Though traditionally one’s top option for a holiday getaway is to a family member’s home, maybe you’re looking to go somewhere other than over the river and through the woods this holiday season. Whether you want to celebrate Christmas in an unconventional way, or just to experience a new culture’s holiday traditions, we have the top Christmas celebrations sure to make even the Grinchiest of traveler’s hearts grow three sizes.
Holiday Cookie Tour: White Mountains, New Hampshire & Maine
Nothing feels more homey and traditional than an old-fashioned country Christmas spent in the mountains enjoying good food and good company. The White Mountain Holiday Cookie Tour gives even the most metropolitan of travelers the opportunity to experience a Norman Rockwell style Christmas celebration. Stay at one of the participating Bed & Breakfasts, and make your way through a list of eleven inns, sampling cookies and candy and collecting the recipes from each stop.
Festival of the Bonfires: Lutcher, Louisiana
Though the theories for the origins of the festival range from helping travelers make their way to midnight mass to helping Santa make his way to Southern Louisiana, one thing is for certain — you won’t find a more unique Christmas festival than the Festival of the Bonfires, where travelers can celebrate “Christmas on the river, Cajun style.” The festival highlights the flavors of the region, with everything from Gumbo cookoffs to bread pudding bake-offs — all with a backdrop of massive 20-foot bonfires to light up the night.
Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt: Nuremberg, Germany
Though Germany is home to plenty of Christmas markets worth seeing, you’ll find one of the oldest, largest, and most authentic in Nuremberg. The market is carefully regulated to maintain authenticity, with mass-produced wares strictly prohibited to ensure the goods peddled are int he traditional spirit of the market. Shop for handcrafted goods at one of the 180 red and white swathed stalls, nibble on some gingerbread, or ride one of the festivals rides. With a stunning view of the alps and the medieval feel of the Old Town where the Christkindlesmarkt is set, you’re sure to feel the joy of Christmas.
Winter Wonderland: London, England
Each year, Hyde Park transforms into Winter Wonderland, a celebration of Christmas fit for all ages. Young travelers will enjoy meeting Santa, riding Christmas-themed rides, and taking in the Christmas circus. Older patrons will enjoy the Christmas markets, ice bar, and outdoor ice skating rink. From a castle made entirely of ice to the fire pits, you’re sure to find all your favorite winter treats — all in the middle of London.
Reno Santa Crawl: Reno, Nevada
This isn’t your kid’s Santa Claus, and unless you’re looking to start a tradition of them leaving Santa beer and tacos, you’ll want to leave them at home. Each year, thousands of Santas descend upon Reno to drink, drink, and be merry — all in the name of charity, as participating bars donate a portion of the proceeds to local charities. At the end of the night, the Santas end their crawl with some twisted versions of traditional Christmas carols.
Does your town have a Christmas celebration worth checking out? Perhaps there’s a festival you make sure to hit each year — let us know in the comments.