Wondering where to head for Christmas?

Planning to take off for the year-end, but confused as to where to head? Not to worry, we’ve got some offbeat suggestions for you to decide (or add to your choices.)

Toronto

New York has long claimed the monopoly on New Year celebrations, but now their neighbors from across the border are giving them a run for their money. Each year the Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto is witness to a free outdoor party with live music, ice skating, performances all culminating a massive firework display at midnight. 31 December this year also marks the end of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, making this year’s bash a big one.

Lake Shirakabako and Yatsugatake

A mere 3 hours by road from Tokyo is the stunning Lake Shirakaba-ko and Yatsugatake, a range of mountains on the southeastern side. You can find the Canadian Farm restaurant there, in the middle of a forest where the owners have crafted a rustic, yet comfy and charming tree house. It’s the best chocolate box setting you can find for Christmas to relish the local tradition on Christmas Eve. The Japanese equivalent of Valentine’s Day where locals go hand in hand with their partner for walks.

An added bonus is that Christmas is not an official Japanese holiday, but everyone celebrates anyway. And so, travel is a lark.

San Fernando

The world over, Christmas is a festival of lights and a symbol of hope and faith. The annual Giant Lantern Festival held in San Fernando, the Philippines an hour’s drive north-west of Manila sports a warm festive atmosphere and a delightful crowd. One can witness the beautiful and elaborate multi colored lanterns lighting up the evenings during the holiday season through to New Year’s Eve. A tradition that began with villagers crafting paper lanterns has since evolved into something even more spectacular. Visitors arrive from all over the country and abroad to take in the thousands of electric lights adorning the streets in a competitive spirit.

Igls

A small village 20 minutes from Innsbruck, can be the perfect spot for a magical New Year trip. You can spend the day skiing and dance the nights away with locals to waltzes at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The annual Four Hills ski jumping tournament is held on 3 or 4 January. You need to take a little tram from Igls through the woods to reach there, with locals appearing through the trees to join the tram. The tournament is a festive event embellished by glühwein, blowing trumpets, happy cheers and more.

Strasbourg

Spendthrifts in Europe should jump at the chance of getting away from festivities for a stay in Strasbourg, where one can enjoy a traditional Christmas, especially when it snows. The Christmas market in Christkindelsmärik is a tradition that dates back to 1570(!!) held over the cobbled streets surrounding the cathedral. Market stalls are festooned with emerald branches, visitors get to enjoy bratwurst and gluhwein outside in the cold, sharing tables with smiling strangers in the evenings. At midnight mass, familiar carols are belted out in different languages.

Related Post: Best Places to Travel to this Christmas

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