“NO LIMIT! Christmas” is a holiday event at Universal Studios Japan from mid-November through early January. The holiday festivities include a stage show, record-setting tree, decorations in Super Nintendo World, and more. This guide shares our tips for USJ’s winter entertainment, plus our experience and photos.
Dates have not yet been set for Christmas 2023 at Universal Studios Japan, but our expectation based on past precedent is that it’ll start on or around November 10, 2023 and run through the entirety of December 2023 before concluding on January 8, 2024. It’s possible the event will conclude one day earlier, but this is the pattern Christmas has followed at USJ for a while. Expect those dates to be largely accurate unless there’s a major change this year.
The Christmas highlights include the return of the record-breaking Universal Studios Japan Christmas tree, projection mapping nighttime show, Hello Kitty Brass Band, Minions Christmas character greeting, winter in Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Christmas dinner stage show, debut of Christmas decorations at Super Nintendo World, and more.
Let’s start with the crystal Christmas tree. Universal Studios Japan gets a new Christmas tree every year, and each year it breaks its own record for “the World’s Most Illuminated Tree” a crown it earned from the Guinness Book of World Records.
Well, not every year. For the last three years, the Christmas tree has not appeared due to physical distancing efforts. With things going back to normal, the tree is once again back, and will attempt to break USJ’s own record for having 591,840 lights, which was set in 2019. The Crystal Christmas Tree also received Guinness certification as having the “World’s Largest Christmas Snowflake Ornament.”
Super Nintendo World will once again be enhanced with holiday decor. In Super Star Plaza, Mario and Luigi-themed snowmen will greet guests as they enter the land. Along with them will be a special Super Star Christmas tree.
Additionally, wreaths and garland will decorate Peach’s Castle inside Super Nintendo World, along with another Christmas tree featuring iconic elements from Nintendo games. Throughout the land, special touches will be added to create a holiday wonderland only found at Universal Studios Japan.
Over at Minion Park, guests can meet the Minions!
The Minions Happy Christmas Greeting show will feature the mischievous Minions dressed in their holiday finery…or something like that…in ugly Christmas sweaters, reindeer costumes, snowminions, trees, and santa. There will also be a special Christmas version of the Minion Hachamecha Greeting.
In the Universal Wonderland area of USJ, kids can see characters including Elmo and Snoopy in Christmas costumes at the Universal Wonderland Christmas Dance-A-Long.
The greeting show encourages guests to get into the Christmas spirit by dancing along to memorable Christmas music. There will also be meet & greets of popular Peanuts and Sesame Street characters in Universal Wonderland.
In the Hollywood area of Universal Studios Japan, Hello Kitty the Happiness Brass Band will perform multiple times daily. As the name suggests, this is a brass band headlined by Hello Kitty in her wintry wardrobe, performing popular Christmas songs.
Universal Party ~ The Showtime & Taste of Christmas is also likely to return in 2023. This separately-ticketed dinner show offers entertainment and eats. The experience will be held at the Peacock Theater on select days during December and will cost approximately ¥9,000 for adults. (Children cost less, prime seating costs more.)
While there are several entertainment offerings, the highlight of USJ’s Crystal Christmas event is the Christmas tree itself. The Christmas tree at Universal Studios Japan is absolutely entrancing every year, and once you see it in person, it’s easy to see why this is an annual Guinness record-breaker.
It took our breath away when we first saw it illuminated, and even later in the night when we rounded a corner and saw it again, we stopped in our tracks and both said “wow” at the same time.
Sure, this Christmas tree is over the top and ostentatious, but in the most awesome way possible. It manages to be eye-catching and beautiful, and keep in mind, these photos are not of the current Crystal Christmas tree. It’s going to be even brighter and more resplendent this year!
Here’s a quick phone video, because photos truly do not do this Christmas tree justice (then again, neither does video):
The Christmas tree stays lit until after park closing, but the dancing lights on the tree stop just before park closing. We’d recommend avoiding this area until the end of the night.
Watch the last projection show in Wizarding World of Harry Potter (more on that below) and then head to Gramercy Park to finish out the night there.
Aside from the Christmas tree itself, the main draw of the holiday season at Universal Studios Japan is the Christmas projection show. In past years, this was called “The Gift of Angels.” (That’s what is pictured in these photos.)
The NO LIMIT! Crystal Tree will also feature in the nightly “Spectacle of Lights.” This show will transform the New York area of the park with sparkling lights, music, and projection mapping. No word yet on performers, but it doesn’t sound like they’ll be part of this show.
For viewing the Spectacle of Lights, we recommend sitting in the vicinity of Gramercy Park (near the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man).
Expect there to be a ton of people, but hopefully the new projection mapping show, which will be performed approximately every 10 minutes, leads to fewer people camping out in this area of Universal Studios Japan.
Still, expect there to be a ton of people–more people than along the path by Spider-Man and Finnegan’s–sitting along the entrance corridor that faces the Christmas tree.
This is essentially parallel to the stage where the performers and projections appear, and is not a good view. (Don’t make this mistake!)
There’s also a daytime Christmas parade, but it’s atrocious. Some of the costuming is cute and it has Minions (which seem to be a huge deal in Japan), but the floats remind me of what you’d see in some small town Christmas parade. It was really pathetic; surprisingly bad given the quality of the stage show.
It’s like the budget for holiday entertainment at Universal Studios Japan was $20 million, so they created the Christmas tree and show first, and then only had $20 left over for the parade. I’d hazard a guess some guests don’t even bother with the stage show because they see the crumby parade first and figure the “other” entertainment isn’t worth the hassle. (Trust us, it is!)
The Christmas parade has two show stops, but they do nothing to elevate its quality. If your kids are dead-set on seeing this parade, watch it from the beginning of the parade route where there is no show stop. You can arrive right as the parade starts and claim a front row spot. By contrast, people camp out for the show stop areas. That’s just a recipe for disappointment, so we wouldn’t recommend it.
Pictured above is Bruce the Shark decked out for Christmas. This shark is not part of the Christmas parade. Watching this shark for 15 minutes would probably be more fun than the parade, though.
Winter in Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the other main draw for Universal Studios Japan this holiday season. Since this isn’t exclusively a Christmas event, it runs until the end of February. (It does feature traditional Christmas elements…like garland and trees, but we aren’t complaining about the longer timeframe!)
While the decorations and Christmas tree in Hogsmeade are neat, the unequivocal highlight is the projection show. This show is called “Hogwarts Magical Nights – Winter Magic” and is a must-see. While it’s only a few minutes long, it transforms Hogwarts Castle beautifully, and makes Hogsmeade feel like a winter wonderland. It’s one of the best uses of projection mapping I’ve seen anywhere.
Hogwarts Magical Nights – Winter Magic is performed intermittently from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 to 60 minutes before park closing. There’s a schedule for it in Japanese, but we didn’t bother–if you spend any amount of time in the Wizarding World, you’ll see it.
In addition to the projection mapping, there are live performers on a small stage by the bridge that leads out to Black Lake. While the projection mapping component of Hogwarts Magical Nights – Winter Magic is visible from anywhere you can see the castle, you’ll need to be pretty close to the stage to see what the performers are doing. (We didn’t think they added much to the show, but Harry Potter fans might disagree.)
Hogwarts Magical Nights – Winter Magic is incredibly popular, particularly earlier in the evening. If you can, we’d recommend watching one of the last shows, as they are far less crowded and offer a bit of breathing room. If ticketed entry is being utilized on the day you visit Universal Studios Japan, be mindful of this when selecting your entry time.
Last but most definitely not least, there are a variety of holiday snacks at Universal Studios Japan for Wonder Christmas. Just about every restaurant has a Christmas dessert, along with some hot seasonal drinks.
There’s also an entire corridor of food trucks serving a variety of over-the-top “holiday” comfort foods (I’m not sure what a hot dog covered with bacon has to do with Christmas, but I’m willing to start a new tradition!).
Minions are most definitely the flavor du jour at Universal Studios Japan right now, and this is reflected in their many snacks and merchandise items, some of which have holiday variants.
Overall, Christmas at Universal Studios Japan is a fun event. The parade is a colossal disappointment, but Winter in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Voice of Angels, and the brilliant Christmas tree offer enough to make for an incredible experience–arguably better than Halloween Horror Nights at USJ. Decorations and music add to the festive atmosphere, and various food and merchandise offerings also help complete the experience. Of course, the standard lineup of attractions are the main draw, but the holiday component certainly enhanced our visit.
If you’re visiting Osaka and thinking about doing a day at USJ, be sure to read our comprehensive Universal Studios Japan Planning Guide. USJ is one of the busiest theme parks in the world, and we offer tips & tricks for beating the crowds, and saving time & money!
If you’ve visited Universal Studios Japan during Christmas, what did you think of the experience? Have you done any other seasonal events at USJ? Any additional tips to add? Does Universal Studios Japan interest you? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!