The world's most spectacular water displays



Slide 1 of 27: Water way for a city or state to make a splash! From ornate sculptures and funky fountains to downright epic displays in their own right, water has never looked so cool. Check out these breathtaking features from around the globe.
Slide 2 of 27: This spectacular explosion of color, light, motion, music and water acrobatics comes to you from the end of the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, just below the Palau Nacional (National Palace) in the Catalan capital. As many as seven billion light and water combinations create sequences of splendor to different genres of music – from cartoon soundtracks to Spanish classical music – for its millions of visitors every year.
Slide 3 of 27: This industrial looking structure becomes extremely beautiful in the evening, when lights and water patterns bring it to life. Named the largest fountain in the world in 1998, it is located in the hub of Suntec City – one of the main shopping mall complexes in Singapore. The silicon bronze ring supported by four columns spans 18,115 square feet (1,683sqm) and stands tall at 45 feet (13.7m). The fountain has daily water displays and, come dusk, a laser performance kicks in.
Slide 4 of 27: A bridge isn’t an obvious place for a fountain, but when it spans the whole width of the Han River, you can’t help but be amazed at its design. Both sides of the double-decker Banpo Bridge, which links the districts of Seocho and Yongsan, are lined with pumps that spray 200 tons of river water out every minute. The Rainbow Show takes place both during the day and at night, and it’s the latter which is unmissable. Shows last 20 minutes and operate between April and October.
Slide 5 of 27: Sitting in the center of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the 140 feet high steel globe has become a symbol of Queens. But when the fountains surrounding the Unisphere are switched on, the spraying water helps to give the impression that the globe is floating off the ground. Drama ensues at dark when the site is illuminated. If you catch it as the sun sets with just enough light for the water to sparkle, with the Manhattan skyline in the background, it’s even more spectacular. Head to the side streets of Flushing, west of Main Street, for the best vistas. Check out our guide to the best boutique hotels that won't break the bank in the Big Apple. 
Slide 6 of 27: As its name suggests, this three-tier cascading pool will rejuvenate even the most tired of souls. The extravaganza of water and light is spread over six acres of Maidan, Kolkata’s Central Park. Recently refurbished, the fountain boasts 150 channels available for light and water effects and a whole new program of music. Showcasing 25 different patterns with the help of 26 pumps of varying capacities, the jet in the middle can spray water as high as an eight-story building at a rapid speed.
Slide 7 of 27: Literally translating as "water jet", this mega fountain on Lake Geneva is a sight to behold. Built in 1886 to control and release excess pressure from a hydraulic plant, it accidentally became a tourist attraction when its presence gave power to the place. Now a symbol of the city, its strong engines pump 100 gallons to the height of 460 feet (140m) every second from a stone jetty. It isn’t on constantly though (it’s switched off at night and in strong winds), but it’s hard to miss, particularly when flying into Geneva Airport.
Slide 8 of 27: High on many tourists’ agendas when they visit Rome, the Trevi Fountain deserves to be mentioned in this round-up despite not putting on a water show, per se. Designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi, the origins of this Baroque beauty date back to 19 BC. The fountain features Neptune on a shell-shaped chariot as the centerpiece, being pulled by two horses, each one guided by a Triton, while statues of Abundance and Salubrity look on from above. You can hear its presence streets away, as 2,824,800 cubic feet of water tumble down the rocks into the large pool in front.
Slide 9 of 27: Celebrating the Tang Dynasty era in all its glory, the daily fountain show set against a beautiful backdrop of the ancient Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is dubbed the greatest water-based spectacle in China. Light beams cast huge shadows across the sky while more than 1,000 nozzles sprout water in time to the music – usually Chinese and classical pieces – and are choreographed to perfection. As some streams of water are propelled nearly 200 feet (61m) in the air, visitors often get a bit wet. It’s all part of the fun, of course.
Slide 10 of 27: Even more stunning when the sun shines on the 16 golden statues, which represent the member nations of the former Soviet Union, the Friendship of Nations Fountain (also known as the Peoples Friendship Fountain) is powered by 800 jets that spray thousands of liters of water every day. While not as grand as some of the others in this gallery, the fountain situated near the All-Russia Exhibition Center, is reminiscent of a bygone era.
Slide 11 of 27: It’s not huge, but it’s pretty unique. A sailboat sitting in a pool at Playa de la Malvarrosa looks like an ordinary statue until you get up close. In fact, its sail and hull are mimicked with liquid jets spraying fine streams of water in a simple yet effective design. Its appearance is a playful addition to the beach-front area, flocked by tourists and locals alike, but when the sun sets, it’s almost a piece of art.
Slide 12 of 27: The world’s largest water fountain park can be found in the Parque de la Reserva, just south of central Lima, with as many as 13 fountains all showcasing their own characteristics. While it’s impressive by day, it’s at night when you’ll require a fully-charged camera, and also when you’ll need to pay. Tunnels of water, beautifully lit up, are intriguing enough, but it’s the main fountain that will really blow you away. Images of Peru, sound, laser light and water all merge to create an incredible display. Don’t leave without attempting the Maze of the Dream, made with vertical walls of water.
Slide 13 of 27: Located in the heart of Sydney’s Hyde Park, the Archibald Fountain depicts Greek gods – with Apollo in the center – and mythical creatures emerging out of a pool, throwing out jets of water in a peaceful setting. Built at the bequest of its namesake who was the editor of the now defunct Bulletin magazine, the 87-year-old sculpture has become a much-loved feature to locals and sightseers alike. Discover what to see, do and eat in Sydney with our full city guide. 
Slide 14 of 27: Designed in Beaux-Arts style, Chicago’s landmark is one of the largest fountains in the world. While there’s plenty going on, with four pairs of seahorses that symbolize the four states bordering Lake Michigan’s shoreline, it’s the center jet that steals the show. As part of a 20-minute water display that happens on the hour every day, it shoots 150 feet (45.7m) into the air. Music and light play a big part too, but the 15,000 gallons of water that circuit through the structures every minute is a delight to watch.
Slide 15 of 27: This style of vertical jets of water is mimicked the world over, but it’s also the grand statue of Alexander the Great on horseback that makes this water display all the more special. Behind the dancing fountains lining Macedonia Square, the bronze figure of Alexander, perched on a white marble fountain with warriors and lions protecting him, puts on its own performance. Water cascades down like rain while loops of liquid shoot up and over.
Slide 16 of 27: Made out of concrete tubes, this structure has been at the center of controversy since it was constructed in 1971. The unique tangle of square pipes has split public opinion. Some love it, some hate it, but the powerful noise it makes from the gushing water, and the fact you can climb it (U2’s Bono did during a free concert in the plaza in 1987) and wade in it, wins our vote. At 200 feet (61m) long, 140 feet (42.6m) wide and 36 feet (11m) high, yes, it’s intimidating but cool all the same.
Slide 17 of 27: While not quite in the same league as the emirate's main spectacle (see that later on), this 80-foot (24.3m) wall of water adorned with fiberglass sculptures of divers is mesmerizing all the same. Traversing all four stories of the Dubai Mall, it creates a clever – yet almost scary – dynamic, visual effect with the flow of the water. Apparently, the Singapore-based architects who designed the feature, that’s also known as the Human Waterfall, did so with the aim of attracting shoppers’ attention. It’s safe to say that’s exactly what it does.
Slide 18 of 27: This daily water display, set in a beautiful botanical garden covering over 1,000 acres, even has its own festivals. The main one, running from 9 May until 29 September, is the vibrant Festival of Fountains, which begins with narrated history and ends with dynamic choreography that marries music and water perfectly. Lighting up the night sky in an array of rainbow hues, more than 1,700 water jets spin, dance and soar up into the air, reaching heights of 175 feet (53.3m).
Slide 19 of 27: Also known as Jeddah Fountain, this is one gigantic, constant eruption of water. At a height of 1,024 feet (312m), it’s the tallest fountain in the world by some distance. Its relatively simple design showcases a massive plume of water that shoots vertically into the air at a speed of 233mph and its power wows onlookers for miles. Situated on the coast of the Red Sea, the fountain has more than 500 high-intensity spotlights used to illuminate it when the sun goes down. The salt water fountain, built in the 1980s, was donated to the City of Jeddah by the late King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz.
Slide 20 of 27: While many people come across these fountains en route to Peterhof Palace, they can’t help but watch in awe at the busy spectacle. Operating between May and October only, a terrace of fountains with golden statues and mosaics clutter the ascent to what’s dubbed the Russian Versailles. The surrounding gardens, manicured to perfection, are striking enough, but once Samson (you’ll spot him in the center, tearing open a lion’s jaw) and the surrounding 140 fountains and canals get going, it’s hard to prise your eyes away.
Slide 21 of 27: Another display that comes to life after dark, these singing fountains play for their audience (locals and tourists alike) during certain evenings in summer. The special water and light show, with accompanying classical music of course, is the ultimate place to hang out with friends. Situated in the Tsar Simeon gardens, the fountains and vast pool mark the end of the pedestrianized promenade. See our guide to Plovdiv, the European Capital of Culture 2019. 
Slide 22 of 27: Often named best and coolest airport in the world, Singapore’s Changi has taken things up a notch in the form of its new $1.7 billion (£1.3bn) mixed-use facility called the Jewel. Set to open this year, the complex has the tallest indoor waterfall in the world – the Rain Vortex. At 131-foot-high (40m), water pours down seven stories from an oculus in the airport’s glass-domed roof, surrounded by terraces of gardens. At night, a 360-degree light and sound show is projected onto it, making the scene fascinating.
Slide 23 of 27: The centerpiece of Versailles’ gardens, this former pond illustrates the story of Latona, Apollo and Diana’s mother from The Metamorphoses, and her encounter with the peasants of Lycia. In Ovid’s version, the insulting peasants are turned into frogs and lizards, hence the 24 frogs on two tiers above figures of lizards, turtles and six peasants. Latona, of course, is in the middle with her children and when the water is flowing, these angry creatures spit water up at them.  Now read: the world's most beautiful gardens
Slide 24 of 27: Unlike some of the prettier structures, the Keller Fountain Park is more of a gritty concrete jungle, but eye-catching none the less. Built in the middle of Portland’s chaotic business district, the multi-tiered, box-like fountains are a welcome, peaceful sight, particularly in summer. You can wade in to cool off – but be careful. As much as 13,000 gallons of water a minute cascade through the terraces and platforms.
Slide 25 of 27: One of the most iconic water displays in the world, the $40 million (£30.1m) dancing fountains outside the Bellagio are as popular and as mesmerizing as Vegas itself. Each day at varying times, thousands of individual fountains dance to numerous songs enhanced by light and choreography that will blow you away. Spanning 1,000 feet (304.8m), the water reaches heights of 460 feet (140.2m) and the maximum amount in the air at any one time is a staggering 20,416 gallons. They’re unmissable if you’re visiting.  Check out the most terrifying destination in every US state
Slide 26 of 27: If there was one word to sum up this unusual water display, it would be quirky. There are no huge jets of water reaching staggering heights or fancy light and music effects here. Often described as silly, the abstract sculptures that make this fountain fun represent the works of a great modern classical composer Igor Stravinsky. Set in central Paris, the display includes a pair of red lips, a clown’s bowler hat, a mermaid and a treble clef no less. According to sculptor Jean Tinguely, the circus-like chaos is supposed to evoke the music maestro’s encounters with jazz.
Slide 27 of 27: This mesmerizing display of water, light and music is quite frankly the most spectacular of all, in our opinion. The world’s largest choreographed fountain system cannons water as high as 500 feet (152.4m) in the air from its setting in front of the Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai. Powerful, illuminated jets are strategically placed in five circles over an area the size of two soccer pitches, swaying in time to a range of music to create a captivating show that can be seen from over 18 miles (30km) away. It really is a visual masterpiece. Catch the show every 30 minutes from 6pm daily.  Visiting soon? Don't miss our Explore Dubai guide

The world in water

Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, Barcelona, Spain

This spectacular explosion of color, light, motion, music and water acrobatics comes to you from the end of the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, just below the Palau Nacional (National Palace) in the Catalan capital. As many as seven billion light and water combinations create sequences of splendor to different genres of music – from cartoon soundtracks to Spanish classical music – for its millions of visitors every year.

Fountain of Wealth, Singapore

Moonlight Rainbow Fountain on Banpo Bridge, Seoul, South Korea

A bridge isn’t an obvious place for a fountain, but when it spans the whole width of the Han River, you can’t help but be amazed at its design. Both sides of the double-decker Banpo Bridge, which links the districts of Seocho and Yongsan, are lined with pumps that spray 200 tons of river water out every minute. The Rainbow Show takes place both during the day and at night, and it’s the latter which is unmissable. Shows last 20 minutes and operate between April and October.

Unisphere Fountain, New York City, USA

Sitting in the center of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the 140 feet high steel globe has become a symbol of Queens. But when the fountains surrounding the Unisphere are switched on, the spraying water helps to give the impression that the globe is floating off the ground. Drama ensues at dark when the site is illuminated. If you catch it as the sun sets with just enough light for the water to sparkle, with the Manhattan skyline in the background, it’s even more spectacular. Head to the side streets of Flushing, west of Main Street, for the best vistas. Check out our guide to the best boutique hotels that won’t break the bank in the Big Apple. 

Fountain of Joy, Kolkata, India

Jet d’Eau, Geneva, Switzerland

Literally translating as “water jet”, this mega fountain on Lake Geneva is a sight to behold. Built in 1886 to control and release excess pressure from a hydraulic plant, it accidentally became a tourist attraction when its presence gave power to the place. Now a symbol of the city, its strong engines pump 100 gallons to the height of 460 feet every second from a stone jetty. It isn’t on constantly though (it’s switched off at night and in strong winds), but it’s hard to miss, particularly when flying into Geneva Airport.

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

High on many tourists’ agendas when they visit Rome, the Trevi Fountain deserves to be mentioned in this round-up despite not putting on a water show, per se. Designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi, the origins of this Baroque beauty date back to 19 BC. The fountain features Neptune on a shell-shaped chariot as the centerpiece, being pulled by two horses, each one guided by a Triton, while statues of Abundance and Salubrity look on from above. You can hear its presence streets away, as 2,824,800 cubic feet of water tumble down the rocks into the large pool in front.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda Fountains, Xi’an, China

Celebrating the Tang Dynasty era in all its glory, the daily fountain show set against a beautiful backdrop of the ancient Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is dubbed the greatest water-based spectacle in China. Light beams cast huge shadows across the sky while more than 1,000 nozzles sprout water in time to the music – usually Chinese and classical pieces – and are choreographed to perfection. As some streams of water are propelled nearly 200 feet in the air, visitors often get a bit wet. It’s all part of the fun, of course.

Friendship of Nations Fountain, Moscow, Russia

Water Boat Fountain, Valencia, Spain

Magic Water Circuit, Lima, Peru

The world’s largest water fountain park can be found in the Parque de la Reserva, just south of central Lima, with as many as 13 fountains all showcasing their own characteristics. While it’s impressive by day, it’s at night when you’ll require a fully-charged camera, and also when you’ll need to pay. Tunnels of water, beautifully lit up, are intriguing enough, but it’s the main fountain that will really blow you away. Images of Peru, sound, laser light and water all merge to create an incredible display. Don’t leave without attempting the Maze of the Dream, made with vertical walls of water.

Archibald Fountain, Sydney, Australia

Located in the heart of Sydney’s Hyde Park, the Archibald Fountain depicts Greek gods – with Apollo in the center – and mythical creatures emerging out of a pool, throwing out jets of water in a peaceful setting. Built at the bequest of its namesake who was the editor of the now defunct Bulletin magazine, the 87-year-old sculpture has become a much-loved feature to locals and sightseers alike. Discover what to see, do and eat in Sydney with our full city guide. 

Buckingham Fountain, Chicago, USA

Designed in Beaux-Arts style, Chicago’s landmark is one of the largest fountains in the world. While there’s plenty going on, with four pairs of seahorses that symbolize the four states bordering Lake Michigan’s shoreline, it’s the center jet that steals the show. As part of a 20-minute water display that happens on the hour every day, it shoots 150 feet (45.7m) into the air. Music and light play a big part too, but the 15,000 gallons of water that circuit through the structures every minute is a delight to watch.

Alexander the Great Fountain, Skopje, Macedonia

This style of vertical jets of water is mimicked the world over, but it’s also the grand statue of Alexander the Great on horseback that makes this water display all the more special. Behind the dancing fountains lining Macedonia Square, the bronze figure of Alexander, perched on a white marble fountain with warriors and lions protecting him, puts on its own performance. Water cascades down like rain while loops of liquid shoot up and over.

Vaillancourt Fountain, San Francisco, USA

The Divers Fountain, Dubai, UAE

While not quite in the same league as the emirate’s main spectacle (see that later on), this 80-foot (24.3m) wall of water adorned with fiberglass sculptures of divers is mesmerizing all the same. Traversing all four stories of the Dubai Mall, it creates a clever – yet almost scary – dynamic, visual effect with the flow of the water. Apparently, the Singapore-based architects who designed the feature, that’s also known as the Human Waterfall, did so with the aim of attracting shoppers’ attention. It’s safe to say that’s exactly what it does.

Longwood Gardens fountains, Pennsylvania, USA

King Fahd’s Fountain, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Also known as Jeddah Fountain, this is one gigantic, constant eruption of water. At a height of 1,024 feet, it’s the tallest fountain in the world by some distance. Its relatively simple design showcases a massive plume of water that shoots vertically into the air at a speed of 233 mph and its power wows onlookers for miles. Situated on the coast of the Red Sea, the fountain has more than 500 high-intensity spotlights used to illuminate it when the sun goes down. The salt water fountain, built in the 1980s, was donated to the City of Jeddah by the late King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz.

The Grand Cascade and Samson Fountain, St Petersburg, Russia

While many people come across these fountains en route to Peterhof Palace, they can’t help but watch in awe at the busy spectacle. Operating between May and October only, a terrace of fountains with golden statues and mosaics clutter the ascent to what’s dubbed the Russian Versailles. The surrounding gardens, manicured to perfection, are striking enough, but once Samson (you’ll spot him in the center, tearing open a lion’s jaw) and the surrounding 140 fountains and canals get going, it’s hard to prise your eyes away.

Singing Fountain, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Another display that comes to life after dark, these singing fountains play for their audience (locals and tourists alike) during certain evenings in summer. The special water and light show, with accompanying classical music of course, is the ultimate place to hang out with friends. Situated in the Tsar Simeon gardens, the fountains and vast pool mark the end of the pedestrianized promenade. See our guide to Plovdiv, the European Capital of Culture 2019. 

Rain Vortex at Changi Airport, Singapore

Often named best and coolest airport in the world, Singapore’s Changi has taken things up a notch in the form of its new $1.7 billion mixed-use facility called the Jewel. Set to open this year, the complex has the tallest indoor waterfall in the world – the Rain Vortex. At 131-foot-high, water pours down seven stories from an oculus in the airport’s glass-domed roof, surrounded by terraces of gardens. At night, a 360-degree light and sound show is projected onto it, making the scene fascinating.

Latona Fountain at the Palace of Versailles, Versailles, France

The centerpiece of Versailles’ gardens, this former pond illustrates the story of Latona, Apollo and Diana’s mother from The Metamorphoses, and her encounter with the peasants of Lycia. In Ovid’s version, the insulting peasants are turned into frogs and lizards, hence the 24 frogs on two tiers above figures of lizards, turtles and six peasants. Latona, of course, is in the middle with her children and when the water is flowing, these angry creatures spit water up at them.

Keller Fountain Park, Portland, USA

Fountains of Bellagio, Las Vegas, USA

One of the most iconic water displays in the world, the $40 million dancing fountains outside the Bellagio are as popular and as mesmerizing as Vegas itself. Each day at varying times, thousands of individual fountains dance to numerous songs enhanced by light and choreography that will blow you away. Spanning 1,000 feet, the water reaches heights of 460 feet and the maximum amount in the air at any one time is a staggering 20,416 gallons. They’re unmissable if you’re visiting.

Stravinsky Fountain, Paris, France

If there was one word to sum up this unusual water display, it would be quirky. There are no huge jets of water reaching staggering heights or fancy light and music effects here. Often described as silly, the abstract sculptures that make this fountain fun represent the works of a great modern classical composer Igor Stravinsky. Set in central Paris, the display includes a pair of red lips, a clown’s bowler hat, a mermaid and a treble clef no less. According to sculptor Jean Tinguely, the circus-like chaos is supposed to evoke the music maestro’s encounters with jazz.

The Dubai Fountain, Dubai, UAE

This mesmerizing display of water, light and music is quite frankly the most spectacular of all, in our opinion. The world’s largest choreographed fountain system cannons water as high as 500 feet in the air from its setting in front of the Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai. Powerful, illuminated jets are strategically placed in five circles over an area the size of two soccer pitches, swaying in time to a range of music to create a captivating show that can be seen from over 18 miles away. It really is a visual masterpiece. Catch the show every 30 minutes from 6 pm daily.

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