The most Christmassy destinations around the world bring to life the gingerbread villages, sparkly fairytale towns and Christmas markets of your dreams. If you’re wondering where to travel for this December for Christmas cheer, pop the most Christmassy places around the globe on your radar. From European Christmas markets to religious affairs, take a festive escape to these dazzling December destinations.
With some of the best Christmas markets in Europe (not one, but three “Christkindlmarkts”!), Vienna is a winter wonderland come December. It’s oldest market stretches back to the 13th century making this one of the oldest most Christmassy places in the world. Head to the Austrian capital in December for goblets of gluhwein, traditional nativity scenes, charming markets and angelic carollers.
GET INSPIRED BY: Christmas Markets of Austria, Germany and Switzerland
New York, New York, USA
How many Christmas movies have we watched set in New York where they go ice skating? NYC is one of the top Christmassy destinations around the world and ice skating in December is a Christmas bucket list must. Every festive season the city that never sleeps rolls out a month-long program of fun from the 27-metre-tall (95ft) Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree with 30,000 lights, to the giant decorations on Sixth Avenue. Peep at shop window displays, visit Christmas fairs, attending festive parades and watch carollers sing.
Germany counts more than 70 (!!) Christmas markets every December, and – we think – the best is in Nuremberg. The local Christkindlesmarkt is a special tradition with around 200 stalls selling handmade gifts, sweet gingerbread hearts, traditional toys and the famous Zwetschgenmännle prune men posing in all their Christmas splendour.
GET INSPIRED BY: German Christmas Markets
Japan is not a country that shys away from a theme and in the busy metropolis of Tokyo locals make sure its one of the most Christmassy places in Asia, let alone the world. Expect over-the-top decorations, crazy lights and festive trimmings across the city. The Starlight Garden in Tokyo Midtown and Caretta Shiodome are the best spots for festivities. Plus there’s a European-inspired Christmas market under the Tokyo Sky Tree. If you’re there on Christmas Day make like the Japanese and order buckets of KFC for the family – the easiest festive feast ever!
North Pole, Alaska, USA
Mr Santa Claus might be fictitious but the North Pole is an actual real place. North Pole in Alaska is home to some 2,200 residents that help the big man in red get ready for his gift run. One of the most Christmassy destinations in the world, year-round you’ll find dazzling decorations, twinkling lights and other tributes to Old Saint Nicholas.
Depending on who you speak to, some consider Lapland the true home of Santa Claus. Finnish locals celebrate the man in the capital city Rovaniemi with authentic winter activities like reindeer safaris, the chance to watch Santa’s elves at work, and baking classes with Mrs. Claus. So wholesome!
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Where to travel for Christmas cheer if you can’t skip over to Europe? Make your way north to Canada’s Montreal. The French-speaking city oozes European vibes and every year puts on a very François-themed Défilé de Noël festival with Christmas fairs, weekly fireworks and the annual Santa Claus Parade, which has been celebrated since 1925. Arrive ready for cool Canadian weather, steaming mugs of hot chocolate and candied chestnuts.
A hot summer Christmas in Sydney will have you question the need for snow. Indeed Sydney manages to pull off being one of the most Christmassy destinations around the world while also being hot, hot, hot in December. The city puts on massive displays of dazzling lights and festive events, including a self-guided walk that explores the big tree with 110,000 LED lights, the sparkling Canopy of Light with 85,000 lights and 10 two-metre high mega stars. Did we mention you can go to the beach on Christmas Day?
Moscow’s magnificent Christmas Light Festival rolls out more than 400 dazzling light installations across the city. Wander between city squares admiring the lights while shopping Christmas stalls, drinking mulled wine and snacking on gingerbread and caviar-filled crepes.
GET INSPIRED BY: Festive St. Petersburg and Moscow
The capital of Bavaria throws an incredible Oktoberfest party every year – but it’s not the only festival it does well. Embrace festive cheer in the central Marienplatz and wander the old town savouring the sights, sounds and smells of Munich’s charming Christmas market. Think twinkling lights, carols and one mega dazzling Christmas tree.
Asia doesn’t usually spring to mind when thinking about where to travel for Christmas fun, but Singapore is doing it’s best to bring festive feelings to the island state. The famous Orchard Road becomes a dazzling Christmas village complete with a huge sparkling tree, while the Gardens by the Bay hosts an extravagant month-long light and sound spectacle called Christmas Wonderland. Singapore is hot year round so chase a white Christmas feeling at Snow City, or find magic at Universal Studios.
GET INSPIRED BY: Singapore Explorer
As you’d expect from a Scandinavian capital, Copenhagen is one of the most Christmassy destinations in the world. The Tivoli Gardens are the centre of it all with dazzling light shows, amazing Christmas markets and brilliant trees decorated with thousands of lights. The gardens have been pulling off Christmas cheer for more than 170 years, so safe to say they know how to bring the magic.
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Wondering where to travel for Christmas with a twist? New Orleans is a destination that goes against the grain at every chance. The southern city is famous for its Creole food and at Christmas you can join a centuries old tradition, the Réveillon dinner. It was originally the meal after midnight mass but nowadays restaurants offer decadent four-course meals with lush southern dishes such as shrimp remoulade, lobster bisque, seafood gumbo, fried oyster chowder, satsuma sherbet, Louisiana pecan pie, and Bananas Foster bread pudding. Afterwards roll into the French Quarter for festive homes, watch bonfires on the levee, and sing carols outside America’s oldest cathedral in Jackson Square.
GET INSPIRED BY: Tastes and Sounds of the South
With snowy mountains and cute villages and town, Switzerland has an undeniable Yuletide cheer to it and Lucerne is the best place to chase the festive spirit. Lucerne’s Christmas market at Franziskanerplatz sits in the heart of the Old Town. Grab a warm mug of Glühwein and wander the traditional wooden stalls eyeing up souvenirs.
So, those are the most Christmassy destinations around the world. Do you know where you want to travel for Christmas this year? Will you take a December trip to visit the best Christmas markets in Europe? Let us know in the comments….