There’s nothing like spending Christmas with family and friends, tucking into heartwarming food, exchanging gifts, and having a whole load of fun.
But as the end of the year nears and the silly season encroaches, sometimes there’s nothing else one would rather do than escape to somewhere, anywhere else…
Here are 7 places to celebrate Christmas around the world. Places that definitely make it on to our bucket list of places to visit for Christmas in the near future.
New York, USA
Christmas really is the most magical time of the year to visit New York as the city is lit up like a winter wonderland with glowing Christmas lights, the iconic Rockerfeller Christmas tree and stunning holiday window displays, all beneath the New York skyline.
Lace up your ice-skates at Rockefeller Center Skating Rink, visit one of the city’s holiday markets, or grab yourself tickets to see the Rockettes in the annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular. For the sportier traveller, catch a Knicks game at MSG on Christmas Day (sometimes Christmas Eve) – it’s apparently a fun New York tradition!
And if you make it to New York for Christmas, make sure you stay on to see in the new year at Times Square with half a million New Yorkers. It’s best to get there as early as possible to get a good position.
Few venture there at Christmas-time, however visiting Tromso in December is truly an enchanting experience.
Encompassed in darkness for the entire month of December, spend Christmas Eve beholding the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in Tromso – something guaranteed to make your Christmas extra special. Atop your preferred transport of dogsled, boat, snowmobile or reindeer sleigh, head to one of the best vantage points in the world to view the Northern Lights.
Throughout the second weekend of December, people from the inland valleys venture into town for choir-singing, traditional sweet lefse, and coffee brewed outdoors over an open fire.
Combined with Christmas concerts and softly lit cafés and restaurants full of merrymakers, sip a coffee whilst soaking up the atmosphere of Tromso.
Don your bathers, slap on some sunscreen, slip on a hat, and hit the beach for a crazy Christmas day at Australia’s most iconic beach – Bondi! Just be prepared for an onslaught of piping hot sun, crowds (did we say crowds) of backpackers, and a load of crazy partying.
If you fancy a bit of brekkie on Christmas day, tuck into some bacon and eggs hot off the barbie or chow down on a sausage sizzle for lunch before hitting the Bondi Beach party (aptly named a Sunburnt Christmas).
For something a little tamer, take the family on a tour through the city or hop on a cruise down Sydney’s Darling Harbour to take in the many sites, such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
As one of us is an Aussie Ranga (Australian-born redhead) who suffers after 1o minutes in the Aussie sun, we can’t stress enough the importance of wearing sunscreen as seriously the Aussie sun is like no other!
Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland
Lapland is the ‘Official Hometown of Santa Claus®’.
With plenty of snow, sparkly Christmas trees, actual sleigh bells ringing AND carolers singing, all topped off by the breathtaking Aurora Borealis – Lapland is a once in a lifetime experience.
After having a word to Father Christmas about what you would like for Christmas, swing on by his Post Office to mail your official Christmas list, jump on a toboggan or snowmobile for a ride around town, tuck into a late night gala feast, and enjoy a unique Arctic Circle Ceremony.
Rovaniemi is open for the entire year, so for those who cannot get enough of all that is Christmas, it’s the place to experience the festive season all year round.
Vatican City, Italy
Experiencing the traditional midnight mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica on Christmas Eve is something special, even if you’re not religious.
The Pope delivers his annual Christmas message from his balcony overlooking St Peter’s Square at noon, Christmas Day. To make sure you are actually inside St. Peter’s Basilica for the midnight mass it’s best to buy your tickets well in advance, however it’s also displayed on the big screen in St Peters Square so you can still follow along even if you can’t get inside.
With some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, classical concerts, and scenery to die for, Vienna is the perfect place to experience a traditional european Christmas amidst a historic setting.
Sip on mulled wine as you wander around the Wiener Christkindlmarkt, a yuletide market dating back to the 18th century, picking up some traditional Christmas gifts whilst basking in the aroma of chestnuts roasting.
The markets held in the forecourt of Schönbrunn Palace rate as some of the best in Vienna. You wont get tacky or cheap Christmas gifts here. Instead, you will find an assortment of traditional Christmas gifts and decorations produced from the workshops of wood carvers, glass blowers, candle makers, and so forth.
The best classical concerts for the season take place in churches, with the highlight being the ‘Christmas in Vienna’ concert held at the Wiener Konzerthaus (Vienna Concert Hall).
Ice-skating is also a popular activity, with the ice skating rink of the Vienna Association of Ice Skaters being one of the best places to don your ice skates. The ice rink encompasses 6,000 square meters between the Wiener Konzerthaus and the Vienna InterContinental Hotel.
The Holy Land
It’s where it all started. Christmas that is.
Christmas is a massive occasion in Bethlehem as the many diverse denominations celebrate festivities on different days.
Roman Catholics and Protestants celebrate Christmas on December 25; Greek, Syrian and other Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 6; and Armenian Christians celebrate Christmas on January 18.
In keeping with the traditions of the Holy Land, multiple services and processions are held across the period. Head to Bethlehem for a festive Christmas dinner, explore the Christmas Market, catch a Christmas play, and wrap up the night with Midnight Mass on the 24th December at the local church.
Regardless of where you are, Christmas is what you make of it, but there are certainly many magical places for you to plan to spend your Christmas’ in the future. We especially dream of a while Christmas in Paris one day.