With the holidays right around the corner, it’s time to pick that special spot to make memories with family, friends and significant others. We hand-selected the cities we believe to be the top five places to spend the holidays in the U. S. and around the world where you can surely make the most of your mistletoe-ing shenanigans, snowshoeing, and hot cocoa tasting.
Walk the streets of this beautiful European city where bag pipes and castles surround you. With various cultural festivals, the world-renown Hogmanay street party which includes a Torchlight Procession and concert at the Princes Street Gardens followed by a spectacular fireworks show. Don’t forget to check out the traditional Christmas markets for Scottish cuisine and charming gifts.
Bundle up and be merry for a very white Christmas in this cozy Scandinavian city that Santa Claus calls home. Go for an icy dip, experience a “Kamoos” known as a polar night, and visit Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi. While you’re there, broaden your horizons by trying the famous Finnish Sautéed reindeer (poronkäristys) or salmon soup with cream (Lohikeitto).
Leavenworth, Washington, United States
This may be a small town, but there is nothing small about the lights displayed throughout the streets for their Christmas Lighting Festival. You’ll also find carolers strolling through town, the smell of roasted chestnuts filling the air, sledding in Front Street Park, a traditional Gluhwein Tent offering hot spiced wine and cider to keep you warm, and costumed Christmas characters including Santa, Mrs., Claus, and Father Christmas to keep the festive holiday alive.
Parade through the town and hit the famous Christmas Market where you’ll find traditional trinkets and Frankfurt-style gifts, drinks and cuisines. Gaze at the elaborate decorations, the scenic surroundings on the Römerberg and St Paul’s Square and the huge Christmas tree all combine to also make it one of Germany’s most beautiful holiday attractions. Outside of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas Market, be sure to stop and
Park City, Utah, United States
It’s all about the slopes in the west winter wonderland. From fresh white snow banks to cozy spas and jacuzzis overlooking the mountains, nothing is more romantic and sensational than spending Christmas in Park City. Walk through the quaint downtown and enjoy a famous hot cocoa at any if the small renown coffee shops along snow covered roads. Here it’s all about the winter tradition with an adrenaline twist for those looking to get some air snowboarding, snowshoeing, skiing an snow tubing this season. Want to go tobagganing? There’s actually a class for that.
Want something different?
Not only can you get your picture taken with elves, and have your face painted, you can also see Santa Claus surfing around on Christmas Day. Afterwords, don’t be shy – take some time to visit the sacred Monkey forest and dive into a number of Christmas BBQ buffets. If you’re looking for something a little more exciting, some of Bali’s high-end clubs are situated perfectly on the beachfront, where you can enjoy a slew of Christmas experiences while dancing to early hours of the morning followed by a leisurely afternoon lunch served poolside of many infinity pools and beach clubs. From tiki huts to sunset cruises, it’s a different kind of Christmas in Bali.
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka! From surfing santas to lifesize ornaments, ginormous trees and Christmas caroles ringing all around Honolulu, it’s hard to run out of things to do and sights to see. Climb Diamondhead Mountain, go snorkeling at North Shore, and indulge in the largest dinner of your life at a Luau performance – where you are greeted by native Hawaiians with gorgeous handmade lei necklaces, flowers and treats. Sing traditional island songs, drink island drinks, eat to your heart’s content, and shop till you drop in this amazing holiday city. The festivities are endless.
Harbour City, Hong Kong
Not only does Harbour City own the title as one of the top 10 places to spend Christmas by CNN, they have some of the biggest malls in the world and showcase some of the most elaborate holiday decorations in the world. At the Hong Kong Winterfest you can see the Christmas Symphony of Lights on 40 buildings along the Victoria Harbor choreographed in a light show followed by a fireworks show. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, don’t miss the Nutcracker Ballet operatic performance. The lights don’t end at Winterfest, you can also catch a spectacular lights display at at the 1881 Heritage Royal Ice Palace, a snazzy hotel on Victoria Harbor with a 13-meter tall lighted palace in the shape of a Gothic cathedral in its front plaza. While you’re in Hong Kong, take advantage of the fantastic and unique cuisine where some of the world’s most renown chefs rule the kitchen. Be sure to check out Le Dome de Cristal for a romantic evening ($$$) or Imasa for some of Hong Kong’s best tasting, top notch Japanese traditions.
San Antonio, Texas, United States
Spice up your Christmas this year by heading south to Texas, where everything is bigger. Enjoy family time watching Mariachi Vargas performances, gaze at the insanely decorated River Walk while drinking hot apple cider, or join in on the Ford Holiday Boat Caroling before tasting the famous Texan Tamales for the first time. Love it during the holidays? Be sure to come back during the spring, when the temperature is just right and it’s BBQ season.
So try something different this holiday. Want help putting a trip together? Ask me! And I’ll share all my tips and tricks to planning a trip internationally.