It’s the most wonderful time of the year. From Moscow to New York, cities around the world are taking on a magical glow, putting their take on the Christmas festivities. For visitors, the world’s most memorable Christmas vacation awaits in the form of festivals, markets, carols, ice skating, skiing, shopping and more. Give your family the experience of a lifetime this year with new rich Christmas traditions, wherever you are in the world.
Christmas Festival, Moscow
Moscow’s ‘Journey to Christmas’ festival, their most anticipated event of the year, is a complete takeover of the capital, filled with decorations, lights and nearly round-the-clock festivities. The event offers a range of entertainment including street shows, masterclasses, open-air gigs, costumed parades and ice ballet performances, most of which are free. The food, of course, will be a highlight for travelers, with famous Russian blini, pastries and pryaniki. If you’re heading over after Christmas, don’t miss the huge new year celebrations on the main street of the capital, Tverskaya.
Journey to Christmas is held in Moscow from 13 December to January 12.
Visit the Moscow Seasons website to find out more.
Hinode Hills Niseko Village Resort, Japan
The highly anticipated luxury hotel Hinode Hills has just opened its doors on 1 December, in time for Christmas travellers. Located in Niseko Village on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, the area is legendary among skiing enthusiasts as the snow mecca of Japan. Boasting 2,191 acres of skiable terrain, over 47 kilometres of groomed slopes and a dining and retail village hub, you and your family will enjoy an adventurous white Christmas like no other.
Hinode Hills is located in Niseko Village, Japan.
Visit the Hinode Hills website to book.
Roasted nuts, fresh pretzels, bratwurst, and hot-spiced wine is just the beginning of the many indulgences to discover at the Christkindlmarket. The Daley Plaza in Chicago is turned into a winter wonderland inspired market annually, full of German-styled goodies set within a cosy atmosphere. A highlight for locals and travellers is the Christkindlmarket mug—with a unique design each year, it is a delightful gift for a loved one or as a souvenir to take home.
Christkindlmarket is located at Daley Plaza, Chicago from November 15 to December 24.
Visit the Christkindlmarket website for more information.
Winter Village at Bryant Park, New York
New York, the city that never sleeps, is a must-do at Christmas time on all our bucket lists. In the heart of Manhattan, the magical Winter Village comes alive once a year to serve all our festive needs. The Christmas market boasts delicious winter comfort food and artisanal boutiques; with over 175 vendors there’s something to please every member of the family. The main attraction is the iconic 17,000-square-foot ice skating rink in the centre of the park, the only free admission rink in New York City.
The Winter Village is located at Bryant Park, New York from October 31 to March 1.
Visit the Bryant Park website to find out more.
The Glasshouse Hotel, Edinburgh
Already one of the world’s most breathtaking cities, Edinburgh comes to life during the festive season. The ancient city is saturated with expansive Christmas markets, along with all the lights and delights of the season. If your travels lead you to Edinburgh, you can’t go past the historic luxury Glasshouse Hotel without a visit. With some of the most dramatic views of Edinburgh and access to the two-acre rooftop terrace, it’s the perfect getaway for the family. To ensure you make the most of your stay, the hotel also offers Christmas and New Year packages.
The Glasshouse Hotel is located in Edinburgh.
Visit the Glasshouse Hotel website to book.
Christmas Market of the Plaza Mayor, Madrid
The Market of the Plaza Mayor is one of Spain's oldest and most cherished Christmas traditions. With artists and collectors exhibiting their creations, the market is known for its unique range of handmade toys, figurines and nativity scenes. Kids will be in awe of the brightly lit carousel, one of the main attractions in the middle of the event. If you’re seeking a unique, memorable family experience this year, Madrid is the place to be.
The is located at Plaza Mayor, Madrid from November 23 to December 31.
Visit the Madrid Tourism website for more information.
Carols by Candlelight, Melbourne
What better way to enjoy Christmas in the Australian heat than to be watching carols under the stars. Carols by Candlelight in Melbourne hosts both national and international celebrity vocalists, accompanied by an impressive symphony orchestra. More than 10,000 people attend the annual event, which is also a fundraiser—raising money for Vision Australia’s children’s services. So if you’re travelling to Melbourne this year, bring the whole family together on Christmas Eve to indulge in a Christmas spirit of goodwill and generosity.
The Carols by Candlelight is located in Melbourne, Australia on December 24.
Visit the Vision Australia website for more information.
Basilica Christmas Fair, Budapest
If you’ve always wanted to visit the iconic St Stephen’s Basilica, one of the largest churches and tallest buildings in Budapest, then Christmas is the time to do so. From 22 November, the Basilica Christmas Fair is set up directly in front of the beloved church, filled with stalls where locals sell traditional wooden crafts. Grab some mulled wine and a honey cookie, and take a stroll down the streets where Hungarian tradition fills the air.
The Basilica Christmas Fair is located in Budapest from November 22 to January 1.
Visit the Budapest Christmas website to find out more.
Festival of Lights, Portland, Oregon
For the last seven weeks, organisers of the Portland Winter Light Festival have been manually hanging over one million lights in the Grotto Gardens, all to create a spectacular light display in time for the festive season. The event also features more than 160 indoor holiday concerts including marching bands, operas and circus acts, making it the largest choral festival in the world. The festival covers all the sights, sounds and sensations of the season for you to enjoy this Christmas with your loved ones.
The Festival of Lights is located at Grotto Gardens, Portland, Oregon from November 29 to December 30.
Visit the Grotto Gardens website to find out more.
Santa Claus Village, Finland
The Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi is the epitome of Christmas, also known as the ultimate winter destination during the festive season. Have you ever dreamt of staying in a snow igloo or going on a reindeer sleigh ride at Christmas? Well here, all your childhood dreams can come true. Other activities include husky sledding, cross-country skiing and snow-mobiling. Not to mention the extraordinary northern lights tour where you can experience the aurora borealis in the silent forest where they’re best appreciated.
Santa Claus Village is located Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland from November 17 to December 31.
Visit the Santa Claus Village website for more information.