With city skylines glittering with illuminations and enough festive delicacies to make everyone loosen their belt buckles a few notches, the Christmas season is upon us once again. The only question is: where should you spend the big day?
Whether you want to soak up the atmosphere of Europe’s vibrant Christmas markets; visit Santa’s hometown; attend Christmas mass with the Pope; or enjoy a picture-perfect white Christmas, here are 25 of the best places to spend Christmas around the world.
Home to Europe’s original ‘Christkindlmarkt’ Christmas market, Germany is one of the continent’s most festive destinations come December. Visit the oldest Christmas market in Dresden, dating back to 1435; Munich’s huge Marienplatz market and Tollwood Winter Festival; or Berlin’s hugely popular Christmas Market, held in the grounds of the stunning Charlottenburg Castle. Make sure you tuck into someLebkuchen – delicious spiced gingerbread — washed down with a cup of Glühwein — hot mulled wine.
Spend Christmas in the world’s most romantic city, Paris, where the city lives up to its nickname the ‘City of Lights’, with a glittering display of Christmas lights – don’t miss the animated window displays at department store Galeries Lafayette. Go ice-skating or shop for gifts beneath the iconic Eiffel Tower; visit one of the many Christmas-themed markets or take a ride on the giant Ferris wheel at Place la Concorde. If you’re in France over the holidays, pay a visit to the ‘capital of Christmas’ too – Strasbourg hosts the country’s most renowned Christmas markets, dating back to 1570, and draws visitors from all over Europe.
Even if you’re not a regular churchgoer, Christmas Eve is one night of the year when people all over the world descend on their local church for the special midnight mass service. And where better to celebrate the birth of Christ, than at the Vatican in Rome, with Pope Benedict XVI himself? Papal audiences with the Pope, featuring readings, a blessing and prayers are held year round in St Peter’s Basilica, the colonnaded square in the Vatican city, but few services are as memorable as Christmas mass. Held at 10pm on Christmas Eve, then again at 12pm on Christmas day, make sure you book your tickets in advance if you don’t want to miss out.