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The best light festivals around the world (for when we can travel again)

TOPSHOT - People release thousands of paper lanterns to mark the annual Yi Peng festival in the popular tourist city of Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand on November 14, 2016. Tourist arrivals to Thailand have not been hit by a strict mourning period for late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, authorities said, as curbs on entertainment and celebration imposed since his death one month ago were eased. / AFP / LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA (Photo credit should read LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images)

Light festivals are truly magical (Picture: LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images)

What could be more stunning than a light festival?

Huddling up in the dark of night and appreciating the pure magic of lanterns and lights is a true joy.

It’s not just your nearest Christmas lights on offer.

All around the world there are different light festivals and colourful traditions to marvel at.

From flying Buddhist lanterns to jumbo Australian affairs we round up the most stunning visual spectacles the world has to offer.

Yi Peng, Thailand

A crowd releases lanterns into the air as they celebrate the Yee Peng festival, also known as the festival of lights, in Chiang Mai on November 3, 2017.

Best for: Lantern-lovers (Picture: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

Two Thai lantern festivals vie for attention during late autumn’s Full Moon Day. And while southern Loy Krathong spectacles see candle-filled baskets or coconut shells floated on water, Yi Peng bashes in the country’s north are even more magical as loads of rice-paper lanterns are sent airborne.

The main hub is Chiang Mai, where monks oversee proceedings at five locations. Travel company Asia Highlights breaks down each on its website and sells tickets.

Tickets from £70, November 19, 2021.

Vivid Sydney, Australia

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 24: The Sydney Opera House is illuminated by an artwork projection entitled Austral Flora Ballet by artist Thomas Huang on May 28, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. Vivid Sydney is the largest festival of light, music and ideas in the Southern Hemisphere and runs from Friday 24 May to Saturday 15 June 2019 .

Best for: ‘Go big or go home’ types (Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Moved from May to August – Australian wintertime – Vivid is no shrinking violet. Indeed, having grown from a quirky 2009 affair into a colossus promising hundreds of shows in dozens of locations, it might be Earth’s largest light festival.

Expect to see projections reinventing buildings such as the famous Opera House as huge illuminations and laser sculptures funk up the gardens and quays along the harbour. Supporting them will be a programme of concerts, workshops and talks.

From August 6 to 28, 2021.

Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, Japan

Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, Japan

Best for: Warm-weather travellers

While most light festivals lift sagging winter spirits, this one’s strictly a summer affair.

Probably evolved from Shinto ceremonies in the northern port city of Aomori, it promises night parades of giant lantern floats – painstakingly constructed from bamboo, wire, wood and paper, and commonly depicting mythological beings – supported by dancers and drummers.

Visitors can gawp from free seating, and the final day sees the floats become boats as fireworks go off.

From August 2 to 7, 2021.

Medellín Christmas Lights, Colombia

Christmas lights illuminate the Medellin River on December 9, 2014 in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia.

Best for: Yuletiders (Picture: RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP via Getty Images)

‘El Alumbrado’ – as locals know the bash – has run in Columbia’s second city for half a century now and sees 30,000-odd festive projections or sculptures, some massive.

Of late, two locations have been used: a Christmas market in Parque Norte and, enchantingly, parks beside the Medellín River.

Other reasons to make the trip are Medellín’s Narcos filming locations, Pablo Escobar history and warm temperatures.

From December 1, 2020 to January 11, 2021.

Amsterdam Light Festival, Netherlands

PWHXXD Amsterdam, canal Herengracht with lights and artwork Bunch of Tulips by Peter Koros during Amsterdam Light Festival in winter.

Best for: Weekenders (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

The ninth Amsterdam Light Festival will be smaller than usual, but at least it’s going ahead.

Replacing the usual canal-cruise tours is a ‘Covid-proof’ walk during which visitors can admire seven pieces during one-hour, time-slotted trots (£12.50) around the leafy Plantage quarter.

If desired, information about each work can be sent via WhatsApp. High-calibre artists – the likes of Ai Weiwei in previous years – are again involved under 2020’s theme of ‘When nature calls’.

From December 10, 2020 – January 3, 2021.

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Credit: Original article published here.

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