Because it’s the holiday season in most of the world and the kids are usually out of school, December and January can be pretty busy travel months. If you are looking to go somewhere that celebrates the Christmas season, these are some of the best popular destinations.
1. Bethlehem, Israel
The Christmas story of Jesus’ birth basically takes place in Bethlehem, so what better place to visit when celebrating his birthday. If you decide to go you’ll be one of thousands of people who make the pilgrimage there each year during the Christmas season. There are processions and services for many different religions including Catholic, Protestant, and Greek Orthodox. You’ll be able to visit many attractions such as the Tomb of Rachel, Manger Square, the Basilica of the Nativity, Shepherds’ Fields, and St. Catherine´s Church. You can also head to Jerusalem, which is nearby, to celebrate Christmasand Hanukkah.
2. Lapland, Finland
Lapland sits in northern Finland, close to the Arctic Circle and way up north. Here you’ll find the ever popular Santa Claus Village. This village is all about Santa. You’ll be able to visit the main post office where all of the letters to Santa arrive. You’ll also be able to enjoy the annual Christmas Exhibition, see his workshop, hang around with some of his elves, go for dog sledding and reindeer rides, and check out the series of underground caves.
3. San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan’s Christmas holiday season is among the longest in the world as it goes from mid-November until mid-January. Islanders love to get together with their families and friends for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner where they feast on rice ‘n beans, roast pork, and coconut nog. After dinner they then head out for a midnight mass service. When the New Year arrives, Puerto Ricans customarily eat a dozen grapes which represent good luck in the New Year.
4. Copenhagen, Denmark
Many areas of northern Europe come alive with wonderful Christmas markets once December reaches the calendar. One of the most popular spots is Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens. When the Christmas season arrives the century-old amusement park is decked out with lights and decorations for the market. It’s sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.
5. Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, USA
If somebody says “Mele Kalikimaka” to you in Hawaii, they’re wishing you a Merry Christmas. Many Hawaiians believe that Santa Claus reaches the islands each Christmas by canoe. Honolulu’s Hawaii Kai Marina holds an annual festival of lights Christmas Boat Parade. This is where local residents celebrate in the streets and light a large Christmas tree during the Honolulu City Lights event. Christmas carols are then sung on the beach accompanied by a ukulele.
6. Bondi Beach, Australia
The seasons are reversed in Australia, meaning the Christmas season falls in the summer. People who have no specific plans during the holiday season gather at the world-famous Bondi Beach to celebrate, sunbathe, or surf. You may even see Santa surfing the waves. Don’t forget to take along a smallbarbecue or picnic basket for your Christmas feast.
7. Vatican City, Italy
St. Peter´s Basilica in Vatican City is a definite hotspot for Catholics who want to attend Christmas mass there. It’s one of the world’s biggest churches, and can hold thousands of people, but it’s so popular you will need a ticket to attend the mass. If you don’t have a ticket, you can head to St. Peter´s Square to soak in the unique atmosphere.