There are plenty of amazing destinations around the world, each offering a different experience and each having a distinct seasonality. When the cool holiday season kicks in, there are a handful of places to travel to that are worth considering.
For one, it is in the Dutch capital where the legend of Sinterklaas began. Aside from Santa Claus, the appeal of Amsterdam during the holidays stems from the early celebratory practices of its locals where olden century homes are drawn with lights as early as November all throughout January. There are plenty of activities that can be enjoyed from skiing, carnivals, and the all-out fireworks display during the New Year.
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A little town in England, Castleton is a great holiday destination for those who want to experience “A Christmas Carol”-type event. Cobblestone walks and 16th century homes will make you feel as if you were walking through the actual town in Charles Dickens’ book. Lush pine trees line the streets giving you the sweet smell of Christmas with the passing breeze. A must-experience event is the cave candlelight caroling.
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Finland is an excellent holiday destination for adrenaline junkies. With the powdery white snow that falls during early winter, the local Lapland slopes offers some of the best skiing terrain available to man. It is about an hour and a half away from busy Helsinki. One of the primary modes of transport is a reindeer-pulled sleigh and basic accommodations include personal igloos. Here is where travelers get to say that they slept under the northern lights.
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For those who want something livelier, a trip to the city of Chicago in the United States is worth considering. In Chicago, people do not scrimp on Christmas lights. From buildings to the bridges, almost everything is lit up like a Christmas tree. There is a crafts market that people flock to during the holidays, the Christkindmarket, which you should definitely not miss. There is also the Winter Wonderfest, which is an amusement park that comes complete with an indoor skating rink. If you are traveling with children, they will surely appreciate this destination.
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5. Key West
The holidays normally come with cool weather. For those looking for something more laid back, something warmer, a trip to Key West in Florida is advised. Here, you can enjoy the sand, sun, surf, and of course, a holiday mojito or two.
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The locals of the Bavarian capital love Christmas and celebrate it each year with a massive Christmas tree in the main square of Marienplatz. There are Christmas markets every single week where traditional gingerbread and mulled wine can be found, truly a tourist attraction. There is also a tram that goes around the city which you can read for free. Other delectable treats are served, free of charge, on board.
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The Norwegian city is another excellent location where the northern lights can be viewed. This is an ideal spot for those who want something quieter, something more in tune with nature. One of the rare treats of Tromso are their longer evenings.
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A more refined holiday destination is Prague. Those who choose to travel to this European destination can immerse themselves in the local arts culture. Gothic and baroque architectural structures are highlighted in Nerudova Street, there are operas housed in the state and national theaters, and there are olden style markets down by the main city square.
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The city of lights is no exception to this list of top holiday destinations. This French city is bright enough during the regular days of the year, imagine how hyped up everything is when the holiday season strolls in. Aside from the Eiffel Tower, the streets, bridges, and government structures are lit up like crazy. There are specialty markets that open at night complete with caroling events that serenade visitors as they partake on the local goodies.
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This Colorado town is known for its amazing snowy slopes, an excellent treat for those wishing to experience a White Christmas. Aside from a great skiing experience, tourists will also be treated to regular holiday musical events and a showcase of holiday decorations lining the whole town.
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11. San Juan
Especially for younger travelers who love to party, San Juan in Puerto Rico is a fine choice for a holiday break. This Caribbean island offers a tropical spin to the Christmas season. All of the streets are lit up, there is an overwhelming supply of food and drinks, and the music does not stop. Aside from the evening parties, you can also spend your days by the beach, which is equally as lively.
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In South Carolina, the Christmas season is welcomed with open arms and extraordinary celebratory activities. The unique celebration is what attracts tourists from all around the world. The streets are lined with a beautiful combination of lights and poinsettias and the locals welcome everyone with their distinct Southern hospitality. Bourbon spiked eggnog is a famous holiday treat and roasted pecans can be found in just about any corner stand. Other good reasons for visiting Charleston are the mint chocolate truffles and spiritual singing choirs.
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There are the northern lights and then there is the Aurora Borealis. The latter is what travelers to Reykjavik, Iceland can expect to sleep under. The city is a rural and urban mix offering the liveliness of lit up streets and carolers as well as the calmness of the wilderness. All around the city, statues of the 12 Yule Lads stand prominent in store windows and the city square.
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14. New York City
New York, New York, the city so nice they named it twice! The Big Apple is a fun and exciting holiday destination. Here, the people go all out during Christmas and the New Year. There is the annual lighting of the Times Square New Year’s ball of light. There is the Macy’s parade and accompanying musical fest. Capping things off is an amazingly long display of fireworks.
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15. Santa Claus
Yes, Santa Claus is the name of a city in Indiana. It is known for the countless statues of Santas that line the streets, stores, and homes of locals during the holiday season. If you have a craving for anything and everything Santa, this is the place for you. Aside from the statues, the city also works on various Santa-inspired themes for the local establishments, all of which are sights for sore eyes.
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Boston, Massachusetts gives tourists the experience of the old world of New England. The city offers a very cozy vibe from snowed-down cobblestone streets to wood-fired fireplaces in almost every inn. If you decide to pay Boston a visit, relive the story of the Ghosts of Christmas by watching a staging at the Sanders Theater.
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This Scottish city will give you a different holiday experience, one that is surely for the books. Enjoy the fireworks originating from Edinburgh Castle and bask in the beauty of the illuminating light show; listen to traditional bagpipers as they serenade you with their rendition of Amazing Grace; and embark in a gastronomic journey at the Witchery by the Castle.
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This Tennessee city puts its own twist on the Christmas season. You will not be able to find a honky-tonk Santa anywhere else in the world. Paired with the city’s rustic charm, travelers will surely enjoy this unique spin on the holidays. Expect a well-lit nine-acre enclosed garden that houses a million lights during the month of December. Be sure to partake in the classic butterscotch bites, crab choux, and mint meringues that are only available during the season.
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Malmo is a town in Sweden that is known for its ability to combine traditional celebrations with modern holiday practices. It has been said to offer travelers the very best of the holidays. You should take a stroll down the town square where streets lined with stores offering various products for gifting and personal consumption. Skate around the gigantic pine tree and hang your special wishes on the Christmas tree. Just like the locals, see to it that you leave Santa his aquavit and herring dinner, no milk and cookies please.
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In New Mexico, there is a hidden gem in the remote village known as Taos. A simple and traditional village, Taos celebrates the holidays in a very meaningful way. It has been said that the desert plain offers a magical experience of the holidays that is magnified by the efforts of its locals. Luminarias or paper lanterns line the village streets and there are ceremonial reenactments of the Nativity story. The locals refer to this as Posadas. At night, the main square of Taos Pueblo is as lively as can be.
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These locations can accommodate solo travelers, couples, friends, and families making them ideal options for the Christmas season. What better way to have a memorable holiday than spending time in one of these amazing destinations.