The Getaway
Treat Yourself to a Memorable Christmas Break

You're contemplating hauling your dusty baubles and trinkets out of the attic or basement when it suddenly occurs to you—you don't need to do this. You can book a plane ticket and banish the thought of Christmas Eve dinner and the hours you'd have to slog in the kitchen to lay out a spread gobbled up in fifteen minutes flat.

But where should your grand winter escape take you?

Oh, the places you could go! Some of them are warm during December, so you could cancel a portion of winter for a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.


01 London

people walking on sidewalk during night time Photo by David Ramírez on Unsplash

Noel in London is classic and embodies the term festive season. Regent Street, Oxford Street, Bond Street, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, and Carnaby Street glitter with state-of-the-art lights and beam Christmassy vibes.

There's also Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park, with its myriad attractions and rides, and the fantastic ice rinks at Somerset House and Canary Wharf. Be sure to visit Kew's Royal Botanical Gardens for hot choc and glimmering water features, and check the city's calendar for concerts and special events.


02 Montreal

Middle of Place Jacques-Cartier and Christmas Decorations at Night Benoit Daoust /

Do you want to feel like you're spending Christmas in Paris without leaving North America? Head to Montreal, where the musical sounds of French dance through the streets, and there are longstanding events like the fabulous Santa Claus parade and Merry Montréal at the Old Port.

You can go skiing, watch the Christmas fireworks, or attend Mass at the truly stunning Notre Dame Basilica—you'll need to book tickets to snag a seat.


03 Tokyo

people walking on street Photo by Nagatoshi Shimamura on Unsplash

The Japanese love competition if the 2020 Olympics were anything to go by. During the festive season, different districts in the capital city face off to put up the best illuminations.

Like the Christmas lights Taylor Swift and her lover keep up till late January, the lights here are stunning enough to stick around for a while. So, if you want to travel later when it's slightly more budget-friendly and quieter, you won't miss out.

The 'Blue Cave' and Yomiuriland amusement park are must-sees. If you go during the holidays, expect fanfare outside the Imperial Palace on December 23, when it's the Emperor's birthday, but the 25th itself is not a holiday.


04 Copenhagen

white boat on dock near buildings during night time Photo by Razvan Mirel on Unsplash

Denmark's capital is one of the many European cities that cranks up the Christmas cheer to full blast. The festive market at the Tivoli Gardens amusement park is glorious, with a tree that's often bejeweled with Swarovski crystals.

Order some andesteg, prune, and apple-laden roast duck for a Danish culinary memory you won't soon forget, and take in all the fairytale-like palaces and castles.


05 Cape Town

The best time for Americans to travel to Cape Town besides spring break (which also happens to be a great time for a Kruger safari) is during winter when the southern hemisphere is in the midst of summer.

South Africa's Mother City has holiday markets where you can find the likes of surfing Santa magnets. Stick around until the 2nd of January, and the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival will start your new year off with exuberance.


06 Reykjavík

Reykjavik, Iceland. Panoramic view of the city. Main streets and street food stall at Christmas GARCIA HUERTAS /

Guess who predates Santa? The 13 Yule Lads, that's who. They're like your favorite sleigh flyer meets Snow White's dwarves, and they sprinkle smiles all around Iceland's capital.

Reykjavík during Christmas is like a siren call for people who want to experience both the Northern Lights and impossibly long nights filled with ice skating and sparkling bulbs. You'll treasure a vacation here more than any present Santa could push down your chimney.


07 Santa Fe

LUMINARIES IN SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO Photograph copyright Eric Meola / Getty Images

New Mexico might seem like a left-field choice as far as Christmas destinations go, but Santa Fe has the word Santa in it, so it's not that much of a stretch. The agenda is stacked with diverse cultural celebrations, and you can feast on tamales and bizcochitos or learn how to make them for a continuous supply. Make your way to the gallery district on Christmas Eve for the "Canyon Road Walk," pine bonfires, and luminaria displays.


08 New York City

Christmas by Rockefeller Center Photo by Elias Andres-Jose on Unsplash

We're convinced that if you opened a special thesaurus somewhere in the world, the words New York City would appear next to Christmas.

The Rockefeller Center tree is famous thanks to movies like Home Alone 2, and the ice rink in its shadow is similarly legendary, as are the department store displays.

There are markets at Grand Central Terminal and Bryant Park and performances like the Radio City Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular, not to mention the Times Square Ball Drop on New Year's Eve.


09 New Orleans

new orleans french quarter during christmas franckreporter / Getty Images

Pull a snowbird and head south for your vacay. New Orleans offers one of the most memorable Christmases you could imagine.

Here, Papa Noel—Santa Claus for those who could use a cup of coffee—has a sleigh that's pulled not by reindeer but by alligators.

NOLA is at its most family-friendly during the holidays with wholesome entertainment, including the lights on the centuries-old oaks at City Park, riverboat carol cruises, and the brass bands in the French Quarter. You have to taste réveillon while you're in town too.


10 Rome

The landmark of Rome: Flavian Amphitheater, or the Colosseum, at night, with a christmas tree in front of it piola666 / Getty Images

Go to Italy, and you'll get the lights, the markets, and the towering tree at the Colosseum. But you'll also get holy nights.

Rome is a hop, skip, and a jump away from Vatican City, where Pontifex presides over the Papal States. You can see the pope and hear the hymns at midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and Christmas and Boxing Day are packed with events too.


11 Kerala

Unknown people front a Christmas decoration shop items Jose HERNANDEZ Camera 51 /

Kerala is the most Christian state in India and a wonderfully unconventional place to spend your winter break. The locals celebrate in cities like Kochi, where there's a Christmas costume parade, carnivals featuring Kathakali dance, and an exultant burning of a huge old man statue meant to represent the year gone by.

Kerala's white sand beaches are gorgeous, and you can eat fresh seafood for Christmas dinner. Excuse us while we open up airline websites.


12 Cologne

Christmas market at Cologne Cathedral Jon Hicks / Getty Images

No one does Christmas markets better than the Germans, and Cologne deserves to have its image splashed across winter tourism brochures. It is perfection during the holiday season, which is why millions flock to the city on the Rhine to end their year on the best note possible.

Circus and theatre performances compete for visitors' attention, and you can get a bird's eye view from KölnTriangle.


13 Rovaniemi

Santa Claus village of Rovaniemi, Finland RPBMedia / Getty Images

You can't draw up a winter bucket list without including Lapland, Santa's home in the Arctic Circle, where the elves work overtime during Christmas to reward good little boys and girls all over the world.

Rovaniemi is a Finnish city where you'll find Santa's Village and SantaPark and thick blankets of snow. It's expensive but as close as you'll get to fulfilling a childhood fantasy with wild Rudolph reindeer galore, husky sleds, potential northern light sightings, and yuletide joy in spades.


14 Dubai

A Christmas tree in Dubai taken from Souk Madinat with Burj al Arab in Background on a clear day with blue sky MichaelRBowen / Getty Images

Dubai is all about excess and spectacle, so going there during the holidays makes total sense.

The city's famous malls are adorned with wow-worthy decor, including exceptional Christmas trees, and there are Christmas markets to boot. Events like the Santa Run add yet more fun to the calendar. The weather's also comfortable this time of year.


15 Hong Kong

Beautiful Christmas scenery for, in shopping mall 1881 Heritage, Hong Kong YIUCHEUNG /

Epic window displays are just one remarkable element of Christmas in Hong Kong.

There's Santa Con which is about as scarlet and snowy-bearded as you'd expect. And the Symphony of Lights show is in a class of its own, with dazzling illuminations waltzing across Victoria Harbor's magnificent skyscrapers. Ocean Park has something for everyone, and the rollercoasters will warm you up in no time.

Hong Kong is also a foodie city, so you can enjoy an array of celebration-worthy dishes.


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