Where to see stunning festive illuminations in 2020
We’re nearly at that special time of the year, and while the festive period is looking a little different in 2020, there’s still plenty of seasonal cheer to soak up across our destinations. From towering Christmas trees to spectacular light shows, here’s how to make the holidays magical.
Coworth Park is simply enchanting during the festive season, decorated with stunning floral displays and a beautiful Christmas tree festooned with twinkling lights and baubles. Take a seat by the roaring fire and enjoy a festive afternoon tea, or set out on a bracing walk through the magnificent grounds of the estate. A carriage ride through Windsor Great Park is a wonderful way to kickstart the celebrations, where an elegant horse-drawn carriage adorned with sleigh bells takes you on an hour’s tour of the royal park. Wrap up warm and snuggle up to views of ancient woodlands, grand avenues and atmospheric 18th-century lakes. In the town of Windsor, you can see the Christmas tree donated by HM The Queen, installed in Castle Hill, while across the town you’ll find strings of festive lights and seasonal decorations on every corner.
London is especially magical during the festive season, dressed up in twinkling lights and colourful displays. Regent Street is famous for its stylish illuminations, with strings of white lights suspended over the grand boulevard below, while Carnaby Street usually goes with something a little more modern – this year a series of pink light boxes displaying positive messages, in collaboration with Choose Love (a charity associated with Help Refugees). Oxford Street’s display will also feature an uplifting message, with a special poem created in partnership with Selfridges and a light curtain honouring the unsung heroes of the pandemic by putting their names up in lights. Covent Garden is also a great place to soak up some seasonal cheer, its market building swathed in sparkling lights and an enormous Christmas tree taking pride of place in the piazza.
The City of Light really lives up to its name during the festive season. The Paris Illuminations, as they are called, fill the streets with an enchanting glow – from the city centre right through to quiet residential neighbourhoods. Some of the most impressive illuminations can be found along the wide streets of the Champs-Élysées, where the trees light the path from Arc de Triomphe to Place de la Concorde in an exquisite seasonal display. Place Vendome also offers a beautiful array of twinkling lights and trees, alongside shopping streets like Avenue Montaigne and Boulevard Saint-Germain. Many of the city’s major landmarks are also lit up for the season, with the Eiffel Tower’s nightly light show adding an extra dose of atmosphere.
LA is famous for its festive cheer and Beverly Hills is a neighbourhood that looks especially stylish during December. Areas like the Wilshire Boulevard feature beautiful decorations, while Rodeo Drive’s famous palm trees are lit up in a stunning display. The Venice Canals are idyllic year-round, but even more so during the holidays when the pretty bridges shimmer with festive lights. You’ll also find plenty of seasonal spirit a little closer to home in our LA hotels. There’s a wonderful air of magic at The Beverly Hills Hotel, with toy soldiers taking over the red-carpet entrance and a beautiful tree in the lobby for that classic picture-perfect moment. Hotel Bel-Air also brings out plenty of holiday glamour – enjoy seasonal menus and cocktails and a gingerbread house masterclass on the Front Lawn.
The festive season is eagerly anticipated in Rome, and every December you’ll find decorative nativity scenes popping up across the city. This Italian custom dates back centuries and most churches and public spaces will showcase their own Christmas cribs. Standouts include the outdoor nativities at Piazza Navona and Piazza del Popolo, while St Peter’s Square has one of the city’s largest and most spectacular. Rome’s festive lights are usually illuminated on December 8, and some of the best can be found at the Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona, as well as along major streets like via del Corso or in neighbourhoods such as Trastevere. There’s also a towering Christmas tree to admire outside St Peter’s Basilica.
Italy’s most fashionable city is not one to shy away from elegant light displays. You’ll find twinkling lights strung up all over Milan, from its famous shopping streets and grand piazzas to its quieter neighbourhoods and unassuming squares. Right at the heart of the city, the Piazza del Duomo features a soaring Christmas tree adorned with thousands of lights – a striking sight against the elaborate backdrop of the Duomo. Major landmarks like Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II are also dressed up during December, its beautiful dome carpeted in a blanket of sparkling lights. When the sun goes down, soak up the city’s festive atmosphere on a wintry walk along Navigli canal, where strings of lights are suspended over the water.
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