Here are some verses for this Holiday season.
From the gleaming conifers to the glamour of the midnight mass, there’s something for everyone.
From the scent of rum cakes to kisses as greetings!
From the smiles brought on by the gifts to those we actually miss,
It’s the favourite time of the year that feels nothing less than sheer bliss.
With comfortable hotel deals, snow-dusted cityscape, and lovely marketplaces galore, the holiday seasons are the most enchanting time of the year. But what happens when you use millions of LED bulbs to create amazing light shows? Then you’ve got yourself a show to look forward to. These aren’t your typical Christmas displays from around the neighbourhood. We’re talking 80-foot trees, lit ice skating rinks, and world-record-breaking twinkle lights.
As we approach the end of 2021, which has been a very challenging year for most of us, seeing cities come alive with Christmas lights is more captivating than ever.
Table of Contents
List of some must-visit places during the holidays
Do you believe there is no better place to spend the holiday season than at home? I have a feeling this list of the best Christmas towns—from a city in Indiana named Santa Claus (for real), to a village in Vermont full of old-fashioned charm, to the Rockefeller centre in NYC and Oxford street in London, to the world’s most beautiful winter wonderlands—will make you reconsider.
The Bavarian-style town is charming all year, but Christmastime brings 21 kilometres of lights, carollers, and days of roasted chestnuts and hot cocoa.
This Bavarian-inspired village wasn’t always so Old World—it was more Old West before. The old logging city architecture went under a makeover, influenced by the alpine terrain in the 1960s, following a protracted period of decline. Following the renovation, new events were established to attract people, and Leavenworth gradually established itself as a must-see holiday resort.
The “Christmas-town Village of Lights” hosts carollers, children’s activities, roasted chestnuts, and festive characters throughout December maintaining its Christmas vibes. The typical Christmas vibes are completed by beautifully lit stores and live music at the gazebo. You could even feel motivated to make your own homemade Christmas decorations.
Manhattan, New York
I understand that New York City isn’t a “town” in the classic sense. It would, however, be impossible to compile a list of Christmas-themed locations to visit in the United States without including it. After all, for Christmas enthusiasm, New York City is hard to beat: home to the Rockefeller Centre tree and the location for a slew of holiday films, from Miracle on 34th Street to Elf and did you know the Christmas tree at downtown Manhattan has been a tradition since 98 years!
Take in the stunning department store window displays on Fifth Avenue and the stunning beauty that is the Cartier store; ice skating in Central Park; visit the Holiday Shops at Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park; see a Nutcracker ballet performance. New York City is a delight during the holiday season!
Dive right into a cityscape that is a Norman Rockwell painting: The structures in this New England little town are exactly as they were when Norman Rockwell lived here and painted “Main Street at Christmas” in 1967. Enjoy seasonal shopping and decorations as you meander through the beautiful community in the Berkshires Mountains.
A holiday bazaar at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens and many outdoor Christmas light installations, including Winter lights at historic home Naumkeag and NightWood at The Mount, novelist Edith Wharton’s house, are among the other holiday attractions. Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in town to explore more of the artist’s work.
North Pole, Alaska
Okay, so it’s not the real North Pole, but it’s the closest Christmas village to the real thing. However, the community named after Santa’s Arctic home outside Fairbanks loves to play up its nickname. The city is decked out for Christmas throughout the year, but the holiday season is especially magical—one it’s of those spots that is even better in the winter.
The Santa Claus House resembles a massive Christmas store, complete with a reindeer farm and a massive sculpture of Santa himself. Walk down streets with names like Snowman Lane, Mistletoe Lane, and Saint Nicholas Drive; then, to receive that North Pole postmark, mail your Christmas cards at the local post office. You can also write to Santa in North Pole, Alaska, and receive a reply!
Santa Claus, Indiana
This Indiana village, named for Saint Nicholas himself, has a Christmas vibe all year long. Of course, around the holidays, everything gets a lot busier. Meet Santa, take a drive through a light show, stay in lakeside homes, and shop in the town’s Christmas stores.
The most well-known Christmas emblems are Santa Claus and his reindeer. It’s no surprise, then, that the royal mail in this Santa-themed city gets 400,000 pieces of mail each December (compared to 13,000 monthly) to be cancelled with a special holiday pictorial stamp.
But “America’s Christmas Hometown” is known for more than just its post office: real reindeer, chestnuts roasted over an open fire, light displays, live music, and entertainment, and, of course, Santa himself are all part of the season’s festivities. Stops at Santa’s Candy Castle and the Santa Claus Museum and Village are also required for every trip to Santa Claus.
Snowmass is a winter wonderland surrounded by Colorado mountain peaks. The Snow-massive Ceremony includes interactive Christmas light installations, lit decorations, and an ice-skating show, besides fluffy slopes ideal for skiing and snowboarding.
Who said a white Christmas can’t happen in Alabama? Each day, this small city with a name that sounds like a fairy-tale country transforms its main square into “Christmas in Candyland,” complete with snow-making machines that generate a blizzard-like exhibition of flurries. Snow tubing, outdoor ice skating, playhouses, Christmas light displays, train rides, an enormous “Arctic” maze, concerts, hot cocoa, and, of course, visits with Santa are among the other activities available during this small-town Christmas. Is that the best one yet? Most attractions are completely free.
One of the nicest small-town Christmases in the country can be found in a little village south of Nashville. Its 16-block historic town, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of America’s most gorgeous cityscapes and it’s even more lovely around the holiday season. Visit the Franklin Makers Market Holiday Market for artisan products, excellent food and drink, and kids’ activities, or watch the Christmas Parade.
The Dickens of a Christmas festival, however, is the town’s flagship event, with musicians, dancers, and characters from Charles Dickens strolling Main Street.
San Antonio, Texas
The extraordinary backdrop of San Antonio’s River Walk, which is decked out for the holiday season with thousands of lights strung amongst the bald cypress trees that flank the river, distinguishes it as one of the best Christmas towns. The season begins with a Holiday River Parade with floats on boats along the river, followed by the lit River Walk, which is open (and free) every night of the week.
Visitors can also rent a caroling boat to sing their favourite Christmas songs, or simply enjoy them from the riverbank. The Lights-cape, walking event at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, features lights set across the gardens and a “Cathedral of Light,” 100,000 bulbs in a beautiful archway. The celebrations are completed with food, drinks, and s’mores.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Enter Sun Valley’s Winter Wonderland, where a snow and ice extravaganza will warm even the coldest heart. The entire month of December is filled with seasonal activities, from Christmas vibes concerts and holiday sweater parties to high tea and breakfast with Santa for kids. The Christmas Eve celebration, which includes a Skating in Winter Wonderland Ice Show, pyrotechnics, and the Torchlight Parade, in which skiers carrying torches slide down Dollar Mountain in a blaze of light, is a must-see.
When you visit this charming Christmas hamlet north of Santa Barbara during the holiday season, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to the Middle Ages. The community, which was founded by Danish settlers, has distinctively Danish architecture (including a windmill!), restaurants, and treats—not to mention the warm and cosy sensibility the Danish call “hygge,” one of the top Christmas traditions to steal from across the world.
Solvang’s Julefest, which takes place in December, includes candlelit carolling excursions, Santa’s village, a parade, and tree lighting. Visitors can also take part in a “Nisse adventure” scavenger hunt across the downtown area to find these Danish gnome-like critters. The festivities will come to a close with a tree burn, which will be overseen by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
The pinnacle of the Holiday season in Falls Park is a Winter Wonderland worthy of Santa himself, with gorgeous waterfalls of cascading ice water in the Big Sioux River lighted by over 355,000 coloured lights. But that’s not all the city offers: a Parade of Lights and tree lighting takes place in downtown Sioux Falls, and the town’s robust entertainment sector hosts holiday musical and theatrical acts. Skiing, snow tubing, snowshoeing, and ice skating are just a few of the outdoor winter sports available in the area.
Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland
Rovaniemi, Finland’s Lapland region, maybe the best spot on the planet to celebrate the holiday season. Finns think that it is a lot more likely residence for Santa than the North Pole because it is located just north of the Arctic Circle. What better spot to greet Santa than in a frozen winter paradise of heavy snow and pine woodlands? Children can help Mrs. Claus bake cookies and even enroll in Elf School. Husky-dog rides, tobogganing in deep, immaculate snow, and seeing the Northern Lights are all popular activities at this time of year.
Tallinn’s cityscape is beautiful all year, but it takes on a special character in the winter, with its UNESCO-protected medieval Old Town that seems like it sprang straight out of a children’s book.
The Town Hall Square (Raekoja Plats), with its pastel-hued edifices, old-world lamp posts, and small wooden huts brimming with artisan assets, is a magical setting during the holidays, as is the lofty Christmas tree, which gleams against a backdrop of freshly snow-dusted rooftops in the centre of it all. In reality, the enchanting Estonian capital is the home of the world’s first public Christmas tree, which was placed in 1441 in Town Hall Square.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, Europe’s Gothic fairytale, celebrates Christmas in glitz and glam, with its stunning city architecture providing a really dramatic backdrop for sipping fragrant mulled wine and getting lost in the Christmas shopping rush.
Walking along cobblestone alleys that speak about ghosts of a violent past, amid stunning Gothic buildings blanketed in fresh snow, is like stepping into a Christmas card in the Czech capital’s crisp and cool winter.
The Christmas markets in Prague are among the most well-known in Europe, and they offer a unique opportunity to learn about the traditions, cultural values, and delectable cuisine of this landlocked Central European country steeped in history. The one at Old Town Square, at the foot of the Church of Our Lady before Tn, is the largest, oldest, and most spectacular. Those held in Wenceslas Square and Námst Mru, however, are equally intriguing.
Copenhagen is ablaze with twinkling Christmas lights, holiday cheer, and hyggelige cafés, where imaginative design and famed Danish warmth come together to create a one-of-a-kind experience. The entire city exudes a distinct mood, adorned with Christmas markets and exquisite decorations.
The world-famous Tivoli Gardens, on the other hand, are steeped in Christmas magic like nowhere else in town. Every year, the world’s second-oldest amusement park is converted into a winter paradise, complete with breathtaking Christmas lights, thrilling rides, and charming tiny kiosks selling a variety of gifts and traditional items.
Take a stroll along Nyhavn’s gorgeously adorned waterfront district, visit the quirky Christiania Christmas Market, or participate in the Royal Copenhagen’s Christmas table tradition, a 50-year-old event that has six designer Christmas tables, each with its own narrative and meaning.
London is one of Europe’s best Christmas cities, with dazzling street illuminations, fabulous window displays, and plenty of holiday fun. It couldn’t possibly be any other way!
The city is filled with gorgeous skating rinks, Victorian-themed festivities, and lovely carol concerts that will melt any Grinch’s heart. Visit Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, St Paul’s Cathedral, or the Royal Albert Hall for a memorable concert in magnificent surroundings, and the Kew Gardens in West London for delightful holiday retailing, tasty sweets, and some of the most magnificent Christmas lights you’ll ever see. If you want to do your Christmas shopping in London, you’ll be spoiled for choice at the city’s fantastic creative fairs.
Handmade wooden toys, decorated gingerbread, and exquisite traditional decorations abound at Tate Modern’s delightful Christmas Market, while Hyper Japan at Tobacco Dock is a great place to pick up one-of-a-kind gifts, eat sushi, and sake, and take part in a variety of fun workshops. If you prefer one-of-a-kind design items, visit Mile End’s Ecology Pavilion, where over 50 artists showcase their one-of-a-kind handmade creations ranging from homeware and ceramics to art, clothes, and jewellery.
Although there are many beautiful Holiday decorations in London, prioritise Oxford Street. Year after year, the West End thoroughfare is recognized for its no-holds-barred Christmas light displays—and it doesn’t hurt that it has an amazing line-up of restaurants and shops (hello, Selfridges). This year, Oxford Street has a gleaming new look, with 27 LED curtains of lights spanning the length of the street, totaling 222,000 individual bulbs.
Head to the French capital for a European Christmas vacation with a twist, where enormous churches resound with live carols, the sweet smell of freshly cooked croissants fills the air, and Christmas trees are as fashionable as the runaways.
If there’s one place that comes close to NYC around the holiday season, it’s Paris. At nighttime, the City of Light glows even brighter, with magnificent decorations and millions of shimmering bulbs adorning its exquisite boulevards and renowned monuments.
The 400 trees somewhere along Avenue des Champs-Élysées will once again be strung with glimmering red lights by illustrious design engineers, extravagant displays will adorn the windows of majestic department stores like Galleries Lafayette and Printemps Haussmann, and seasonal Marchés de Noel of pretty wooden chalets will spring up across every banlieue.
With this, I conclude the list wishing all the readers a very happy new year!