The World’s 10 Most Festive Christmas Cities
According to the song, "there's no place like home for the holidays," but these spirited destinations may just change your mind.
A Christmas City Like No Other: Vienna, Austria
Vienna isn’t shy about its love for Christmas. Traditional holiday markets bring romance and old-fashioned charm to the city. The air is alive with the enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts, candied fruit and warm spice punch. Classical concerts, pony and carousel rides and an abundance of brightly lit Christmas trees make Vienna an enchanting Christmas city for all ages.
Arts and entertainment take centre stage in Montreal’s Christmas celebrations. Witness holiday magic at Old Montreal’s Merry Montreal. Immerse yourself with a full-fledged market and countless free celebrations. Spend New Year’s Eve at the party too!
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The capital is bursting with holiday cheer. Dazzling Christmas lights brighten up Mayfair (above), Covent Garden and Carnaby Street. Skating aficionados can go for a seasonal spin on the picturesque rinks in Somerset House, Hyde Park, Canary Wharf and the Tower of London. Love holiday music? St. Martin-in-the-Fields hosts an inspiring line-up of Christmas concerts while London’s most famous Christmas tree holds court nearby in Trafalgar Square.
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For a storybook Christmas, Rovaniemi in Finland is hard to beat. Lapland’s main city becomes a winter wonderland. Blanketed with crisp, white snow and illuminated by the spectacular northern lights glowing overhead, this magical place is home to Father Christmas himself, Santa Claus. Stood at the Arctic Circle, Santa Claus Village welcomes visitors of all ages. Meet Santa’s reindeer, huskies and elves for holiday memories that will last a lifetime.
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New York City, USA
If you like your Christmas celebrations bold and over-the-top, make New York City your holiday destination. Manhattan seems even more magnificent at Christmas time. Rockefeller Center‘s iconic Christmas tree and outdoor skating rink vie for attention with the beautiful storefront displays at Macy’s, and Saks 5th Avenue. Explore holiday markets at Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park and Columbus Circle.
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Prague, Czech Republic
Prague’s stunning Gothic architecture provides a dramatic setting for its Christmas festivities. At the foot of the Church of Our Lady Tyn, the Old Town Christmas market sells Czech gifts, stocking fillers and treats to the thousands of shoppers who visit each December. Carolers perform seasonal favourites while an impressively tall and elaborately decorated Christmas tree adds to the joyous atmosphere.
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A visit to Stuttgart’s Christmas festival is like stepping back in time. The medieval Old Palace, vibrant Christmas market and breathtaking illuminations create a seasonal paradise. Skate on the outdoor rink, feast upon grilled sausages and soak up the fairy-tale ambience in the heart of the city. Daily concert performances ring out from the Renaissance courtyard of the Old Palace much to the delight of holiday visitors.
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Historic buildings and sensational holiday decorations make Antwerp one of Europe’s most popular Christmas destinations. The city centre is buoyant with the spirit of the season thanks to the lively Christmas market, 200 ft-long skating rink and festive evening concerts. Sample mulled wine and Belgian delicacies as you watch the antics of the much beloved street entertainers.
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Scotland knows how to throw a holiday party. With six weeks of celebrations from St. Andrew’s Day through to Hogmanay (New Year’s), Edinburgh is bursting with seasonal excitement. Stroll through the Christmas market in its dramatic setting below Edinburgh Castle. Get a bird’s eye view of the holiday decorations and carnival atmosphere atop this Christmas city’s big wheel, or enjoy the many beautifully lit streets and shops in the city centre.
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Quebec City, Quebec
When the narrow streets of Old Quebec City are covered in a dusting of snow, it feels like you’ve wandered into a Christmas card come to life. Enjoy the warm hospitality of this charming Christmas city with festive outdoor concerts, holiday markets and the extravagant QuébecAdabra: an evening festival of music, animation and architectural projections.
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