Going on vacation for the Christmas season gives you the opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the holiday spirit. Christmas is not just a celebration but an experience that brings the world under a beautifully adorned tree. Some celebrate the festival at home while some enjoy exploring various destinations around the world. The celebration of the festival transcends the boundaries of religion and place as the whole world celebrates it with total enthusiasm.
1. SANTA CLAUS VILLAGE, FINLAND
Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland is home to the year-round Santa Claus Office and Village, where a multilingual actor playing Santa Claus takes care of the important daily task of meeting thousands of adoring fans – and spread the general joy of Christmas. The Finnish city of Rovaniemi was nearly destroyed during World War II. But in 1950, then first-lady Eleanor Roosevelt paid a visit to Rovaniemi to check up on its rebuilding efforts. In advance of her trip, officials built a cabin a few miles north of the city, right on the Arctic Circle. This cabin is still standing in Santa Claus Village today. Legend has it that Santa’s original home is in a secret and isolated location in Finland, known to only a select few. So in 1985, “Santa” – with the help of local officials – decided to open a public office, right at the hut in Rovaniemi. There it welcomed children all year round and also attracted a lot of tourists to the area.
- When to Visit: You can meet Santa Claus and cross the magical Arctic Circle every day at the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland.
- How we Go: Santa Claus Village is a holiday village located 10 km outside of Rovaniemi, Finland. Santa Claus Village is a couple of kilometers away from the city center of Rovaniemi. There are several options to get to the village.
- Cost: ~ 5€ per person (children has discounted tickets on the public bus.
- Cost: ~ 30-60€ depending on the pickup location, the number of people, and the time of the day.
- Timings: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
2. New York City, USA
The holidays are always a magical time of year, but there is something extra special about spending Christmas in New York. There are many things to do during the holiday season, which is why we created this guide. Timing is everything. Most decorations, lights, and window displays start going up in late November. The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is one of the most famous in the world. But the giant Norway spruce erected at the iconic New York site this year has left some less than impressed. The 23m (75ft) tree arrived on Saturday and was lifted by a crane. It should be decorated in the coming weeks and the lights on at a ceremony early next month. But social media users were quick to scoff at its ‘sparse’ appearance, with some calling it a fitting tribute to 2020. The tree was brought from Oneonta, New York, and arrived with a police escort. All of the most popular musicals and shows, as well as the famous light and window displays, start at the end of November.
3. Barcelona, Spain
Christmas Eve is a an important day for Spanish people. This is when we enjoy one of the most lavish meals of the Christmas period. In more recent years Spanish families have started to have Christmas trees and children receive small presents from Santa Claus. However the larger presents are still provided by the Three Kings. The two notable Christmas traditions in Barcelona that most baffled us the most were the Caganer and El Caga Tio.
Caganer: Literally meaning, ‘The Crapper,’ the squatting, dropped-drawers, defecating fellow is most often depicted as a pipe-smoking Barcelonian and, supposedly, symbolizes fertility. Numerous versions of the Nativity crapper are available – including ones that resemble famous people, like the President of the United States and the Pope. At the holiday markets, entire booths are dedicated to the Caganer.
Caga Tio Barcelona: The Caga Tio is another Barcelona Christmas tradition that has had us shaking our heads. Originating as gifts of light and heat from burning wood, today Caga Tio Christmas logs are adorned with smiley faces and given legs and a Santa hat. The children in the home take care of smiling log, by ‘feeding’ it, then beating it with a stick so that it will crap out presents for them.
- What To See: La Catedral church, La Sagrada Familia
- Where to Shop: Fira de Nadal de la Sagrada Familia, Fira de Santa Llucia Christmas Market
4. Zurich, Switzerland
The city of Zurich, a global center for banking and finance, lies at the north end of Lake Zurich in northern Switzerland. Zurich is popular for its chocolates, mountains, snow and cobbled streets. The place becomes a magnificent destination to visit on the occasion of Christmas. The city’s markets are crowded and people can enjoy guided Christmas walks and Christmas tree singing here. With great enthusiasm for celebrating Christmas, the city invites visitors to enjoy life’s most special Christmas Eve. From mulled wine and chocolate treats, to impressive Christmas trees and sparkly festive lights, Christmas in Zurich is a magical occasion. Come December, Zurich transforms into an enchanting winter wonderland filled with Christmas markets, lights and music – a perfect time to experience the most magical side of Zurich.
Where to Shop:
1. NIEDERDORF’S DÖRFLI CHRISTMAS MARKET:
- Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 11am – 9pm; Sun: 11am – 7pm
- Address: Weihnachtsmarkt im Niederdorf, Niederdorfstrasse, 8001 Zürich
2. THE URBAN CHRISTMAS VILLAGE:
- Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 11am – 10pm; Sun: 11am – 8pm
- Address: Zürcher Wienachtsdorf, Weihnachtsmarkt, Sechseläutenplatz, 8001 Zürich
3. THE ‘SINGING CHRISTMAS TREE’ & WEIHNACHTSMÄRT CHRISTMAS MARKET
Singing Christmas Tree Choir performances 2021
- Monday to Friday 5.30pm / 6.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 2.30pm / 3.30pm / 5.30pm / 6.30pm
5. Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn Christmas Market is a Christmas market held every year in Tallinn, Estonia. The modern Christmas market was founded in 1997 and it is open from the last week of November to the first week of January the following year. Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, is home to what European Best Destinations recently named the No. 1 Christmas market in Europe! Thousands of voters have agreed this market out glitters all of the rest in Europe, and that’s reason alone to see what all the holiday buzz is about. The boat ride itself was fantastic with a restaurant, places to lounge, and even a shop. The reason why so many ferries are offered is because so many people in Finland do their shopping, espeically for alcohol, in Estonia.
- Where to eat: Olde Hansa, Restaurant Kaerajaan, Restaurant FARM, Kolu Inn
- What to Visit: Estonian Open Air Museum, Seaplane Harbor Museum
6. Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong has one of the world’s most festive Christmases. Hong Kong people have celebrated Christmas perhaps the most grandly in all of East Asia. There is a two-day public holiday, and people usually enjoy dry, mild, and even sunny weather for Christmas. In Hong Kong, Chinese Christians celebrate Christmas with church services in Chinese. At the Anglican Cathedral, some services are conducted in English, as Europeans who live and work in Hong Kong attend as well as people from Hong Kong. Chinese and English services take place at different times of the day. Christians in Hong Kong love to sing Christmas carols and visit Christmas markets. In Hong Kong, people also send Christmas cards. They are normally bought in stores, although a few people still like to make them using Chinese craft techniques. Poinsettia flowers, garlands, Christmas lights and nativity scenes decorate homes, churches and public places.
- Disneyland – Christmas-themed amusement and entertainment will start in November and continue to New Year’s Day.
- The Hong Kong Ballet – the Nutcracker is a delight for those who enjoy fine opera and ballet.
- The Hong Kong Philharmonic – selections of classic Christmas pieces.
- WinterFest – a variety of specials, promotions, Christmas displays, and events.
- For the Hong Kong Symphony of Lights – the buildings will feature Christmas light decorations.
- The International Light Art Display on the Central Harbourfront will be a light art exhibit free for the public.
- Major displays will be in the big malls and the important city squares.
- Churches and Christians take Christmas seriously with big religious events, carol singing, and special performances.
- Gourmet Christmas dinners will be hosted by posh hotels and top gourmet restaurants.