Holiday season is approaching, and this year try something different for a holiday vacation. Instead of escaping to the beach, for a warm and sunny Christmas, visit one of the many “most holiday-spirited” cities. From America to the Arctic Circle, embrace a frosty experience as you frolic city streets window shopping and gazing at Christmas trees in the night sky.
New York City | USA
The city that never sleeps also never stops thinking about the holidays. Window shop on 5th Avenue and take a spin the Rockefeller Center ice rink. Bring your skis to the big apple and glide across Central Park and look at the spectacular holiday tree that sparkles in the night sky. For a Clark Griswold experience, explore the Dyker Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn for over-the-top decorated lawns.
Nothing says “Santa” more than being in the Arctic Circle. Legend has it as far as the 1820’s the North Pole was the official home of Santa and the missus. Venture to Rovaniemi, which is the Christmas headquarters of Lapland. Enroll in elf school, take a calligraphy class or take a reindeer-sled ride at the Ranua Zoo.
Philly is getting down with the Christmas spirit. Check out the light show at Macy’s at the old Wanamaker building. Every hour from Black Friday to New Year’s Eve, families gather around Grand Court to hear the Wanamaker pipe organ and gaze at the arrival of the Santa Express train. Explore the urban jungle decorated with lights and of course a Christmas tree.
Quebec is celebrating the holidays, eco-style. Celebrate Jolly Ol’ St. Nick, around a recycled Christmas tree made from sheet metal with lights powered by the nearby cyclists. Enjoy candle lit evening of stories from Charles Dickens or eat roasted chestnuts at the Christmas market, Marche de Noel. Quebec bustles with holiday activities done in an environmentally friendly manner. The narrow streets decorated with tiny trees allows for an old-world charm, 12th Century London experience.
Explore sophistication touched with home-warmth class in splendid Vienna. Explore decorations, classical concerts and the Christkindlmarkt, or Christmas Market at Schonbrunn Palace. Eat a apfel studel, or apple strudel, as you meander through vendor booths selling everything from nutcrackers to ornaments to handicrafts.
Tradition and history flare up each December in Germany. Cologne is special where the Christmas extravaganza comes alive at the Christmas market, Weihnachtsmarkt, situated next the cathedral, Kolner Dom. Stuff your muffin top with sweet delights and keep frosty mittens warm with mulled wine. Go skating at Heumarkt and take the kids for a spin on the merry-go-round. Two million visitors explore the holiday explosion each year.
Prague, Czech Republic
Each holiday season, Prague transforms into candy-cane, nutcracker wonderland. Each year Central Square, Staromestske namesti, converts into a bustling stage filled with vendors selling toys and children dancing in traditional costumes. The markets are open rain, snow or shine and if you’re staying for New Year’s Eve – get ready for one of the wildest firework displays, and possibly the most drunken experience – thanks to the traditional cinnamon-spice liquor, Trdelnik.
Elizabeth is a fitness professional, workshop presenter and freelance writer. She is an active traveler who treks the globe looking for interesting stories to write and places to photograph. Her most significant travel achievements include living and volunteering in Australia twice and studied yoga in India.