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posted: 12/12/2013 5:45 AM

Lights, trees, gingerbread: Holiday events sparkle all over the country

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  • The gingerbread Opera House (based on the real one in Sydney, Australia) is part of a village of gingerbread depictions of famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Washington Monument at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel in Honolulu. The gingerbread replicas were created by the hotel's chef, Ralf Bauer, and his team for the Christmas holidays.

      The gingerbread Opera House (based on the real one in Sydney, Australia) is part of a village of gingerbread depictions of famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Washington Monument at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel in Honolulu. The gingerbread replicas were created by the hotel's chef, Ralf Bauer, and his team for the Christmas holidays.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS/SHERATON PRINCESS KAIULANI HOTEL

  • Anna Ladner, left, and Vanja Ojes Dahlberg sip Champagne in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York. Some 45,000 energy-efficient LED lights adorn the 76-foot tree.

      Anna Ladner, left, and Vanja Ojes Dahlberg sip Champagne in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York. Some 45,000 energy-efficient LED lights adorn the 76-foot tree.
    Associated Press

  • Nearly 4 million lights illuminate the Mission Inn Hotel in Riverside, Calif., through Jan. 5.

      Nearly 4 million lights illuminate the Mission Inn Hotel in Riverside, Calif., through Jan. 5.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS/MISSION INN HOTEL

  • The Ice Palace, a 30-foot ice dome at MacArthur Center in Norfolk, Va., features falling snow, a light show, huge snow globes and a 360-degree interactive exhibit on the Arctic. The attraction is on display through Dec. 24.

      The Ice Palace, a 30-foot ice dome at MacArthur Center in Norfolk, Va., features falling snow, a light show, huge snow globes and a 360-degree interactive exhibit on the Arctic. The attraction is on display through Dec. 24.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS/VISITNORFOLK

  • Holiday displays at the Biltmore in Asheville, N.C., will be up through Jan. 12.

      Holiday displays at the Biltmore in Asheville, N.C., will be up through Jan. 12.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS/THE BILTMORE COMPANY

  • The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., offers 56 decorated trees in the main house.

      The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., offers 56 decorated trees in the main house.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS/THE BILTMORE COMPANY

 
By Beth J. Harpaz
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Lights, trees, gingerbread and the Grinch are among the Christmastime attractions on display around the country. Here are some details.

New York City's holiday traditions include the tree at Rockefeller Center, the Radio City "Christmas Spectacular" show, origami decorations on the tree at the American Museum of Natural History, the Neapolitan Baroque crèche and tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and of course windows decorated with Christmas themes in stores around the city.

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In the Bronx, the New York Botanical Garden hosts its annual train show, with model trains winding around miniature replicas of New York landmarks made from plant materials like bark, leaves and nuts. At Grand Central Terminal, there are real trains, along with a light show from 5 to 11 p.m. daily through Dec. 26. And at the Children's Museum of Manhattan, an interactive exhibit called "The Grinch's Holiday Workshop" is up through Dec. 31, along with a synthetic ice rink where kids can skate in their socks.

In Florida, Universal Orlando offers the "Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular" show and re-enactments of New York's Macy's parade with balloons and costumed characters now through Jan. 4. At Walt Disney World, festivities include Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom, the candlelight processional at Epcot, and the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

There's no snow for Santa's sleigh in Florida's coastal cities, so he arrives by water, with Christmas boat parades held in harbors and on waterways around the state. Many take place Dec. 14-15. For calendar listings, visit floridabywater.com/component/content/article?id=1647:boat-parades.

In Virginia, the Ice Palace, a 30-foot ice dome with falling snow, a light show, huge snow globes and a 360-degree interactive exhibit on the Arctic, is on display through Dec. 24 at Norfolk's MacArthur Center. The Dominion Garden of Lights, a 2-mile drive-through light show at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Hampton Roads, is held nightly through Dec. 31. Elsewhere in Virginia, Busch Gardens Williamsburg claims one of the largest light displays in the country, with 6 million lights covering the park.

Gingerbread displays include the Connecticut casino Mohegan Sun's life-size gingerbread house, so big visitors can walk through it. In Honolulu, the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani hotel hosts a gingerbread village with creations depicting world landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Australia's Sydney Opera House. And in New York City, Le Parker Meridien hotel is hosting a display of gingerbread creations by local chefs depicting city sights like Coney Island. Visitors can view the display for free but voting on a favorite costs $1, with proceeds going to City Harvest, a local food bank.

In Las Vegas, the Bellagio Resort & Casino's winter display includes more than 32,000 fresh poinsettias and a 45-foot-tall tree, along with a chocolate reindeer and life-size candy house. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is hosting a nightly light show with 400 animated lights along the 2.5-mile racetrack. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has turned its Boulevard Pool into an ice rink, and there's also a rink above the Grand Canal at The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas. And while real snow is highly unlikely, Town Square Park hosts a show of artificial snowflakes falling at 7 p.m. nightly until Dec. 23, with a second show at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

One of the tallest decorated trees in the country is a live fir at the Coeur d'Alene Resort in Idaho. The tree stands more than 160 feet tall and is festooned with 40,000 lights. The resort's holiday offerings include other lighting displays and animated figures.

In Western Massachusetts, Springfield hosts "Bright Nights" at Forest Park, a drive-through experience with nearly 3 miles of lighting displays depicting characters from Dr. Seuss, Jurassic World and more.

Gaylord Opryland in Nashville hosts "A Country Christmas" with 2 million twinkling lights decorating the resort's gardens and waterfalls. Holiday shows include the Rockettes at the Grand Ole Opry reprising Radio City's "Christmas Spectacular."

In North Carolina, the Biltmore Estate offers 56 decorated trees in the main house, 1,000 red and white poinsettias in the estate's Winter Garden, and evening musical performances, along with classes on building gingerbread houses and caring for Christmas plants. The National Historic Landmark is located in Asheville, N.C.

In California, the Legoland theme park in Carlsbad has a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree created from 245,000 green Duplo bricks. Finally, the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside is illuminated by 3.6 million lights and also hosts 400 animated characters, live reindeer and an outdoor skating rink.

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