The 5 Best Places in the World to Spend Christmas

There’s something about December. As soon as you open that first door on your (hopefully chocolate) advert calendar, your thoughts are transported to what Christmas will bring.

Will it snow? Will Santa bring what you want? Will you get a kiss under the mistletoe?

I’m hoping ‘yes’ to all of these, however there’s more to the holiday season than just huddling at home and waiting for the Christmas cheer to come to you. More and more people are heading away to find the ultimate location to spend the festive period. The most ‘Christmassy locations on Earth’, if you like.

So here’s my guide to the best destinations in the world to spend the Christmas break.

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5 Best Places to spend Christmas (1)

1. Finnish Lapland

Image credit: frozenreindeer on flickr

Image credit: frozenreindeer on flickr

I couldn’t have a guide to Christmassy locations without Lapland – the home of Santa himself! Finnish Lapland is just about as close as you can get to a magical winter wonderland, with sleigh bells ringing in the air, reindeer rides and the chance to meet Santa in Rovaniemi, the region’s capital.

At Christmas time you’ll also have the best chance of spotting the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights – dancing green and purple strips of light in the night sky.

2. New York City

"Central Park Wollman Rink" by Tomás Fano - originally posted to Flickr as New York. Central Park. Wollman Rink. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Central_Park_Wollman_Rink.jpg#/media/File:Central_Park_Wollman_Rink.jpg

“Central Park Wollman Rink” by Tomás Fano – originally posted to Flickr as New York. Central Park. Wollman Rink. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons

When winter arrives and the temperature drops below freezing, the city is heavily decorated with lights, baubles and Christmas trees at every turn.

As well as the chance of real snow (do you wanna build a snowman?), you’ll also be treated to some of the most festive outdoor ice rinks in the world at the Rockefeller Center and Central Park. Just make sure you go easy on the mulled wine before you take to the ice!

But my favourite thing about New York at Christmas time is the incredible shopping. The sales start just after Thanksgiving (on Black Friday, the most insane shopping day of the year) and last until well after Christmas, so you’re sure to find a bargain or three.

3. Leipzig, Germany

Photo credit: das_sabrinchen on flickr

Photo credit: das_sabrinchen on flickr

The Christmas market in Leipzig Germany is not only one of the largest there is, but it’s also one of the oldest, having been established in 1458.

Over 250 stalls vie for your attention selling everything from smoked salmon and mulled wine to traditional handicrafts, and local choirs sing from nearby churches to get you in the festive mood. Plus the town is just so photogenic… Renaissance architecture and Christmas decorations make it one of the prettier Christmas markets around.

4. Edinburgh, Scotland

Photo credit: Fiona Shields on flickr

Photo credit: Fiona Shields on flickr

As well as being a beautiful city which looks the part when covered in a blanket of snow, Edinburgh turns up the volume on its already packed entertainment scene for Christmas.

Live music, theatre, comedy gigs and light shows take over the city until well into January, plus ice skating, Christmas markets and spectacular rides including a Giant Big Wheel. There’s even the chance to meet Santa (sorry, Lapland).

5. Reykjavik, Iceland

"Reykjavík séð úr Hallgrímskirkju" by Andreas Tille - Own work - see http://fam-tille.de/sparetime.html Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

“Reykjavík séð úr Hallgrímskirkju” by Andreas Tille – Own work – see http://fam-tille.de/sparetime.html Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

With only four hours of daylight on Christmas Day, you might think that Iceland is a pretty dark and dank place to spend the holiday season. You’d be wrong.

Icelanders adore this time of year and go simply crazy in their quest to bring as much light to the city as possible, by decorating their houses with bright lights, and illuminating Reykjavik’s main square, Austurvöllur.

There’s also the opportunity to meet not one, but 13 different Santa Clauses, affectionately known locally as ‘Yule Lads’. This is my kind of country.

Have you ever been away for Christmas? I’d love to hear your favourite place to get Christmassy 🙂

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Hayley is the author behind A Life of More, a travel and lifestyle blog with the goal of helping you to live a happier and more fulfilled life, whether you're currently travelling or happily settled.

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