The 15 Best Vacation Spots for the Holidays

2022-12-30 09:03:40 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.
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(CNN) — Tourists who are particularly fond of the Christmas season expect more than just a few strings of lights when they visit a destination during this time of year.

After two years of subdued or canceled festivities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many areas will experience a livelier holiday season in 2022.

These 15 places around the world, from the United Kingdom to the Philippines, have a long history of providing an exceptional Christmastime experience:

The North Pole may be the place where Santa Claus and his wife live according to legend, but the Finns would have you believe otherwise.

Rovaniemi, Lapland, just north of the Arctic Circle, is Christmas Central for them. Mrs. Claus and the kids in this area bake gingerbread. Santa, attend Elf Academy or a calligraphy course, and hand-write their holiday wish lists on parchment with a quill

The Ranua Wildlife Park has polar bear cubs, wolverines, and moose calves that you might enjoy seeing.

To learn more about the phenomenon of the northern lights, visit the Arktikum, a science center.

The Arctic Snow Hotel offers guests looking for a truly chilly experience a chance to stay in a structure made entirely of snow and ice, complete with saunas and hot tubs.

Bethlehem provides a smaller-city Christmas escape close to both Philadelphia and New York.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which was founded in the 1700s by Moravian colonists, is justifiably proud of its Live Advent Calendar, which can be enjoyed nightly beginning at 5:30 p.m. m between the 1st and 23rd of December

A town crier rings a bell all the way down Main Street to draw people to the Goundie House, the oldest building there. The crowd waits for a kid to come up and knock three times, at which point a store opens its doors and unveils a special treat.

A giant LED star, life-size toy soldiers, and thousands of lights are just some of the new additions to "The Christmas City."

The Christmas Market is illuminated at night behind Bath Abbey.

Behind Bath Abbey at night, the Christmas market is aglow with lights.

The Allan Baxter/Stockbyte Unreleased/Getty Images Collection

There is much pomp and circumstance in this ancient city of southwest England for both the Christmas and the birthday of Jane Austen.

The best place to learn about the city's most famous resident is at the Jane Austen Centre, where you can also enjoy a delicious Regency Tea.

In both "Northanger Abbey" and "Persuasion," Austen makes reference to the Theatre Royal, which features a busy schedule of holiday drama, musicals, opera, and concerts.

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Some of England's most stunning scenery

In a picturesque Georgian setting, the Bath Christmas Market is filled with stalls of traditional British wares. The market, which sits between the grand Bath Abbey and the ancient Roman Baths, is a lively introduction to the city's unique personality.

The annual Bath on Ice event is a fantastic reason to get all bundled up and put on your skates.

San Fernando, in the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, would be an excellent candidate for Asia's "Christmas capital."

Giant Lantern Festival kicks off on December 17 and runs all the way through January 1 in this city just to the northwest of Manila. The history of making lanterns in San Fernando begins in the late 18th century.

The parol, an electric Christmas lantern representing the Star of Bethlehem in all its colorful glory, is the highlight of any holiday visit. The parols are reminiscent of fantastical objects like kaleidoscopes, stained-glass windows, pinwheels, or enormous snowflakes.

If you can stretch your Christmas vacation to include January 6th, also known as Three Kings Day or Epiphany, you can visit Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar in Barcelona.

The "three wise men," or kings, arrive at the city port on their own ship, the Santa Eulalia, on the evening of January 5.

There are cannon blasts and fireworks as the mayor gives the Magi the keys to the city and the magic begins.

They bring camels, elephants, giraffes, and dazzling costumes on floats and parade through the streets.

New York is overflowing with Christmas traditions. One favorite of tourists and residents is ice skating at the Rockefeller Plaza rink.

Christmas customs abound in the Big Apple. Rockefeller Plaza's ice skating rink is a popular destination for both visitors and locals.

Photography by Roy Rochlin for Getty Images

The heart of the New York City holiday season is Rockefeller Center. The famous ice rink first opened in 1936, and the Christmas tree has been a fixture since 1931.

Christmas Spectacular, starring the Rockettes, is performed nearby at Radio City Music Hall.

More than a hundred merchants hawk their wares at the Holiday Market in Columbus Circle, on the southwestern corner of Central Park.

Some of the most prestigious names in the fashion industry make an appearance in the elaborate holiday window displays at department stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macy's flagship store in Herald Square.

Kenya's capital city is a whirlwind of holiday activity, and that's where the magic happens.

Stores, public transportation, and even the long lines at restaurants and supermarkets will all be blasting raucous carol music in a variety of languages to accommodate the influx of tourists.

Common dishes served at homes and restaurants include chapati (flat bread), pilau (spicy rice), and nyama choma (grilled meat).

In order to work off those extra calories, partygoers can go for a hike in the beautiful Karura Forest Reserve, a popular destination for hikers thanks to Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.

Safari options allow visitors to see rhinos, lions, giraffes, and other animals against the backdrop of the massive city at Nairobi National Park.

Holiday shoppers can find one-of-a-kind Kenyan paintings, jewelry, clothing, and fabrics at popular outdoor markets like Maasai.

More than 2 million people flock to the Nuremberg Christmas market (Nurnberger Christkindlesmarkt) each year because it is a staple of German culture. The first recorded use of the term was in 1628, giving it a long pedigree.

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Market goers in "the little city of wood and cloth" can find a wide variety of foods and drinks, in addition to traditional, often handcrafted Christmas decorations, wooden toys, and other goods.

Spicy Nuremberg gingerbread and warm mugs of mulled wine are perfect for the adults.

The Toy Museum is also a great stop for families.

A woman dressed as Santa Claus sits next to a Christmas tree and a Christmas star at Bolivar Square in Bogota.

At Bolivar Square in Bogotá, a woman dressed as Santa Claus relaxes next to a Christmas tree and a Christmas star.

A.P./Fernando Vergara

Every year, the capital of Colombia, which is located at a relatively high altitude, is decorated with thousands upon thousands of Christmas lights.

The "Ruta Navidea," or Christmas Route, is a popular annual event in Bogotá. The VIPs take in the spectacular displays as they stroll through the city's most visited locations. Access the city's best attractions, including the magnificent Monserrate, by clicking here.

On the evening of December 7, the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Mexican holiday Da de las Velitas (Little Candles' Day) is celebrated. The Christmas season in Colombia has officially begun. Individuals decorate their balconies and windows with lit candles and paper lanterns.

Sugarplums abound in this house this Christmas Along with other party staples like buuelos (hot fried dough balls), natilla is a custard dish similar to flan or pudding.

Visiting Bogotá at Christmas is a good idea because it marks the start of the dry season.

Despite being out of season in December, this Roman Catholic-dominated Mediterranean island has a very special Christmas spirit.

It is customary to visit presepju, or nativity scenes, during the Christmas season. Every year, locals throw open their blinds and even their garage doors to show off their elaborate holy crib confections.

Outside the Baroque St. John's Cathedral in downtown Valletta, you can hear the joyful sounds of carolers spreading the holiday cheer. St. John's Co-Cathedral in the Season of Advent Visit Republic Street in downtown Santa Cruz to see an overwhelming display of holiday lights.

The Malta Toy Museum is a private collection of dolls, soldiers, train sets, and clockwork tin trinkets dating back to the 1790s.

The graceful streets of the historic Petit Champlain district in Quebec City make for a sublime winter holiday stroll.

During the winter holidays, a stroll through Quebec City's historic Petit Champlain district is nothing short of magical.

stock photography by pololia/Adobe

Quebec, a haven for eco-friendly, outdoor enthusiasts, is a hive of activity during the winter months, with a wide variety of holiday programs to suit any preference.

For the holidays, historic Québec is transformed into a charming snow village. Travel to Germany for a traditional Christmas market complete with roasted chestnuts and sausages. Visitors with a penchant for religion can stroll through a display of nativity scenes from all over the world.

A great place to go hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing with the family is the nearby Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix.

A snowmobile from Nord Expe is perfect for adrenaline junkies.

Sadly, I will not be able to celebrate Christmas with you this year. From February 3rd to the 12th, 2023, Quebec hosts its annual Winter Carnival.

In this bright town in Mexico's central interior, Christmas is a solemn and celebratory affair marked by piatas, posadas, and ponche.

The days leading up to Christmas Eve, locals make pilgrimages from house to house, singing to beg for "posada" (or "shelter"), reenacting Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem.

After a day of exploring the grand churches, well-preserved architecture, and grand zocalos of this cobblestone city, visitors can wind down with piatas and ponche (a mulled fruit drink).

The Christmas Market and associated festivities in Salzburg are really something to sing about.

Salzburg's Christmas Market and related celebrations are truly worthy of song.

Adobe Stock Image ID: ecstk22

Salzburg, Austria, is picture-perfect in every way; it's where Mozart was born and where "The Sound of Music" was shot. Picture a winter wonderland complete with snow-capped mountains, baroque buildings, and quaint town squares filled with Christmas vendors.

In fact, "Silent Night" was born there. The first public performance of the well-known carol took place on Christmas Eve, 1818, in the town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg.

Additionally, the town hosts a unique Christmas custom.

People in Austria and Bavaria (in neighboring Germany) dress up as Krampus, a terrifying Alpine beast who roams the streets looking for misbehaving children to punish. On various days in December, Salzburg hosts Krampus runs.

In this city on the border between France and Germany, you can celebrate Christmas in both cultures. Strasbourg's Christmas market dates back to 1570, making it one of the oldest in Europe and arguably the oldest in France.

In the lead-up to Christmas, the city of Strasbourg transforms into a visual and gastronomic wonderland thanks to its series of themed Christmas villages. There are hundreds of booths located all over the place.

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Create lasting visual and photographic memories with the 30-meter-tall (98-foot-tall) Christmas tree that is brought to Place Kléber every year and decorated with ornaments and lights.

An alternative Christmas fair, OFF, with a street art trail and live music will be held in conjunction with the regular market.

A paraglider takes to the the sky in New Zealand, where outdoor activities and Christmas meet.

Paragliders take to the skies in New Zealand, where outdoor fun and the holiday season collide.

Image by damianalmua/Adobe Stock

In New Zealand, the traditional red, green, and white of Christmas have a completely different meaning.

The phutukawa (the New Zealand Christmas tree with ruby red flowers) inspired this design. The beaches are symbolized by the color white. And green Obviously, the kiwi

Visit Queenstown in the summer when the weather is warm and you can go jetboating, river surfing, or paragliding over Lake Wakatipu like Santa Claus.

Or they can spend Christmas Eve or Day barbecuing up a storm of lamb, seafood, and chicken in a tent by the lake.

Al Gerard de la Cruz, Forrest Brown, Roseann Lake, Laura Ma, Faith Karimi, Maureen O'Hare, and Forrest Brown all chipped in to write this piece.

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