Secretly, you listen to Christmas music all year. Secretly, you know all of the lines to “Home Alone” word for word. And not-so-secretly, you have a killer eggnog recipe you like to guzzle once the first snowflake falls. You, my friend, are a Christmas fanatic—so why not see how Xmas is done in other vibrant cities around the world? Whether you’re travelling solo or with family, consider putting these towns on your nice list:
Quebec City, Canada
There’s something rustic and charming about the cobblestone lanes in Quebec’s oldest city, and this atmosphere is only heightened during the holidays when Christmas trees are placed against old brick buildings and little lights are shown around town. Head into the Old Quebec area where you’ll feel like you’ve walked into a classic movie, complete with Santa and kids with twinkles in their eyes. If you’re in town in November, don’t miss the annual Christmas Toy Parade, complete with bands, floats, and of course, Mr. Kris Kringle himself. You may also want to pop into the Old Port Market, which is home to the largest Christmas market in the city. Yes, it can get packed in there, but try to refrain from elbowing any parents aside so you can get to those perfect gifts first.
Festively decorated stalls for as long as the eye can see. Hand-crafted toys hanging from little artisanal displays. Warm wine to fight off the chill. When it comes to Christmas, few places beat Vienna, Austria. You can hear the holiday cheer throughout the season by passing churches like St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Malteserkirche, and Peterskirche, where classical concerts play throughout the wintery holidays. Keep your eyes open as you walk around; this city is well-known for centuries-old architecture that gleams perfectly in the snow. Aside from stone and song, the real Christmas appeal is obvious when Vienna’s legendary Christmas markets open. The mother of all of them is the Rathausplatz Christkindlmarkt, which rests in front of the gothic-style town hall. Sparkling lights abound in this area, with tons of vendors offering their wares. This is also the spot to find some prime munchies. Enjoy Austrian staples like bratwurst, chestnuts, gingerbread, and waffles—not to mention the real star of the show: glühwein (spiced wine). Served piping hot, this special drink can make any extra round of off-tune carols far more enjoyable to listen to on repeat.
You want snow and you want it now? Go to Iceland. Reykjavik, the capital, is always snowy white and packed to the gills with Christmas cheer come the holiday season. If you’re in town in November, head to Austurvöllur Square for the annual Christmas tree lighting, complete with choirs and the first of 13 Santas who appear during the season. You may also want to swing by the main Christmas Market in Ingolfstorg Square, where you’ll find plenty of trinkets as well as warm mulled wine. And if you want to experience a bit more local culture, pop into the Reykjavik City Museum, which has exhibits about making candles and features the words to traditional noel songs and dances. When in town, do as the Icelandic people do: Shiver and dance in the streets.
New York City, United States
There are few cities that do Christmas bigger than New York. For starters, you can’t miss Rockefeller Center. Not only is the mammoth holiday tree a sight to behold, the ice skating below is what holiday dreams are made of. You may also want to make a date with a Rockette performance and those famous, shapely legs. You can also get your kicks on a carriage ride through Central Park as you admire snowfall in the city’s largest public green space. Truthfully though, a simple meander down the avenues is enough to remind anyone of the Christmas spirit. With the smell of roasting chestnuts from food carts amid the twinkling lights, even the attitude-filled NYC evokes that holiday glee.
This snowy season, pack your Santa hat, sneak some eggnog in a flask, and head off to a new city to explore how the rest of the world celebrates one the biggest holidays.
Where’s your favourite town to spend Christmas?