The Prettiest Holiday Light Displays Around the World

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From museums to boats, lights are no longer designated to just family homes.

The season is finally here! We're talking, of course, about decoration season. While some may go over-the-top with Halloween decor, the winter brings with its glittering lights and cheerful displays. And with the holidays right around the corner, destinations are stepping up their game with over-the-top light displays to attract new visitors, Instagrammers, and locals alike. Those decorated store windows don't quite cut it anymore! Here's where to catch some of the most spectacular holiday light displays across the globe.  

Kobe Luminaire and Hiroshima Dreamination in Setouchi Region, Japan 


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Every December, the Kobe prefecture of the Setouchi Region of Japan lights up with 400,000 LED lights. Millions of people come each year to the Kobe Luminaire, which is held from December 7 to December 16. While it's a stunning attraction, it's also meant to serve as a memorial to the victims of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. After visiting Kobe Luminaire, head to Hiroshima for the Hiroshima Dreamination, another winter light festival with over one million lights.

Amsterdam Light Festival in Amsterdam, Netherlands


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As if Amsterdam isn't already magical, the Dutch city pulls out all the stops by decorating every canal, street, and landmark with multi-colored light installations as part of the annual Amsterdam Light Festival. Running from November 28 through January 19, the 8th annual celebration is based around the theme "Disrupt!" It's said to be thought-provoking, inspiring, and beautiful. This year's route will feature 25 artworks and 10 different city stories.

Holiday Festival of Lights in Charleston, South Carolina


Vanessa Kauffmann/Courtesy Charlestowne Hotels

Charleston's beloved Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park remains one of the South's most sought-after attractions even after 30 years. From November through January, enjoy views of two million lights, a three-mile driving tour with interactive lakeside displays, marshmallow roasting, and an old-fashioned carousel. To complete the experience, book a stay in French Quarter Inn's special Southern Sleigh Bell Suite, completely decked out in holiday décor including garland, mistletoe, and a holiday tree.

The Modern Lights in Fort Worth, Texas


Courtesy Visit Fort Worth

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, home to nearly 2,600 pieces of art, will be illuminated with festive lights this holiday season. While those just passing by will get to see the remarkable display, visitors can also step inside the museum during extended hours to get an up-close look at the lights from the foyer or the Café Modern. Make it an evening by enjoying a themed dinner too. The Modern's Dinner with Lights events are hosted on Fridays from 5 to 8:30 pm, where Café Modern's Executive Chef Denise Shavandy creates fresh, seasonal entrees to enjoy with specialty cocktails and wine pairings.