Traveling during the holidays can be a lonely affair. Away from your family during the time of year that you’d rather be curled up with those you love in front of a roaring fire sipping hot cocoa. Most of the time when I’m away during the holidays I try to see how the locals celebrate and seeing their traditions and lovely decorations reignite the holiday spirit inside of me. My favorite thing to see is the local Christmas tree all decked out in traditional ornaments and festive lights.
In honor of people traveling everywhere, here are some of the world’s most fabulous Christmas trees:
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Rockefeller Center, New York City
One of the favorite Christmas trees for New Yorkers and visitors to the city for over seven decades (since 1933), the Rockefeller Center experience is unlike any other around the world. One of the best things about the tree is you don’t have to travel to see the live lighting ceremony. NBC usually broadcasts it live the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. The tree is normally a Norway spruce that stands 70 to 100 feet tall and is decorated with over 45,000 multicolored lights and a “Swarovski Star” that is almost 10 feet tall.
Galeries Lafayette, Paris, France
Every year the Galeries Lafayette puts up a truly monstrous (dauntingly large) Christmas tree. Some years they have breathtaking and intricate visual designs and other years they turn the whole idea of a traditional tree on its head. This year they are displaying their tree upside down in the inverted, hanging from the ceiling position. This will land them on the naughty list for sure.
National Christmas Tree, Washington D.C.
In a time-honored tradition that dates back to 1923 and President Calvin Coolidge, every year we light the National Christmas Tree which belongs to all of us. It’s a joy to visit the Ellipse in President’s Park and browse through the trees representing the 50 states. While the weather is usually hit or miss, seeing the tree set against the White House at night is a stunning spectacle.
Old Town Square, Prague, Czech Republic
The Old Town Square in the city of Prague is stunning on a normal day. When they light the tree, it transforms the area into a magical blaze of lights, color and music. Stroll around and enjoy the festive atmosphere with some hot wine and be sure to sample the amazing food offered throughout the market.
Trafalgar Square, London, England
An annual gift from the people of Oslo, Norway to the British people as a thank you for the support they received during WWII, the lovely Christmas tree stands as a tradition and symbol of the holiday spirit. The tree is a Norway spruce rising about 65-70 feet into the air and is decorated in Norwegian style with around 500 white lights. Come for the tree but stay for the Christmas carols, there are usually several groups performing on any given night.
Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Not to be outdone by anyone in the world, Rio de Janeiro unveiled what they say is the largest ever floating Christmas tree (don’t be fooled, it’s not really a tree) on the Rodrigo de Freitas Lake. The hugely popular and festive lighting ceremony included a huge fireworks display and live music.
St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City
In every year since 1982, the tradition of displaying a Christmas tree and nativity scene at Saint Peter’s Square has officially become part of the Christmas season at the Vatican. Various European countries and regions offer the tree as a donation to the Pope and it has become quite an honor to have your local tree on display in Vatican City. This year’s tree is a white fir from the Italian province of Fabrizia, Calabria. It has a twin trunks (joined together) which makes it very unique.
Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy
There are many Christmas trees to admire in the city of Rome. You can find a very tall and impressive tree in the Piazza Venezia that stands as high as some of the nearby buildings. However, my favorite tree in Rome can be found on the Spanish Steps overlooking the Piazza di Spagna. This perfectly styled tree can be enjoyed from locations all the way down Via Condotti.
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All images courtesy of Reuters.