Europe's best light shows


Netherlands Amsterdam Light Festival

Towns and cities across the UK are preparing to switch on their Christmas lights next month, but few can rival these illuminated wonders. Here's our pic of seven dazzlings attractions in Europe, sure to brighten up the darkest night.

1. Amsterdam Light Festival, the Netherlands
Forget the red light district. Amsterdam proves that it knows how to put on a stunning light show when the entire city is transformed by dazzling displays of light. From 26 November-31 January 2016, enjoy the illuminations from the comfort of a boat, as you cruise around canals, taking in the amazing alfresco light sculptures, projections and installations.

2. Fête des Lumières, Lyon, France
For four nights a year (5-8 December 2015), Lyon is transformed into a city of light, when its buildings, streets, squares and parks are given a dazzling make-over. The event, which includes more than 70 light installations, attracts millions of visitors. The event centres on the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière which dominates the city's skyline.

3. Rome, Italy
There are plenty of awe-inspiring sights in the Italian capital of Rome at any time of day, but the ancient city is definitely most atmospheric after dark. It is possible to book a night-time tour of the Colosseum, but just taking a stroll around town in the evening will supply some sights you'll never forget. Don't forget to include the Forum, between the Palatine hill and the Capitoline hill, with its beautifully lit temple ruins on your route.

4. Manarola Crib, Liguria, Italy
Perched on a rocky outcrop on the rugged Ligurian coast of Italy, the Cinque Terre village of Manarola is transformed in to one of the biggest and most beautiful nativity scenes in the world each Christmas. The work of retired railway worker Mario Andreoli, the "crib" is composed of 1,500 bulbs and is spread across 4,000 square metres of hillside every December.

5. The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
One of the world's most famous structures, the Eiffel Tower is illuminated at night by 20,000 flash bulbs which sparkle on the hour every hour throughout the year. During December there is a glittering display of "fairy lights" put on at regular intervals throughout the evening. Visible from across Paris (it's known as the City of Light for good reason), the magical display transforms the tower into the world's largest Christmas tree.

6. Lux, Helsinki, Finland
Finland's capital is brought to life during Lux, when Helsinki is treated to a variety of luminous artworks in the city centre and the Cable Factory cultural centre. Just be sure to wrap up warm if you visit (6-10 January 2016) as the nights are freezing cold.

7. Licht festival, Ghent, Belgium
You'll have to wait until January 2018 as the festival only runs every three years, but the Licht festival is worth the wait. Last year, the cathedral was lit up by 55,000 LEDs – an unforgettable sight and the next shining extravaganza promises to be even bigger and better.

Have you been to an amazing light show in Europe? Leave a comment below...

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