Most of us travel to see a city, imbibe its spirit and get a glimpse into its culture. What better time to do that than during festivals? Just like Diwali and Holi bring out the true spirit and colour of India, around the world, Christmas is the best time to observe local traditions, rub shoulder with the locals, and to truly experience tradition.
And if you thought Christmas is the same all the world over, think again. Depending on which part of the world you might already have booked your tickets to visit, you’ll want to be part of the festivities we’ve listed.
1 Munich, Germany
The Christkindlmarket, believed to date back to 1642, is a must-visit during Christmas. It is said that the original purpose of the this Christmas market was to stock up for the long winter, and add a bit of light to the dark months. At this traditional market, you will find stalls selling crafts, food, mulled wine and other delights. Apart from the shopping, a free guided tour of the market, with an insight into its cultural history, is a great experience.
What else to see: English Garden, museums like Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pinakothek and Pinakothek der Moderne, Marien Square, and Residence Palace of Munich.
2 Gavle, Sweden
Every year, in December, Gavle sees the The Gävle Goat being erected at Slottstorget in the central part of the city. It is a giant version of a traditional Swedish Yule Goat (a Christmas symbol) made of straw. This is a tradition that has been followed in the city since the early 1960s, and people from different places visit the place to see it.
What else to see: The Swedish Railway Museum, Old Town Gavle, Furuviksparken, and Limon Island.
3 Warsaw, Poland
While baubles and stars are the decorations of choice for most, in Poland, spiders or spider webs are common Christmas trees decorations. Legend has it that a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus. Hence, the Polish consider spiders to be symbols of goodness and prosperity during Christmas. You can check out these decorations in old town are of the city.
What else to see: The Old Town, Lazienki Park, Royal Castle, Chopin Monument.
4 New York City, USA
During Christmas time, expect New York to go all out and celebrate. Just a few days before Christmas, a huge Santa gathering takes place in New York City (a different venue is chosen every year). To celebrate the holiday season, New Yorkers get together dressed head-to-toe as Christmas characters. The city is filled with red and green.
What else to see: Central Park, Times Square, Empire State Building, and Ground Zero Catholic Memorial.
5 Sydney, Australia
If you would rather enjoy the Christams festivities in warmer climate, then Australia is your place. Here, it’s summer during Christmas, and hence the tradition is to enjoy a barbecue on the beach during the day. Also, the reindeer here is replaced by a kangaroo. It really is a Christmas with a difference.
What else to see: Sydney Harbour, Sydney Opera House, Shelly Beach, and Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk.
6 Newport Beach, California
Hailed as one of the world’s best Christmas parades, the Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, which dates back to 1908, is a five-day event. It registers a footfall of over a million viewers, every year, as decorated yachts, boats, kayaks and canoes sail along the harbour.
What else to see: The Wedge, Orange County Museum Of Art, West Jetty View Park.