10 Best places to spend Christmas
When I was a child, the furthest we went for Christmas was the town center to visit Santa Claus and see the Christmas parade. I got used to spending the festive season in my hometown, visiting my grandparents and welcoming family round for Christmas dinner. I enjoyed it, and thinking back to those days makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
But as I got older, I realised that a whole world of festive adventure and Christmas celebration awaits. I discovered that there are other ways to experience Christmas, and other places to enjoy turkey dinner and see Father Christmas.
If you’re thinking of trying somewhere different for Christmas for once, or if you just want to have a nosey at how other people celebrate the holiday season, let’s take a look at the 10 best places in the world to spend Christmas.
New York, USA
Although Jesus was born in makeshift manger somewhere in the middle east, New York is one of the best places to spend Christmas, because it’s synonymous with Christmas.
We’ve all seen the Christmas movies set in New York; we’ve seen Buddy the Elf create the most fabulous Christmas display in a toy store ever in Elf, Kris Kringle melt a child’s heart in Miracle On 34th Street, and Kevin McCallister ruin Christmas for a pair of foolhardy thieves in Home Alone.
We’ve seen it all – and we want to experience it for ourselves.
The truth is that fewer cities around the world do Christmas better than New York. They’ve got the snow, the stores, the HUGE Christmas trees, and they’ve got all the festive cheer you could ever need. Christmas in NYC is something you have to do at least once.
Worlds away from New York City, Malta is one of the best places to go for some traditional nativity scenes, such as the Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem, which is comprised of 150 actors. Throughout the scenes, visitors are taken back two-thousand years ago to Judea, just in time for the birth of Christ.
Each year, the residents open their windows to show-off their magnificent crib confections. Whereas you might put up a few lights, they decorate a traditional crib. Nice one!
Wherever you go in Downtown Valette you will find a lively Christmas spirit; carollers sing outside, dazzling lights are strung up above, and everyone is in the mood for peace and goodwill. Lovely.
Lots of people say that Lapland is the actual home of Santa Claus, and they’re probably not wrong.
Although legend has it that the North Pole is the official home of the big man, it’s just a tad out of reach for most of us. Because Lapland is more accessible, surely it stands to reason that Santa lives there?!
In any case, visiting Lapland at Christmas time is a magical experience for any family. Just north of the Arctic Circle, the place is awash with elves, reindeer, snow, gingerbread cookies – and Father Christmas and his wife.
There are also baby polar bears to see, the northern lights, as well as a hotel made of snow and ice. Brr.
Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England
If you’re looking to spend your next Christmas in a place reminiscent of a snowy scene from a traditional Christmas card, you can’t go far wrong with Chipping Campden, a picturesque village situated in the heart of Gloucestershire.
Here, you will be able to go to an archaic church gathering, visit Father Christmas in his grotto, spend your nights in old town houses, and pat the local reindeer. Sweet and peaceful.
The German Christmas markets are famous all over the world (well, in Europe at least), and for good reason: They’re awesome.
But as awesome as they are, none of them compare to the incomparable Nuremberg Christmas market, a marker that pulls in over 2,000,000 visitors each year. Wow.
This is perhaps because of the giant wooden ferris wheel, the steam train, and the quaint, traditional carousel.
Nuremberg’s Christmas market also sells handmade wares only, which means no flimsy plastic products in site!
If you fancy an old-fashioned holiday season where Christmas lights twinkle, choir concerts give you goosebumps, and imperial architecture is adorned in festive decorations, Vienna is an excellent choice. Eat, drink and be merry because Vienna is where the best memories are created.
Iceland is one of those countries that is so north, that many people forget all about it.
Perhaps because many people forget all about it, Iceland has to do things a little bit differently to make sure it attracts enough tourists and visitors.
Some of the “different” things it does at Christmas time includes thirteen Scruffy Santas who bear gifts to children in the thirteen nights before Christmas.
Yes, we thought there were 12 days and 12 nights, too.
Still, peculiarities aside, Iceland also has oodles of snow, Christmas lights, as well as the bewitching aurora borealis. Try it – you won’t be disappointed.
Amsterdam has claimed worldwide fame for being a center of liberalism. At Christmas time, though, it turns into a most magical place that has to be seen to be believed.
Amsterdam has their own version of Santa Claus called Sinterklaas, who visits on December 5th as part of what the Dutch refer to as a two-part Christmas. Toys and gifts are delivered on the 5th (please don’t ask us why), while food is delivered on the 25th – Christmas Day.
And you thought Iceland was peculiar …
Still, it has to be said that Amsterdam is a flurry of lights over Christmas. Malls are bustling, the streets are mesmeric, and the cafes by the canal are as cozy as anything. Special.
If you fancy a quieter Christmas this year and want to get away from the big celebrations in New York and elsewhere, Rome may just be the place for you.
Rome certainly celebrates Christmas a little more peacefully than most other major cities.
Although there are no raucous Disney-style parades here, there are instead very moving events, such as Midnight mass in the city’s Parthenon. Intimate and subdued, it’s enough to send shivers down the spine. A proper way to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.
Bondi Beach, Australia
Just want some sun after years of freezing to death on Christmas Day? Then get yourself down to Bondi Beach for some sun, surf, and barbecue.