Whether you prefer the traditional charm of a European Christmas or the vibrant energy of an Asian metropolis, there are endless options for celebrating the holiday season. From the enchanting Christmas markets in towns like Strabourg and Prague to the dazzling light displays in cities like Tokyo and Hong Kong, these 10 best places to spend the holidays offer a unique and unforgettable experience. And for those seeking a warm and sunny Christmas, destinations in the southern hemisphere such as Sydney and Rio de Janeiro provide the perfect opportunity to relax by the pool while enjoying festive cocktails under the pool. So why not start dreaming and planning your next winter getaway now?
Below you will be able to enjoy the 10 best places to spend the Holidays:
Besides whisky, Edinburgh offers far more than booze in terms of seasonal activities. You can also enjoy ice skating at St Andrew Square, skiing at Pentland Hills Regional Park, and a sprawling holiday market at East Princes St. Gardens. Traditionally, the Christmas season is followed by the Hogmanay Festival, a three-day bacchanal that features outdoor concerts, fireworks, and Scottish dancing.
The one thing that can get you in the festive spirit: Dining at Edinburgh Castle, which hosts Christmas lunches (really).
If you're looking for views over Edinburgh Castle and Old Town, The Balmoral is the hotel for you.
Hong Kong, China
The Symphony of Lights show is a captivating spectacle that combines music, lasers, and pyrotechnics to create a mesmerizing experience displayed across more than 40 of the city’s iconic skyscrapers along Victoria Harbor. As you watch the synchronized display, you'll be amazed by the vibrant colors and intricate patterns that illuminate the city's skyline. It's truly a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Hong Kong during the holiday season.
Experience a delicious dinner cruise, where you'll also have the best seat in the house to enjoy the stunning show. As you dine on delectable cuisine, you'll be surrounded by the breathtaking views. It's an unforgettable way to immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere of the city.
The elegant and luxurious setting of the Ritz-Carlton adds an extra touch of glamour to the holiday celebrations, making it a truly magical experience.Guests can indulge in festive treats and drinks while enjoying live music and entertainment.
Malaga's festive atmosphere is enhanced by its traditional Christmas markets, where visitors can sample delicious local treats and find unique gifts. The lighting on Calle Larios is among the most spectacular in the city. In addition, the city's Plaza de la Constitución becomes a center of joy and entertainment during the holidays, with lively free concerts adding to the enchanting experience.
The Verdiales Music Festival is a must-see event for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the local traditions and experience the true spirit of the holiday season in Malaga.The festival showcases the rich cultural heritage of Malaga and offers a vibrant and energetic atmosphere.
Stay: With its luxurious accommodations and stunning architecture, Finca Cortesin offers a truly indulgent experience for guests. The hotel's expansive swimming pools provide the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a tranquil and lavish getaway in the heart of Andalusia.
New York City, New York
Experience the magic of Christmas in New York City with an array of enchanting activities. Glide across the ice at Rockefeller Center, indulge in window shopping along Fifth Avenue, or soak in the festive atmosphere on 34th Street in hopes of witnessing a holiday miracle.
For an immersive Christmas wonderland, head to Brooklyn's Dyker Heights neighborhood. Embark on a walking tour organized by the locals and revel in the extravagant Christmas decorations that bring the streets to life.
When it comes to accommodations, opt for the iconic and timeless experience of staying at The Plaza. Known for its luxury and charm, this hotel has even graced the likes of Kevin McCallister. Make your Christmas in the city truly unforgettable with these magical experiences and a stay at The Plaza.
Courtesy Prague City Tourism/Richard Horak
Prague, Czech Republic
It sounds like spending Christmas in Prague would be a magical experience! The holiday markets, with their month-long duration, offer a festive atmosphere and a variety of treats. The proximity of the main markets in the Old Town and Wenceslas squares, against the backdrop of stunning Gothic architecture, adds to the charm of the experience.
The suggestion to try Svařák, a Czech mulled wine with a citrusy touch, from a market stall is a great way to immerse oneself in the local holiday traditions. Additionally, indulging in a hot chocolate at Cafe Slavia, founded in 1881, provides a taste of both the city's history and delicious treats.
The accommodation recommendation, Aria Hotel, seems like a perfect choice with its convenient location within walking distance of Prague Castle and the added unique touch of music-themed suites.
Overall, Prague's holiday markets, culinary delights, and historic charm make it a wonderful destination for celebrating Christmas.
Ranimiro Lotufo Neto/Getty
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Who says the holiday season must revolve around tacky sweaters and hot cocoa? December in Rio invites you to savor a refreshing caipirinha on a stunning beach, where daily temperatures linger in the pleasant 80s. Embracing the festive spirit, the city hosts the world's most extensive collection of life-sized nativity scenes at the annual Festival de Presépios ("Crib Festival"), located at Jardim de Alah between Leblon and Ipanema.
To truly immerse yourself in the holiday atmosphere, embark on a bike ride around Rodrigo Freitas Lagoon, reveling in panoramic views of the world's largest floating Christmas tree from every vantage point.
For a delightful stay, consider the Fasano Hotel along Ipanema beach. With an infinity pool that gazes over the ocean, this oasis will make winter feel like a distant memory.
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Salzburg's Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the charming setting of The Sound of Music, infuses its renowned Christkindlmarkt with the joy of music. Dating back to the 15th century, the festivities feature sing-alongs and traditional wind music alongside mulled wine and market stands. Indulging in bauernkrapfen (fried pastries) adds to the festive delight.
Immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit year-round at the Christmas in Salzburg shop on Goldgasse, celebrated for its intricate ornaments, especially those delicately hand-painted on eggshells.
For an ideal stay, Hotel Goldener Hirsch is conveniently located just steps away from Christkindlmarkt. The comfortable rooms are so inviting that spending the entire day there would be perfectly satisfying.
Why visit Strasbourg: The city boasts France's oldest Christmas markets, with a history spanning nearly 450 years. Explore the 12 markets scattered across the city for a festive and bustling experience. Insider tip: While savoring the delightful treats at the markets, don't miss the opportunity to indulge in the quintessential Alsatian delicacy—foie gras—a cherished French Christmas tradition.
The must-see attraction to get you into the holiday spirit: The extraordinary market unfolds beneath the majestic Strasbourg Cathedral, the tallest surviving structure constructed entirely
in the Middle Ages. It's a perfect backdrop for capturing memorable photos.
Stay at Embrace luxury at the Hôtel Les Haras, a sumptuous accommodation set within the historic stables of Louis XV in Strasbourg.
Each year, the city elevates its voltage during the winter season, as different districts engage
in a spirited competition to craft truly sensational displays of illuminations. Notable sites include Tokyo Midtown's nearly 10-foot-tall snow globes featuring falling snow and the grand Baccarat crystal chandelier at Yebisu Garden Place. These vibrant displays extend well beyond Christmas day, often lingering into January or February due to their immense popularity.
To immerse yourself in the festive spirit, don't miss the renowned Blue Cavern (Ao no Dokutsu)
in Shibuya, drawing inspiration from the blue grottos of the Mediterranean.
For a memorable stay, consider Aman Tokyo, a two-time Gold List winner, offering a luxurious experience with a multi-level spa and individual deep furo soaking tubs in each room.
You haven't truly experienced the magic of Christmas lights until you've witnessed the dazzling display in Sydney. Unlike the brief 12 days of Christmas, the holiday spirit lingers for an entire month during the "Sydney Christmas" festival, highlighted by the city's grandest Christmas Tree
in Martin Place.
To immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere, marvel at the 3,500 sparkling lights adorning the Strand Arcade or bask in the glow of the extraordinary Pitt Street Mall Canopy of Light, featuring an impressive 85,000 twinkling LEDs.
For a perfect holiday stay, indulge in a Christmas Day lunch and then unwind with a nap by the rooftop pool at the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour—keep in mind, it's summertime Down Under, adding a unique twist to the traditional Christmas celebration.