Honolulu Christmas Lights

So the weather outside may not be frightful, and we might not find the fire necessary, but there is plenty of holiday spirit on the Hawaiian islands — particularly if you’re traveling along King Street in Downtown Honolulu or down Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki.

Although you’ve already missed the 24th Annual Honolulu Christmas Lights Opening Ceremony and Parade, which was held on December 6, the colorful displays along the King Street block in front of the Honolulu Hale (530 South King Street) make for a great evening of family fun. This year’s city lights theme is “Ku’u Home” (Our Home), and highlights the cultural diversity of the islands as well as its special spirit of Aloha.
The Lights are on for all to see until January 6. The centerpiece of this year’s display is always the enormous Hawaiian themed Santa and Mrs. Claus, kicking back barefooted by the water. There’s something uniquely tropical and delightful about Christmas time in Honolulu even without the cold and snow. Honolulu’s 23rd Annual Holiday Wreath Contest winners, are also displayed in the interior halls of the Hale. Every year has a different theme, and this year’s is “Holiday Heroes,” which you will see is pretty much open to interpretation.

Finally, if you haven’t had your fill of palm trees and Christmas lights, Waikiki always serves up some authentic holiday events — particularly along Kalakaua Avenue. Sheila, over at Go Visit Hawaii, breaks down the plethora of activity going down in the touristic center of Hawaii. Most of the noteworthy offerings in Waikiki involve gorging on Hawaiian cuisine at the various hotel restaurants and cafés, but some interesting activities are available in the coming week, including a Santa appearance and photoshoot at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach on the 23rd. Be sure to practice your Hawaiian and wish your friends and family a warm “Mele Kalikimaka” (Merry Christmas)!

The Best Holiday Light Displays Around the World

Travel and Leisure compiled videos of the best holiday light displays around the world into one handy album right here. If you wish to feel inferior about your outdoor decorative efforts, look no further.

Actually, these displays are far too fantastic to even inspire envy. Most, like the Brussels and the Tokyo (Roppongi Hills, above) ones, will inspire awe and wonder. So get your coffee, sit back, and let other people take care of the cheer for a little while. It’s beautiful!

[via Travel and Leisure]

Undiscovered New York: Christmas display spectacle in Dyker Heights

Welcome to this week’s edition of Undiscovered New York. The holidays are nearly upon us here in New York, and like much of the rest of the country, the city is in full-on holiday mode. The giant tree is lit in Rockefeller Center, the holiday gift merchants are out in Union Square, and the 50 foot tall animatronic Santas, synchronized light shows and guerilla armies of toy soldiers are waiting out in the Dyker Heights.

Few places on earth can match the pure Christmas zeal of Dyker Heights, a residential neighborhood located in the southwestern Brooklyn. Each year this largely Italian-American community competes to win bragging rights for the title of biggest and best Christmas display. Residents will stop at just about nothing to prove their decorating prowess. Displays include everything from neon-lit manger displays to giant Santas plus enough decorative Christmas lights per square inch power a small country.

The displays are so huge that Dyker Heights has created a mini-cottage tourist industry during the holiday season. Each December as many as 100,000 visitors make the trek to this far flung neighborhood to check out the lights and have their pictures taken among the outlandish and festive decorations.

Are you Christmas crazy? Will you be visiting New York this holiday season? Why not make the trek out to Brooklyn for one of New York’s most unique Christmas spectacles? Click below to learn how to get there and see some video footage from a special Dyker Heights holiday visit by none other than Conan O’Brien.
Where do I find the displays?
The epicenter of the Dyker Heights spectacle is 84th Street, with many of the houses enclosed in the blocks between 80th and 86th Streets and 10th to 13th Avenues putting up some kind of display. Here’s a map to help you get your bearings. Though the most convenient way to get to Dyker Heights is by driving, enterprising visitors can also take the R Train to 86th Street in Brooklyn. Just look for the giant Christmas toddler and polar bear display and you’ll know you’ve made it.

Is it really worth checking out?
Check out this segment from Conan O’Brien if you need any further motivation to go check out the Dyker Heights Christmas spectacle:

Christmas house light shows for feeling merry and bright

In Pickerington, Ohio on Hail Ridge Drive, neighbors get together to create a computerized, animated Christmas light show that they sychronize to music. Cars line up for blocks as people wait their turn. As they creep along, they tune to a specific radio station that plays music that goes with the display.

Two years ago a friend of mine and I took our sons to see it, but once we saw the traffic, decided to park and walk. I was happy to see the Star of David and a menorah at one house. It made me think, what a great neighborhood that everyone participates in a creative outpouring of goodness. That’s how I see it anyway.

At the house towards the middle of the street we waited for Santa to make his appearance. We were told he had stepped out by his helpers who were passing out candy canes and collecting canned goods. According to one of Santa’s elves, enough cans had been donated to fill a garage.

The display is happening again this year. There are 17 houses included in what is called Picktown Lights. The show is going on through New Year’s so I think we’ll go there again. Canned goods are again being collected. Since food banks are running low this year, I hope this makes a killing.

Here are some other light displays in various parts of the U.S. that are also individual households. The most famous one is perhaps the one in Mason, Ohio. As I was looking for others on YouTube, I found its rivals. Enjoy.

1. The one in Mason, Ohio

2. Unknown location

3. Frisco, Texas

4. Brooklyn, New York

5. Another unknown location, but very relaxing. Be patient. It starts slowly

6. One from Pickerington, Ohio. This one has close-ups mixed in.

7. This one is to “Christmas Shoes,” my daughter’s favorite Christmas song. This one couldn’t be loaded, but here’s the link.

Southern California’s best hotel Christmas light displays

I’m a big sucker for Christmas lights. Not the simple ones hanging on family homes, mind you, nor the ostentatious ones the shove Christmas down your throat. No, I love the classy displays found so often at major hotels.

For whatever reason, high-end hotels in Southern California seem to go bonkers with lights at this time of year but they do it so tastefully and with so much class that I usually find myself visiting at least one local hotel every year to simply soak up the spirit.

For those that feel the same way I do, and plan to be in Southern California for the holidays, Valli Herman has penned a nice article for the LA Times detailing the very best light displays at local hotels and resorts.

I was very happy to see that my favorite, the Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena was included on her list. But don’t be intimated by these high-end, pricy resorts–you don’t have to check in and spend the night, just swing by the bar for a drink and enjoy.

Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel & Spa – Pasadena
The Mission Inn – Riverside
St. Regis Resort – Monarch Beach
Four Seasons Hotel – Westlake Village
Bacara Resort & Spa – Santa Barbara
Montage Resort & Spa – Laguna Beach