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Extreme Decor: Nine Famous Holiday Displays

Thank goodness for the Clark Griswolds out there who spend all year planning and prepping and maxing out credit cards so that the less driven among us can bask in their holiday spirit. Their extreme decorations could make any Grinch's heart grow. But how do such bright and ornate creations come to be? What fun, little-known facts hide behind the magic of our country's most famous holiday displays?
Hershey’s Holiday Chocolate House
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Biltmore House (Exterior)
Biltmore House (Interior)
The National Christmas Tree
100 Miles of Lights
Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
Walt Disney World’s Candlelight Processional
Christkindlemarkt Bethlehem

Biltmore House (Interior)

The inside is filled with Christmas trees (as many as one hundred, by some estimates), including a Fraser fir in the Banquet Hall that stands at thirty-five feet. It’s also estimated that hundreds of poinsettias are found within the mansion. Southern Living magazine reported in 2004 that the estate stores its five hundred boxes of holiday decorations in two warehouses the rest of the year.

_Photo source: Christmas.biltmore.com

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Possibly one of the most famous Christmas symbols in the world, NYC’s tree is decorated this year with five miles of wire holding thirty thousand eco-friendly LED lights. It’s a seventy-four-foot-tall, forty-foot-wide Norway spruce (born and raised in the New York suburbs, no less) that weighs in at an impressive eighteen thousand pounds.

Photo source: audvloid (cc)

Biltmore House (Exterior)

Asheville, North Carolina, hosts this eight-thousand-acre, 250-room estate, said to be the largest home in America. Not surprisingly, it’s a popular tourist attraction year-round—especially during the holidays, when the entire property is decked with lights and garlands.

_Photo source: Christmas.biltmore.com

Biltmore House (Interior)

The inside is filled with Christmas trees (as many as one hundred, by some estimates), including a Fraser fir in the Banquet Hall that stands at thirty-five feet. It’s also estimated that hundreds of poinsettias are found within the mansion. Southern Living magazine reported in 2004 that the estate stores its five hundred boxes of holiday decorations in two warehouses the rest of the year.

_Photo source: Christmas.biltmore.com

The National Christmas Tree

The Washington, D.C., holiday tree tradition began in 1923 with President Coolidge. Back then, the tree stood at forty-eight feet and was adorned with 2,500 red, green, and white lights. The tree lighting ceremony, which takes place in early December every year, is a much bigger affair these days, with an online lottery system in place for three thousand seats and ten thousand spaces in the standing room area. The big tree, along with the fifty-six small trees (one for every state, territory, and the District of Colombia) that make up the “Pathway of Peace,” will be lit every night until the beginning of the New Year.

Photo source: bigbirdz (cc)

100 Miles of Lights

100 Miles of Lights stretches across seven Virginia cities, including Richmond, Williamsburg, and Norfolk, from November to early January of every year. There are an abundance of events and activities in each area, from holiday home tours to caroling to Christmas markets, as well as drive-through light shows. The oldest of these, Newport News’s Celebration in Lights, has two hundred holiday displays comprising 700,000 lights.

Photo source: terren in Virginia (cc)

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

For five nights every December, hundreds of boats along this Southern California town’s harbor are covered in Christmas lights and decorations. The official website says that past participants have spent over $50,000 to adorn their boats for the occasion. The parade runs fourteen miles, and over one million people are said to view the vessels along the way.

Photo source: YoTuT (cc)

Walt Disney World’s Candlelight Processional

Throughout November and December, Disney World visitors head to Epcot theme park for a night of storytelling by celebrities like Susan Lucci, Whoopi Goldberg, and Edward James Olmos, with classic holiday songs performed by a choir and a fifty-piece orchestra. The show has been at the America Gardens Theater, an outdoor venue, since 1994.

Photo source: Darren Wittko (cc)

Christkindlemarkt Bethlehem

The markets that pop up during the holidays all over European countries like Germany and Austria made their way to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1993. Christkindlemarkt features crafts and goods made by over one hundred artists from around the country. The town’s website claims that sixty-five thousand people come every year to shop and enjoy the music, authentic German cuisine, ice carving shows, and of course, the twenty-six-foot-tall market tree.

Photo source: notfrancois (cc)

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