People are starting to come upwith more and more extraordinary destinations to spend Christmas.Barbados, Maldives and Morocco have been on the standard list for awhile now. Well, there’s no accounting for tastes, they say. But ifyou’re dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones you usedto know, ”wherethe treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells inthe snow”, consider the following cities.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague‘s OldTown is fabulous at any time of year, but Christmas transforms itinto an unearthly performance of light, colors and scents. Every yearthe Staroměstské náměstí(Central Square) turnsinto a bustling stage for hand-made puppets, wooden toys, childrendancing in traditional costumes and visitors who eagerly become partof this magical performance. Whatever the weather, the marketsthroughout the Old Town are always open, crowded and buzzing with energy. Butit’s more about a special a atmosphere than pure shopping. A shot ofBecherovka(traditional spicy liquor), a bite of Trdelník(cinnamon sugar pastry) and you’re all set for one of the bestChristmas experiences one can imagine.
Quebec City, Canada
Christmasin Quebec City means home cooking, traditions passed on fromgeneration to generation, and a lot of merrymaking. Plus it’s sounbelievably beautiful. Narrow streets lined with tiny, sparklingfirs, buildings dusted with snow, music and live street theater exudeOld World charm captured in a winter fairy tale. At the famous Marchede Noel (Christmasmarket), both recreational and shopping conscious visitors willfind a myriad of treats for themselves, from hand-crafted toys,hand-knitted winter accessories and ceramics to maple products,liquors and traditional baked goods.
If there’s one city in Europe thatcombines sophisticated elegance with cozy warmth, it must be Viennaduring Christmas time. On the one hand, there’s the splendidSchönbrunnPalace, lavish City Hall building and numerous classicalconcerts to give the holiday some pathos, and on the other, there’sthe reputation for one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, withbeautifully decorated wooden stalls lining market squares,hand-crafted gifts, impossibly good apfel strudel, cheer-inducingGlühwein, and a lot ofsingalong fun.
Rovaniemi has all the makings of atruly magical Christmas:heaps of snow, Christmastrees decorated with sparkling lights, reindeer walking past yourwindow, Christmascarols, nativity scenes, and the outstanding beauty of Lapland, withthe awe-inducing Aurora Borealis to lit your way to the manger. It’sexactly what you remember from the fireside tales told in yourchildhood days. And hey, that’s where Santa has his residence. Christmas in the Arctic Circle? You bet!
Celebrate Christmas in Cologne, where the extravaganza of culture, gastronomy, traditions and history flares up every December, backdropped by the mighty cathedral, the Kölner Dom. Streets are flooded with lights, music, puppet theaters and holiday cheer, with the magic of Christmas best captured in the legendary Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market). After all, what’s Christmas without goodies? Stuff on traditional sweet delicacies and wash them down with aromatic mulled wine to warm your frostbitten limbs. Then watch artisans at work, take a ride on the merry-go-round and go skating on Heumarkt. Great fun guaranteed. 2 million visitors a year cannot be wrong.
New York, USA
Christmasin NewYork is much more than just holiday shopping spreeand strolls in the blizzard. The city is amazing in itself at anygiven time of year, but this festive season is all about iconicsights and the feeling of togetherness that they generate in thecrowd. The giant RockefellerCenter Christmas Tree,Macy’s window display, fabulous decorations on SixthAvenue, skiing in Central Park – they may all be cliché, butthere’s something about them that makes the horrendously huge city acozy place with a family-like feel to it. If New York is normallycalled
a city that never sleeps, then what name could possiblydescribe it in the Christmas season?
It’s easy to combine Christmascelebrations with sightseeing in Bruges. Wandering through themedieval town, Belgium’s undeniable crown jewel, with its historicbuildings, picturesque canals, winding streets and charming bridgesis a treat in and of itself. Add to it Belgian chocolate and a wholeflurry of special events that take place at this time of year,including the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival, and you’ve gotChristmas to remember for a lifetime.
Wherever you land this year, don’t forget to spread some serious dose of love! Merry Christmas.