Best Destinations to Celebrate Christmas3 min read
They always say there’s no place like home for the holidays, but sometimes it’s nice to get away and see how Christmas is celebrated in other parts of the world. Here’s our list for the best places in the world to celebrate Christmas this year.
This is our ultimate destination for Christmas festivities and for good reason. We have the Dutch to thank for Santa Claus; they created Sinterklass, a.k.a. St. Nicholas. The Dutch celebrate a two-part Christmas. The first celebration is on St. Nicholas’ Eve in early December where they exchange toys and gifts. Then on Christmas, December 25, they celebrate with food and family.
Events range from light festivals to parades, Christmas circuses, ice skating, classical and choral concerts at venues throughout the city and more. Shopping is a big deal here too – find unique, unusual, vintage and designer gifts in the 9 Streets neighborhood, and in various festive markets in Leidseplein and Koningsplein.
There are a lot of towns in Germany that go all out for Christmas with decorations and holiday markets. But Cologne might be the best of them; the city boasts eight Christmas markets on both sides of the Rhine. Cologne’s largest market is on the plaza in front of the Kölner Dam, the city’s iconic cathedral.
Beneath the cathedral and a massive Christmas tree, you can find more than 100 festive pavilions where you can watch artisans work and sip on a cup of hot glühwein, a spiced, mulled wine.
The city of Napapiiri considers itself Europe’s Christmas capital due to its extreme northern location – think Santa’s North Pole. This city boasts two Santa-themed attractions: Santa Claus Village and Santa Park. You can take a tour here of Santa’s workshops and buy some of the big man’s merchandise, meet reindeer and even Santa himself. This is also the home of the Santa Claus Main Post Office.
You can also visit Rovaniemi, the official hometown of Santa Claus. In addition to this town’s dining and shopping, you can take guided trips to Santa Claus Village via car, reindeer sleigh or snowmobile. Be sure to check out the excursions to the Arctic Circle Crossing Ceremony.
Obviously, Rome is a popular travel destination all year round, but Christmastime is special here too. The holiday is a bit more solemn here than other destinations, but that’s to be expected. The Vatican puts an emphasis on faith and tradition rather than some of the glitzy aspects other destinations focus on.
Celebrate Christmas with a midnight mass in Rome’s Parthenon, which has been described as moving and intimate. And of course, there are Christmas day services in Vatican City.
The City of Light really lives up to its name during the holidays. Streets are lined with strings of white lights and high-end stores present elaborate Christmas displays. At night, lace up your ice skates and take a couple turns around the temporary rink beneath the Eiffel Tower.
Lights, decorations and snow turn this city into a real Christmas village. Christmas markets are set up in the heart of the historic district of this city and in surrounding villages. In Old Quebec, there are holiday exhibitions, concerts and a variety of family-friendly activities.