Are you looking for the absolute perfect place to celebrate Christmas? From cosy Christmas villages to vibrant capital cities, there are plenty of options to choose from around the globe. Maybe your idea of a perfect Christmas is in the Finnish Lapland; the birthplace of Santa? Or maybe you’re looking for something a little warmer? Either way, we’ve got you covered. Here are our picks for the best Christmas destinations around the world.
The Best Christmas Destinations Around the World
1. Dresden, Germany
What better place to celebrate the holiday season than the birthplace of the iconic German Christmas market tradition? Dresden boasts the nation’s oldest Christmas market dating all the way back to 1434. The cosy Saxon city comes alive over the holiday season with its famous Strieselmarkt. Wander the cobblestoned streets and take in the scents of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and fried pastry.
Discover Dresden trips here.
2. Woodstock, Vermont
When it comes to a truly magical New England Christmas, there’s no better place than Vermont. Don’t get us wrong, Woodstock is absolutely dreamy any time of year, but at Christmastime, the place really comes alive. Their annual Wassail Weekend is a real delight and provides visitors with a unique glimpse into the towns charming homes and unique historic charm.
3. Franklin, Tennessee
Franklin is famous for its Dickens of a Christmas. Every December (pre-pandemic, at least) this two-day event features more than 200 dancers, musicians and characters from Charles Dickens iconic stories. And that’s not even the half of it; there’s also an uber charming Victorian Christmas Village, horse-drawn carriages and plenty of holiday cheer to go around.
4. New York City, New York
Rockefeller Christmas tree ultra festive Times Square, the Macy’s Parade, the Rockettes – there are more than a few reasons NYC is such an incredible Christmas destination. The Big Apple is famous for its holiday festivities such as the Nutcracker performance, Saks Fifth Avenue light show, endless Christmas markets, and so much more.
5. Moscow, Russia
Moscow’s unbelievable Christmas charm will have you forgetting all about how cold it is. Their Journey into Christmas festival shows why the holidays really are the most wonderful time of the year. Each district of Moscow joins in on the festival with countless traditional food stalls, craft workshops, Christmas markets street shows and more. The heart of it, is of course in the iconic Red Square.
6. London, England
Take in the carollers, traditional Christmas markets and sparkling lights galore in one of the world’s most influential and exciting cities. Over the holiday season, revellers can partake in all sorts of Christmas fun. Go ice skating at the Queen’s House Ice Rink within the Maritime Greenwich UNESCO World Heritage Site; or head to Hyde Park for one of the most festive Christmas markets around.
7. Leavenworth, Washington
Dreaming of a German Christmas but don’t want to cross the Atlantic? Leavenworth is your answer. This German village is loaded with holiday charm and cheer fit for a Bavarian fairytale. More than 5,000 twinkling lights illuminate the town as marching bands and carollers take to the streets to spread the good cheer through December. And yes, there’s a Christkindlemarket.
8. Aarhus, Denmark
When December rolls around, something special happens in Aarhus. This cosy Danish city comes to life with its Christmas markets, traditional Danish Christmas lunches, horse-drawn carriages and more twinkling lights than you can imagine. Be sure to experience Christmas in Den Gamle By which provides a unique insight into 400 years of Christmas history.
9. Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg calls itself the best Christmas town in America, and honestly, it isn’t hard to see why. This historic town has managed to preserve much of its colonial traditions such as a gun-salute display and torch-lit carolling. The real beauty, however, is when every home in the historic area lights a candle in their windows and Busch Gardens illuminates with more than 10 million bulbs.
10. Colmar, France
This quaint, cosy and romantic Alsatian village is one of the best Christmas destinations around the world. Sat near the German border, Colmar has just the right amount of French and German flare to make for a unique array of Christmas markets loaded with features from both countries. Colmar is so charming in fact, that it gave inspiration to Belle’s town in Beauty and the Beast.
11. Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Horse-drawn sleighs, Grelot Family elves, snowshoeing and endless cosy cabins to escape to are just a few things Mont Tremblant is known for at Christmastime. This pedestrian village is also home to quite a few time tested traditions, but our favourite is Legends Day.
According to the authorities, “stories passed down through generations will come to life on the pedestrian village. People will be able to wander through a huge interactive circuit and go on a treasure hunt adventure inspired by folk legends.” We love some good Christmastime stories.
12. Coburg, Germany
Coburg is one of Germany’s most festive cities that puts on a helluva Christmas market every year. Not only that, it’s also the birthplace of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert. Prince Albert was responsible for introducing England to the Christmas tree along with other various German holiday traditions; so the city has certainly earned its bragging rights. Take in the endless scents of mulled wine, gingerbread and spiced sausages while procuring the famous market.
13. Dublin, Ireland
What better way to get in the Christmas spirit than with a few pints of Guinness and black pudding. If you’re all about the Christmas food and drink, Dublin is the place to be. In the heart of the Emerald Isle, you’ll find more cosy bars than you can manage all decked out in holiday flair. That’s not all though; the other holiday offerings include the decorated shops along Grafton street perfect for winter strolls, theatre performances and classic Christmas carolling.
Discover Dublin trips here.
14. Newport Beach, California
Now, a California harbour may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of the best Christmas destinations in the world, but Newport Beach will surprise you. Dating back more than a hundred years, the annual Christmas Boast Parade is the experience of a lifetime. Every year sailors take to the water to light up the harbour with more than 150 boats ranging from tiny kayaks to mega-sized yachts each decked out in countless twinkling lights. The parade also includes live bands and even air cannons.
15. Dahlonega, Georgia
When it comes to an old fashioned Christmas atmosphere, Dahlonega is one of the best. Beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving, the town kicks off an entire month of celebrations including wine sampling, carriage rides, local carolling groups and so much more. You can also take holiday crafts classes, visit Santa, stroll the endless Christmas lights in their festival of trees.
16. Winchester, England
Did someone say medieval Christmas? That’s what Winchester is all about. This spectacular English Middle Age city is famous for its British Crafts village and German-inspired Christmas markets that will have you brimming with cheer. Be sure to spend some time at the outdoor skating rink and load up on the festive bites like mince pies and wine. Feeling active? The city also hosts a charitable Santa Fun Run.
17. North Pole, Alaska
How could we compile a list of the world’s best Christmas destinations and not include the North Pole? Okay, it’s not really the North Pole, but that is its actual name. Just 15 miles or so from Fairbanks, you’ll find the picturesque village of North Pole. Hailing themselves as the home of Santa, you can expect to see St. Nick everywhere. There’s even a Santa Claus House which doubles, well, triples, as a general store, holiday shop and post office. Be sure to look out for Santa and his reindeer at the Winter Festival and stop by the world’s largest Santa statue.
18. Frankenmuth, Michigan
Every year Little Bavaria in Frankenmuth comes alive with Christmas spirit galore. In this cosy Michigan town, you’ll find a super nostalgic European Christmas market, carriage rides through the old town, and even meals with Mr. and Mrs. Claus themselves. The real highlight, however, is the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. The enormous store boasts over 350 Christmas trees decked out in holiday flare, decorations and gifts from over 70 nations and more than 150 styles of nutcrackers.
When it comes to nativity scenes, Malta is the place to be. Visiting the presepju, or nativity scenes are a key part of celebrating a Maltese Christmas. Each year the island is covered in renditions of the birth of Christ making for a truly special holiday season. Even better are the resident nativity scenes. Local proudly open their shutters to display their holy crib creations to passersby. After you explore the countless unique nativity scenes, head to downtown Valletta for some carolling and advent displays.
20. Rovaniemi, Finland
The Finnish Lapland is home to all things winter wonderland. It’s the land of reindeer, northern lights, snowy forests and of course, Santa. Head to Rovaniemi just north of the Finnish Lapland’s Arctic Circle for a Christmas experience like no other. Visitors can make gingerbread cookies with Mrs. Claus, take a class at Elf School and even write their own wish list for Santa with ink and quill. There’s also a nearby Ranua Wildlife Park home to loads of baby polar bears, wolverines, moose and more.
21. Honolulu, Hawaii
Dreaming of a tropical Christmas instead of a white one? Nobody does it better than Honolulu. The bustling Hawaiian city puts on an epic monthlong Christmas display complete with an opening parade and live music. And don’t worry, just because its warm doesn’t mean Santa will be gone. You can find him all over the island donning more weather appropriate clothing to spread the good cheer.
22. Reykjavik, Iceland
In addition to the wild and rugged weather and scenery that accompanies Iceland’s winter season, the nation’s capital puts on quite a show for Christmas. One of the most interesting Icelandic traditions that take place in Reykjavik is the “Yuletide Lads” who carry gifts to children around the city on the 13 nights leading up to Christmas. In addition to quirky traditions, though, Reykjavik’s Yule Town Christmas market is truly a sight to see. Take in the charm and magic of the holiday season by strolling the endless handcrafted huts that make up the market and don’t forget to carve out some time for a northern lights excursion.
23. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Mexico is an unbelievably festive place even outside of the holiday season, but when Christmas comes around, it’s truly magical. And San Miguel de Allende is the perfect place to take it all in. This world heritage goes all out on celebrations with the city decked out in lights, ornaments and garland galore. San Miguel de Allende is also popular for its annual religious pilgrimages to celebrate the birth of Christ. Be sure to load up on lots of tamales and hot punch to stroll the streets with.
24. Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is an excellent Christmas destination for its insane “winter illuminations.” Every year the Japanese capital explodes with vibrant dazzling colours celebrating the holiday season from massive snowglobes to the famous Tokyo Skytree towering high above the city for all to see. The most famous exhibit has been the Blue Cave in Shibuya which boats a whopping 600,000 lights that create a tunnel and river-like view that is simply stunning. Additionally, you can find Disney Christmas exhibitions, winter markets and ice skating over the holiday season.
25. Bad Ragaz, Switzerland
Europe’s tallest living Christmas tree, Switzerland’s winter wonderland that is Rhine Valley, more luxury spas than you can count; need we say more? Bad Ragaz is an ideal Christmas destination for its world-class resorts, stunning scenery and charming holiday spirit. Relax in a thermal pool in the afternoon and take in the giant Christmas tree with some hot cocoa at night.