Bing Wallpaper Gallery
Dec 31, 2021
New Year s Eve
The Land of Fire and Ice earns its nickname from the unique landscape of volcanoes and glaciers here, but Iceland"s white-hot celebrations in the dead of the Nordic midwinter also evoke the phrase. The tradition of New Year"s Eve bonfires in Iceland is said to date from the 18th century, when a group of schoolboys heralded the new year by scrounging up and torching a huge pile of wood scraps. The unruly teenagers" celebration sparked the general public"s interest, and annual fires—like this one in Reykjavik—became an internationally noted tradition for Icelanders. Huddle up to the fire and raise a toasty-warm toast to the new year!
Dec 30, 2021
Even in the places most altered by humans, nature seems to slip through, like the Milky Way shown here peeking between light beams from Germany"s Westerheversand Lighthouse. This beacon lies along the Wadden Sea, which forms the world"s largest tidal flat along the Dutch, German, and Danish coasts.
Dec 29, 2021
Elusive mountain goats, like these three in Canada"s Yukon Territory, rarely let themselves be discovered as plainly as this. Despite its name, the hooved wild mountain goat is not a true goat—in fact, it"s the only genus and species of its kind in the world. Found only in northwestern North America, its closest relatives aren"t domestic goats, but the chamois of Europe and the goral and serow of Asia.
Dec 28, 2021
Kjell Henriksen Observatory
While these domes look like they should be in a movie set depicting a galaxy far, far away, they"re actually part of a scientific research station here on planet Earth. Kjell Henriksen Observatory is named for a Norwegian scientist whose research focused on the polar lights. The aurora borealis is frequently seen here, deep within the Arctic Circle in Norway"s remote Svalbard territory. And the observatory is specially designed to observe the aurora. Since it opened in 2008, the observatory has become a destination for atmospheric scientists, who can rent one of these 30 glass-topped rooms built to house high-end optical instruments.
Dec 27, 2021
Snow buntings take flight
These snowflakes have feathers! The birds you see in this wintry image are snow buntings, sometimes referred to as "snowflakes" because of the distinct white in their wings. These medium-sized Arctic specialists love the cold and travel farther north than other passerine birds. Only ravens can be found north of snow buntings.
Dec 26, 2021
Happy Boxing Day!
December 26 isn"t just a day for Santa to put his feet up and sleep off all those mince pies. In many British Commonwealth countries, today is known as Boxing Day, a holiday that originated in the United Kingdom. There are a few conflicting theories about its origins, but it"s generally accepted that the name derives from the giving of "boxes" to lower classes on the day after Christmas. One thing is certain—it has nothing to do with pugilism, although it has primarily become a day dedicated to sporting events and shopping, much like the Friday after Thanksgiving in the US.
Dec 25, 2021
For Christmas Day, we"re taking in the winter views on Mount Khomyak in Ukraine"s Carpathian Mountains. The bright green moss and the red of the fallen leaves pop against the snowy white, as though the forest were transforming into a magical band of Christmas elves. While much of the Christian world celebrates Christmas on December 25, for those who follow Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions—including many Ukrainians—Christmas is still a couple weeks away. Eastern Orthodox Christmas celebrations are tied to the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the more universal Gregorian calendar, so Christmas Day in Ukraine will be celebrated on January 7.
Dec 24, 2021
Smoking nights in Austria
Behold the lovely Tannenbaum ("fir tree" for you non-German speakers). Here in Tyrol, Austria, Christmas Eve marks the first of three Rauchnächte, or "smoking nights." A long-standing Tyrolean tradition, people in this Alpine region burn frankincense and herbs in homes, barns, and stables to avert bad fortune. The custom is then repeated on the other two "smoking nights," New Year"s Eve and the night before Epiphany.
Dec 23, 2021
For polar bears, the airing of grievances is a feat of strength in itself. These big fellas are frequent sights here in Churchill, Manitoba, where hundreds of bears converge in the winter to hunt, but we"re still calling this light-bathed snapshot a Festivus miracle!
Dec 22, 2021
Who knew that an 800-year-old structure could look so festive? The pretty holiday illumination you see is adorning the side of the Palais de l"Ile, a distinctive 12th-century building in the town of Annecy, France, high in the French Alps. Designated a historic monument in 1900, the medieval structure is perched on a small islet in the Canal du Thiou.
Dec 21, 2021
The whole Northern Hemisphere will experience the winter solstice today, but the farther north you get, the more obvious it"ll be. In high-latitude areas like here in Siberia, the sun"s arc cuts especially low across the sky as winter sets in. Today, this spot near the city of Raduzhny will barely get five hours" daylight.
Dec 20, 2021
Ministry of Fun Santa School
If Kriss Kringle himself stood among this lineup of rigorously trained substitute Santas, you"d never know it: These certified Saint Nicks have done their ho-ho-homework. They"re students of the Ministry of Fun Santa School—each year the Ministry of Fun trains dozens of "Father Christmases" (as Santa Claus is known here in London). Skilled in the art of helping Santa to be in many places at once, Santa School graduates will soon be in demand at department stores across jolly England.
Dec 19, 2021
You don"t have to go all the way to Alaska to see the northern lights (they"ve been spotted as far south as Hawaii). But based on this stunner of a photo, we recommend it. And the farther north the better: Auroras are more frequent and intense the closer you are to the North Pole.
Dec 18, 2021
Each month of the year has at least one full moon, and the occasion of that full moon often has nicknames related to the season. In the Northern Hemisphere, December is usually considered the start of winter, so December"s first full moon gets the chilly nickname "cold moon." It"s sometimes called the "long night moon," since the winter solstice is just around the corner.
Dec 17, 2021
Bournemouth beach huts
Today we"re taking our bucket and spade to the seaside resort of Bournemouth on the south coast of England. OK, it might be a bit chilly to build sandcastles this time of year, but the festive glow of these cozy beach huts will warm us up as we enjoy a stroll along the seafront for the town"s annual Christmas Tree Wonderland—a trail featuring more than 100 glittering trees and illuminations. The huts in our photo have been decked out for the holidays, providing visitors with the perfect scene for a seasonal selfie—or should that be elfie?
Dec 16, 2021
Dancing in The Nutcracker
If it"s December, then countless dance companies are likely performing "The Nutcracker." The ballet has become an iconic holiday entertainment staple, produced around the world. This photo captures a scene from the 2016 production by the English National Ballet at the London Coliseum. The company has been performing "The Nutcracker" during the Christmas season since 1950.
Dec 15, 2021
The Hermitage of Santa Justa
Today"s image brings us to Cantabria, a rugged region on the north coast of Spain. To reach this isolated stone hut, you"ll need to wait until the frothing waters of the Bay of Biscay hit low tide, then traverse a silty path to the structure"s façade. Peering in the windows, you"ll see a cavernous room adorned with shrines—the long-abandoned living quarters of a religious hermit who dwelt here in the 8th century. Not your typical waterfront condo, but hey, it"s cozy.
Dec 14, 2021
Season"s tweetings! Today is the first day of the 122nd annual Christmas Bird Count, said to be the longest-running citizen science project in the world. Between December 14 and January 5, tens of thousands of volunteer birdwatchers will participate in counts across the US, Canada, and many other countries in the Western Hemisphere. Organized by the National Audubon Society, each local count takes place in a 15-mile-diameter circle, where volunteers follow a specific route to record and often photograph every bird they see.
Dec 13, 2021
Old Town Quito
If Ecuador"s capital city, Quito, isn"t high enough for you at 9,350 feet above sea level, you can elevate your experience even further with a journey up El Panecillo. Translated from Spanish, "El Panecillo" means "The Dinner Roll." Rising 650 feet above the old city center, seen in the foreground, this rotund volcanic hill offers perhaps the best possible panorama of Quito. Though our viewpoint here, looking south through Quito"s vast valley, makes for a nice twilight shot, too.
Dec 12, 2021
Wicker fields in Cañamares, Spain
The summer swaths of green in this field have transformed by wintertime to a harvest-ready red—but it"s not a harvest you can eat. Just what"s being grown here?
Dec 11, 2021
Everest s shadow on the Himalayas
In honor of International Mountain Day, breathe as much of that sweet, crisp mountain air as you can. See the shadow stretching past the Himalayas" craggy skyline? It"s cast by Mount Everest, the tallest peak of them all, rising to 29,032 feet above sea level.
Dec 10, 2021
Arctic fox in Norway
We"re visiting Norway"s Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park, where this small but mighty Arctic fox is undergoing changes to prepare for the cold, Nordic winter. While animals have many ways to adapt to winter weather, such as migrating, hibernating, and growing thick fur, the Arctic fox does none of these. Instead, its coat transitions from brown and gray to a snowy white every autumn. The fox"s pelt acts as camouflage, allowing it to blend in among the rocks and tundra for half of the year and, after turning white, hide in the snow and ice the other half.
Dec 9, 2021
Glowworm caves in Australia
Down under the land in the Land Down Under, cave explorers may find these subterranean spaces illuminated by an unlikely light source. Fungus gnat larvae—more affectionately known as glowworms—speckle the walls and ceilings of caverns here in Australia during the warm season, from December to March.
Dec 8, 2021
Petrified Forest National Park
The burliest lumberjack with the best-oiled chainsaw couldn"t slice the massive "timbers" found in Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona. So why are these giant stone logs segmented in such symmetrical rounds, as if they"re ready to be split into firewood?
Dec 7, 2021
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
Today we"re in Hawaii to mark the 80th anniversary of the surprise attack on the US naval base in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The strike by Japan cost 2,403 service members and civilians their lives, injured 1,178 others, and thrust the US into WWII. The sailors you see here are standing on the deck of the USS Bowfin, a US Navy submarine that is now a memorial and museum moored in Pearl Harbor next to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.