Festive flying: 10 best decked airports

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you fly.

Airports around the world are decking their terminals with holiday decorations, illuminated trees and whimsical treats to get passengers in the festive spirit. From ice skating rinks to carolers to Christmas trees, these are the best decked out airports around the world.

Washington Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C.

Washington Dulles Airport
Get it the holiday spirit at Washington-Dulles International Airport. (Image: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority)

The season is in full swing at Washington-Dulles International Airport. Arriving passengers are greeted by holiday trees decorated by local school children, while wreaths and garland dot the whole airport. Anyone taking the Aerotrain can admire over-sized holiday ornaments and decorations. Look out for Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will be greeting passengers throughout the season. Holiday music lovers are in luck too as the airport takes “deck the halls” to the next level with carolers, classical music performances and high school bands, while shoppers who indulge in holiday shopping get a battery pack/charger as a gift with the purchase of $100 or more.

Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver International Airport
Get in the Christmas spirit in Vancouver. (Image: Vancouver International Airport)

The sounds of seasonal music entertain arriving and departing passengers at Vancouver International Airport. Free live music and holiday entertainment are set against a backdrop of seasonal installations and photo opportunities. Look for performances both pre- and post-security between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from December 16-24, 2016. Holiday perks for passengers in Vancouver include free gift-wrapping for all purchases post-security and double Aeroplan Miles for all travelers who pre-book for stays until Dec. 31, 2016 with jetSet Parking for a minimum four-day stay.

Changi Airport, Singapore

Changi Airport
Gotta catch ’em all in Singapore. (Image: Changi Airport)

Changi Airport’s holiday theme this year is “Pokémon at Changi,” capitalizing on the popularity of Pokemon Go. The Singapore airport will be turned into a lair for the pocket monsters through Feb. 11, 2017. The holidays kicked off in mid-November with a Pikachu Parade featuring 10 of the bright yellow characters. The holiday set-up in Terminal 3’s departure hall includes a giant seven-foot Pikachu and a Gingerbread House that is home to Santa’s Workshop and Mrs. Claus’ Confectionary, which is filled with toys and treats. Pikachu visits the Gingerbread House on weekends until January 1, 2017. More Pokémons are in the Terminal 3 departure hall, while three life-size Snorlaxes lounge at the Snorlax Garden for photo ops. Pokémon trainers and visitors can embark on a Poké Trail for a chance to win exclusive Pokemon merchandise by hunting for 26 Pokémon waiting to surprise them at various locations across Changi Airport. At the Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 departure halls, visitors can find virtual face painting kiosks where they can see themselves turned into Pikachu. Pokémon fans can buy a full set of nine limited-edition Pokémon plush toys including Pikachu, Eevee, Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle, and three new characters from Nintendo’s new Sun and Moon series – Rowlet, Litten and Popplio – as well as the Poké Ball.

Heathrow Airport, London, England

Heathrow Airport
Heathrow’s past decorations have included a giant Twitter-powered Christmas tree. (Image: Heathrow Airport)

At Heathrow Airport in London, passengers are treated to performances by a string quartet and carolers. Don’t miss Santa Claus handing out chocolates. Children can participate in workshops to make Christmas candles and tree decorations, and they can eat for free at Heathrow’s restaurants during the holiday season. Travelers departing through Heathrow and shopping along the way can receive complimentary gift-wrapping. Emotional reunions are aplenty in the arrivals area, so it’s no wonder parts of the holiday film “Love Actually” were filmed there.

Zurich Airport, Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich Airport
It’s merry and bright at the Zurich Airport. (Image: Zurich Airport)

Zurich Airport is aglow for the holidays, literally. The airport is decked with 500,000 lights inside and outside. The Airport Center on the landside is draped with huge chandeliers and chains of lights. Post-security, there is a 26-foot tree decked with Swarovski ornaments and festive sleighs, which is the perfect place for selfies. Near the gates, there’s another Christmas tree decorated by Tiffany & Co. Swarovski, Fogal and Lindt offer their products in specially-built and festively decorated pop-up stores. Holiday events include an Advent Brunch, fondue, raclette and wine tastings at airport restaurants. Children can decorate gingerbread and bake cookies in the Airport Bakery, and Santa Claus is making visits too. Passengers can enter to win prizes like shopping vouchers and a European flight with Germania. The grand prize, a pair of long-haul tickets in SWISS Business Class, will be drawn on Dec. 24. All passengers get free chocolate every weekend in December.

Düsseldorf Airport, Germany 

Düsseldorf Airport
It’s the Ho- Ho- Ho-lidays in Düsseldorf Airport. (Image: Düsseldorf Airport)

Fairy lights, decorated fir trees, artificial snow and a huge Christmas tree greet passengers in the check-in hall at Düsseldorf Airport. Passengers can glide along the artificial ice rink in the check-in hall for free the first three weekends in December and on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The airport hosts the Airxperience, a special event with entertainment, sports and television stars, on the first Sunday of the month. Shoppers can pick up holiday gifts at 30 food and fashion shops and save up to 30 percent at selected retail outlets Dec. 1-24, 2016.

Orlando International Airport, Orlando, Florida

Orlando International Airport
O Christmas Tree at Orlando International Airport. (Image: Lauren Mack)

The holidays at Orlando International Airport may not be quite what they are at nearby Walt Disney World, but they’re still an impressive addition to the festive season for travelers. A massive tree with blue, red, green and yellow LED lights graces the atrium of terminal B. It’s easily one of the largest trees seen in an airport terminal.

Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong

Hong Kong International Airport
Enjoy Christmas cheer, food, and fun in Hong Kong. (Image: Hong Kong International Airport)

Hong Kong International Airport continues its tradition of decking the halls with holiday cheer. This year, neon Christmas decorations include a 26-foot-tall Ferris wheel with an interactive game, where passengers can take photos of the Ferris wheel, decorate it with digital stickers and download the photo or post it to an LED wall. Christmas caroling, a cappella performances, magic shows and meet-and-greets with Santa Claus round out the festivities.

Toronto International Airport, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto Pearson International Airport
Toronto decks the halls. (Image: Toronto Pearson International Airport)

Toronto Pearson International Airport becomes a winter wonderland during the holidays. There is a 27-foot tree in the check-in area of Terminal 1, an 80-foot tree in the check-in area in Terminal 3 and an 18-foot tree in the T1 domestic baggage hall. The airport is also decorated with wreaths and smaller trees. The Toronto airport hosts a retail and restaurant decorating contest, which ratchets up the holiday flair. Travelers are also in for some yet-to-be-announced holiday surprises and fun retail promotions.

Denver International Airport, Denver, Colorado

Tim Whiteaker, dia1 via Flickr CC BY 2.0
Tim Whiteaker, dia1 via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Denver International Airport is kicking off its holiday season with the addition of an ice skating rink on the airport’s open-air plaza. Skating is free from Nov. 25- Jan. 1 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and carolers and costumed characters will make surprise appearances. In addition to this winter wonderland, the airport will also have an outdoor holiday market from Dec. 9-11 featuring local crafts and food items. Have some time on your hands before your flight on Dec. 16? Starting at 4 p.m. on the DEN Plaza, catch a holiday “Film on the Fly” with a screening of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and Ugly Holiday Sweater contest (also perfect for keeping cozy – and festive – on your flight!).

Main image: iStockPhoto/Manuel-F-O

Festive flying: 10 best decked airports was last modified: December 2nd, 2016 by Lauren Mack
Author: Lauren Mack (238 posts)

Lauren Mack has traveled to 40 countries on five continents, including Cuba, New Zealand, Peru and Tanzania. For many years, she called China, and then Taiwan, home. Countries at the beginning of the alphabet, particularly Antarctica, Argentina and Australia are on her travel bucket list. Lauren is a multimedia travel and food journalist and explorer based in New York City.