Christmas From Around the World

Ahhhh, Christmas! The family. The friends. The food.  This is a time of year that a lot of us count down to celebrating with our loved ones. But have you ever stopped to think on how other people celebrate Christmas around the world? Or what it is like to spend Christmas in another place? Well let me tell you…..

Oceania

Canberra, Australia

I spend Christmas at home with my family in Canberra, Australia. It isn’t anything fancy but it is just the way I like it. I stay over at my parents place on Christmas eve so there is less travel on Christmas day (and yes,  do bring my two cats with me. And yes, I force them to put on Christmas costumes). Once the entire family is up on Christmas day we open presents together and one at a time. This allows us to really cherish the gifts and to thank the giver properly. Once the gift giving part is done we help Mum prepare the roasts (chicken and ham). As it is so hot on Christmas day this can be a real challenge. This is why a lot of Aussie’s will go for the seafood lunch. We spend the afternoon playing board games and watching movies together.  It really is the most chilled day and it is the way we like it.

After reading all of the posts below, I am now very tempted to spend a Christmas abroad! I really would like to experience a white Christmas one day…

Read more about Christmas in Australia.

Christmas in Canberra by Through an Aussie’s Eyes

 

Melbourne, Australia by International Hotdish 

This year my wife and I be celebrating Christmas on the beach in Melbourne, Australia. Why, you ask? Well, in October, 2017 my wife and I quit our 9-5 jobs to travel around the world full-time. And it just so happens we’ll be in Melbourne for Christmas and New Years.

We’re so excited for this because we’re from a part of the United States that’s always cold and gets heaps of snow in December and January. Our Christmases have always had a specific, traditional, atmosphere to them.

So what do we plan on doing in Melbourne? Glad you asked. We look forward to singing carols, decorating our Airbnb with ferns and other warm weather flora, and having a big Christmas supper. The kicker is, we’re planning on doing most of these things while on the beach – literally the beach! What better way to celebrate Christmas than to have a gift giving picnic on the beach?

We’re looking forward to this experience because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. The thought of celebrating Christmas while spending the day surfing, reading and relaxing on the beach has got us excited to the max!

Christmas in Melbourne by International Hotdish

New Zealand by Migrating Miss

Christmas isn’t always about snow and in fact, a large amount of the world doesn’t get a white Christmas! Growing up in New Zealand meant I experienced the dichotomy of having Christmas in summer with all of the aspects of a winter Christmas. Carols, Christmas cards and decorations all about snow and winter, even though it could be scorching hot outside! It might be strange for some, but Christmas in New Zealand often means celebrating outdoors. Although some people have a traditional roast and Christmas pudding, a Kiwi Christmas often involves barbeques, the beach, and beers in the sun! Many people own or rent a “bach” for the holiday season, which is basically a holiday home near the sea or a lake, so it’s a great time to get away, relax, and do things like swimming, waterspouts, and fishing. We have a native tree called the pohutukawa tree, which blooms with red flowers around Christmas time and is often found near the beach, so it has become an icon of a summer Christmas. Having a casual barbeque for Christmas means that travellers can easily join in on the fun, and many backpackers like to spend the day at the beach, swimming, making use of public barbeques and playing a bit of beach cricket. It may not be a snowy or cold Christmas, but experiencing Christmas in summer is something everyone should try at least once!

Christmas in New Zealand by Migrating Miss

Asia

Hong Kong by The Lifelong Adventures

I absolutely love spending Christmas in Hong Kong. Walking down the streets it seems like almost everyone has gotten into the spirit. Shopping Centers and office buildings put up elaborate displays which change every year. Many public areas have annual holiday installations including Statue Square in Central with a gigantic Christmas tree and the Cultural Centre in Kowloon with its annual music and light show projected onto the surrounding buildings. The skyscrapers along the harbor front also have light murals that can be seen from any skyline vantage point.

In my hometown in the U.S.A. we would always drive through the neighborhoods known for their decorations and lookat how people had decorated their homes. In Hong Kong, it is like the whole country is one of those neighborhoods! In fact, my favorite way to see the lights is to take a ferry across the harbor in the evening. The glowing lights, reflected in the waters of the South China Sea,are really beautiful.

Christmas buffets and set dinners with roast turkey and beef wellington are available at many of the larger hotels and restaurants as well. Bakeries, grocery stores, and local catering companies offer Christmas Hampers and an array of cooked-to-order party foods and Christmas Cakes. Everywhere you turn there is something related to this festive holiday enticing you in and expecting you to join in the celebrations.

Christmas in Hong Kong by The Lifelong Adventures

Tokyo, Japan by Notes of Nomads

Japan might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of Christmas destinations, but it’s fast becoming a Christmas crazy country, and the capital of Tokyo is going bigger with its celebrations every year.

 You can easily get into the spirit of the holidays in Tokyo with a vast range of Christmas lights and “winter illuminations”. These light displays often feature hundreds of thousands and even millions of LED lights, and can be fully choreographed to music for the ultimate audio-visual display. A couple of my favorites are the fairytale-esque ‘Canyon d‘Azur’ display at Caretta Shiodome and the intergalactic ‘Starlight Garden’ at Tokyo Midtown.

 In Japan, Christmas Eve is the main event and is largely viewed as a holiday for couples and friends, who go out together for dinner. This makes it the perfect scenario for the traveler to Japan as participating in the festivities doesn’t require an invite to a private home. Restaurants are extremely busy on Christmas Eve so you should definitely plan ahead and make a reservation.

 While you can essentially go anywhere you like, one interesting tradition in Japan is eating KFC on Christmas Eve. It stems from a very clever marketing campaign in the 1970s called “Kentucky for Christmas”. It was so successful that KFC became synonymous with Christmas itself and now KFC has a whole section on its website dedicated to pre-orders, and queues that often reach around the block on Christmas Eve. All you have to do to participate is join the back of the queue and stand in awe of this offbeat tradition! 

Christmas in Tokyo by Notes of Nomads

Mumbai, India by Continent Hop

Christmas in Mumbai is all about the sunny weather and slight chill in the air. Christmas isn’t restricted only to family here, friends, relatives and anybody who may not be celebrating at their place are welcome.
It’s a very friendly, social gathering and there’s lots of food! A delicious variety of food is on offer and depending on the region you stay in, you can always expect local specialities to be available.
Many families make traditional sweets at home and exchange them with their neighbours and friends.
Due to the variety of communities present here, everybody celebrates it in their unique style. There are many activities that are arranged as well by local groups. So you can expect Christmas dances, karaoke or even special Christmas movie screenings.
If you’d rather spend the day outside, there are many day trips that you can opt for that can make the day memorable without it being cold and freezing!
Alternatively, if you’d rather have Christmas dinner outside, the metropolis ensures you have a vast selection of cuisines that you can pick from in addition to traditional fare, making Christmas a fascinating day with the family and friends!
Christmas in Mumbai by Continent Hop

Goa, India by Asian Tours and Holidays

 I plan to spend this Christmas at Goa this year. Goa is called the party capital of India. Being an Indian, Digital nomad and a lover of cheap beer, It is the perfect destination for me.
Goa is very similar to Bali where I have been living for some time – laid back and inexpensive. So I guess I won’t miss Bali. Most importantly, Goa has a big Catholic population so I will be able to witness and take part in the festivities. I have heard about a tradition called “Burn the old man” where old men err effigies resembling old men are set on fire to signify the destruction of worries.
The only downside about going to Goa at this time is the horde of tourists that visit the place this time of the year. Everyone and their mom is in Goa that time around. I hope I don’t bump into my Ex. However, south Goa is relatively less crowded and peaceful than north Goa but slightly more expensive. So if you want to visit Goa near Christmas and have a decent budget, you can stay in South Goa which has cleaner and less crowded beaches too.
Christmas in Goa by Asian Tours and Holidays

  Thailand by Getting Stamped

My husband and I have been traveling nonstop for 4.5 years and as you can imagine we’ve missed several holidays back at home. We’ve found ourselves in Thailand twice during Christmas. Once on the beaches soaking up the sun making snowman sandcastles and another year getting a Sak Yant tattoo in Chiang Mai. My favorite time was on the beach, we grew up in Wisconsin which is usually below freezing and a knee deep in snow. Spending Christmas on the beach in 80-degree weather with the sun shining is something I had always dreamed about. Our favorite island in Thailand is Koh Lipe. We spent the day out on a longtail boat exploring the nearby islands and snorkeling. Instead of the traditional Christmas dinner, we headed to our favorite beachfront restaurant for Penang curry and papaya salad. If you want a traditional holiday many of the larger hotels in Thailand have this available, make sure to reserve your spot in advance. It’s definitely the most memorable Christmas we’ve ever had. This year we’ll be home with friends in family in freezing Wisconsin, we’ll be dreaming of toes in the sand eating Thai curry looking out to the turquoise waters.

Christmas in Thailand by Getting Stamped

Sri Lanka by A Social Nomad

December and January are traditionally great months of the year to spend in Sri Lanka.  For Christmas week, we headed to Ella in the hill country.  It was quite simply the most lovely place we stayed during our 30 day trip to the country.    Sri Lanka is primarily Buddhist and doesn’t celebrate Christmas.  That doesn’t stop Ashoka, our homestay host from directing us to blow up balloons and dress a tree on her veranda high above Ella’s main street.

Sri Lanka at Christmas is delightful.  The climate is perfect – you can bake on beaches or head to the hills and chillier climes.  If you want a taste of damp England, then head to Nuwara Eliya and tea country.

This isn’t India lite, Sri Lanka has a unique cultural aspect here and no matter where we went, the friendliest of people.  You’ll find the tastiest food, without the fiery spice of the subcontinent.   There’s seafood, and curry and coconut and hoppers for breakfast.  If you’re lucky enough to find a cricket match, then you’ll find a party in progress and be welcomed with open arms.

There are scenic train journeys for a few pennies, through tea plantations and the hill country.  Venture to Nuwara Eliya, Ella, and Haputale to taste the famous Ceylon tea.  There’s surfing year round and beaches where you can chill out and enjoy a little luxury.   UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura will show you centuries of history.  The stunning Sigiriya rock will fire your imagination and remain with you forever.

Sri Lanka’s landscapes, history, food, and people shared my Christmas time and captured my heart, it’s a place I remember with love and affection.  And that’s perhaps why it makes a very special Christmas.

Christmas in Sri Lanka by A Social Nomad

Europe

Prague, Czech Republic by Delve Into Europe

Christmas in Europe can be magical, and we decided to spend our belated honeymoon in Prague, the stunning capital of the Czech Republic, arriving on Christmas Eve and staying several days.

Christmas Eve is when Czechs – like many Europeans – have their main Christmas dinner, which is traditionally carp soup, followed by fried carp and vanocka, Christmas bread, for dessert. Children get to open their presents after dinner.

Everything was open on Christmas Day and the following days, and we made a beeline for the Christmas markets. There was a lovely small one in a square in the Castle District, close to where we were staying, but the best one was in the Old Town Square, in the shadow of the Old Town Hall and the famous fairytale spires of the Tyn church.

The Old Town Square market is wonderful at any time of day, but is at its most atmospheric in early evening when the various buildings around the square are floodlit. The air is filled with the warm aromas of Christmas, from hot mulled wine to roast hams to gingerbread and trdelnik, a round, sugar-frosted pastry cooked on a spit. If you want something colder, the bars around the market have a great choice of pilsners, among the best in the world.

Christmas in Prague by Delve Into Europe

Cologne, Germany by From Real People

There’s nothing that says Christmas like a German Christmas market. It seems like they are springing up in almost every city in Europe.  I even had a friend in the US post a picture on Facebook of them eating a Bratwurst at one in Detroit.  At the festive time of year I always
feel very lucky to live in the German city of Cologne.  It’s home to 7 stunning Christmas markets one of which is only a few hundred metres from the office where I work.   It means that every day can feel like Christmas from the end of November right through to Christmas.

Each of Cologne’s 7 Christmas markets has a different theme.  The Cathedral market is situated next to the Dom Cathedral, which is definitely the one in the best location.  My personal favourite is the
market in the old town, nestle between the old buildings like something out of another world.  The markets are full of amazing things to eat and drink.  You can go for the traditional Bratwurst  sausages or the fried potato cakes called Reibekuchen.  There’s meat on a stick (Fleischspeiss) and even flame grilled Salmon that just melts in the mouth.  When it comes to keeping warm, you can’t beat a hot Gluhwein.  You also have to try a Feuerzangenbowle, which is a special Gluhwein with rum and a sugar cone that is then set on fire.  With so much to enjoy at the Cologne Christmas markets it really is the perfect place to spend the festive period.

Christmas in Cologne by From Real People

Nuremberg, Germany by Kyle’s Fun Adventures

I have a few reasons in mind as to why we are looking forward to spend our Christmas (yet again) at Nuremberg, Germany.

First, Christmas in Nuremberg is celebrated traditionally. I learned that the Christmas Market in Nuremberg’s Main Market Square was first cited in a document dated 1628. Nuremberg people take pride in this legacy and you can see it through their efforts that they intend to keep it that way.

This is important for me because in a way, I am able to connect with the wondrous Christmas tradition of the past. It’s heartwarming and the feeling is inexplicably delightful.

Second would be the atmosphere. During our first visit at the Nuremberg Christmas Market, we were instantly enamoured to the scent of chestnuts roasting, gingerbread, and the sweet-n- spicy smell of Mulled Wine wrapping the air. It’s exactly like what Christmas songs are singing about! “Chestnuts roasting in an open fire…”

Thirdly, the Children’s Market was a heaven for our little boy, Kyle. He really enjoyed the cute Christmas displays. We ended up buying some of these eye-candies to display at our own home. Speaking of things to buy, the main market venue features a lot of interesting finds that are too hard to pass up. German nutcrackers, hand-painted ornaments, Nativity sets, and unique Christmas decors, this is just to name a few.

Fourth would be the joy of seeing the entirety of Nuremberg. Aside from the Christkindlesmarket, this small Bavarian town piqued our interest with its museums, Imperial Castle, breath-taking architectures, and so much more.

There’s a lot to do and more attractions to see in Nuremberg that we wish to experience in our next visit this Christmas. Here’s a post we made during our first stroll at the Nuremberg Christmas market.

Christmas in Nuremberg by Kyle’s Fun Adventures

Southern Germany by the German Backpacker

Every year, I spend the best Christmas in the world – back home at my parent’s place in the southern German countryside. Christmas traditions are very important to my family, so that our celebrations didn’t change at all in the last years and are something steady in my fast-moving life. In the weeks before Christmas, my mother starts decorating the house and baking Christmas biscuits. After moving away from my home town a few years ago to attend university, I make sure to return back home to my parent’s place 2-3 days before Christmas Eve, as soon as I finished the last exams and lectures at university. On Christmas day, which is celebrated in Germany on December 24th, me and my brother decorate our Christmas tree – which my dad takes every year from our own forest. On Christmas Eve, my whole family attends church in the early evening, followed by having raclette-dinner at home and handing gifts to each other. On the next two days, the extensive family including all aunts and uncles gathers together for lunch, coffee and cake – one day is reserved for the maternal part of the family, one day is for the paternal part of the family.

So far, that’s how I spent each year’s Christmas – besides one exception, when I had an exchange semester in the US and decided to keep traveling until mid-January. However, I have to admit that spending Christmas on the beach in Florida was a weird experience and I certainly was homesick on these days. I love traveling and do it a lot, but for me, Christmas has to be celebrated at home with my family.

Christmas in Southern Germany by the German Backpacker

Edinburgh, Scotland by Independent Travel Cats

This year my husband Laurence and I are spending Christmas in Edinburgh Scotland. We moved to Scotland 2 years ago, and we are happy to be staying home this year for Christmas as we are usually traveling over the holidays. So for us Edinburgh is appealing for a couple of reasons. First, because we are able to stay home and not have to travel which makes it feel more comfortable and relaxed. Second because we have a chance to really enjoy the full Christmas experience in Edinburgh. Edinburgh has a great holiday program of events each year and we’ve already done a lot of things. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been able to visit the Christmas markets, go ice skating, ride some of the amusement rides, enjoy the holiday lights, visit an ice sculpture attraction, and go to an evening Christmas show. We are still looking forward to a Santa charity run over the weekend, a Christmas afternoon tea next week, and spending Christmas Eve and Day together in our own home! Edinburgh has a lot to offer visitors during Christmas and those who stay longer can also join in on the big Scottish New Year’s celebration called Hogmanay.

Christmas in Edinburgh by Independent Travel Cats

Wroclaw, Poland by Roman Roams

Wroclaw is a beautiful city on the south west of Poland. As many Polish cities, it has an old market square in the middle of the old town with beautiful colorful houses surrounding it. So, what makes Wroclaw a great Christmas destination?

Its huge Christmas Market. It is difficult to call it just a ‘market’, as it is located on the main town square and several streets and squares surrounding it. Despite the sizes, there are many tourists and locals visiting the market, so I recommend you to grab a mulled wine or some traditional Polish delicacies in the day time.

Wroclaw has been a German city for quite a while, so its architecture is similar to German cities. The difference is a different culture and lower prices.

Well, if you visit Wroclaw in the Christmas time, the Christmas market is definitely not the only place to visit there. What I recommend is the Tumski island with its cathedral. While the old town seems old, this place is where Wroclaw has started.

Some other places to visit are Panorama Raclawicka (of the Raclawice battlefield), Skytower (skyscraper with a great panoramic view of the city) and the famous Wroclaw ZOO. Have a great time in Wroclaw!

Christmas in Wroclaw by Roman Roams

Malta by MapTrotting

After our epic 8 month trip around Southeast Asia, we were thinking long and hard about our next move when the Mediterranean island of Malta popped into our heads. So, here we were, eating bratwurst and drinking mulled wine on Christmas Eve in 21+ degree sunshine.

We both come from colder climates in Lithuania and the UK so trying to get into the festive mood on this tiny Mediterranean island was pretty hard to begin with. We can only blame ourselves for moving to Malta at this time of year, although having BBQ’s on the terrace made our holiday season pretty great.

Once the sun goes down, things get a little crispier in the long winter evenings. Wrapping a pashmina around my neck always feels nice and cosy. Things got better once we headed to Valletta for a Christmas light walk around the capital of Malta. It actually felt pretty Christmassy there, we even enjoyed an orange flavored hot chocolate. Big fat plus to Malta here for making the thickest hot chocolate ever. Yum!

Even though a tiny island, Malta has almost everything available to get the festive cheer going. So we had a full on traditional Lithuanian Christmas meal on Christmas Eve with the full complement of 12 dishes. Followed up with a lazy low-key feast on Christmas Day complete with Charlie’s special Brussels sprout bake. The definition of MapTrotting Christmas!

Christmas in Malta by MapTrotting

Latvia by Ultimate Country Guides

In Riga the capital of Latvia, you’ll be astonished how festive it is. In Latvian ‘Happy Christmas’ is ‘Priecïgus Ziemassvºtkus’ and do you know that Lativa claims to be the birthplace of the decorated Christmas tree? It is not totally clear if the first place to have it was Tallin (Estonia) or Riga. According to the legend in 1510, the order of the blackheads – a guild of unmarried merchants – decorated a pine tree which then was ceremonially burned outside. Evidence also supports the guild performing ritual dances around a bonfire in the square. Like many countries, children believe that Santa Claus which also goes by the name of Ziemassvētku Vectis. Brings their presents and puts them under the Christmas tree, while they are away from the house or sleeping tight in bed. In Latvian ‘Happy Christmas’ is ‘Priecïgus Ziemassvºtkus’ and sometimes children have to recite a or short poem in order to receive their presents. The typical Christmas lunch consists of peas, bacon, sausage, cabbage, sauce and gingerbread. The Riga Christmas Market is situated in the Old-town area of Riga. In this large square next to the Dome Cathedral, sits the most festive authentic Christmas market you could lay your eyes upon. Dozens of wooden stools sell clothes, hand-made crafts, ornaments, candles, candies, mulled wine, hats and many more. Surrounding the square sits many typical Latvian cuisines, where you can nip off to taste the local food and warm up. Riga also installs Christmas lights and trees in a lot of the surrounding areas, so you can walk off into the night and sight see. If all of this doesn’t get you in the festive holiday mood, nothing will.

Christmas in Latvia by Ultimate Country Guides

London, UK by Tassie Devil Abroad

My favourite place that I have spent Christmas was in London. As a big fan of the film “Love, Actually”, I really did love being able to watch the film before Christmas (like I do every year) and then go out and actually visit some of the places in it! London is magical during Christmas time, there are gorgeous decorations up all over the city for you to visit, as well as numerous Christmas markets, pageants, concerts, ballets, pantomimes and ice-skating rinks. Don’t forget the cozy pubs and bars where you can have a Christmassy tipple, and lots of restaurants and pubs do amazing Christmas meals if you don’t feel like staying in and cooking for yourself. You could even have a special Christmas-themed afternoon tea! I loved strolling through Covent Garden to see the decorations (including a yearly Christmas Lego display!), as well as taking a look at the yearly Christmas window displays at Fortnum and Maison. My favourite event was the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, which is huge and features rides, great places to eat and drink, an ice-skating rink, a Bavarian-style Christmas market, shows, a circus and of course, Santa! As an Aussie I love the novelty (for me) of having a cold Christmas, with perhaps a chance of snow. London is an exciting city all year round, but during Christmas it just amps up the magic!

Christmas in London by Tassie Devil Abroad

Spain by A World to Travel

As it happens with many other countries sharing its main religion, Christmas in Spain is one of the most celebrated dates on the calendar.
Families gather together for dinner on December, 24th and lunch on December, 25th in what’s the traditional part of Christmas.
However, IMHO, what really is huge here is NYE.
It’s commonly accepted that we, Spanish people, know how to throw a good party. NYE Celebrations (also called ‘Nochevieja’) are not an exception.
Until midnight, everybody tends to stay at home, have dinner with their relatives or friends and get ready for a big night out. When midnight arrives, it is traditional to eat 12 grapes, one on each stroke of the clock to bring good luck for the New Year and with the 12th and last one, the party kicks off!
Throughout the whole country, there are huge parties in the street, hotels, and clubs everywhere. But, unless you are in Puerta del Sol, Madrid, celebrating the event with thousands of people; don’t expect anyone in the streets till 12.30 or 1 am. Then, think of Spanish timing. Parties usually go on until the sun goes up or much longer. Although we’d recommend you head home for lunch next day. Staying longer is a bit useless.
Christmas in Spain by A World to Travel

Algarve, Portugal by Worldwide Shopping Guide

I’ve been spending Christmas in the Algarve in Southern Portugal ever since my parents moved here close to a decade ago.

Christmas in the sun is definitely a unique experience. If you’ve grown up in a colder climate, and are used to Christmas being at least cold if not white, you’ll probably find it hard to get into the Christmas spirit. I often do. However, if it’s a choice between getting some much needed Vitamin D and feeling Chrismasy, I’m happy to choose the former.

Like most other places, there’s ice-skating, Christmas markets, and mulled wine in Portugal, although these things never feel quite right when the sky is blue and the sun is shining.

Of course, Portugal has its own traditions as well. Nativity scenes, something which you see less and less of in the rest of Europe, are still extremely popular here. Many towns even have live nativity scenes, where members of the town play characters in the Christmas story.

Then, there’s the food, which is the cultural aspect that’s always the most fun to explore. Bacalhau and octopus are both traditional for Christmas dinner, although goat and turkey may make an appearance the day after Christmas.Sweet dishes include fruit and nut cakes known as “Bolo Rei” and “Bolo Rainha”, deep fried dough balls called “Sonhos,” and a lamprey fish made entirely of egg yolk known as “lamprei de natal.”

Christmas in Portugal is definitely an interesting experience, and one that I’d recommend everyone try at least once.

Christmas in Algarve by Worldwide Shopping Guide

Leukerbad, Switzerland by Simpler and Smarter

We are Australian and this year we are ticking off a long standing bucket list item – having a white Christmas! We are used to heat, BBQs and beaches for Christmas and we can’t wait to have the opposite experience in Switzerland.

We picked Leukerbad because it is a lesser known, but fabulous, option in Switzerland. It’s high enough that there is a good chance of snow on Christmas Day and it also has easy options to get higher if we need to quickly where we will definitely have snow.

It’s also known for its thermal baths and we are looking forward to a Christmas day with our kids playing in the snow and then lounging in the thermal baths.

We also chose this destination as Switzerland has many Christmas events with many markets and a whole festival of Santa craziness in Montreux.
We are going so far that we definitely want to make the most of soaking up the winter Christmas spirit so it was important for us to go somewhere that sounds like it will be magical.

Leukerbad, Switzerland

Sibiu, Romania by Visit and Review

For those of you who are looking for an unique and relaxing destination, Christmas in Sibiu is what you need. With a variety of places to visit and things to do, this city offers the best experience for any tourist.

To start with, the city itself has a very beautiful architecture and design, with historic houses and small streets that take you back in history. This city is a very popular European attraction due to its culture and multitude of events throughout the year.

In addition, the annual Sibiu Christmas Market taking place in the middle of the city seems to be stolen from a fairy tale. This place is great for both children and adults, so feel free to bring your entire family to spend Christmas in Sibiu.

Also, visitors can also choose to visit the museums in Sibiu, where they will find different interesting stories. Make sure that you are aware of the holiday schedule, as the museum you’re interested in might be closed.

For those who enjoy winter sports, the Paltinis ski resort is very close to Sibiu. You can even rent equipment from the local shops and enjoy a hot wine to warm upat the local restaurants and pensions. Many people decide to spend Christmas on the ski slope, so make sure that you arrive early in the morning.

Photo Credit: Jurnalistii.ro

North America

Chicago, USA by GoFamGo

Our family loves going to Chicago, IL, USA to celebrate the holidays. Chicago winter might not be for everyone but the Windy City has several happenings during the yuletide season that would surely make your stay unforgettable. Here are some of them to get you started.

If you’re up to shop for Christmas ornaments, sauerkraut, and potato cakes, the annual open-air German Christmas market, Christkindlmarket, in Daley Plaza appeals to locals and tourists alike.

Moreover, Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the United States and one of the few that are still free for 365 days a year, also hosts ZooLights. The December event brightens the park with Christmas magic by means of 2 million lights this year (alongside ice carvings and yummy hot cocoa).

The Museum of Science and Industry lets you explore holiday traditions from around the world with their annual showcase Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light. When you’re done with admiring the 75-year old exhibit, the museum also holds live shows, Santa sessions, and other interactive displays. It is one of the largest science museums in the world and one day might not be enough to explore everything.

With winter comes ice skating and Chicago has a bunch of indoor and outdoor rinks. Most are free and only charge for skate rentals. One of them is in Navy Pier, which stages the annual Winter WonderFest, an indoor carnival featuring giant indoor slides, mini golf and a 15-foot snow tubing hill. Navy Pier also has several dining options, retail shops and attractions.

Christmas in Chicago by GoFamGo

Washington DC, USA by Where’s Bel

I’ve spent a couple of Christmases in Washington, D.C. with close friends, and this year will be my third. Washington, D.C. makes for an ideal East Coast Christmas destination because of all the activities and holiday displays that occur during the holiday season. A few of my favorite Christmas activities include:

  • Visiting the National Christmas Tree – The tree is surrounded by smaller trees that are decorated by handmade ornaments donated by people from all the US states and territories. It’s lit every night from 4:30-10:00pm with live nightly musical performances.
  • Walking Capitol Hill and ending up at the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree – living less than a mile from the Capitol means my (cold) daily walks through the historic and charming Capitol Hill neighborhood in the winter always includes a stop by the West Lawn of the U.S Capitol to see the tree, which is especially beautiful at night.
  • The annual U.S Botanic Garden holiday exhibit, Roadside Attractions, which features model trains, model roadside attractions, and even a model inspired botanical version of the newest Smithsonian museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture

I forget just how charming the East Coast can be during the holidays; the thought of having snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is something I’d always dreamed of, especially for someone like myself, having grown up in the Middle East.

Christmas in Washington by Where’s Bel

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico by Fulltime Nomad

If you are looking for white sandy beaches, warm weather and party-like atmosphere this festive season, then look no further than Mexico’s resort town of Playa del Carmen. I spent a few weeks there over Christmas and New Years, a few years ago and it was incredible.
The action in Playa Del Carmen is centred around the beach where there’s always something to do. Take a swim in the aqua blue water, laze about on the lounge chairs, play volleyball, party at one of the beach bars; the atmosphere on the beach during the holiday season is buzzing.
Running adjacent to the beach lies the lively 5th avenue, a walking strip lined with great night-life, restaurants and cafes. Perfect for keeping alive the Christmas tradition of overindulging.
If you’re looking to burn off some of those extra Christmas calories then there are plenty of activities in Playa Del Carmen. Jetskiiing,diving, kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, any water sport you can you can think of, its here.
Additionally Playa Playa Del Carmen has some huge attractions nearby. You have one of the seven wonders of the world in Chichen Itza. There’s also the Mayan ruins of Tulum. You have hundreds of fresh water lagoons called cenotes to explore, that are open for swimming and diving. Also if you need to entertain the kids or are just a big kid yourself then you have the outdoor amusement parks of Xcaret and Xel-ha.
An option for Christmas Day itself is to spend it on the nearby island of Cozumel. Here you can find the all-inclusive day resort of Mr Sanchos where you can spend the whole day eating, drinking or just hanging out in one of the many swim up bars. No better way to spend Christmas if you ask me.
Personally I find Playa Del Carmen to be the perfect destination over Christmas. Warm-weather, good food and lots of fun to to be had, what’s not to like.
Christmas in Playa Del Carmen by Fulltime Nomad

New York, USA by Travels with Talek

Christmas in New York City is a magical time.  All up and down 5th Avenue the streets are ablaze in twinkling lights. The angels and giant tree in Rockefeller Center herald the season and the aroma of roasting chestnuts wafts through the crowded streets. The city puts on a special show during this time.  Central Park is a winter wonderland of snow. Radio City has The Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular and Lincoln Center the Nutcracker Suite. This is the season for the Christmas markets to sprout in Union Square, Columbus Circle, Grand Central and Bryant Park; a shoppers paradise with traditional as well as unique artisanal gifts.

There is something for everyone in New York City during the Christmas season. Ice skaters love the selection of ice skating rinks at Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, and Wollmans Rink in Central Park. A special treat is the Christmas model train display at the New York Botanical Gardens.  And for a unique moment, experience the acoustics of the Winter Solstice celebration at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, the largest cathedral in the world. Still not enough Christmas cheer?  Head to Macy’s, sit on Santa’s lap and ask for more!

Christmas in New York by Travels with Talek

Africa

Cape Town, South Africa by Stingy Nomads

This Christmas we’re spending in Cape Town our current home though it’s in the mid of summer. Christmas is a big deal in South Africa. People celebrate it in a very traditional way with their families and friends, cooking a big meal and handing gifts. For me grown up in Russia it feels a little bit strange to see Christmas trees and decorations all around the city, to hear Christmas songs when it’s +30C outside and you wear shorts and go to the beach. Here you drink white wine with ice instead of mulled wine and go running on the beach instead ice-skating in the park. We had some Christmas experiences before in South East Asian countries where it’s even more difficult to get into Christmas mood since locals don’t really celebrate it. For me the biggest advantage of hot Christmas in Cape Town is that you can do many outdoor things; hiking, diving, swimming etc. It’s always nice to be able to be active when you have a long holiday. If you come to South Africa for December holiday remember to book everything long time beforehand, especially campsites as many locals go camping for the whole Christmas.

Christmas in Cape Town by Stingy Nomads

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16 Comments

  • apackedlife

    December 27, 2017

    That’s a fabulous mixture of traditions and climates. Aside from one memorable Christmas on the beach in Australia, complete with surfing Santas, I’ve mostly been in cold snowy places if I’ve not been at home. I have great memories of both New York and Chicago at Christmas, and cold, windy and wonderful European Christmas markets. Thanks for reawakening the memories.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      January 23, 2018

      Thank you! I would actually love to have a Christmas in the snow. I hope you have some good memories of your sunny Chrissy in Australia!

  • Rye Santiago

    December 27, 2017

    I’d love to spend Christmas in Japan, Germany, and Colombia! I’ve celebrated it in the US, Thailand, and Canada. 🙂

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      January 19, 2018

      You have done an awesome job to spend Christmas in three different places!I will go to pretty much anywhere on this list!

  • Lara Dunning

    December 28, 2017

    What a great collection of holiday traditions and experiences. There are so many I’d like to experience myself. I’d love to see the pohutukawa tree while chilling on the beach in New Zealand. Eat KFC for Christmas Eve dinner in Japan. And, drink mulled wine and eat gingerbread in The Czech Republic.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      December 28, 2017

      Thank you! I loved reading all about the different traditions and experiences from around the world. I was really intrigued by the KFC in Japan!

  • Christina Lyon

    December 28, 2017

    I love how you gave us a little slice of Christmas from around the world like little windows into everyones holiday traditions. Christmas on a beach in Thailand sounds like a great idea, as well as seeing all of Hong Kong light up! 🙂

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      December 28, 2017

      Thank you so much! This is exactly what I was aiming for. I would also love to have a Christmas in Thailand but I would also love to experience a white Christmas.

  • Mel Butler

    December 29, 2017

    I love this post, I always like knowing how other people and countries celebrate Christmas. I am Australian but I have been in london 14 years, this is where I celebrated this year with friend. Out of all of these I would love to celebrate in Thailand or Hong Kong next time. Lovely collobration

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      December 31, 2017

      Thank you so much! I also like knowing about others traditions from around the world. Thailand and Hong Kong would be awesome as well. Thanks for the comment!

  • rachelonroute

    December 29, 2017

    I’ve spent Christmas in a few different countries and they all feel so different. I must say though, its never quite the same as being at home 🙂

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      December 30, 2017

      That is pretty true. Nothing can beat Christmas at home but being somewhere else definitely has its magic!

  • Steph Dobson

    December 30, 2017

    Loved all these notes about Christmas around the world. My family is from Italy and every year my grandmother makes homemade lasagna for dinner. I never realized that was a unique family tradition until I got older! Hope to have the chance to celebrate Christmas in Europe one year 🙂

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      January 7, 2018

      That is a pretty cool family tradition to have. I never would have thought of lasagna for Christmas dinner. I would also love to celebrate Christmas in Europe one year!

  • Bailey Mills

    December 31, 2017

    It’s so cool to see how Christmas traditions change around the world! I haven’t ever thought to see the difference in how others spend their holidays. What a great post idea! Thanks for opening my eyes to other traditions, people, and places.

    • Through an Aussie's Eyes

      January 2, 2018

      Thanks for the comment. I totally agree and I find posts like this an eye opener! Cheers 🙂

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