9 Unforgettably Festive Holiday Celebrations Around the World
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Christmas is a time of good food, gifts and time spent with loved ones. It can also be a time for travel and discovery. With countless events and festivities taking place around the world during the Christmas period, December can be a wonderful time to travel and explore old traditions with new eyes.
In the spirit of joy and generosity, tourists can easily travel to the best Christmas vacation destinations and enjoy local holiday customs, and partake in the many events happening around the world.
Whether it is going to the snowy home of Santa himself in the North Pole, or dodging the cold weather and heading to the southern hemisphere for a more unconventional Christmas, these holiday celebrations around the world are sure to make the festive season unforgettable.
Strasbourg Christmas Markets, France
France does Christmas like nowhere else. With lavish Christmas markets and decadent food, picturesque towns all over France are transformed into glowing winter wonderlands during Christmastime.
Strasbourg is the queen of them all, dubbed the Capital of Christmas: and with one of the oldest and biggest Christmas markets in Europe, plus a giant, glowing Christmas tree, it’s not hard to see why.
The first Christmas market in Strasbourg took place in 1570. Since then, the authentic and traditional market has continued to flourish in Cathedral Square every year, dishing up a delightful Alsatian Christmas to all visitors.
When: November 23rd to December 30th, 2018
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / sack
Nuremburg Lebkuchen (Gingerbread), Germany
Germany takes the cake when it comes to making Christmas cookies. Germany has a long tradition of making gingerbread cookies, and the art of making lebkucken houses (gingerbread houses) is famous all over the world.
Symbolic of the season, spiced gingerbread cookies are the tastiest way to get into the Christmas spirit, and there is no better place to sample them than in the mecca of gingerbread, Nuremburg. The most famous Weihnachtsmärkte, or Christmas market, in Germany is the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt.
Famous for the selling locally made gingerbread cakes, the Nuremburg market is at least 375 years old, and one of the largest in Germany.
When: November 30th to December 24th, 2018
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Hong Kong Christmas Lights, Hong Kong
If you think you won’t feel the Christmas spirit in Hong Kong’s warm climate, wait until you see what the city does with Christmas lights. Christmas might not be a typical Chinese tradition, but Hong Kong knows how to whip up some holiday cheer.
Victoria Harbor is stunning on a regular day, but around Christmas it takes on a surreal beauty under a cloak of glittering lights. Every building along the harbor is adorned with the lights, which are best viewed from a harbor cruise.
For the landlubbers, there is also a free 3D Christmas light show on the waterfront.
When: November 29th, 2018 to January 1, 2019
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / George Clerk
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London
London’s biggest festive event is a spectacular display of all things Christmas. Circus shows, ice-skating, ice dancing and the Magical Ice Kingdom will keep you entertained.
The German-style Christmas markets have plenty of little treats to keep you fed and warm, with cozy Christmas food and mulled wine. Free to enter, Winter Wonderland is the best way to beat the winter blues in London.
When: November 22nd, 2018 to January 6, 2019
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / imagospot
Poznań International Ice Sculpture Festival, Poland
The 11th International Ice Sculpture Festival takes place in the medieval Old Market Square, at the heart of the picturesque town of Poznan. The event sees raw artistic talent being channeled into the creation of jaw-dropping ice sculptures, as sculptors from around the world turn blocks of ice into works of art.
This festival draws on the old-world charm of Poznan, and the lively Christmas atmosphere. The finished ice sculptures glitter in the Christmas lights that surround the square, for truly unique Christmas decorations.
When: December 8th to 9th, 2018
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Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Michele Vacchiano
Santa Claus Village, Finland
An amusement park in the Lapland region of Finland, visitors officially enter the Arctic Circle when they cross the line painted through the middle of the park. Santa Claus fans can visit the man himself in his office, and stop by Santa Claus’ main post office.
The presence of real live reindeer, the snowy backdrop, and the warm and cozy home of Santa add up to an enchanting experience that will melt the heart of the Grinch himself.
When: Open all year
Photo Credit: Heart of the City
Auckland Farmers Santa Parade, New Zealand
An 83 year old tradition, the Santa Parade is the largest community event in Auckland. The parade features bright, bold floats that reflect the cultural diversity of Auckland, marching bands, plenty of balloons and, of course, Santa himself.
The parade kicks off to summery vibes, giving the whole event an infectiously upbeat and cheerful atmosphere.
When: November 25th, 2018
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Tex Photo
Navidad, Puerto Rico
Navidad (Christmas) is a huge deal in Puerto Rico. With a combination of gorgeous scenery, a sunny climate and a serious fervor for the holiday season, Puerto Rico is frequently picked out as a top Christmas destination. Among the long series of events and non-stop partying during the Christmas period, parrandas are one of the best traditions to witness.
The Puerto Rican version of caroling, friends get together in the evening and go from one house to the next singing at the top of their lungs, to wake up their friends. After each serenade, the singers hang around to party for a while, before collecting the owner of the house and carrying on to the next stop.
As the group grows so does the fiesta: if you’re bold enough to join in it might be the most fun you ever have at a Christmas party.
When: Early December until mid-January
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Budapest Fair, Hungary
The Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival pops up in Vorosmarty Square in Budapest every year. Quaint cottage style wooden stalls, and the scents of honey cookies and cinnamon make this market feel like something straight out of a fairy tale.
The festival also brings music to the crowds of Christmas shoppers, with two outdoor stages being set up in the square. The fair is a gem among Budapest attractions as you’ll have the chance to sample some of the local culinary delights, such as Rooster Testicle Stew (kakashere pörkölt), Fishermen’s Soup (halászlé) and flódni, a traditional Jewish cake.
When: November 9th, 2018 to January 1st, 2019