When you think of grand Christmas celebrations, usual suspects like London, Paris and, of course, New York come to mind. You might also consider Christmas markets throughout the German-speaking world, from Berlin, to Vienna to Zürich, when making your list.
Yet in spite of their ubiquity, most of the world's best-known Christmas celebrations aren't home to the largest Christmas trees. In fact, you probably couldn't guess most of the world's largest Christmas tree contender you're about to see below!
In addition to being the biggest Christmas tree in the world, at 278 feet, the holiday arbor you find in Rio de Janeiro also one of the most unusual ones: It floats in the city's lagoon, which sits just inland from famous Ipanema Beach. Definitely not the Christmas tree capital of the world, but that makes it all the more surprising.
This is convenient, considering that Christmas falls in the middle of summer in Rio de Janeiro—why not follow up your Christmas carols with a nighttime swim? Or, head to a local churrascaria and substitute barbecued meats for your typical turkey and ham.
Dortmund might not be as well-known as Berlin or Munich, but as German Christmas Markets go, it's definitely der König. This is especially the case due to its Christmas tree, which rises 145 feet above the market stalls below. Or, more accurately, Christmas trees: It's actually a display of more than 1,000 spruce streets fastened together.
If you consider it as a single entity, Dortmund's Christmas tree is the largest natural Christmas tree in the world, as Rio de Janeiro's biggest Christmas tree is artificial, though Cristo Redentor might have something to say about that.
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
With its location in the middle of the American desert, Phoenix probably isn't the first place you think to celebrate Christmas, and it's not the Christmas tree capital of the world. To be sure, you also probably wouldn't guess that Phoenix is home to the biggest Christmas tree in the United States, but at 110 feet, Phoenix's Christmas tree is significantly taller than its more famous cousin in New York City. Phoenix unfortunately doesn't have its own answer to the Rockettes, but that's a topic for another article.
The tree in Phoenix is fresh-cut, which means that it's the largest, single, natural Christmas tree in the world, in addition to being America's largest. If you happy to find yourself in the desert southwest at Christmas-time, head to downtown Phoenix for some unexpected Christmas cheer!
If you're headed to Europe for Christmas, but don't want to deal with the pomp and circumstance in Paris, or the huge crowds in London, why not choose Prague as your Christmas destination? In addition to how beautiful Prague attractions like the Charles Bridge look under the winter snow, Prague's huge Christmas tree towers more than 72 feet above its old city. It's not the world's biggest Christmas tree, but it is magnificent.
Tip: Take a break at the ice skating rink located just beneath the tree, which is the perfect place to admire its beautiful ornaments. Or, ascend to the Old Town Hall Tower, which is one of the best viewpoints of Prague at any time of year.
As is the case in Rio de Janeiro, Sydney's Christmas falls during the middle of the city's summer. After you finish sunning yourself on Bondi Beach, take a stroll into Martin Place in the city's Newtown neighborhood, where you'll find the biggest Christmas tree in Australia.
At just 69 feet tall, it's a mere shadow of its cousin in Brazil – and it isn't floating – but its adornment in neon kangaroos is uniquely Australian enough to merit a visit, if you happen to be Down Under (Australia is not the Christmas tree capital of the world, to be sure) on Christmas.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
And what about the biggest Christmas tree in Asia? Perhaps surprisingly, it can be found in the small island nation of Sri Lanka, whose population is almost entirely Buddhist and Muslim.
In fact, at 237 feet tall, the Christmas tree of Colombo, Sri Lanka is the tallest artificial Christmas tree in the world, and not just in Asia. As is the case in Sydney, this is quite an interesting juxtaposition, since temperatures in Colombo most Christmas Eves tend to be in the low 80s.