Best Places to Spend Christmas
1.SANTA CLAUS VILLAGE, FINLAND
When too much Santa is never enough, rug up and head north to Finland’s Arctic Circle. The jolly man in the red suit is this neighborhood’s most famous resident, and round these parts they milk him for all he’s worth. Still, the deep wintertime snow and reindeer-dotted forests go a long way toward off setting the touristy atmosphere, though there’s an amusement park called Santa Park not far from the village. You’ll need deep pockets, but you’d have to be pretty Grinch-like to leave without a smile.
2. BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
Through its 2-kilometers course deploying through our historic town centre, Winter Wonders in Brussels will once again be the topic of many a dream for children and adults alike. The festive atmosphere, unique ambiance, quality activities, delicious dishes, fairy-tale lighting and the discovery of other universes and cultures on offer during the event will nourish many a reverie…
Five weeks filled with enchanting encounters, perfumes, colorful stalls, fantastic gift ideas and original tasting sessions. Joy and lights sparkled, bathing visitors in the festive atmosphere embodying Winter Wonders.
Winter Wonders’ attractiveness is now legendary, making it a key event in Brussels during the festive season. This unmissable happening greatly contributes to make our capital city into a privileged city-trip destination.
The new, wider course seduced everyone and offered a greater fluidity as the ice-skating rink was moved to the Place de la Monnaie where it was very successful.
The magnificent fir tree, the splendid, magical and original light and sound show, the incredible ‘videomapping’ on the façade of the St Catherine church, the creative and original guest of honor, the festive Christmas Parade of RTL, … And also the traditional attractions: the Ferris wheel, the merry-go-rounds, the slalom, the Ice Monster…
3. Valkenburg, Netherlands
If you’d like to do a little Christmas shopping, and pick up some one-of-a-kind gifts like traditional Polish handicrafts, Marlstone products and more, there is no better place than the Valkenburg Christmas market. It’s the oldest and largest subterranean Christmas market in Europe, set up in a labyrinth of passages of caves that are underneath the town. The cavern houses sculptures and an 18th-century chapel, as well as preserved mural drawings dating back to Roman times.
The market opens in mid-November and runs until just before Christmas with the entire town transformed into a glistening winter wonderland. Children will be especially happy to find that the caves even include Santa himself, along with his sleigh and reindeer.
4. Riga, Latvia
The Old Riga Christmas Market awaits visitors in a unique architectural setting, the lovely Town Hall Square. There are a number of special children focused-events, like the popular carousel of wooden figures, riding ponies and a horse drawn carriage as well as animal corner with its sheep and rabbits. The cat house features live felines from the local animal shelter. Visitors of all ages can enjoy tasty glazed gingerbread as well as locally crafted items like warm, handmade socks, wooden candlesticks, Latvian honey and patterned mittens. You can even learn about various Latvian traditions like log dragging, stitchcraft and traditional holiday cooking.
5. Vienna, Austria
Vienna offers the chance for a delightful old-fashioned Christmas with the smell of gluhwein in the air, twinkling holiday decorations covering imperial architecture and three outdoor Christkindlmarkts. Visitors can have their pick of a wide variety of artisan wares and ornaments as well as tasty finger foods and that wonderful spiced mulled wine. Of course, the Vienna Boys’ Choir concerts are a must during the holidays too.
6. AVIGNON, FRANCE
During the weeks before Christmas and New Year’s, Avignon puts on its finest and sparkles every day!
At the Christmas markets, artisans and tradespeople offer all kinds of products to celebrate Christmas: santons for the crèche, gourmand food products and regional specialties, Christmas trees and Christmas gifts, and other discoveries…
The Provençal tradition means there are many crèche scenes to discover in the churches throughout Avignon. Midnight Masses and Nativity celebrations take place on December 24th and 25th.
Visitors and locals alike love Avignon in December for all the Christmas in Provence traditions, and the great shopping.
The Christmas Markets offer traditional goods for the end of year festivities, including lots of delicious food products. Santon-makers display their wares and lovely objects have been patiently made to tempt gift-givers. Crèches are visible in many different venues in Avignon, to see the santons in settings that are characteristic of Provence landscapes.
Many different Christmas celebrations, concerts and Masses take place in December and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the city’s churches.
7. Nuremberg, Germany
The Nuremberg Christmas market (Nurnberger Christkindlesmarkt) is a German institution, pulling in more than 2 million visitors each year.
Highlights include a giant carved wooden Ferris wheel, old-fashioned carousel and a steam train.
Unlike all those “fake” Christmas markets that have been popping up in the region, Nuremberg’s Christmas Market Council is serious about making sure only traditional handmade toys and holiday goods are sold.
No mass-produced plastic garlands here.
The market’s 200 select vendors also put up fantastic displays as they compete for the Most Beautiful Stall Design award.
The top three walk away with a gold, silver or bronze “Plum People” awards.
Adults can enjoy Nuremberg spicy gingerbread and mugs of mulled wine.
For kids, there’s the Toy Museum, while the German Railway Museum is a hit with everyone.
8. Quebec City, Canada
For those who like to celebrate Christmas around a tree made from recycled sheet metal, with lights powered by the pedaling of nearby cyclists, Quebec is the destination.
A haven for environmentally friendly, outdoor enthusiasts, the city bustles with activity, offering holiday programs for all tastes.
Old Quebec is turned into a Christmas village straight out of a story by Charles Dickens, while modern-day Victorians can learn about the period and enjoy plum pudding tastings at Maison Alphonse-Desjardins.
Sausage and roast chestnut lovers can browse the wares at the German Christmas market.
The more religiously inclined can wander an exposition of nativity scenes from around the world.
The nearby Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix offers family-friendly hiking, snowshoeing and skiing, while speed devils can zoom around in a snowmobile from Nord Expe.
9. Zagreb, Croatia
Come and see for yourself why is the Croatian capital visited by an increasing numbers of tourists during the time of Advent; get to know its idyllic side and partake in themed programmes which take place on the streets and squares around the city centre.
During the time of Advent, Zagreb offers a special atmosphere which simply must be experienced. An ever growing number of tourists choose the capital of Croatia as their destination at that time of year as good fun is had by all literally every step of the way. The city streets and squares invite you to let your hair down and partake in singing, dancing, and other kinds of entertainment with family and friends. You can also sample traditional delicacies alfresco or enjoy themed programmes which take you down memory lane.
10. Taos, new mexico
A remote village on a high desert plain, Taos boasts of a magical Christmas which incorporates a rich mix of cultural traditions including: Streets lined with luminarias, a ceremonial reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter, and the dynamic American Indian Christmas Eve celebration.