Every place in the country has its distinct way of celebrating the holidays, which is reflected by its own traditions. Interestingly, some places go all out during the winter season with extravagant Christmas lights display.
In this year's America's Favorite Places survey, Travel + Leisure determined through their readers which destinations they love the most for Christmas light madness. The survey is also a way for locals to share what their hometowns do best during the holidays.
When it comes to Christmas festivities, San Antonio, Texas, comes in at number one. It is abundant with tradition, and its lights are unmatched. As soon as its November 19, the University of the Incarnate Word switches the lights in their entire campus that serve as a signal for the locals begin decorating. Feel the city's true holiday spirit the day after Thanksgiving when the Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Festival kick in. The River Walk and the streets around it are illuminated by tens of thousands of string lights, and crowds come together to witness the four-hour nighttime river parade packed with decorated floats carrying lights and carolers.
Kansas City, Missouri, and its Christmas lights are as famous as its ribs. The city stars its holiday celebrations with a literal bang on Thanksgiving evening. In addition, the Country Club Plaza sports a show of fireworks as a switch is flipped to illuminate every building in jewel-colored lights, complete with live music. The 87-year-old tradition extends the Plaza festive from Thanksgiving until mid-January. Visitors can also book a helicopter tour to view it all from above.
Of course, New York City, New York is some sort of a mecca for Christmas light enthusiasts. There's the quintessential 94-foot-tall Rockefeller Center Tree, Macy's flagship Herald Square façade, an LED tree above the flashing marquees of Radio City Music Hall, and Bryant Park's Winter Village and ice rink. Every street has some lights or giant decorations from Thanksgiving through early January. Visitors have a variety of options such as Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza, New York Botanical Garden lights and Holiday Train Show.
Salt Lake City, Utah comes in fourth on the list. This small city gets a lot of gorgeous holiday lighting treatment from Main Street to Broadway Boulevard, but the center point is the 35-acre Temple Square. There are six different music venues across downtown that have choirs and bands playing holiday music throughout December, but the most sold-out performance is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert.
Lastly, Albuquerque, New Mexico and its "River of Lights" is the go-to spectacle in the city;s Botanic Garden. Here, visitors can admire some 400 light sculptures including animated and 3D animals and characters. Also, don't ever miss to take a tour through Old Town to see the best and the brightest.
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