21. Lake Tahoe
Transforming from a summer getaway to winter wonderland, Lake Tahoe provides plenty of snow-filled holiday fun. Burn off those extra Christmas calories with skiing, snowmobiling and ice skating; take a moonlight sleigh ride along the lake; or check out the Squaw Valley Festival of Lights, where the entire resort is set alight with festive decorations and a huge illuminated tree.
Book a Lake Tahoe Christmas tour
Vancouver‘s green spaces are taken over with celebratory events throughout the holidays, with a winter wonderland stretching across the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge Park; the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden; and Stanley Park’s Bright Nights transforming the park into a replica of the North Pole. Not only that, but Grouse Mountain hosts a reindeer farm, Santa house and ice-skating rink along the mountaintop; a procession of decorated ships cruise along the harbor for the unique Carol Ships Parade of Lights Festival; and an enormous Santa Claus Parade is held in the city center.
Sunbathing on Christmas Eve and celebrating Christmas day with a barbecue on the beach might seem odd to those from the northern hemisphere, but don’t be fooled into thinking that a hot Christmas can’t be festive. Sydney‘s iconic skyline blazes even brighter during the holiday season, with the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Town Hall all part of the Christmas lightshow. Christmas markets and carol singers liven up the streets, and the annual Santa Fest at Darling Harbour sees Mr. Claus arrive by boat beneath an explosion of fireworks. Don’t wear yourself out partying Christmas Day, though – you won’t want to miss the huge sendoff for the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race on Boxing Day.
There’s no place more traditional to spend Christmastime than in Bethlehem, Israel, the birthplace of Jesus and the center of nativity scenes worldwide. Thousands make the pilgrimage to Bethlehem each year, gathering in the Manger Square on Christmas Eve and attending the midnight mass service at the Church of the Nativity, built on the spot where Jesus was born. It’s a gathering of locals and foreigners, with all religions coming together to watch or partake in the carol singing, candle parades and live music.
– Zoë Smith for Viator
Curated by Erbe