I think Christmas is a wonderful time of the year to travel and visit Festive Christmas Markets and events! I have gathered suggestions of some of the most magical festivals of Christmas around the world, written by other travel bloggers.
The Bolzano Christmas Market in South Tyrol is the largest in Italy. For nearly two decades, thanks to its particular charm, this market attracts a crowd of visitors each year in Walther Square, beautifully adorned with Advent. Bolzano in the European comparison is one of the best holiday destinations during the romantic Christmas period. For about a month, the Christmas atmosphere invaded the streets and alleyways of the capital city of South Tyrol, immersed in the flare of romantic lights and shimmering candles, which for a moment envelop them in a magical light. When then Snowmobile does its job and covers the city of Bolzano with white soft snow, then the winter wonder at the foot of the Bolzano Cathedral is perfect. Whether it’s a group trip, a couple or a family or a child: the Christmas market in Bolzano gives magic moments to you and your loved ones. From Enzo at Inguaribile Viaggiatore.
Christmas in Melbourne, Australia
Experiencing a Christmas in the southern hemisphere is a very unique experience. As expats living in Melbourne, it was different to have Christmas in the summer, but luckily Melbourne offers lots of great Christmas experiences for families. Christmas Square is the first place you will want to check where you can mail your letter to Santa in a special, giant mailbox. You can also walk the mistletoe bridge, meet Santa, and participate in a whole schedule of Christmas activities. If you visit in the evening, there is an impressive Christmas light show projected onto Town Hall that incorporates local landmarks. A classic Melbourne Christmas experience is to visit the Myer department store Christmas windows. The windows tell a different Christmas story each year with moving, hi-tech displays. Another tradition is to watch the Christmas Eve Carols by Candlelight, a fundraiser for Vision Australia where high profile performers sing Christmas carols. You might be wearing a sun hat, but it will still get you in the Christmas spirit. On Christmas day, instead of heading out for some snow play, you can head to the beach for a very memorable Christmas. From Dawn at 5 Lost Together.
Christmas in Seville, Spain
Christmas in Seville is truly an amazing and unique experience. Unlike the U.S, most people do not decorate their homes for the holidays. At most, they might put up an inflatable Santa on the balcony. The decoration falls upon the cities who go all out during the season. There is, in addition to the gigantic Christmas tree, amazing festival of lights all along the streets and boulevards. The lights in the really tiny pedestrian only streets coupled with the yearly Christmas Village market where local artisans sell their wares against the backdrop of the Gothic Cathedral and Alacazar Palace, and you can easily picture Mary and Joseph looking for shelter in the olden times. It is quite the memorable experience that brings out families in droves to enjoy the awesome displays, crisp nights and late night camaraderie, complete with chestnuts roasting on open fires. Have a look at Kemkem’s post on Christmas in Seville.
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
With its mild climate and oceanside location, Charleston, South Carolina, probably isn’t the first place that you’d think about for a Christmas destination. But, just after Thanksgiving each year, the Charleston area gets dressed up for the holiday season (complete with lit up palm trees) with the Festival of Lights as the centerpiece. Located inside the James Island County Park, the Festival of Lights boasts 700 twinkling displays on a 3 mile driving route. The millions of lights adorn tunnels and trees, and are shaped into everything from Christmas classics like Santa and elves to more unusual choices like dinosaurs, shrimping boats, and Charleston’s iconic Ravanel Bridge. Halfway through the route, there is parking so guests can go shopping at the holiday stores, ride the carousel, meet Santa, roast marshmallows, or get some cocoa. There’s also a walking path with even more lights, too. Although Charleston residents might celebrate the Christmas season in shorts thanks to the weather, the Festival of Lights will put anyone in the holiday spirit! From Natalie at Cosmos Mariners: Destination Unknown.
Winchester Christmas Market, England
The ancient Saxon capital city of Winchester really gets into the Christmas spirit with one of the largest and longest running Christmas Markets in the UK. But not content with this the local Theatre company, Theatre Royal, bring their summer festival into Winter with the Woolly Hat Fair. The Hat Fair is a celebration of performance art within the city and in the run up to Christmas the Woolly Hat fair sees a number of festive theme performances taking place across famous venues like Winchester Cathedral, The Great Hall and City Mill to name a few. It is always family friendly and will help get you in the mood for fun at Christmas. From Carl at TravelBetter.
Christmas Around the World – Festivals and Markets
Great America in Santa Clara, California, USA
Great America in Santa Clara, California, organizes an amazing ‘WinterFest’ attraction every Christmas season transforming the park into a Winter Wonderland. Last year we visited this amusement park when the event was going on and fell totally in love with it. There was a beautiful Christmas tree right at the entrance welcoming us. The entire park was decorated with bright and shiny lights. A giant decorated Christmas tree was placed by the Carousel Columbia, one of the first family friendly rides right by the entrance. Next, as you go past the Celebration Swings, you can see snow falling gracefully. Bay Area gets snow for Christmas and it is not on the top of Mount Hamilton;) Be prepared to spend time with the crowds as the event is very popular. Expect at least half an hour wait time for popular rides like the Flightdeck rollercoaster. There were so many kid-friendly attractions like the puppet shows, candy lane with cake houses, toy soldiers and so much more. Purchase the tickets and parking online to avoid waiting in the queues and also get cheaper prices. From Priya at Glorious Sunrise.
Toronto Christmas Market, Toronto, Canada
The Toronto Christmas Market in held in the stunning and historic Distillery District that makes your dreams of walking along cobblestone streets in the Christmas lights a reality. The market has vendors selling everything from homemade fudge and other sweet treats to savoury dishes and Christmas knick knacks. Not to mention there are Christmas carollers, live music and beer gardens. Bundle up, grab a mulled wine and enjoy the sparkling sights of the outdoor decorations in this European inspired Christmas market. From Taylor at Taylor’s Tracks.
Montreux Christmas Festival – Switzerland
Looking for a Swiss white Christmas? Snow is not guaranteed but there is lots of festive fun to be had at the Montreux Christmas festival – Montreux Noël – on the shores of Lac Leman. Children will love the light illuminations in the Magic Garden, visiting the elves village and meeting the market’s mascot Flofi the reindeer. The highlight is taking the train from Montreux up to Santa’s grotto 2,042 metres above sea level inside the Rochers-de-Naye mountain. Once you have met Santa, stroll around the famous market sipping hot chocolate and vin chaud (mulled wine). Cheeks rosy and hearts full you will cheer along when Santa makes a dramatic appearance, flying over the market crowd with a swooshof bells. If you’re lucky, your Swiss Christmas wish will come true when snow starts falling gently from the night sky. Katy from Untold Morsels.
While we are on the subject of Switzerland, have a look at this great post about things to do in Geneva.
Southbank’s Christmas Market/Winter Festival, London
In the shadow of the London Eye, with views across the Thames to Parliament and Big Ben, you’ll find Southbank’s Christmas Market. With garland-draped stalls and twinkle-lights aplenty, you won’t lack for winter charm. Looking for mulled wine, churros, or a chimney cake to warm you up on a snowy December day? You’ll find them there! In addition to tasty treats, you’ll be able to pick up a personalised ornament, knit hat, fake snow, or numerous other gift options for the loved ones on your list. Don’t let the commercial side turn you off! You can enjoy the festive atmosphere whether you’re there to shop or simply stroll. If you’re there with kids, they’re sure to appreciate a carousel ride – or perhaps a go on the London Eye itself. From Roaming the North East.
German Christmas Markets, Birmingham, England
I always look forward to the German Market in Birmingham every Christmas. The traders from Frankfurt transform the city centre with colourful stalls and lights, cheerful music and the smell of delicious German food. There’s also a craft market which runs alongside the German Christmas Market. This is always great for picking up some handmade Christmas presents. And even the Bullring Bull gets into the festive spirit with a Christmas outfit. The boys and I always pay a visit to the markets every year. I try to make sure we’re there in the evening so that we get the full effect of the lights. You can also find some lovely Christmas decorations as well, it’s nice to have something a little different to what you find in British stores. But I think our favourite part of the market is the food – hot chocolate, bratwurst, waffles, and of course a glass of gluhwein for me! From Sally Akins
Winterlights – Luxembourg
Christmas is one of Luxembourg’s most important festivities since the only Grand-Duchy in the world is predominantly Roman Catholic. Christmas feelings usually start by end of November, when Christmas Markets are popping up all over the country. If you are looking for a Christmas Festival for the entire family, you can’t miss out on Luxembourg City’s Winterlights Festival. The Winterlights Festival includes a skating-rink, a Christmas market on the main square Place d’Armes, the Advent Circus for the little ones and the legendary St. Nicholas Parade around the 6th of December. During the parade, St. Nicholas hands out sweets and little gifts to all the children who behaved well throughout the year. The Winterlights Festival of Luxembourg City is also the perfect moment to enjoy the traditional Luxembourgish food like Grillwurscht (local sausage), Egg Nog (a dairy drink with vanilla flavors, rum and crème fraîche) and of course Gromperekichelcher (fried potato cakes). Thank you to Paulina on the Road
“©Ville de Luxembourg, Sabino Parente”
Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes, New York, USA
One of my favorite Christmas attraction in New York City is watching Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes. If you are living in NYC, watching it should be a tradition itself. The Christmas Spectacular is an annual musical show played in Radio City during Christmas time. Within 90 minutes, you will experience music, dance and singing of 140 performers, more than 1100 costumes and even live camels on stage. The show is full of gorgeous, sparkly costumes, balletic movements, and delightful surprises. The spectacle is so popular that during Christmas time, the Rockettes perform five times a day, seven days a week! Share in the joy of this one-of-a kind celebration with your kids, family and loved ones. They will for sure enjoy every moment of this magical performance. Read more about Christmas attractions in New York City here on Where Life Is Great.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London, England
Winter Wonderland is the biggest Christmas market in the United Kingdom and offers a multitude of attractions for both adults and children. There are over 100 festive rides, a huge ice rink and a Bavarian village which recreates the atmosphere of the German Christmas markets. The food selection in the Bavarian Village is very yummy, with bratwursts, sauerkraut, meatballs, cheesy chips, pretzels, gingerbread, crepes and many others. London can get quite cold in December so having a cup of mulled wine or a hot chocolate is a must. Children will be very happy pass by Santa’s Grotto, meet the old man and receive a small present. In Winter Wonderland, there is also a large market from where you can buy unique gifts and decorations for your Christmas tree. If you visit London in December you have to pass by Winter Wonderland and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Grandfather Frost in Belarus
The Belarusian Grandfather Frost lives in the ancient Belovezhskaya Pushcha and receives visitors year round. But during the winter holidays, residences and even small lodges of Grandfather Frost open across the entire country. And this is good news because everyone should get a portion of good mood and entertainment these days! In addition, every local Grandfather Frost has its unusual story to tell. There are many great other Winter activities in Belarus too.
Looking for more Christmas Festivals just in the UK?