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

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

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

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

‘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

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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