9 Cities With The Best Christmas Spirit Ever
1. LONDON (ENGLAND)
The inspiration behind Charles Dickens’ famous novel “A Christmas Carol,” London has no shortage of festive traditions to keep visitors entertained over the holidays. Expect a spectacular array of Christmas lights brightening up the city streets; vibrant Christmas markets stretching along the Thames River and Hyde Park; magical Santa’s grottos; and ice rinks popping up below the city’s landmark buildings. Don’t forget to tuck into a healthy portion of Christmas pudding, too – the festive dessert dates back to medieval England and the English still swear by their secret recipe, served doused in flaming brandy.
2. COPENHAGEN (DENMARK)
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Christmas finds Copenhagen brimming with shining lights, festive spirit and “hyggelige” cafes, where inventive design and legendary Danish coziness blend harmoniously to make your experience unique. Peppered with Christmas markets and tasteful decorations, the entire city radiates a special kind of atmosphere, but no other place in town is wrapped up in Christmas magic like the world-famous Tivoli Gardens. Each year, the second oldest amusement park on the planet is transformed into a winter wonderland with spectacular Christmas lights displays, exciting rides, and sweet little stalls selling all kinds of gifts and traditional goods.
3. TOKYO (JAPAN)
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Christmas in Tokyo is a fairy-lit, religion-free sight to behold. Traditionally, celebrating the New Year is more important in Japan than Christmas, but this is what happens when non-Christians embrace Christmas, and with gusto: spectacularly over-the-top decorations and lights. While the lead-up is dazzling, Christmas Day itself is a fizzer as it’s not a holiday. Christmas Eve is the big deal, resembling Valentine’s Day in activity — a night for couples and romance. Feasting Japanese-style involves fried chicken followed by sponge cake topped with cream and strawberries.
4. NEW YORK (USA)
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One of the world’s biggest holiday destinations, New York’s most famous tourist spots get a yuletide makeover in the run-up to Christmas. Check out the dazzling Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center, with its 30,000 twinkling fairy lights; stroll along Fifth Avenue where the shops are aglow with festive window displays; go ice skating in Central Park; or marvel at Macy’s fantastical Santaland. If you really want to get in the mood, get tickets to one of the city’s famous Christmas shows – the Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas spectacular, with its living nativity and flying Santa, is a huge favorite, as is St. John the Divine’s Winter Solstice.
5. PARIS (FRANCE)
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Spend Christmas in the world’s most romantic city, Paris, where the city lives up to its nickname the “City of Lights,” with a glittering display of Christmas lights – don’t miss the animated window displays at department store Galeries Lafayette. Go ice-skating or shop for gifts beneath the iconic Eiffel Tower; visit one of the many Christmas-themed markets or take a ride on the giant Ferris wheel at Place la Concorde. If you’re in France over the holidays, pay a visit to the “capital of Christmas” too – Strasbourg hosts the country’s most renowned Christmas markets, dating back to 1570, and draws visitors from all over Europe.
6. SINGAPORE CITY (SINGAPORE)
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Singapore’s “Christmas in the Tropics” is a secular festival, celebrated with a highlight on shopping, entertainment, Christmas lights, and Santa showing up in full furs despite the fact that Singapore is smack in the middle of the tropics. The shopping districts of Orchard Road and Marina Bay explode in a shower of light, while adjoining malls and shopping centers put on extended hours and special deals to attract sightseeing tourists.
7. LAPLAND (FINLAND)
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The magical fairy tale Christmas experience is for real in Finland. You won’t be getting much sunlight in Lapland at this time of the year there. The only light comes from the stars and ice lanterns everywhere. The landscape looks surreal and marvellous from inside glass igloos bathed in the Northern Lights; a spectacular light show by nature known as Aurora Borealis. Lapland is considered by the Finnish to be the home of Santa and not the North Pole. With plenty of reindeers around, Lapland has two Christmas parks – Santa Claus Village and Santa Park. You can take a reindeer ride and attend the Santa workshop here. You can visit baby polar bears at the Ranua Zoo or take a traditional Finnish sauna bath. Participate in the three-day Christmas feast to sink your teeth in to pork roast, the traditional Christmas dinner of the Finns.
8. AMSTERDAM (NETHERLANDS)
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Amsterdam is a beautiful city any time of the year; a graceful coming together of medieval architecture and modern infrastructure. During Christmas, it’s twinkling with white lights everywhere that you see reflected in the clear canals. They say Santa Claus was born in Amsterdam. Festivities begin a month in advance. Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas is a very Dutch character. On Saint Nicholas day, December 5th, legend has it that Sinterklaas arrives to bring gifts to the good children and banishes the bad ones to Spain. There are colourful parades and much merrymaking all around. Christmas Day in Amsterdam is celebrated with cool parties, fun markets, bright lights, great food and general good cheer. Not to be missed are the 20 foot high Christmas tree on Dam Square, Amsterdam Light Festival and the Amsterdam Canal Festival of classical performances.
9. GOA (INDIA)
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This beach paradise is a great place to cherish your Christmas. Goa has been blessed with exceptional natural beauty. The lush green hills have rain fed rivers softly winding their way in to the azure expanse of the Arabian Sea. The landscape is dotted with pretty houses and remnants of a Portuguese past. Christmas is marked on the beach by bonfire parties and all night revelries. Old Goa on the other hand, has several churches and cathedrals that observe Christmas by singing carols at Mass. All the houses are beautifully lit up and Christmas trees abound. The market places are alive with tinsel and embellished with twinkling lights. One can shop for endless Christmas goodies here. The midnight Christmas Mass is preceded by cultural events. The colourful gathering draws huge crowds of locals and tourists alike.