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Twinkling Lights Spread Holiday Cheer Around the World

From California to Moscow and beyond, festive holiday illuminations are banishing the gloom.

Durham, North Carolina

Santa welcomes passengers on the Santa Train at the Museum of Life and Science campus on Dec. 20.

Bernard Thomas / The Herald-Sun via AP

London

A giant bauble and stars hang over Carnaby Street on Dec. 8. British retailers are hoping for a rise in sales over the Christmas period after November's Black Friday sales failed to boost turnover.

Ben Pruchnie / Getty Images

Brussels

A light show decorates the Grand Place in Brussels on Dec. 12.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP

Moscow

A department store is reflected on the wall of a skating rink in Red Square on Dec. 22.

Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Nice, France

A giant Santa Claus stands on the "Promenade des Anglais" on Dec. 12.

VALERY HACHE / AFP - Getty Images

Brussels

Visitors tour the Christmas market on Dec. 12.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP

Hamburg, Germany

Streams of people visit the Christmas market in front of the town hall on Dec. 12.

DANIEL BOCKWOLDT / EPA

London

Shoppers walk along South Molton Street on Dec. 8.

Ben Pruchnie / Getty Images

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Muslim women take a selfie in front of a Christmas tree at a mall Dec. 13. The spirit of Christmas is felt very much in Muslim-dominated Malaysia, as shopping malls in Malaysia have decorated their premises with Christmas trees, lights, and Santa Clauses as a chance to boost year-end sales.

Joshua Paul / AP

Beirut

Fireworks light the sky as a Christmas tree designed by Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab is lit in front of the Al-Amin Mosque in Lebanon's capital on Dec. 11.

ANWAR AMRO / AFP - Getty Images

Mumbai, India

A Rabbi lights a Menorah to celebrate the Jewish festival of Hanukkah on Dec. 13. Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, celebrates the revolt of the Maccabees in 165 BCE against the Syrian-Greek forces that had been occupying the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

DIVYAKANT SOLANKI / EPA

Colorado Springs

Menorahs of all shapes and sizes are lit by those attending a Hanukkah service at the Temple Beit Torah on Dec. 11. The annual tradition by the local temple was held on the 6th night of Hanukkah.

Jerilee Bennett / AP

Medford, New Jersey

People gather to see the annual holiday lights display at the home of Amber Merefield on Dec. 13. Started by her parents, the annual tradition has dazzled crowds in southern New Jersey for years, but could be coming to an end. Merefield says she will be leaving the state soon for her job.

Mel Evans / AP

Paris

Christmas decorations illuminate the Champs Elysees in front of the Arc de Triomphe on Dec. 14.

Christophe Ena / AP

Burnham-on-Sea, England

People admire Christmas lights on a house Dec. 14. The neighborhood's annual display raises tens of thousands of pounds for various charities, including a local cancer hospital.

Matt Cardy / Getty Images

Bad Vilbel, Germany

A chain of lights hangs around a sales booth to illuminate Christmas trees for sale in a field in the early morning of Dec. 15.

FRANK RUMPENHORST / AFP - Getty Images

National Harbor, Maryland

Children stand in front of a nativity scene made entirely of ice, part of the ICE! event just outside of Washington, on Dec. 15. The walk-through holiday attraction is kept at a chilly 9 degrees and contains two million pounds of hand-carved holiday themed ice sculptures and five ice slides.

KEVIN LAMARQUE / Reuters

Las Pinas, Philippines

Catholics attend the traditional Misa de Gallo (Dawn Mass) during a downpour from typhoon Melor in front of a church on Dec. 16. The Dawn Mass is held for nine consecutive days prior to Christmas Day.

MARK R. CRISTINO / EPA

Milan

People cross a bridge as Christmas lights illuminate the Darsena dei Navigli, the neighborhood named for the canals, on Dec. 16.

Antonio Calanni / AP

Hildesheim, Germany

Lights illuminate the Christmas market in the historic town square on Dec. 16.

JULIAN SCHRATENSCHULTE / EPA

Medellin, Colombia

People take pictures in front of Christmas decorations on Dec. 16.

FREDY BUILES / Reuters

Frankfurt

Visitors admire a merry-go-round at the Christmas market on a rainy evening on Dec. 16.

FRANK RUMPENHORST / EPA

Seoul, South Korea

A woman poses for photos in front of a display on Dec. 17.

ED JONES / AFP - Getty Images

Torrance, California

Lights cover a home in the Sleepy Hollow neighborhood on Dec. 15. In many neighborhoods of Los Angeles, homeowners compete for the most lavish and creative holiday light displays. Torrance's Sleepy Hollow is one such neighborhood where every home outdoes the next: surfing Santas, life-size nativity scenes, ferris wheels, and giant inflatable snowmen line the lawns on every street.

LUCY NICHOLSON / Reuters

Minsk, Belarus

A couple embraces in Oktyabrskaya Square on Dec. 17.

VASILY FEDOSENKO / Reuters

Monaco

Decorated Christmas trees stand in front of the Monte Carlo Casino on Dec. 17.

Lionel Cironneau / AP

Moscow

A couple walks past decorations on Dec. 18.

SERGEI KARPUKHIN / Reuters

Zagreb, Croatia

Ban Jelacic Square is lit up with Christmas lights on Dec. 13. With an ice sculpture festival, brass band fanfares and a huge skating rink, Croatia's capital is pulling in growing numbers of winter tourists in the hope of cheering its struggling economy.

STR / AFP - Getty Images

Budapest, Hungary

People skate around a lit Christmas tree in front of the St. Stephan Basilica, the biggest church in Budapest, on Dec. 21.

ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP - Getty Images

Moscow

Manezhnaya Square is illuminated to celebrate the holiday on Dec. 20.

Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Amritsar, India

Christians pay their respects at the illuminated St Mary's Catholic Church on Dec. 23, 2015. Despite Christians forming a little over two percent of the billion plus population in India, with Hindus comprising the majority, Christmas is celebrated with fanfare and zeal throughout the country.

NARINDER NANU / AFP - Getty Images

New York City

Holiday lights shine on the 83rd Rockefeller Center Christmas tree on Dec. 2. The humble Christmas tree has a rich history, from evergreen trees used to symbolize eternal life in Ancient Egypt to tree worship among pagan Europeans. The modern version has its origins in Germany, where the song "O Tannenbaum" is still a festive favorite.

Want more? Click to see another holiday lights gallery.

LUCAS JACKSON / Reuters