Sure, sure, Christmas is great — but we daresay that the best part of the holiday is all of the buildup and anticipation. Think about it: Would gifts and treats and time off really be all that exciting if we had them year round? Okay, don’t answer that.
Luckily, if you’re a Christmas enthusiast, there are plenty of destinations worldwide that celebrate the season all year long. Or — if you’re a purist who likes to wait for December —there are also exceptionally festive locales that will bring you the most yule for your tide. Here are some of our favorite Christmas destinations.
1. Quebec City’s Quartier Petit Champlain
“Picture-perfect” Quartier Petit Champlain features cobblestone streets, twinkling lights on endless pine trees, a near-permanent dusting of snow, stockings strung overhead open streets, and festive carolers in fur coats. (Fur real.) Other Christmassy perks? Secret nativity scenes, a giant projection of an advent calendar, and a Santa Claus who hands out actual gifts.
2. North Pole, Alaska
This tiny city of 1,570 residents near Fairbanks, Alaska is actually Christmas year-round. The decorations never come down (including candy-cane-striped street lights), the streets have thematic names like Santa Claus Lane, Snowman Lane and St. Nicholas Drive, and the Santa Claus House in town is covered in children’s letters to Santa. Visit during Christmastime and you'll get a double dose of yuletide spirit.
3. Lapland, Finland
Cold weather and snow-capped conifers may not definitively mean Christmas, but the official animal of “reindeer” and the alleged “folkloric home of Santa Claus” sure do. Lapland’s town of Rovaniemi features Santa Claus Village, a year-round Christmas-themed amusement park starring Santa, his elves, and an igloo hotel.
4. Santa Claus, Indiana
Unlike Alaska or Finland, the great state of Indiana isn’t exactly known as a wintry wonderland. In fact, the town of Santa Claus, Indiana got its name as a gaffe after the post office let them know “Santa Fe” had already been claimed by New Mexico. Since then, the town has embraced its unusual moniker with numerous attractions: Santa's Candy Castle, Santa Claus Museum, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Frosty's Fun Center, and Santa's Stables.
5. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Although there are a handful of perennially Christmassy towns in America, only Bethlehem, Pennsylvania boasts the official title of “Christmas City U.S.A.” It is allegedly the site of the first Christmas Eve celebrated by settlers in 1741, and it has proudly embraced its history, with one of America’s most notable holiday markets and months’ worth of Christmas carolers!
6. Santa's Pub, Nashville
If we’ve learned anything from the iconic Christmas film Elf, it’s that the best way to bring Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. That will be a non-issue at Santa’s Pub, a hole-in-the-wall (yet totally iconic) Christmas-themed karaoke bar in a double-wide on the outskirts of Music City. It’s Christmas every day, karaoke every night, and you can catch Santa slinging $2 beers — a Christmas miracle, indeed.
7. Nuremberg, Germany
If Bethlehem is Christmas City, U.S.A., then Nuremberg is Christmas City, Germany. Starting in November, this magical city dresses up in Christmas lights, giving a twinkling glow to every walkway and an illusion of fireflies flitting through falling snow. They also boast world-famous gingerbread, mulled wine, and bratwursts, so you can have a proper Christmas dinner, German-style, na sicher!
8. Dresden, Germany
Okay, so you’ve traveled all the way to Germany for Christmas in Nuremberg — now you might as well make the most of it by visiting Dresden too. In this capital city, you’ll find the world’s oldest Christmas market (which today is a conglomerate of lots of markets) with a history that dates back to 1434. You can dine on famous Stollen cake (made with marzipan and dried fruit) while gazing at a 46’ candle pyramid — the world’s largest, natch!
9. Taos, New Mexico
Despite the fact that New Mexico is rarely associated with snow, the town of Taos — tucked away in the foothills of the white-capped Sangre de Cristo mountains — mixes wintry charm with New Mexican traditions for a world-renowned yuletide celebration. With folk art fairs, traditional native American celebrations, and glowing lights from farolitos, luminarias and bonfires, it may not look like your typical Christmas scene… but that's what makes it so special.
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