We love cuddling up with loved ones at home, but we also enjoy seeing how cities around the world transform each December. In our opinion, the best places to spend Christmas range from European classics with storybook Christmas markets to Asian cities with extravagant light displays and even merry mainstays in the United States. There are even some locations in the southern hemisphere where temperatures will be in the 20s and 30s on December 25, if lounging by the pool with a cocktail is your idea of a perfect holiday.
While the joy may vary from city to city, these global destinations keep the holiday spirit alive year after year. Even if you’ve already made plans for the upcoming season, it’s never too early to start planning a fantastic winter vacation for 2023.
The best-preserved mediaeval city in Europe exudes charm all year, but especially during the holidays. It’s difficult to imagine a more magical place to wander the cobblestone streets, admire the glistening lights, and warm up with mugs of Belgian hot chocolate in cafés.
Follow the Winter Glow light trail through the historic city centre, stopping at 10 installations including lights at the Church of Our Lady Tower and a projection at Gruuthuse.
If you want to escape winter during the holidays, Cape Town is the place to go—after all, it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere. You can even go to one (or more) of the South African city’s holiday markets without a coat and scarf.
Nothing captures the old-world yuletide charm like a Christmas market, and no one takes Christmas markets more seriously than the Germans, with Cologne’s festivities drawing four million (forty lakh) visitors each winter.
From its European-inspired Christkindlmarket to its numerous light shows, Chicago knows a thing or two about getting into the Christmas spirit (and the freezing temperatures). The 55-foot Christmas tree in Millennium Park and a heated igloo at The Godfrey Hotel are two must-do activities.
Dubai celebrates Christmas in true, extravagant style, just like Dubai does almost everything else. Watch the tree lightings around town, including those at Towers Rotana, Fairmont The Palm, and The Irish Village, and then cheer on the jolly ol’ St. Nicks in the Santa Run. And, because no trip to Dubai is complete without a few shopping excursions, make time to stock up on goodies at one of the city’s Christmas markets.