Five Magical Light Displays to Get You in the Holiday Spirit

From cocktails with Kris Kringle to a towering sand castle Christmas tree, these magical winter wonderland displays will get you ready to celebrate the season.

Shine Bright at Hudson Yards in NYC

Hudson Yards’ holiday celebration goes all out for all ages with everything from free photos with Santa to a vintage Christmas speakeasy. Setting the stage with two million twinkling lights (which equals 115 miles of string lights), 700+ evergreen trees and–the star of the show–a 32-foot hot air balloon suspended in The Great Room of The Shops & Restaurants–there’s something for everyone throughout December. 

Through Dec. 22 on weekdays from 5-8 p.m., kids (and adults) can stop by Santa’s Sleigh at Hudson Yards to snap a free phone pic with the big guy. For those looking to complete their holiday gift list, Wells Fargo is hosting a Small Business Market through Jan. 1. Get some gifts and then pop into a vintage speakeasy complete with festive cocktails and treats, and an amazing variety show featuring ballet, burlesque and living art performers. 

Or take an ice skating break at the highest rink in NYC. Glide across the ice with some of the city’s best skyline views as your backdrop. 

And don’t miss the Festival of Lights, eight days of special offers from retailers like Russ & Daughters, Miznon, Li-Lac Chocolates and more. 

Take a Walk through Millions of Lights in Los Angeles

Near The Grand LA, The Bloc in downtown Los Angeles–the now iconic 7th Street corridor that connects downtown LA’s financial, fashion, jewelry and theater districts–celebrates the season with an awe-inspiring light show called SPARKLE DTLA. Featuring 18 million multi-colored lights and one of LA’s largest interactive holiday displays, visitors can walk through the free light show every hour from 5-9 p.m. throughout December. Synchronized to festive tunes, the light show is sure to get you into the holiday spirit. After, take advantage of The Bloc’s curated mix of shops, artisan and well-known retailers, restaurants, bars and more. 

See the World’s Only Holiday Sand Tree in Palm Beach

West Palm Beach takes its tropical reputation seriously, meaning when the holidays hit, the Christmas tree must fit the theme. What does a tropical tree look like? Here, it features the world’s only 35-foot, 800-ton sand castle tree, illuminated in twinkling lights and accompanied by a brand new ferris wheel for revelers this year. Known to Palm Beach residents as Holiday in Paradise (HIP), the annual celebration runs the entire month of December and includes nightly rides on the 65-foot ferris wheel ($5 for a single ride, $20 for unlimited rides). Jump on the ferris wheel or look up from the ground for the ferris wheel’s (lovingly referred to as Sandi) nightly synchronized music and light show, which also includes an appearance by Palm Beach’s iconic dancing Centennial Fountain. In addition, holiday revelers won’t want to miss the accompanying Instagram-ready sand sculptures, the annual pancake breakfast at Lake Pavilion (Dec. 17) and Sunday on the Waterfront featuring a performance by the Aloha Islanders (Dec. 18). 

And nearby at The Square Downtown West Palm, pose with Santa for complimentary photos through Dec. 24 and a nightly snowfall at The Square through Dec. 31. 

Visit the National Christmas Tree in Washington, DC

The First Family celebrates the season every year with the official lighting of the National Christmas Tree. Featuring the centerpiece tree (freshly cut and transported in from a tree farm in the U.S.), plus smaller trees from all 50 states, DC and U.S. territories, visitors come from all over the country to see the patriotic spectacle, which is on view all of December. This year’s tree was lit on Nov. 30, but if you couldn’t make it to the nation’s capital, the ceremony will be broadcast on Dec. 15 on CBS. Featuring Mickey Guyton, Dionne Warwick and Darren Chris, the performers join the Bidens on stage for the always magical lighting ceremony. 

Light up the Lake in Chicago

Head down to Chicago’s Navy Pier for the city’s largest indoor and outdoor holiday experience throughout December. There’s truly something for everyone at this massive holiday celebration–from the Pier’s outdoor lakefront light displays to holiday workshops and toasty s’mores to, yes, axe throwing. There’s a ferris wheel in the mix where you can take it all in and even nightly fireworks on Saturday evenings. For shoppers, there’s an artisan market, and for those who want to get festive, live music. Rotating pop-ups throughout the month include everything from the world’s largest snow globe to your chance to try your hand at curling. We dare you to not find festive to enjoy!

The Related Life is written and produced by the Related Life Editorial Team. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest events, news, and announcements in your area, and tag us for a chance to be featured @therelatedlife and #therelatedlife.