Christmas is the time of year when we look forward to spending time with our family, and what better way to celebrate that than by experiencing the holidays in a new place? Whether it’s starting a new tradition or just making this year extra-special, experiencing the magic of Christmas in another country or state will create memories that are sure to last a lifetime.
Need a few ideas? Here are five of the best places around the world to celebrate Christmas with your loved ones.
- Santa Claus Village, Finland
The Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland, is technically open year-round but is even better during the holidays. Open since 1985, visitors can meet Santa Claus at his post office, take a ride in a reindeer-pulled sleigh, got on a snowmobile safari, or see the famous Northern Lights dancing across the sky.
Stay in a glass igloo or the snow hotel for a true winter experience.
- New York City, NY
No holiday list is complete without including the Big Apple. There’s almost nothing more festive than seeing the Christmas tree lighting or ice skating at Rockefeller Center. And those aren’t the only must-do activities in NYC during the holidays—tourists come from around the world to see the Rockettes perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular or the New York City Ballet’s The Nutcracker, take pictures of the displays in storefronts along 5th Avenue, and be captivated by the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show.
It’s also a wonderful opportunity to ice skate in Central Park or meet Santa at Macy’s. If you need a last-minute gift, head to the Union Square Holiday Market for a unique present to top off a memorable trip.
- Christkindlesmarkt, Germany
Germany is known for having some of the best Christmas markets in the world and if we had to pick one, it would be the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg. The scent of mulled wine and gingerbread fill the air as Christmas takes over the city. These markets date back to the Late Middle Ages, and opening night is always the Friday before the first Sunday in Advent.
The market is filled with delicious foods (try the Nuremberg sausages!), beautiful handmade ornaments, and other unique gifts. Stop by the Children’s Christmas Market to ride the merry-go-round, get a sweet treat from the bakery, and see the Santa Claus House. Take a stagecoach tour around the city and take home a Nuremberg Prune Man, a funny little keepsake made from dried prunes and figs.
- Santa Claus, Indiana
It may not be an exotic locale, but Santa Claus, Indiana, goes all-in when it comes to holiday spirit. There’s the Santa Claus Museum & Village, where kids can write a letter to Santa a receive a personalized response.
Take your picture next to the 22-foot tall 1935 Santa Claus statue, play an arcade game at Frosty’s Fun Center, and take the 1.2-mile drive through Santa Claus Land of Lights. The town hosts several holiday-themed events, like roasting chestnuts on an open fire, reindeer petting, Christmas dinner with Santa, Christmas festivals, and more.
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
Who says you have to spend your Christmas in the snow? Head south to Puerto Rico for an island vacation that isn’t even that far away. Take a walk on the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan to see the beautiful buildings draped in Christmas lights, don a “pava,” or straw hat, and if you get woken up in the middle of the night by carolers, it’s just a tradition called “parranda.”
The idea is to sneak up to a family or friend’s house and then burst into song, complete with instruments. There are many holiday dishes and “coquito” is similar to eggnog, but made with coconut (rum optional).
If you can stay into the new year, Three Kings Day is when the real celebration starts. Children in Puerto Rico grow up learning that Santa isn’t real and the gifts are actually brought by the Three Wise Men. The three-day festival held every year on January 6, 7, and 8 honors the biblical Magi.
No matter where you go, as long as you’re with family, it will be wonderful. If you aren’t able to travel, take a trip of the imagination with “The Magic Christmas Ornament,” the story of one enchanted Christmas Eve when Victoria, Joseph, and John gather around the fireplace to hear their father’s story about this favorite Christmas ornament. After their parents go to bed, the children discover the true magic of the ornament as it sweeps them from their home and directly into Santa’s workshop!
Purchase The Magic Christmas Ornament Book Collection (book plus ornament) in hardcover here, or ebook here. A portion of all sales proceeds goes to Toys For Tots.
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