Christmas vacations: 15 of the best places to go for holiday spirit – CNN

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(CNN) — Anyplace can string up a few lights and call it a holiday celebration, but travelers who really love Xmas want more.

Many locations have plans to return to a livelier season after two years of subdued or canceled festivities because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

From Finland to Mexico, these fifteen locations around the world traditionally offer up some of the best vacation atmosphere for a Christmas-themed vacation:

Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland

While legends dating as far back as the 1820s cite the particular North Pole as the official home associated with Santa Claus and his jolly missus, the Finns would have us believe otherwise.

For them, Rovaniemi is Christmas HQ , located just north of the Arctic Circle within Lapland. Children here make gingerbread cookies with Mrs. Claus, enroll in Elf School or even take a calligraphy class plus compose their Xmas wish lists with a traditional quill.
You may also want to visit the Ranua Wildlife Park , home in order to baby polar bears, wolverines and moose.
The Arktikum is a science center where the mystery from the northern lights is revealed.
Those in search of a truly frosty experience may stay in the particular Arctic Snow Hotel , made entirely of snow and ice, yet equipped with saunas plus hot tubs in which to thaw.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Close to Philadelphia and New York City, Bethlehem offers a smaller-city Christmas escape.

Settled in the 1700s by Moravian colonists, Bethlehem will be justifiably proud of its Live Advent Calendar , which can be enjoyed starting at 5: 30 p. m. from December 1 in order to 23.

It is a free, family-friendly event in which a town crier rings a bell up and down Main Street to call visitors to the Goundie House (the oldest house on Primary Street). A child from the crowd is invited to come knock three times, and then a local business comes out with a surprise for everyone.

“The Xmas City” also has added new decorations, including a giant LED star, life-sized toy soldiers plus thousands of lamps strung upward all over the place.

Bath, England

The Christmas Market is illuminated at night behind Bath Abbey.

The particular Christmas Market is illuminated at night behind Shower Abbey.

Allan Baxter/Stockbyte Unreleased/Getty Images

This historic city in southwest Britain celebrates both the birth of Jesus and the birthday of Jane Austen along with plenty of fanfare.

The Anne Austen Centre — and on-site Regency Tearoom — is the best place to learn about the city’s most famous resident.
The Theatre Royal , which Austen mentions within “Northanger Abbey” plus “Persuasion, ” has a varied program associated with holiday drama, musicals, opera and concerts.
The particular Bath Xmas Market has a multitude of wooden chalets selling distinctively British handmade crafts in a quaint Georgian setting. Straddled between the imposing Shower Abbey as well as the venerable Roman Baths, the market offers a festive way to discover the character of this historical town.
Bath on Ice is a great excuse in order to bundle up plus lace upward skates.

San Fernando, Philippines

If Asia were to have a Christmas capital, San Fernando within the heavily Roman Catholic Philippines would be a top nomination.

The city, northwest of Manila, is usually renowned for its Giant Lantern Festival, which usually starts about Dec 17 and ends January 1 . San Fernando’s lantern-making tradition dates back to the late 18th century.

The highlight of a visit here is the parol, a colorful, electric Christmas lantern that symbolizes the particular Star associated with Bethlehem. The particular parols recall psychedelic kaleidoscopes, brilliant stained glass windows, prismatic pinwheels or oversized snowflakes.

Barcelona, Spain

Anyone who can manage to extend their own vacation until the 12th day of Xmas — aka Three Kings Day or even Epiphany — may catch up with Melchior, Gaspar plus Balthazar in Barcelona.

On the evening associated with The month of january five, the kings (also known as the “three wise men”) arrive in bearded and velvet-robed splendor at the city’s port on the Santa claus Eulalia, their very own ship.

Cannons are fired, fireworks are usually set off, and as the particular mayor hands them the keys to the city, the magic of the Magi officially commences.

They parade through the streets in a magnificent cavalcade of floats that includes camels, elephants, giraffes plus dazzling costumes.


New York is overflowing with Christmas traditions. One favorite of tourists and residents is ice skating at the Rockefeller Plaza rink.

New York is overflowing with Christmas traditions. One favorite associated with tourists and residents is ice skating in the Rockefeller Plaza rink.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Pictures

Nearby Radio City hosts the particular annual Xmas Spectacular, starring the Rockettes .
Around the south west corner of Central Recreation area, Columbus Group serves more than 100 vendors marketing clothes, gifts, snacks plus drinks on the Holiday Marketplace.
Fashion’s biggest labels join in the particular celebrations, making appearances inside elaborate Christmas displays in Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s Herald Square flagship store along with other department stores.

Nairobi, Kenya

The magic associated with Christmas is in the holiday chaos from the Kenyan funds.

Visitors will find boisterous carol music blaring in different languages from various stores, upon public transportation and in the long lines with restaurants and supermarkets.

A visit to a friend’s home or popular eatery might mean a plate heaped with chapati (flat bread), a spicy rice known as pilau plus grilled meat — or even nyama choma in Swahili — just to name several.

Revelers can burn off the calories with a hike at the scenic Karura Forest Reserve , a haven regarding outdoor enthusiasts produced well-known simply by Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai.
Iconic Nairobi National Park offers safari options for people to see rhinos, lions, giraffes, as well as other animals within a backdrop of the sprawling city.
For Christmas gifts, the particular bustling open-air markets such as Maasai offer authentic African paintings, jewelry, clothing and fabrics unique to Kenya.

Nuremberg, Germany

Adults can enjoy Nuremberg spicy gingerbread plus mugs of mulled wine.

And for families with the kids along, there’s the Toy Museum .

Bogotá, Colombia

A woman dressed as Santa Claus sits next to a Christmas tree and a Christmas star at Bolivar Square in Bogota.

A woman dressed as Father christmas Claus sits next to a Christmas tree and a Christmas celebrity on Bolivar Square in Bogota.

Fernando Vergara/AP

Colombia’s high-altitude capital brightens up each year along with Xmas lights galore.

In Bogotá, there is the particular custom associated with “Ruta Navideña, inch or the Christmas Route. Celebrants stroll popular spots around the town to take in the stunning shows. Click here for some of best areas to visit, which includes breathtaking Monserrate, a high mountain that dominates the city.
Día de las Velitas (Little Candles’ Day) is definitely celebrated on December 7, which is the particular eve from the Immaculate Conception. It formally marks the start of Xmas within Colombia. People light small candles and paper lanterns, placing all of them upon windowsills plus balconies.
Christmas is sweet right here. Natilla is a custard dish that resembles the flan or pudding and is eaten alongside other festive favorites like buñuelos (fried dough balls served hot)


Whilst December is off-season, this greatly Roman Catholic island in the Mediterranean Sea has a festive and spiritual vibe at Christmas.

Visiting presepju , or even nativity scenes, is an integral part of Xmas here. Every year, residents proudly open their particular shutters, and sometimes even their garage doors, to display their own holy crib confections towards the public.

Downtown Valletta is home to a lively holiday soul, with carolers singing outside the Baroque St . John’s Co-Cathedral during Introduction. See a dizzying display associated with Christmas lighting on Republic Road.

A trip to the privately owned The island of malta Plaything Art gallery , featuring dolls, troops, train sets, plus clockwork tin trinkets dating back to the 1790s, is really a heartwarming homage in order to childhood.

Quebec Town, Canada

The graceful streets of the historic Petit Champlain district in Quebec City make for a sublime winter holiday stroll.

The graceful roads of the historic Petit Champlain district inside Quebec, canada , City make for a sublime winter vacation walk.

pololia/Adobe Stock

A haven intended for environmentally friendly, outside fanatics, Quebec bustles along with winter season activity, offering holiday programs for all tastes.

Old Quebec, canada , can be turned into a picturesque Xmas village. Sausage and roast chestnut lovers may browse the wares in the German Christmas market. The more religiously inclined can wander an exposition of nativity moments through all over the world.
Speed devils may zoom around in a snowmobile from Nord Expe .

San Miguel sobre Allende, South america

Piñatas , posadas plus ponche sum up the particular celebration in this colorful town in central interior Mexico, where Christmas will be both a solemn and celebratory affair.

Leading up to Dec 24, visitors are likely to stumble upon Mary plus Joseph strolling the streets, because locals help to make pilgrimages from home to house, performing in order to beg to get inches posada ” (or “shelter”) as they reenact the particular journey to Bethlehem.

Piñatas and ponche (a mulled fruit drink) cap a long night associated with peregrinations around this cobblestoned city, designated the UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its wealth of grand churches, well-preserved architecture plus great zocalos .

Salzburg and Oberndorf, Austria

The Christmas Market and associated festivities in Salzburg are really something to sing about.

The particular Xmas Market plus associated fun in Salzburg are really something in order to sing regarding.

ecstk22/Adobe Share

Birthplace associated with Mozart and filming location pertaining to “The Sound of Music, inch Salzburg is certainly chocolate-box perfect. Think snow-capped mountains, baroque structures plus traditional Christmas marketplaces.
It’s even the home associated with “Silent Night. inches The popular hymn was performed for the first time inside nearby Oberndorf bei Salzburg upon Xmas Eve 1818.

The town also plays host to a more unusual Yuletide tradition.

Across Luxembourg and Bavaria (in close by Germany), people dress up as a terrifying Alpine beast referred to as Krampus plus rampage with the roads looking for naughty children in need of punishment. The Krampus runs in Salzburg are held on numerous dates in December.

Strasbourg, France

Get each French and German flavors of Christmas with this border town that will feels the influences associated with both cultures. Dating back to 1570, Strasbourg claims to be the particular earliest Xmas marketplace within Italy and one from the oldest in Europe.

Make photographic plus visual memories with a 30-meter-tall (98-foot-tall) Christmas woods that is brought to the main square of Place Kléber every year and decorated with ornaments plus lights.

Queenstown, New Zealand

A paraglider takes to the sky in New Zealand, where outdoor activities and Christmas meet.

The paraglider takes towards the particular sky within Brand new Zealand, exactly where outdoor activities and Xmas meet.

damianalmua/Adobe Stock

The traditional Christmas colors associated with red, green plus white take on an entirely new meaning in New Zealand.

Here, red represents the pōhutukawa (New Zealand’s ruby-red flowering Xmas tree). White signifies the particular pristine sandy beaches. And green? The particular kiwi, of course!

Sun-lovers who want to join Santa in his surf shorts should definitely head to Queenstown , where warm summer temperatures imply folks can jetboat, river browse or paraglide upon Lake Wakatipu.

Or visitors can simply set up camp along the lakefront and enjoy a hearty Christmas meal of lamb, seafood and chicken around the barbie.

Forrest Brown, Roseann River, Laura Ma, Faith Karimi, Maureen O’Hare plus Al Gerard de la Cruz contributed to this article.

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