There may not be reindeer roaming the streets, but being in New York at Christmas time is certainly one of the world’s most enchanting experiences. This winter wonderland pulls out all the trimmings from whimsical ice-skating in Central Park and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, to Macy’s gift shopping and the world’s most famous Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center.
Still not enough? Visit some of the city’s touristy snow-carpeted sights, including the majestic Statue of Liberty, the red-and-green-festooned Empire State Building, and of course, the bright lights and hustle and bustle of iconic Times Square. Along the way, keep the hunger pangs at bay with a hot dog and freshly roasted chestnuts!
From the never-ending twinkle of Christmas stars, angels and baubles in Oxford Street to the ginormous Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, London is another city renowned for its iconic yuletide season.
Yes, it’s a little kiddy-like, but Winter Wonderland will certainly get you in the too-much-sugar Christmas spirit. Here you can scare yourself stupid on the world’s largest transportable rollercoaster, then top off the adrenalin rush with a flight on the Giant Observation Wheel that soars 60 metres above Hyde Park.
For a bit of unprofessional ice skating, head to the Tower of London for a mulled wine/skating/mulled wine session, or if you prefer giving the credit card a workout, then pop on over to Selfridges, Harrods or any of the upmarket establishments on Bond Street.
Located in the ‘great white north’ of French-Canada, if you’re after snow, you’ll find it in Quebec. One of North America’s last remaining fortified cities, it’s as romantic as it is fascinating, with a distinct European air displayed in its cobble-stoned streets and French-speaking locals.
Every Christmas, this charming city is transformed into a storybook Christmas village where concerts, lights and decorations elevate the season into one of sheer childhood joy. Here you can sip mulled wine at the Christmas markets, take a few selfies at one the world’s most photographed hotels, and toboggan down the Dufferin Terrace slopes just like other revellers have done for over 100 years!
If you want to tick off skiing on your ‘to do’ list, then head for Mont Tremblant, where you can wind your way through 96 trails on four unique slopes.
Capable of turning any old Grinch into a carol-singing fan, Vienna turns it up a notch at Christmas time. One of Europe’s most charming cities, here you’ll find outdoor skating rinks and Christmas markets galore. The Christkindlmarkt on the Rathausplatz is arguably the biggest, and a sensory delight with dazzling displays and a heady nose-delighting combination of mulled wine, toffee apples and freshly frying sausages.
Love Christmas carols? Then tune into the Christmas in Vienna concert. With a line-up of classics including everyone’s favourite, Jingle Bells, this city’s iconic sing-a-long will have you belting out the holiday tunes with the best of ‘em.
Step into your own personal Christmas card (or at least have the photos to prove it) with a visit to Christmas tradition-lovin’ Bruges. This city’s cobblestone streets are covered in snow, homes are decked out like gingerbread houses, and horse-drawn carriages clip-clop daintily around every corner.
Bruges Christmas markets are also a treat, filled with handmade gifts and rustic Christmas baubles, and the food stalls are laden with uber-indulgent wares, including tummy-warming hot chocolate treats. If you’re keen to see a bit more of the city, take a boat trip on the canal or head to the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival where you can view incredible creations in the Ice Palace. This year’s theme is Disneyland!
If you’re contemplating a Christmas holiday halfway round the world, you may as well add a little authenticity to it and visit Santa while you’re at it! The big man himself (and his cheeky elves) calls Rovaniemi in the Arctic Circle home, and this is where you can pat a few reindeer, take a ride in a husky-drawn sleigh and well and truly bag your secret pressie wish with a whisper in Daddy Christmas’ ear.
For all the scrooges out there, there is also the chance to try your hand at ice karting or view one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, the Northern Lights, before spending the night in a glass igloo.
Hunting for the sometimes-sneaky Northern Lights is a highlight of Iceland too, and a guided tour is a great way to go. Not only will a tour give you the best chance of viewing them, many of them will also give you a few tips on photographing these beauties as well.
Winter activities should also be on your ‘to do’ list, including hiking, ice climbing and adrenalin-pumping snowmobiling across a glacier or two with a stop-off to view the area’s ice caves.
Finish your trip with a walk through downtown Reykjavik where you can try to spot all 13 hidden Santa holograms scattered around the city, before pigging out on a bit of tucker. Local specialties include Plokkfiskur (mashed fish stew), a local pylsur (hot dog), and black licorice or Turkish pepper ice cream.
It may not be the first location that springs to mind when you’re thinking about a Christmas holiday, but if you love all things snowy (particularly skiing), then Japan’s certainly worth considering. This is one of the snowiest places in the world during winter, and its ski resorts are renowned for their excellent powder and stunning mountain scenery.
Hakuba Valley is a favourite with international tourists featuring 137km of piste and more than 200 courses offering incredible variety to boarders and skiers of all skill levels. Or there’s Niseko, which is located southwest of Sapporo.
One of the oldest and most famous ski resorts in Japan, it features over 47km of groomed terrain and is said to receive more snowfall than any other ski resort in the world. Break a leg! (Well don’t, but if you do, travel insurance could help!)