Christmas is a magical time of year. Cities across the world celebrate in their own way. But no matter how Christmas is celebrated, you’re sure to find fairylights and a festive spirit wherever you go. Whether you’re a fan of the traditional snowy Christmas or prefer to relax in the sun, it’s impossible no to get caught up in the fun. Enjoy Christmas markets, open-air ice skating, and a glass of Glühwein or two in the most festive cities in the world.
Discover our top festive cities to spend Christmas below.
- New York City, New York ~ It wouldn’t be a Christmas list without mentioning New York City. Locals and travellers alike gather in the city that never sleeps each year. From open-air markets, outdoor ice rinks, and the Dyker Heights Christmas light display, New York City is a true winter wonderland. Don’t forget to see the iconic Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
- Quebec City, Quebec ~ Quebec City is one of the most magical places to spend Christmas. The city is adorned with lights, decorations and, in true Christmas fashion, snow. As one of the oldest cities in North America, its colonial French architecture gives an added European charm to Christmas. Wander the cobbled streets and bask in the Christmas atmosphere in Quebec City… just remember to rug up!
- Tokyo, Japan ~ No city in the world is better than Tokyo when it comes to lights. Turning up the voltage, Tokyo kicks of each year with stunning light displays. The winter illuminations are scattered throughout the different districts, each trying to outdo the other. Nothing like a bit of healthy competition to make sure the city is on point at Christmas.
- Rovaniemi, Finland ~ If you’re a true believer then Rovaniemi, Finland is the place to be for Christmas. As the Official Hometown of Santa Claus - that’s right, the big guy in red – this town is where Christmas is at. In the city of Rovaniemi, Santa Claus Village amusement park and resort has magical snow-covered cottages, Santa and his helpers and if you’re lucky you might even meet Rudolf.
- Trentino Alto Adige, Italy ~ Known as the ‘five stars route’, five charming Italian towns in Trentino Alto Adige – Bressanone, Brunico, Merano, Vipiteno and Bolzano – create a fairytale Christmas setting. With more markets than you can count, artisian delights and delicious Italian wines, you’ll be in Christmas heaven.
- Cologne, Germany ~ Germany and Christmas go hand in hand. No one takes Christmas as seriously as the Germans. If you want a yuletide overload, then Cologne could just be the German city for you. With Christmas markets, Glühwein, and open-air ice skating on offer, Cologne is sure to make your Christmas a memorable one.
- Vilnius, Lithuania ~ Vilnius is where Christmas spirit shines. This winter wonderland offers non-stop Christmas fun with 3D nativity scenes projected onto buildings, a Christmas train that weaves through the Old Town, Christmas market villages, local artesian goods and exceptional treats.
- Vienna, Austria ~ Is there anywhere that sparks European charm and holiday spirit quite like Vienna? Unlikely. The Viennese Christmas Market at City Hall is the best market in Vienna. With more than 150 Austrian-styled stalls to explore, it’ll be hard to fight the urge to splurge here. Religious or not, the Christmas Mass at the Hofburgkapelle (Hofburg Chapel), is incredible. You’ll have goosebumps listening to the vocal stylings of the Vienna Boys Choir.
- Reykjavík, Iceland ~ Who needs Christmas lights when you have the Northern Lights. Reykjavík is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and at Christmas time, it’s pure magic. See the Northern Lights light up the night sky, learn local folklore stories of the holiday trolls (13 Yule Lads), and for something a little more adrenaline inducing, go for a snow buggy ride.
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ~ Everyone knows Brazilian’s can party, and Christmas is no exception. Leave the woolly sweaters behind and don your favourite swimsuit, Christmas in Brazil is hot, hot, hot (in the best way possible). Enjoy the beach, the nativity scenes, and ride a bike around the Rodrigo Freitas Lagoon to check out the world’s largest floating Christmas tree.
- Copenhagen, Denmark ~ Christmas is one of the happiest times of year and Denmark is one of the happiest counties in the world – match made in Christmas heaven. Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens you’ll find amusement park rides, Christmas markets with local-made craftwares, stunning light displays and exciting Danish holidays traditions.
- Edinburgh, Scotland ~ Discover the charms of the Scottish capital for Christmas. Edinburgh is steeped in history and magic, so it should come as no surprise that when it comes to Christmas this city is a sight to behold. With festive light illuminating the streets, Christmas markets to peruse, rides to enjoy and, of course a wee dram or two to help the celebrations.
- Strasbourg, France ~ Home to the oldest Christmas market in France, Strasbourg have perfected the art of celebrating the festive season. Not to mention, the city has been nicknamed Capital de Noel (The Capital of Christmas). With at about a dozen markets to explore, locals and visitors are spoilt for choice in the Christmas department.
- Rome, Italy ~ Wander Rome’s ancient streets under twinkling Christmas lights, visit the city’s Christmas tree outside the iconic Colosseum and indulge on Italian Christmas treats. For something truly special, there is a midnight mass held at the Pantheon. Listen to hymns bounce off the walls of the 1,900-year-old architectural masterpiece.
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