Christmas is one festival that is anticipated and celebrated with equal fervor by all – be they rich or poor, American or European or Asian, black or white or brown or probably by everyone in the world. This is because Christmas stands for togetherness, for the innocence that’s always hidden somewhere in our hearts (Santa Claus would still be present in the list of Most Favorite People on Planet Earth), and for the rock-solid faith that is the creator of miracles big and small. Christmas, above all, is a celebration of all things beautiful and divine about the human spirit. And what better way to join this celebration of goodness than to head to some fantastic spot and mingle with other wonderful human beings who are looking to relish in the same awesomeness as you are? And if you’re already nodding along excitedly, then we’ve got the perfect list for you- all the places you’d want to visit to have the best X-mas bash ever!
10 Breathtaking Christmas Celebration destinations
1. Valkenburg, The Netherlands – What better place to hang out for Christmas season that the home of Santa Claus himself? This town transforms into a fairytale village around Christmas time with Velvet Cave morphing into a Christmas market and Santa’s residence. You can check out Santa’s secret workshops and see where he keeps all of his presents. Kids can enjoy themselves giddy with a ride on the Christmas Express that runs between Simpelveld and Valkenburg. Adults, meanwhile, can spend their time marveling over the many ice sculptures built around the city as well as roaming the streets and Christmas shopping in quaint stores. The family can then go out for ice-skating on one of the many frozen canals.
2. New York, The USA – Talk about Christmas and how can’t New York come up? The Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center is world famous for its beauty and magnificence (even White House is unable to compete with it). The whole city is decked with beautiful lights and other Christmas decorations that guarantee a breathtaking Christmas experience. Not to be missed is a carriage ride through Central Park when one is sure to be transported to another fantasy land entirely. The theater and musical scene come alive with plenty of Christmas related shows being played by a variety of artists (Broadway is calling ya) and Macy’s, Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingsdale all compete for the best displays in the whole country. The whole city hums with an underlying vibration of Christmas that promises a stellar time for everyone present.
3. Cologne, Germany – Germany- the land of fairytales as it is called due to the multitude of castles and scenic rivers running through it- is another place to head to if you want to immerse yourself in a full-blown Christmas bash. The city has 8 different markets during Christmas time, on both sides of the Rhine which sell the best of hand-made goods, baked goodies (think the Gingerbread man and the Hansel and Gretal breadcrumbs- this time lightning up your taste buds for real) and of course the expensive wine that is sure to add the exotic streak to the whole affair. And if you don’t feel like flying out of Germany, then head to Nuremberg to catch another gala Christmas affair.
4. Santa Claus, Indiana – America’s ‘Christmas Hometown’ boasts of a year-round Christmas celebration with a variety of Santa-themed museums, shops, and amusement parks. You will never have to wait for the 25th of December in this town. And the part that totally steals your heart? Volunteers with badges of ‘Santa Elves’ have taken on the work of answering each child’s letter that comes for Santa. How about making a child happy in some unknown part of the world by donning an elf coat yourself?
5. Boston, Massachusetts (U.S.) – The New England charm of Boston will captivate you with the first set of Christmas decorations that you will see. Coming to Boston is like stepping right into another century- what with the cobblestone streets, the thousands of antique shops, and lights and mistletoes that can only be called pretty. Attend a church service or treat yourself to Christmas specials in one of the cafes littered all over the city. Add to it a few feet of snow and voila! You’ll be calling Christmas the most magical time of your life ever. And oh, be sure to stand under the majestic beauty of the Christmas tree at the Faneuil Hall- you’ll be drunk with Christmas in Boston love soon after.
6. Lapland, Finland – Napapiiri in Lapland, Finland is to Europe what Indiana is to the USA – Europe’s Santa Claus town. The 2 main attractions of the area include the Santa Claus Village (inside tour of Santa’s workshops + petting a reindeer for real + a meeting with the white bearded man himself!) and the Santa Park where you can get a sleigh ride and see how Santa’s home looks like in the Arctic Circle.
7. Rome, Italy – Bring any festival to mind and you can be sure that Rome is already gearing up to hold a party in light of the big occasion. Christmas, then, is no small affair in this popular tourist destination. And while there isn’t the high vibe buzz that other cities like NY and London are charged with, Rome offers you the perfect place to dive deeper in your faith. The Christmas proceedings are more solemn and traditional as compared to the frivolous preparations in other parts of the world. The Midnight Mass in Rome’s Pantheon is a moving experience and should definitely not be missed. And if you feel like you really can’t do without a party, then head to St. Peter’s Square to dance the night away under a beautiful Christmas tree and be sure to buy some mementos from one of the many shops that crowd every street and plaza.
8. San Juan, Puerto Rico – If you think there is only one way to celebrate Christmas- with snow and chilly winds- then think again. If you ever want to know how Christmas can be celebrated in a tropical climate, then head to San Juan. Instead of firs you have palms trees strung with lights, pork instead of Turkey, and a coquito instead of the classic eggnog. The best part? The party goes on for days and days! The entire celebration is a 2-day affair and the final curtain rolls down on the 6th of January. So, San Juan is the place for you if you are looking to celebrate, not just for a meager 3-4 days, but for an entire month!
9. Tallinn, Estonia – The little- talked about capital city of Estonia, Tallinn is your typical old-charm town straight out of an older century. In fact, the first Christmas tree was erected here only in 1441. That said, the town ensures that it preserves its heritage with a humongous tree on the Town Hall Square as well as markets and stalls decorating the cobblestone streets. You can attend one of the many classical concerts, walk through the Estonian Open Air Museum, and enjoy an outdoor ice skating experience.
10. Goa, India – For an unforgettable Christmas experience, you would definitely want to check out Goa! With a year round pleasant weather, tourists from all over the world, and a mingling of cultures and festivities, as a result, Goa promises to make sure that you have a blast this Christmas season. The best thing to do is to head out with a large group of friends and rent a whole villa for 2-3 week straight. You’ll have plenty to explore in the form of markets around the city, restaurants run by expats that offer exotic cuisine, and of course, a sea-diving experience. At night, you can again head to the beach to meet new people and party till the sun comes up (literally).
Now, that you have a list handy of where to go and what to see and do, it’s time to book those flight tickets, make the necessary accommodation arrangements, and put on your red Christmas cap for the best yuletide experience ever! And, yes, don’t forget you have New Year’s after that. 😉