If you need a little help to get into the holiday spirit this year, get yourself a winter drink with a side of holiday treats and a tour of the world’s most beautiful Christmas trees. These towering pines (or sand piles, in some cases) are decked to the nines and shine brightly for celebrants around the world to enjoy. Here are the nine most beautiful, famous Christmas trees around the world, from Florida all the way to Lithuania.
1. Zócalo Christmas tree — Mexico City, Mexico
Christmas time in Mexico City welcomes the return of a gigantic tree in Zócalo Square. With the Metropolitan Cathedral behind it, the holiday display makes Centro Histórico even more scenic than it already is. In past years, the Christmas experience in Zócalo Square was completed with a nearby ice skating rink and even a light and music show. Note that the tree is not on display every year so if you’re thinking of traveling to it, be sure to check in advance.
2. Rockefeller Center Christmas tree — New York City, New York
When it comes to Christmas decorations, you just can’t beat New York City. Perhaps the most famous Christmas tree in the world, this year the Norway spruce at Rockefeller Center is 79 feet tall and is 46 feet wide. The brilliantly lit tree is a long-standing American tradition dating all the way back to 1931 when construction workers were building Rockefeller Center. The tree typically has five miles of string lights and a 900-pound star topper made of 3 million Swarovski crystals. The lighting ceremony took place on December 1 this year, and the Christmas tree will stay lit and displayed until early January from 6:00 AM to 12:00 AM every day (except for Christmas Day when the beautiful Christmas tree is lit for 24 hours and on New Year’s Eve it is lit from 6 AM to 9 PM.)
3. Sandi — West Palm Beach, Florida
Florida doesn’t get any snow during the holidays (or ever), so it makes do with what it has in abundance: sand. Beginning in early November, sand is delivered by the truckload to the West Palm Beach waterfront, where sculptors begin shaping the massive pile into a 35-foot Christmas tree. West Palm Beach’s Sandi tree is the world’s only 700-ton sand tree and is illuminated with choreographed light and music shows nightly from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM throughout the holiday season, starting on December 2, 2021 at 6 PM. This year, Sandi (the name of this unusual Christmas tree) turns 10 years old and has been nominated a for the 10 Best Public Holiday Lights Displays ranking by USA Today.
4. Floating Christmas tree — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Revelers like to do it big in Brazil, and Christmas time is no exception. Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in Rio de Janeiro is home to what has to be one of the most unique Christmas trees in the world: a floating tree that stretches over 270 feet into the sky, a tradition that began alongside a dazzling fireworks display in 2014. The tree has to be constructed on a barge each year and is lit up with more than three million lights, attracting around 200,000 visitors. There’s no word as to whether or not Lagoa Christmas Tree will be lit this year or if there’ll be a fireworks display. The event does not take place every year.
5. Galeries Lafayette Christmas tree — Paris, France
A stunning four-story Christmas tree is placed inside the Galeries Lafayette department store each year in Paris, France, and it always has a different theme to surprise and delight shoppers. Past themes have included “From another planet,” featuring meteoric decorations, and “An Amazing Arctic Christmas,” which was made entirely of paper by French artist Lorenzo Papace. This year, the beautiful Christmas tree, inaugurated on November 17, is decorated with the toys featuring a fantastic fairy tale, complete with an astronaut Santa and a futuristic toy rabbit. Every 30 minutes, the stores goes dark and visitors can enjoy sound and light show during which the toys come to life. As is tradition at the Galeries Lafayette, the windows of the store are decorated with stunning automatons on the same motif.
6. Gubbio Christmas tree — Gubbio, Italy
Few things could better inspire holiday cheer than a mountain-sized Christmas tree made from hundreds of real, live pine trees. In Gubbio, Italy, individual trees on the slopes of Mount Ingino are outfitted with an array of lights to create the stunning visual of a 2,400-foot Christmas tree spanning the mountain from base to peak — the largest Christmas tree in the world. It’s always lit from December 7 through the first week of January (January 9, 2022 this year). Even better, the world’s largest Christmas tree is switched on by a notable figure each year, such as the Pope in 2014 (and in 2017, it was switched on from space!).
7. Vilnius Christmas tree — Vilnius, Lithuania
Vilnius’ Christmas tree, set every year in Cathedral Square, is always lavishly decorated, and has been voted the most beautiful Christmas tree in the world for several years in a row. This year, to make sure the winning streak lasts, designer Dominykas Koncevičius created a stunning installation from 3,000 artificial branches decorated with over 1.2 miles of lights, 96 large replicas of real snowflakes, and 46 mirrors. The 88-foot-tall tree was lit at the end of November and will remain merry and bright until January 2, 2022.
8. The Christmas tree in The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago — Chicago, US
The Lobby, one of three restaurant options at the luxurious Peninsula Hotel in Chicago, features a beautiful and elegantly decorated 20-foot Christmas tree. To enjoy the amazing holiday decor, sit beneath this beautiful Christmas tree for a festive afternoon tea featuring a traditional English tea menu, including finger sandwiches, scones, and mini pastries. The Holiday Afternoon Tea is offered November 26, 2021 to January 9, 2022.
9. “Prism” Christmas tree — London, England
Located in front of the shopping complex Coal Drops Yard in the district of King’s Cross in London, “Prism” is a Christmas tree like no other. The 28-foot-tall tree is a pyramidal structure designed by creative studio This is Loop. Meant to be an immersive light installation, the unusual Christmas tree can be entered from all four sides and explored. Inside, the tunnels are filled with colorful lights and mirrors, creating a kaleidoscopic and disorientating effect.
A version of this article was previously published on December 3, 2018, and was updated on December 2, 2021, with more information.