Santa-hats off to the event producers responsible for these huge holiday productions, which draw annual audiences in droves.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular, New York
With all that seasonal weather, ice-skating, window shopping and tree-lighting, New York is the epicenter of the American urban Christmas. It’s also home to the Radio City Music Hall and the world-famous Rockettes. Every holiday season, the Rockettes high-kick their way through dozens of seasonal dance numbers, drawing annual audiences of over 2 million. In terms of event planning, the Spectacular involves more work than your typical stage show: the beloved Radio City Music Hall is traditionally decorated from roof-to-foundation with eye-popping holiday cheer.
Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara Falls, Canada
For visual wow-factor, the Canadian Winter Festival of Lights takes it home. From mid-November to mid-January, 1.5 million visitors walking or driving the show route enjoy hundreds of stand-alone Christmas light displays, backed by the year-round lights that are projected onto the thundering mists of Niagara Falls after dark.
The annual Winter Wonderland is a 6-week fair of fun and shopping complete with frozen ice-sculpture forests, a Snow Queen, amusement park rides, ice bars, Christmas Markets, and duh, Santa’s Village. This event gets our thumbs-up for their stress on sustainability: “Winter Wonderland will provide suitable facilities for visitors, traders and operators to recycle their waste and all site waste will be sorted off site to divide out recyclable and non-recyclable materials. Cooking oil will be recycled as bio-fuel. Power, lighting and water usage is kept to a minimum by careful planning.”
Cologne Christmas Market, Germany
The 4-week Cologne Christmas Market is actually seven distinct markets that spring up seasonally in the German city of Cologne, with the Cathedral-side market being the main attraction. Seeing 2 million visitors annually, the Cologne Christmas Market is one of the largest in the world. The wares are uber-Christmas as well, with vendors offering snow globes, music boxes, nutcrackers and bratwurst.
For those of you who’ve been living in a hole, Rovaniemi in Finland’s Lapland, is where the real Santa calls home. Though the location is undeniably Christmassy year-round, at the end of November the big man officially opens the season with a public address. Visitors can see the Northern Lights, hang out with reindeer, or stay in a snow hotel.
Image Sources: Niagara Falls lights picture Copyright CAA Festival of Lights, Santa giving opening address copyright Visit Rovaniemi