10 Of The Best Places to Celebrate Christmas
Nowadays, Christmas has become a global festival. It doesn’t matter the location of the destination or religion, it is a festive time of year all around the world. Here are 10 cities that offer the ultimate Christmas experiences…
- BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK
Today’s world highlights presents, and overindulging, it’s hard to deny that the real meaning of Christmas often seems forgotten. Nothing compares to a pilgrimage to Jesus’ birthplace. The energy on Manger Square and in the Old City on Christmas Eve could light a forest of Christmas trees. The place to be as the clock strikes 12 is St Catherine’s Church, for the Midnight Mass service.
- SANTA CLAUS VILLAGE, FINLAND
You can never get enough of Santa. The jolly man in the red suit is this neighborhood’s most famous resident. The village boasts wintertime snow and reindeer-dotted forests. There is even an amusement park called Santa Park not far from the village.
- NEW YORK CITY, USA
Christmas in the Big Apple is alot of Christmas lights, music and a light dusting of snow. The world’s tallest Christmas tree is lit at the Rockefeller Center in early December. Ice skating below it is a popular pastime for visitors, and checking out the window displays in New York’s largest department stores.
- BONDI BEACH, AUSTRALIA
Swimsuit, sunscreen and hat are Christmas staples here. Bondi is the opposite of northern-hemisphere Christmas cliches: sun, sand and surf replace snow and fairy lights. On December 25th, the beach acts as a magnet for backpackers a long way from home, who celebrate alongside other “Christmas orphans.” Bands and DJs are rocking out, and the atmosphere is festive.
- MIDNIGHT MASS, THE VATICAN, ITALY
You can rest assured that the spiritual heart of Catholicism knows how to do Christmas. The Eternal City is magical at any time of year, but December has an extra frisson, with roasted chestnuts sold on every corner and the city awash with presepi (nativity scenes) – check them out on St Peter’s Square, Piazza Navona, and in the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli on the Capitoline Hill. It’s the Vatican that pulls the most pilgrims. Midnight Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Christmas Eve, or at noon on Christmas Day, is an affair to remember.
- DUBLIN, IRELAND
The Irish Catholic have some pretty traditional as well as humorous ways of celebrating Christmas. The most eyebrow-raising is a morning swim on the 25th at the Forty-Foot sea-water pool. In the lead-up to the big day there is alot of activity on Dublin’s streets. There’s the 12 Days of Christmas Markets at the Docklands, Christmas lights, ice skating, and seasonal cheer in Temple Bar. Not to be missed is the carols at St Patrick’s Cathedral.
- NUREMBERG, GERMANY
If present buying s one of your favorite Christmas activities, you should experience the magical Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas Market), in Nuremberg’s Hauptmarkt. You will find 180 stalls with toys, trinkets, candles, gingerbread and sweets to shoppers warmed by sizzling bratwurst and mulled wine. Visit after dark, when the colored lights create a fairy-tale spectacle. Christmas shopping never looked this enchanting.
- ZURICH, SWITZERLAND
Switzerland is one of the extra-appealing cities during Christmas. Zurich offers Christmas Markets along with guided Christmas-themed city strolls, and the enchanting all-singing Christmas tree that comes alive. Christmas carols are sung by a choir of youngsters and you can’t help but feel extra festive.
- TOKYO, JAPAN
Maybe Tokyo isn’t the first thought you might have when you think of Christmas. Tokyo traditionally celebrates the New Year in Japan than Christmas, but this is what happens when non-Christians embrace Christmas. You will find spectacularly over-the-top decorations and lights. Here, Christmas Day itself is not a holiday. Christmas Eve is the big deal, resembling Valentine’s Day in activity — a night for couples and romance. Feasting Japanese-style involves fried chicken followed by sponge cake topped with cream and strawberries.
- SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico serves up a sunny Christmas with a salsa beat. Festivities last from early December to Three Kings Day on 6 January. From mid-December churches conduct dawn masses rich with Christmas carols, while groups of carolers travel from house to house and make merry. The big feast is held on Christmas Eve, followed by Midnight Mass. To see decorations, head to City Hall on the Plaza de Armas and the fairy-lit promenade Paseo de la Princesa.
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