Christmas lights brighten the holiday

Having just put up my trademark Charlie-Brown Christmas lights on two azalea bushes and a camellia tree in the front yard, I’m in the mood to share this list I wrote for the Boston Globe travel section last Sunday. Here are five places that will make your holidays bright(er)!

The The 2008 National Christmas Tree lights up the Ellipse in front of the White House [foto Wikipedia]

The 2008 National Christmas Tree lights up the Ellipse in front of the White House

NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE

One unifying presence in Washington remains our nation’s holiday evergreen, a tradition since 1923. The 28-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce, standing in the northeast quadrant of the Ellipse in President’s Park South, is festooned with thousands of lights. Free. Through Jan. 1. (1100 Ohio Drive SW, 202-208-1631, www.thenationaltree.org)

Hyatt Extreme Christmas in 2009

Hyatt Extreme Christmas in 2009

HYATT EXTREME CHRISTMAS

Just west of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is “Hyatt Extreme Christmas.” The Hyatt family treats visitors to almost 200,000 bulbs, ice-skating penguins, a miniature Ferris wheel and, debuting this year, the “Hyatt Extreme Ski Lift.” Free. Through Dec. 28. (11201 NW Fourth St., Plantation, Fla., www.hyattextremechristmas.com)

The Holiday Cactus Garden at the Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden

The Holiday Cactus Garden at the Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden

CHOCOLATE WONDERLAND AT THE ETHEL M CACTUS GARDEN

The factory store at Ethel M Chocolates, southeast of Las Vegas, lights its 600,000 bulbs amid three acres of the state’s largest collection of living cacti. A rainbow of colors blaze from cholla, golden bears, and other spiny species as mesquite trees twinkle in the background. Free. Through Dec. 31. (2 Cactus Garden Drive, Henderson, Nev., 702- 435-2608, www.ethelm.com)

Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands Resort

Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands Resort

MAGICAL NIGHTS OF LIGHTS AT LAKE LANIER ISLANDS RESORT

About a quarter million visitors a year marvel at this brilliant display an hour northeast of Atlanta. For its 20th edition, the holiday-themed driving tour has added an ice-skating rink, live nativity show, and night-light canopy tours. $60 a car. Through Dec. 31. (7000 Lanier Islands Parkway, Buford, Ga., 770-945-8787, www.lakelanierislands.com)

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

ROCKEFELLER CENTER CHRISTMAS TREE

New York deserves its spot as keeper of the most classic holiday emblem. The 80th Rockefeller Center tree radiates in the glow of 30,000 multicolored LED lights strung over five miles of cord and topped with a star made of 25,000 Swarovski crystals. After the tree comes down, its wood is donated to Habitat for Humanity. Free. Through Jan. 7. (30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, 212-588-8601, www.rockefellercenter.com)

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