily LAX is determined to make traveling a little stressful. Santa is often found roaming the terminals, taking photos with little ones and handing out candy canes. Last year members of the LAX Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUPS) program fanned out across the airport and were making their furry selves available for petting, a simple stress reliever for weary travelers. Expect to see plenty of Santa hats and holiday cheer here!

Photo by: LA Times
Photo by: LA Times