Christmas Illuminations in our Cities Around the World

By: Maxine Sheppard

February 22, 2013

Are you lucky enough to be jetting off for Christmas? If so we’ve tracked down some of the best festive illuminations on display in our cities around the world. Don’t forget to send us a postcard…


About a five minute walk from Shimbashi station is the Caretta Shiodome, a 51-storey commercial complex housing offices, shops, restaurants and other entertainment, and host of the annual ‘Caretta Christmas Illuminations’. Stand in wonder as a sea of LED lights ripple back and forth and 3D projectors cast giant festive scenes on the skyscraper walls. The display repeats every 30 minutes.


Sydney’s streets will be sparkling once again this year, as a number of prominent buildings and landmarks have their facades lit up with projections of Christmas imagery, including Sydney Town Hall and St. Mary’s Cathedral. And don’t forget to check out the enormous light-smothered tree at Martin Place, too. Projections start at 8.30pm, every night until Christmas Day.

St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney © BeauGiles.jpg


Every night until the 6th January 2013, Johannesburg’s huge casino and convention resort Emperor’s Palace will be hosting its annual Garden of Lights display, with more than 500km of magical lighting and 200 festive characters. With free entrance and more than 130,000 visitors expected, there may be a slight queue to meet Santa, but plenty of elves will be on hand to distract you with some secret surprises in store.

Garden of Lights, Johannesburg © Emperor's Palace.jpg


Santa’s Enchanted Forest in Miami describes itself as the world’s largest Christmas theme park, with more than a hundred rides, shows and games, and the world’s tallest Christmas tree. What started off just as a walk-through attraction featuring millions of lights, has now evolved into one gigantic, glittering Christmas carnival, open every day at 5pm until the 6th January 2013.

Washington, DC

ZooLights at the National Zoo in Washington, DC is a free, family-friendly tradition. More than 500,000 LED lights transform the zoo into a twinkling playground of animal silhouettes, with nocturnal creatures on display and free character photo opportunities with a costumed ‘Panda Claws’, the official ZooLights ambassador.

ZooLights at the National Zoo © cliff1066â„¢.jpg

Header shot of St. Mary Cathedral, Sydney © Rmonty119



Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.