What does Christmas mean to you? It is a combination of things and emotions people have while spending this beautiful holiday. It is a fairy tale every person waits for all year long. It is houses decorated with lights and Santas, young carolers singing Christmas songs, happy joyful children sledding and having snowball fights, delicious stuffed turkey with all the trimmings, a big Christmas tree and a bunch of presents underneith. It’s all about family and the meaning of Christmas. Many people believe Christmas is family holiday that should be spent at home in front of fireplace and Christmas tree. But if you have ersatile personality and are hungry for adventure why not consider spending it travelling or exploring new places?
There are many travel spots that are perfect for this holiday as they all have the Christmas spirit and can transport you to the Christmas magic. Know that after visiting these places you will be full of pleasent feelings and will have something to tell your colleagues upon your return to the office.
1. Rovaniemi, Finland
Why? Why, because this is Santa’s official residence! If you have ever dreamed to see where this white bearded old gentleman lives you have to visit Rovaniemi. This official residence (Joulupukki) in Lapland lets you ride a reindeer and receive gifts directly from Santa. It is a cute village of glittering lights, jingle bells and small cozy houses with quaint chimneys and lovely fire places inside.
Don’t miss: the residence is not far from the Santa Theme Park and lots of shops, and if you go a little to the north you will find the Sirmakko Farm – it’s a real reindeer house, where it is easy to make friends with the animals feeding them reindeer moss. Don’t miss the slopes of the Ounasvarra Mountains; it’s a perfect place for cross-country skiing through beautifully snowy forests and hills. Here in Lapland you will see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis – the spectacular natural light show displayed in the skies).
2. Stockholm, Sweden
Why? Because it is difficult to imagine a more accurate and at the same time welcoming Christmas town. All around is fairyland, something right out of a Currier and Ives print There are street fairs with all manner of sweets, pastries, homemade sausages and dozens of jams and jellies. The narrow streets are decorated with thousands of lights. You will find hundreds of marvelous coffee houses to settle in for a a warm drink.
Don’t miss: skating at the giant park Kungsträdgården, where the music never stops and half of Stockholm dances every night; also not to miss is the #1 Scandinavian tech attraction – a glass capsule rises onto the roof of the “Glauber Arena” (the largest spherical building in the world), where you will find a stunning view on the Swedish capital.
3. New York, USA
Why? To get into the atmosphere and become a part of a magical Hollywood-like Christmas – just like the movies New York transforms from the world’s business capital to a place of enormous fun, bright windows, decorated trees and joyful people. You should drive through the streets with single-storey houses at night. This is something to see: Americans decorate their houses in their own way, criss-crossing trees with twinkling colored lights and showing off figures of Santa Elves, Reindeer, the Manger Scene depicting the Nativity (birth of Christ). It all adds up being so memorable and festive.
Don’t miss: A mandatory pre-Christmas stop is to visit the oldest department store in New York – Macy’s, Each year the store transforms into a work of art – the kids practically stick their noses to the windows. If possible, you should go to a Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall – it’s one of the great New York traditions. Next to the Music Hall you will find the famous skating rink at Rockefeller Plaza. While there, be sure to gaze upon the gold sculpture of the Titan Prometheus.
4. Rome, Italy
Why? Here, in the Piazza San Pietro, beats the heart of Catholic Rome, and hence the celebration of Christmas. The main holiday decoration – a giant 10-storey Christmas tree, which is annually bestowed to the Vatican by one of the European countries, and of course the Pope celebrates mass over looking many thousands in St. Peters Square. You can see the Pope – the “Holy Father of all Catholics” on December 8. The Pope will appear on the balcony of his residence and read the Christmas message “Urbi et Orbi”.
Don’t miss: From the 1st to the 25th of December Italian witches (old Befanas women) are riding their broomsticks and sparkle with shiny wrappers of delicious holiday goodies – panettone and torrone on the Piazza Navona. You can go to an Italian opera or a football match. All the attractions in Rome are worth visiting.
5. Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA
Why? Because Tahoe is your home-away-fro-home; so picturesque and accommodating. Snowy slopes, fire pits, houses and hotels full of lights, sleigh rides, ice scating, good food and good cheer.
Don’t miss: here’s a two-week long festival that takes place in the Heavenly Village. Professional ice skating shows, arolers, artists and ice sculptors. Kids and adults can make photos with Santa at a 16-foot interactive snow globe.
6. Copenhagen, Denmark
Why? It is beautiful in any weather, but the spirit of Christmas is acutely felt. If you were asked to describe the capital of Denmark with only two words, they would be – design and gastronomy. On Christmas people from Copenhagen pay tribute to both of them with a special scope and generosity. The best design firms work to bring originality to the Christmas theme city-wide. It’s not just lights, Christmas trees and Santa Claus, but something unusual, modern and thought provoking every year.
Don’t miss: The gourmet restaurants and traditional food fairs. If you want to plunge into the fun, go to the Tivoli Park: the playground with live music, a Michelin restaurant, the aquarium shop with delicious ice cream, an old theater in the Chinese pagoda … you will definitely find something to do.
7. Prague, Czech Republic
Why? Czech people call baby Jesus very gently – Ezhishek, Christmas trees are not cut down but sold in pots and tubs, and even the main dish of the holiday table – pot-bellied carp – people buy floating in large vats so that the lucky survivors can be released back after the holidays.
Don’t miss: the complimentary punch and gingerbreads on Wenceslas Square – the whole December from 9 am to 7 pm; the Bear Christmas on the 24th of December (you can visit the Prague Zoo, one of the best in the world, and secretly feed bears with sweets – for good luck).
8. San Juan, Puerto Rico
Why? A great place for those who love long vacations, because here the New Year’s Holidays last … for almost three months – from the beginning of November till the end of January.
Don’t miss: This city offers to take part in various ceremonies and local traditions. Local authorities throw a free elegant party on New Year’s Eve where the Governor distributes gifts to all children.
Don’t miss: The free light show at Faneuil Hall Marketplace every night till January 5. It is a sparkling performance of 350 000 LED lights accompanied by the Hallelujah Chorus. To tell the truth Boston is extremely loaded with concerts, music shows and performances.
Don’t forget to buy some Christmas gifts at the country’s open air market place near the largest and the most beautiful Christmas tree to be seen in New England.
10. Three Valleys, Alps, France
Why? Fantastic slopes, cosy small houses in mountains, an amazing French cuizine and fireworks. You don’t have to be a milionaire to spend Christmas holidays in Alps. There are many fantastic places besides Courchevel and Meribel in the Three Valleys. For example, La Tania is a quaint Alpine village with excellent slopes for skiers of all age.
Don’t miss: The torchlight descent from above the village, fireworks and skiing with Santa. La Tania is a wonderful place to spend a stress-free holiday with your family, to feast your eyes on the torchlight descent alpine scenery and to enjoy delicious food.
11. Goa, India
Why? It’s one of the most vigorous Christmas holiday options – with hundreds of palm trees decorated with candies, half-naked Santas on endless beaches, fireworks, noisy club parties and endless bathing in the warm ocean. Keep in mind that December – the high season in Goa, the resort will be occuped by hippies, European students and a considerable number of Russian tourists.
Don’t miss: The marvelous long beaches – Palolem, Arambol and Calangute – require thorough study. There will be a grand Christmas market near the Calangute. If you are looking for some endless parties you should go to Anjuna.
12. Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Why? Nashville is known as Music City, so during holiday time the city is full of magical sounds of Christmas carols and festive songs. The lack of snow won’t lessen the Christmas spirit because every holiday season the city turns into the fairy tale with twinking lights and non-stop shows.
Don’t miss: The annual Dancing Lights of Christmas At Jellystone Park – breathtaking vision where hundreds of thousands of LED lights are “dancing” to some wonderful tunes. Also hop on the bus tour to visit the top 4 Breweries.
If you are looking for activity for the whole family the Adventure Science Center is your best bet. They offer 12 days of seasonal program where you and your children will be able to control the charming miniature railroads.
13. London, England
Why? On December The Hyde Park usually turns into a winter analog of the “Disneyland” – Roller coasters, a giant ice rink, Ferris wheel,”Santa Express” and other attractions . Whenever you want a snack, you can go to an English tavern, saloon or a real Bavarian village: in each pavilion there will be hot drinks and delicious food. The Entrance to the town of entertainment is free, you buy tickets only to access the rides and the circus.
Don’t miss: A stop at Trafalgar Square where every day after 5 p.m. local musicians and other bands from the neighboring counties perform. You won’t be disappointed.
14. Laoag, Philippines
Why? Exotic islands, where 85 percent of the population are Roman Catholic, – The Philippines is one of the “hottest” Christmas places on the planet. Not only because of athe temperature which at this time of the year is about 30 degrees. Filipinos love Christmas and prepare for it carefully. Entire streets with houses and trees are decorated with ornaments, dark-skinned Santas amuse tourists and hordes of kids, strumming tambourines, beg for candies and coins.
Don’t miss: The short trip from Laoag to the Cordillera and you will find “the eighth wonder of the world” – rice terraces, a chance to visit the wild tribes and the eerie cemetery – the famous hanging coffins of Sagada in the Valley of Echoes.
15. Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Why? Because Las Vegas makes every holiday big and chic. If you ever been to Vegas you know that it’s always full of lights and festive spirit, can you imagine what is waiting for you at Christmas?
Don’t miss: Admire the Bellagio Fountains, visit Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, celebrate the 20th Aniversary of Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden. Feast your eyes on the world’s largest Ferris wheel, take a ride on the high roller, slide down the 30-foot hill made of snow at the LINQ Promenade and shop at the world’s best malls. Viva Las Vegas!
Well, those are our top 15 place to visit over Christmas. Give one or more a try. I know you won’t be disappointed and will come away with a new sense of what the Christmas Holiday is all about.