Christmas light displays 2009

Candy Bellinger

It's the countdown to Christmas, and around the world festive lights are being festooned across city streets. Have a look through this guide to see which ones are guaranteed to give you a sparkly Christmas. You could even combine seeing the lights with a shopping trip abroad to see foreign festivities.

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Beginning with some home-grown talent, Christmas shopping wouldn't be complete without a visit to central London. This year, Oxford Street and Regent Street are themed around the work of Charles Dickens. Once you've shopped 'til you've dropped you can take in "A Christmas Carol" hanging above your head.

If you fancy a bit of stateside present buying, New York City puts on a spectacular light-show. All the main department stores, such as Saks, compete with each other with their window displays and lights. But if that wasn't enough you could go ice-skating at the Rockefeller Center, and admire their world-famous Christmas tree as you glide past.

Another light festival in a spectacular natural setting is to be found at Niagara Falls in Canada. Each year, the surrounding parklands are the setting for the Winter Festival of Lights, with 3 million tree and ground lights. The festival also has daily firework displays and an ice-skating rink with breath-taking views at the edge of the Horseshoe Falls.

Back in blighty, Birmingham is renowned for putting on a good Christmas display. Though unfortunately, the opening of the lights this year was marred by crowd control issues, there are still lots of reasons to visit the UK's second biggest city. The biggest German market outside Germany - the Frankfurt Christmas Market and Craft Fair - is held in Birmingham each year. Visitors can buy unusual handmade gifts, and traditional German items such as marionettes and wooden toys.

Hopefully, you will get a chance to take a break this Christmas and take in some lights. Have you seen a special lights display this year - or are you planning to see one? Leave a message and tell us about it...