The 12 Most Magical Christmas Trees Around the World
Rockefeller Center in New York City
To some, it's not Christmastime until the lights switch on the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. This towering evergreen is an iconic part of the holiday season in New York City. Covered in a million lights, the towering tree provides a stunning light show for ice skaters in the rink below and brings crowds from all over the world to see its splendor. At the top of the tree is a shining Swarovski star, which was newly redesigned this year by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind.
Trafalgar Square in London, England
Christmas is a time of gratitude, which is best exemplified in the Christmas tree at Trafalgar Square. Every year since 1947, the Norwegian city of Oslo donates a Christmas tree to Great Britain as a token of thanks for their help in World War II. Once set up in Trafalgar Square, it's decorated in the Norwegian style of vertical string lights. This year's tree is guessed to be about 80 years old, meaning it would have begun growing during World War II, adding to the symbolism behind this gesture of friendship.
Galeries Lafayette in Paris, France
The Christmas tree at Galeries Lafayette is always spectacular. Inside this upmarket French department store, the tree—which is created anew with a fantastical theme under the vision of an acclaimed artist each year—dazzles under a glass dome of art-nouveau architecture. This year, the tree is sponsored by luxury watchmaker, Piaget, to invoke a magical world of oversized baubles and bright lights.
Vatican City in Rome, Italy
A beautiful Nativity scene designed by Manwel Gretch, an artist from the island of Gozo, stands in near life size next to an 82-foot tree bedecked in lights. The Vatican City draws visitors who want to reconnect with the biblical Christmas story and those who just want to appreciate the history and beauty of this annual tree.
Skeppsbron in Stockholm, Sweden
Between glögg and gingerbread cookies, Stockholm's Christmas tree is one of the city's most beloved holiday traditions. Set up along the water's edge at Skeppsbron, this Christmas tree is considered one of the tallest trees in the world, measuring 124.7 feet high, decorated with 5,000 lights, and crowned with a 13.1-foot star.
Ibirapuera Park in Sao Paulo, Brazil
A 114-feet tree lighted with large bulbs and topped with a star stands in Ibirapuera Park for the annual Christmas light show. Every year, this world-famous lighting ceremony is a magnificent spectacle of colorful fireworks, lighted trucks, and choirs singing Christmas songs. The rest of the city is merry and bright with some 600,000 LED lights.
Nakayama Race Course in Funabashi, Chiba, Japan
While displaying a Christmas tree in one's home is not common custom in Japan, businesses and shopping centers hustle to display their own attention-grabbing Christmas tree—resulting in some of the most creative, one-of-a-kind displays seen anywhere in the world. At the Nakayama Race Course, you'll find one of the largest live Christmas trees in the country. This prodigious Japanese cedar rises above neighboring buildings at 65 feet tall, decorated with heart-shaped lights in bubblegum pink and neon blues, and strings of lights.
Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas
For a modernist alternative, set your sights on lucky Las Vegas: The Venetian Hotel's Christmas tree is part of a year-round 14,000-square-foot conservatory that receives the star treatment with every change of the season, and the holidays are no exception. This 65-foot work of art is known as the "Bubble Tree," which is comprised of 6,000 transparent baubles that glow with a seamless transitioning light pattern.
Wakehurst Place in West Sussex, England
An 85-foot Norway spruce tree glimmers in the evening with 35,000 colorful LED lights. The Big Tree, as it is called, is part of the Toledo Zoo's Lights Before Christmas exhibit, which boasts more than 1 million lights on the Big Tree and surrounding greenery and takes nearly two months for the crew to take down after the holidays.
The General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park, California
In 1926, President Coolidge dubbed this epic Sequoia as the "Nation's Christmas Tree." The tree, officially referred to as the General Grant Tree, is the second-largest Sequoia in the world, measuring 270 feet tall and 29 feet wide. It's located within Grant Grove, which can be found at Kings Canyon National Park. For nearly a century, hikers have gathered in its presence for a special rededication ceremony.
Place Kléber in Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg's Christmas market is the oldest in France, dating back to 1570. And at the heart of the city stands the iconic Christmas tree. The chosen tree—which always stands 98 feet tall, minimum—features golden stars, big baubles, and 180 illuminated angels, biscuits, candles, apples and stars.
Hansaplatz in Dortmund, Germany
Dortmund Weihnachtsmarkt is one of the world's most famous Christmas markets: a collection of 300 traditional wooden stands selling toys, decorations, and gifts galore. At the heart of this bustling center, crowds gather at the base of the Christmas tree, comprised of 1,700 smaller fir trees and shining with 48,000 light beams. At a height of 147 feet, it's considered to be one of the largest (and most majestic) Christmas trees in the world.