Another Christmas has come and gone and I’m stuck here wondering where the last year went.
Christmas for me is seen as ‘untraditional’ in most parts of the world, as Aussies spend their special day outside in the sweltering heat, playing cricket and having barbecues. Personally, I think it’s a pretty awesome way to spend the silly season but there are many unique ways to celebrate across the world.
The following destinations make Christmas time that little bit more magical in their own way, so if you’re thinking about a Christmas getaway for 2018, look no further.
Santa’s Village, Lapland, Finland
You can’t get much more Christmas-y than being with Santa himself!! Head to Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland and you’ll be staying in wood cabins or icy igloos surrounded by big christmas trees covered in snow. You can ride Santa’s sleigh pulled by reindeer, make gingerbread cookies with Mrs Claus, write and hand deliver your christmas letter to Santa’s post office and the adults can grab a drink at the ice bar. An added bonus would be seeing the unique Northern Lights. Talk about a perfect white Christmas!
New York City, USA
As soon as Thankgiving ends, Christmas begins in the big apple with an abundance of activities to enjoy. Go ice skating at Central Park, gaze at the massive Rockefella Center Christmas Tree, wander past the 5th Avenue Holiday Window Displays, shop at the Union Square Holiday Markets, watch the Rockettes perform their Chrsitmas Spectacular at Radio City, join the crowds for Santa Con, find gigantic Christmas ornaments scattered across the city or simply looking up at the Empire State Building lit up in green and red. There is always something festive to do or see in NYC.
London is another city which turns up the festive calendar every December. There are Christmas markets, ice skating rinks and decorations dotted throughout the city (especially around Piccadilly Circus, Regent & Oxford Street) but the main attraction is the Winter Wonderland held at Hyde Park. Here you can watch shows, play games, go on rides, visit Santa Land and drink mulled wine at the Christmas themed bars.
Germany is famous for it’s eccentric and colourful Christmas food and craft markets and if the Marienplatz Plaza Christmas markets in Munich doesn’t get you in the festive spirit then maybe one of the other 20+ festive markets across the city will. If Munich doesn’t tickle your fancy, Nuremberg is just as – if not more so – famous for their markets, with a giant carved wooden Ferris wheel, old-fashioned carousel and a steam train to enjoy as well. The stalls are also exceptionally beautiful as all stall vendors compete for the title of most beautiful shop and all items sold must be hand made.
Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Backpackers and ‘orphans’ (international or interstate people living away from home) flock to Bondi Beach to celebrate a very different Christmas to the northern hemisphere. Clad in bikinis and Santa hats, people enjoy a day of sun, swimming and partying. The Pavilion puts on a massive event with bars and popular DJs performing, drawing the festive spirit of many party goers away from the sea and sand to keep the beach more family friendly.
For devoted Christians, attending the midnight mass at the Vatican would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. At noon on Christmas Day, the Pope also gives his Christmas Day speech and blesses the crowd from the loggia of St Peter’s Basilica – one of only two times a year he will do this (the other being Easter). Christmas officially starts in Rome on the 8th of December as the day of the Immaculate Conception and ends with the Day of the Kings or Epiphany on the 6th of January. There is aplenty to see and do across the city with many nativity scenes, trees and lights throughout the city.
North Pole, Alaska
This small town near Fairbanks is decorated all year round but of course Christmas time is the perfect time to visit. Everything is christmas themed with candy cane coloured street lights, Santa Claus’ house and even street names like Kris Kringle Drive and Mistletoe Lane. There’s Christmas in Ice festival next door to Santa’s house and a Candle Lighting Festival to join in on the carols sing-a-long. Being a small town, I wouldn’t base a whole trip around just this but Alaska would be a guaranteed spot for a fun, white christmas.
The Japanese aren’t big on celebrating Christmas themselves, but you know Tokyo will make any excuse to put on an impressive light display. The worlds most populous city shines throughout December with magical illuminations transforming the Tokyo landscape. Tokyo Disneyland also transforms into festive heaven for families with Santas Village
If you can’t make it all the way to Germany for their infamous markets, then maybe you can get to Chicago. Every year the windy city opens Christkindlmarkt, a german themed craft market as well as hosting many Christmas themed shows and concerts, ice skating at Millennium Park next to the famous ‘bean’, The Magnificent Mile shopping strip gets out a thrall of decorations and at night, the Lincoln Park Zoo turns into ZooLights, with incredible light displays and ice carvings throughout. At Navy Pier you can also find a Winter WonderFest carnival.
Celebrate Christmas where it all began, at the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Thousands make the pilgrimage every year to gather at Manger Square on Christmas Eve and attend the Midnight Mass service at the Church of the Nativity, built on the spot where Jesus was born. Participants join in singing carols and watch the live music and candle parades.
Where is your favourite place to celebrate Christmas?