Christmas is a global festival, regardless of location or religion. It is all about wonderful decorations, music and food. If you want to spend your Christmas holidaying, here are the best places in the world to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Bethlehem, West Bank
With today’s importance on overindulging and gifts grabbing, it’s hard to ignore that the real meaning of the festival often seems forgotten. Nothing compares to a pilgrimage to the very birthplace of Jesus on his birthday. The energy at Manger Square and the Old City on the eve of the festival could literally light a forest of trees, the colorful Christmas trees. The place to be at when the clock strikes 12 is the world famous St Catherine’s Church. Attend the Midnight Mass service.
Santa Claus Village, Finland
When too much of Santa Claus does not seem enough, head north to Arctic Circle in Finland. The bearded, jolly man in the red dress is the neighborhood’s most popular resident, and they milk him for his worth. The deep snow of winters and reindeer-dotted forests make way for the touristy atmosphere. There is also an amusement park known as the Santa Park which is not very far from the village.
New York City, USA
Surely you must have heard lots about the Christmas celebrations in the Big Apple, thanks to countless number of movies: Cheesy Muzak, Christmas Lights, preferably a Dusting of Snow. Tallest Christmas tree of the world is lit up at the Rockefeller Center in December. Below it is the Ice,which is a must for wintertime visitors, also must is checking out the windows in New York’s biggest department stores. End the night with a New York Ballet performance for a Christmas at central casting.
Bondi Beach, Australia
Hit the Bondi beach to talk with the fellow travellers. The beach forms the antithesis of northern-hemisphere clichés: sand, sun, surf replace fairy lights and snow. Come 25 December, the entire beach acts as a great location for backpackers, who celebrate here alongside Christmas orphans. DJs and bands rock the Pavilion, and festive atmosphere prevails.
Midnight Mass, The Vatican, Italy
You can be rest assured that the religious centre of Catholicism knows the best how to celebrate Christmas. The City sure is magical at all times of the year, but December comes with extra fervour, with roasted chestnuts being sold at every corner of the city. Check them out at St Peter’s Square, Piazza church of Santa Maria and Piazza Navona. It’s the Vatican, which attracts the most pilgrims. Midnight Mass at the St Peter’s Basilica on the eve of Christmas, or at noon on the main Day, is a gala affair to remember.
The Catholic Irish, with their amazing sense of humor, have a few great ways to honour Christmas. Best of allis the morning swim on the main day at the Forty-Foot pool. During the build-up to the main day, there is life aplenty at the streets of Dublin and craic flows. 12 Days of the Christmas Market at Docklands is amazing- cheesy pantos, ice skating, Christmas lights and the days long markets make for an amazing Christmas here. Don’t miss hearing and singing the carols at the St Patrick’s Cathedral.
If buying gifts makes you think of visiting department stores, you should experience the brilliant Christkindlesmarkt (a typical Christmas Market), in Hauptmarkt. The 180 stalls here proffer toys, candles, trinkets, sweets and gingerbread to shoppers who are warmed by mulled wine and bratwurst. Visit after sunset, when the colored lights make for a fairy-tale spectacle. You will not find such Christmas shopping experience anywhere else.
All those chocolate-box attractions –snow, mountains, cobbled streets — give Switzerland that extra-appealing Christmas. The capital wins our vote for Christmas markets, oodles of them (don’t miss the one which you will find inside the train station) Christmas-themed city strolls, the amazingall-singing Christmas tree, which comes alive atWerdmuhleplatz. Zurich makes for a lifetime experience during Christmas.
Christmas is still 3 months away. Plan your trip, book your tickets right away to travel one of the above destinations. There is nothing like celebrating the birth of Christ at these places.