Historic Attractions and Modern Architectural Marvels: 10 Places to Visit at Night this Summer

Advancements in illumination technology are allowing lighting designers to bring new life to historic attractions and modern architectural marvels after the sun sets. Lumileds and MG Tour Company put together the 10 must-see destinations at night.

“As summer travelers will see across these night time attractions, LEDs are creating a whole new look to reimagine our favorite destinations. The lighting designers and artists we work with demand the best in cutting edge lighting, and innovation in LEDs are changing the game in tourism.” – Steve Barlow, SVP, Lumileds

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, USA – Ambitious architects and forward-thinking lighting designers often have epic visions for their creations that just aren’t possible with the technology of the time. One example of this is the famed Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The original dream of architect Irving Morrow was to have a subtle amber glow illuminating the tower bases, but allow the tower tops to drop off into shadow to give the illusion that they are much taller and reaching into the night sky. His vision was finally achieved on the 50th anniversary of the bridge’s opening. When visiting San Francisco, plan to wind down your day with a stroll along Golden Gate Park and marvel at the perfect marriage of form and function.

Venice Canals, Italy – The best way to experience the canals in Venice is with a romantic gondola ride.  But waiting in a crowded line, in the heat of the day, with hundreds of other tourists starts to kill the mood.  Here’s some insiders tricks!  Wait until night, that way the day trippers are gone (the population will drop by half!), and the lights of the city add to the romantic ambiance. Have your gondola pre-booked with a trusted agent so you don’t have to hassle with trying to bargain (they won’t, the price is mandated by the city) and you don’t have to worry about paying there.

Matsumoto Castle in Matsumoto, Japan – Matsumoto Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Japan. It has been named “the Crow Castle” due to its prominence of the color black, and speaks of the former glory of the Samurai. Majestic to see any time, but this fortress of stone and wood possesses a magical quality at night. Plus, with summers being quite humid in Japan, a nighttime stroll through history while eating mochi ice cream is the perfect way to cool down, and you may even see fireflies.  If you are short on time in Japan visit on your way en route between Tokyo and Kanazawa.

Guangzhou Tower in Guangzhou, China – In the last 30 years, Guangzhou has transformed from a dirty business town to one of the most beautiful and modern cities in the world!  The Guangzhou TV and Sight Seeing Tower is one of the crowning achievements with its modern architecture accentuated with colorful LED lighting. Visit at night to take some “insta-worthy” pics of the tower, then ascend to see the city from its lofty perch. Visit mid-week to get the best views and minimal crowds. The queues for the restroom can be quite long, so you might want to make a stop before visiting.

Hangzhou Grand Canal in Hangzhou, China – The Grand Canal was a mammoth project done by the Chinese on a scale similar to the Great Wall.  In an effort to move rice and other products over 1,000 miles, the emperors had the Grand Canal built. It is an amazing feat of engineering and today is still an intriguing part of Chinese life in the area.  Take a night cruise to enjoy the serenity and be immersed in the lights of the bridge as well as from the city.

Yanqi Tower on Yanqi Lake in Beijing, China – Beijing is an incredible city, yet the downtown is crowded, and traffic can make one yearn for a more natural setting.  Head just outside the city to Yanqi lake, an area where you can enjoy a variety of activities from boating to bungee jumping.  But one of the most enjoyable activities is watching the day turn to night and the Yanqi Tower & surrounding architectural wonders lighting up.

Suzhou Science & Culture Art Center in Suzhou, China – Suzhou is famous for many things, especially its gardens and canals.  Built in 2007 with cutting edge architectural lighting, the spectacular Suzhou Science and Culture Art Center is beautifully reflected in the Jingi Lake’s waters offering a picturesque juxtaposition of engineering and nature.  Go here to check out everything from IMAX to opera.

Wuxi Buddha Palace in Wuxi, China – Wuxi is the home of Tai Lake with its famous Wu Stones.  The magnificent Wuxi Buddha Palace is revered by devotees and very impressive for all to see with its blend of ornate Buddhist woodwork, sculpture and creative use of colorful LED lighting. Visit an early evening show Ode of Auspiciousness, then stay past sunset to walk the steps to the top to view the Giant Buddha Statue (88 meters high) in all of its glory.

Tilikum Crossing, Oregon, USA – The “Bridge of the People” is a treasure to local Portland residents. Known for eccentricities and innovation, the city worked with installation artists Anna Valentina and Doug Hollis to build an LED illumination system that changes lighting effects based on the Willamette River’s current depth, speed and water temperate, so every night is a different experience. Completed in 2015, this bridge combining art and technology is yet another reason (as if you needed one) to visit Portland at night.

Niagara Falls, New York, USA – Voted in as the 8th Wonder of the World in 2016, this awe-inspiring miracle of nature has long been a symbol of American natural beauty. The gorgeous green color of the water in the daytime is caused by dissolved salts and “rock flour” generated from the massive amounts of force from the Niagara River. As the crowds die down into the evening, the falls come alive through colorful lighting effects, making for perfect photography opportunities.

Night shoot of Niagara Falls.


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