The holiday season is a time of joy, wonder, and celebration, and what better way to immerse yourself in the festive spirit than by visiting some of the most Christmassy towns around the world? From Europe to North America, Asia to Australia, there are charming destinations that go all out to create a magical atmosphere during this special time of year. If you’re like me and looking for the perfect holiday spot to get into the festive spirit, you’ll love the most festive holiday cities I’ve found all around the world. Let’s dive in!
What Is the Most Christmassy Town in Europe?
Germany is renowned for its spectacular Christmas markets, and Berlin stands out as one of the most enchanting destinations in the country during the holiday season. The city is adorned with dazzling lights, ornate decorations, and bustling markets that offer everything from handcrafted gifts to delicious seasonal treats. Be sure to try a warm cup of Glühwein (mulled wine) as you soak in the festive atmosphere. Don't miss the iconic Christmas market at Charlottenburg Palace or the Winter World at Potsdamer Platz.
How To Best Prepare for Your Festive Visit
Before embarking on your holiday adventure, it's essential to be well-prepared to fully enjoy your experience. Here are a few tips to ensure your trip is filled with cheer.
1. Book Accommodation in Advance: The holiday season is a popular time for travel, so it's a good idea to book your accommodations well in advance to secure the best options and prices.
2. Pack Warm Clothes: Many holiday towns experience cold, wintry weather, so pack warm clothing to stay cozy as you explore the festivities.
3. Find Local Holiday Markets: Research the local holiday markets in your chosen destination to make the most of your visit. These markets often offer unique gifts and a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture.
4. Prepare for Bad Weather: Be prepared for inclement weather by bringing an umbrella, raincoat, or suitable cold-weather gear. Make sure you pack proper clothing to stay warm in all weather.
✈️ Pro Tip: Need help packing? Use the Jessi’s Journey Cold Weather Packing Guide.
Get In The Holiday Spirit At These Festive Cities
Looking for some festive fun? The following cities are some of my favorite spots to explore over the winter months.
Strasbourg, often dubbed the "Capital of Christmas," hosts one of Europe's oldest and most celebrated Christmas markets. Nestled in the heart of Alsace, this enchanting town offers a warm and inviting atmosphere during the holiday season. Its cobblestone streets wind through a storybook setting, lined with charming wooden stalls that showcase handcrafted gifts, local delicacies, and festive decorations. Against the backdrop of the awe-inspiring Strasbourg Cathedral, the market's traditions and beauty make it a holiday destination that's truly magical.
Quebec City, Canada
Quebec City transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season with its charming cobblestone streets and stunning winter scenery. The German Christmas Market held at the Old Port is a highlight, where you can find unique European gifts and savor delicious bratwurst and Glühwein. Take a ride on the illuminated Ferris wheel at Place de l'Assemblée-Nationale for a breathtaking view of the city's holiday lights. Don't forget to visit the iconic Château Frontenac, which looks like it's straight out of a fairy tale when covered in a fresh blanket of snow.
Vienna's traditional Christmas markets are known for their charming atmosphere and exquisite handcrafted gifts. The Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz is the most famous, featuring an enormous Christmas tree adorned with thousands of lights and ornaments. Sip on hot punch and savor Austrian pastries as you stroll through the market. The sounds of classical music concerts fill the air, providing a magical backdrop to your holiday experience. Vienna's imperial palaces and historic buildings are illuminated during this time, creating a fairy-tale-like ambiance.
Aspen, a picturesque ski resort town in Colorado, offers a perfect holiday setting with snow-covered mountains and a cozy, alpine atmosphere. The annual 12 Days of Aspen celebration is a must-see, featuring holiday-themed activities, live music, and visits from Santa. The town's streets are adorned with twinkling lights, and you can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through the charming downtown area. If you're a winter sports enthusiast, there's no better place to hit the slopes during the holidays than Aspen.
Tokyo embraces the holiday spirit with impressive illuminations, festive markets, and a unique blend of Japanese and Western Christmas traditions. The winter illuminations at Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi Hills, and Omotesando are breathtaking, creating a magical atmosphere in the heart of this bustling metropolis. Discover the unique tradition of eating KFC on Christmas Eve and explore the festive markets selling a blend of traditional Japanese crafts and international holiday goods.
New York City, USA
Spending the winter season in the Big Apple will be full of holiday magic. The iconic Rockefeller Center's Christmas tree is a must-see, as is the ice skating rink located beneath it. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, with its giant balloons and festive floats, is a beloved holiday tradition that marks the beginning of the season. Explore the enchanting window displays along Fifth Avenue and shop for unique gifts at the Union Square Holiday Market. Central Park transforms into a winter wonderland with its horse-drawn carriage rides and picturesque landscapes, making it a quintessential holiday experience.
You don’t need snow to get in the festive spirit. Sunny Melbourne does it right with vibrant decorations, outdoor events, and a lively atmosphere that captures the joy of the holidays. Federation Square hosts the Christmas Festival, featuring live music, food stalls, and a stunning Christmas tree adorned with lights. Take a tram ride along the Christmas lights trail, which showcases the city's most brilliantly decorated homes. The beaches of Melbourne also offer a unique holiday experience, with families picnicking and playing in the sun while celebrating Christmas in a different way.
Lapland, the official hometown of Santa Claus, is a magical destination for families seeking an authentic Christmas experience in a snowy wonderland. Visit Santa Claus Village to meet the man in red, his reindeer, and his helpful elves. Enjoy activities like husky sledding, reindeer rides, and snowmobiling through pristine Arctic landscapes. The breathtaking Northern Lights can often be spotted in Lapland during the winter months, adding an extra touch of magic to your holiday adventure.
Nuremberg hosts one of Germany's most famous and authentic Christmas markets, dating back to the 16th century. The Christkindlesmarkt, as it's called, offers a delightful array of holiday treats, crafts, and the festive opening ceremony featuring the Christkind, a symbol of Christmas. The medieval setting and the festive ambiance make Nuremberg a must-visit during the holiday season. Be sure to try the local specialty, Nuremberg sausages, and explore the toy market, which is a nod to the city's rich toy-making history.
✈️ Pro Tip: Get into the holiday spirit by visiting one of these Best European Christmas Markets.
Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong dazzles with its stunning light displays, holiday markets, and festive events, making it a delightful destination during the holiday season. Be sure to visit the Hong Kong WinterFest in Statue Square, Central, where a massive Christmas tree is illuminated with a spectacular light show. Stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront to enjoy breathtaking views of Victoria Harbour, which is adorned with colorful lights and decorations. The city's shopping districts also offer fantastic opportunities for holiday shopping, making Hong Kong a dynamic and vibrant holiday destination in Asia.
Go On an Adventure This Holiday Season
While many people choose to travel over the summer months, exploring during the holidays offers a unique travel experience. The world's festive towns come alive with a special magic that is hard to replicate at any other time of the year. Whether you're strolling through the picturesque streets of a European Christmas market, witnessing breathtaking light displays in a bustling city, or reveling in the snowy landscapes of a winter wonderland, the holiday season creates an atmosphere of enchantment. These destinations not only inspire wonder but also provide the perfect backdrop for creating lasting memories that capture the essence of holiday cheer. Safe travels!
Which destination would you like to visit this holiday season? Let me know in the comments!