The 25 Best Cities for Celebrating Christmas in 2023-2024
The most wonderful time of the year is almost here. Christmas brings joy, merriment, twinkling lights, and quality time with loved ones no matter where you are. However, some destinations around the world truly capture the magical spirit of the holidays. From bustling European capitals to quaint American towns, these are the 25 best places for Christmas celebrations in 2023-2024. Find stunning decorations, festive events, cozy winter charm, and so much more. Introduction
The holidays often inspire people to travel. Seeing beautiful Christmas lights, sipping hot cocoa next to a glittering tree, and feeling the holiday cheer in a new destination makes the season bright.
Many factors make a fantastic Christmas city. Festive ambiance, abundant holiday events, picture-perfect backdrops, Christmas markets, opportunities to ski or snowboard, the northern lights, and more.
This list highlights the top 25 cities worldwide that encompass the Christmas spirit. You’ll find options across the United States, Europe, and a few other winter wonderlands.
Discover where you should spend Christmas 2023 or start planning an unforgettable holiday for 2024. It’s the most wonderful time of the year in these festive locales.
Best Christmas Cities in the USA
The United States shines bright each December. From coast to coast, these cities and small towns encapsulate cozy winter vibes with plenty of holiday magic.
New York City, New York
The Big Apple becomes a winter wonderland each Christmas. The iconic Rockefeller Center tree and ice skating rink set the festive tone. Catch a Radio City Christmas Spectacular show or wander Manhattan to see elaborately decorated storefronts on 5th Avenue. Plus, enjoy outdoor holiday markets and Central Park dressed in its winter finery.
Chicago dazzles with twinkling lights covering downtown. Magnificent Mile sparkles with seasonal decor and windows. See the Chicago Christmas tree at Millennium Park and ice skate beside it. Don’t miss the Chicago Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier, Christkindlmarket German holiday market, or a performance of the Nutcracker.
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio has one of America’s biggest Christmas celebrations along the famous River Walk. Colorful lights and luminarias line the waterway as carolers sing. Holiday cruises and events run throughout December. And you can visit iconic sites like the Alamo with festive flourishes.
Quirky and cool Portland gets decked out for the holidays. Downtown Portland sparkles with nearly a million lights, perfect for strolling. Catch shows, concerts, festivals and even skiing at nearby Mount Hood over Christmas. The city’s holiday spirit mingles with its famous food truck scene for delicious distraction between festivities.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
This western ski town brings rustic alpine charm at Christmas. Snow-covered Jackson Hole lights up with a community parade and tree lighting. Go skiing or snowshoeing through picturesque winter scenery. At night, take a sleigh ride across the Elk Refuge while looking for wildlife.
Music City celebrates Christmas in melodic style. Festive lights twinkle across downtown and the Gene Leahy Mall. Get into the holiday spirit at Gaylord Opryland’s Christmas extravaganza. Or tour the Belmont Mansion decked out for Victorian Christmas. And performances abound, from the Rockettes to the Nashville Symphony playing festive favorites.
McAdenville, North Carolina
This small North Carolina town transforms into “Christmas Town USA” each December, making it one of America’s best Christmas destinations. More than 500 decorated evergreen trees line Main Street. On select nights, 400,000-plus lights shine bright for Christmas Town USA’s official lighting ceremony when you can stroll Christmas Town with hot cocoa in hand.
Top European Christmas Cities
Across the Atlantic, Europe goes all out for the holidays too. Historical sites and towns get dressed in their Christmas best. And classic Christmas markets spread seasonal cheer with artisan gifts, food and drink.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague sets a festive mood with Old World architecture blanketed in snow. The Christmas markets on Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square have nativity scenes, hot wine, and holiday gifts. Take a stroll to see the astronomical clock’s holiday show. And be dazzled by the city’s stunningly lit streets, bridges and buildings.
Picturesque Salzburg where The Sound of Music was filmed dazzles during Advent. Salzburg Christmas markets have festive shopping and entertainment. Hear holiday concerts performed at Baroque churches and Mirabell Palace. And see the city aglow during long twilight walks under the starry sky.
Tivoli Gardens amusement park enchants for the holidays with thousands of lights. Visit Christmastime markets and the festive harbor area Nyhavn. Have a very hygge (cozy) holiday sipping warm drinks beside Copenhagen’s canals and colorfully lit squares. And don’t miss seeing The Nutcracker performed at the Royal Danish Ballet.
Traditional and modern festivities fill London at Christmas. Admire the massive Norway spruce in Trafalgar Square with its lights synchronized to holiday music. Go ice skating at iconic spots like the Tower of London or Somerset House. Shop the sparkling Christmas markets and Oxford and Regent Streets. Then pop into a pub with festive feasts and drinks.
Switzerland’s capital city looks like a winter postcard dusted in snow. The Berner Oberland mountain views are phenomenal. And the UNESCO Old Town has 6 kilometers of arcades ideal for staying warm while market-hopping. Regional crafts and Swiss delicacies abound at Bern’s twinkling Christmas markets.
At the Place Sainte-Catherine Christmas market, you’ll find artisan gifts, cocktails, and craft beers inside heated chalets. The Winter Wonders light festival illuminates downtown Brussels. And you can see the Belgian capital’s iconic Grand Place decorated for the holidays too.
More Fantastic Christmas Destinations Worldwide
Beyond North America and Europe, a few other global destinations encapsulate Christmas magic. These cities also rank among the world’s best for Christmas festivities.
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City's Christmas decorations glitter throughout the hip neighborhoods of Condesa, Polanco, and Roma. The city displays the world’s largest ornate mechanized Christmas tree rotating with 12,000 lights. Catch a performance of The Nutcracker, holiday concerts, or Mexico’s unique Christmas Eve tradition—mass followed by fireworks and a Christmas meal shared after midnight.
Celebrate Christmas under the mystical glow of the northern lights in Iceland’s capital. Find Christmas trees and decorations throughout this colorful Nordic city against a snowy backdrop.Outdoor holiday markets have local artisan wares and yummy Christmas food like hocco (warm chocolate). You can even meet Iceland’s cheerful Christmas folklore characters.
Quebec City, Canada
The cobblestone streets and 17th century buildings of Old Quebec charm during the holidays. Over a million Christmas lights decorate city landmarks. Outdoor holiday markets have gifts, maple treats, and music. And you might catch flakes during a horse-drawn carriage ride.
Hong Kong dazzles with over a million LED lights adorning Victoria Harbour and flower markets. Shop the Christmas markets along with Tsim Sha Tsui's Harbor City complex decorated like a winter wonderland. See Santa and catch events like WinterFest's hourly outdoor shows at Golden Bauhinia Square. The holiday season here culminates in epic New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Singapore’s tropical Christmas festivities center around the famous Orchard Road. This shopping area has a mile-long trail of glittering lights shaped like snowflakes, stars, and crystals overhead. You’ll find special holiday markets, performances, meals, hotel packages and more.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazilians throw some of the world's biggest New Year's Eve parties. But Christmastime in Rio sparkles too. Colorful lights dangle above Copacabana Beach where concerts and fireworks also occur. Papai Noel (Santa Claus) even arrives here by helicopter to attend festive city parades.
Sydney's beaches and parks come alive for the holidays. Surfers dressed as Santa hit the waves while carols play. In Martin Place's Christmas Village, you’ll find an ice rink, light show and market with Australian holiday foods and gifts. The White Christmas concert happens on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. And impressive fireworks launch from the Harbour Bridge at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Cape Town, South Africa
Under sunny skies, Cape Town's festive events run throughout the summer months. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens hosts Carols by Candlelight. There are Christmas markets and musicals by the V&A Waterfront. Plus, New Year's parties happen on the Cape’s legendary beaches.
Glasgow's Christmas style embodies Scottish charm and winter magic. Twinkling lights swathe shopping areas like Princes Square. Hang out at the European-style Frankfurt Christmas Market in George Square or ride the carousel. See reindeer, Santa’s grotto and performances in St Enoch Square. And don't miss seasonal shows at theaters like the King's Theatre Glasgow.
Tokyo gets illuminated with extravagant Christmas lighting displays. Shinjuku Southern Terrace’s tunnel and Ginza’s displays wow pedestrians. See the 24-meter-tall tree at Midtown Garden. Or glimpse a pair of deer pulling Santa’s sleigh over Yebisu Garden Place. Enjoy Tokyo's charming holiday markets for authentic Japanese foods and gifts too.
This modern desert metropolis goes all-out for Christmas in extravagant fashion. Dubai's winter festival has festive markets and over 25 themed zones at the Festival City complex. Take photos with Santa at Ski Dubai’s indoor North Pole Experience. See dazzling decor and light shows at destinations like the Burj Al Arab hotel or Dubai Festival City Mall.
Brave frosty weather like a true Russian for magnificent Moscow Christmas displays. Red Square and Manezhnaya Square sparkle with trees, lights, and markets. View elaborately decorated shop windows along Tsvetnoy and Stoleshnikov Lanes. Book tickets to see the Nutcracker or seasonal opera shows at Bolshoi Theater. And warm up with a Russian Christmas delicacy like meat dumplings before bundled city strolls.
FAQs About the Best Christmas Destinations
Where should I spend Christmas in 2023? The cities on this list like New York, London, and Prague make fantastic places to spend Christmas 2023. Each goes all-out with holiday magic like festive lights, Christmas shows, seasonal markets, and seasonal charm from the people and decor. Some top US options include Nashville, Portland, New York City, and Chicago. For European flair, visit Salzburg, Copenhagen or Bern. Or venture further to destinations like Hong Kong, Mexico City, or Rio de Janeiro for unique cultural celebrations.
What are the top 10 Christmas destinations? The top 10 best places in the world for Christmas according to travel experts and festive ambiance are:
- New York City
- McAdenville, North Carolina
- Mexico City
- Quebec City
What is the number one Christmas destination? New York City captures first place for the world's best Christmas destination. The enormous Rockefeller Center tree, elaborate 5th Avenue window displays, Radio City's Christmas Spectacular show, and ice skating beside Central Park create unmatched festive magic.
What is the best Christmas market city? The cities with the best Christmas markets in 2023-2024 are Berlin, Prague, Copenhagen, Brussels, London, Bern, Salzburg, Vienna, Strasbourg, and Dresden. These cities have beautiful central squares perfect for sipping mulled wine and shopping market stalls with handmade holiday gifts and ornaments.
What is the most Christmassy place on Earth? The honor of the world's most Christmassy place goes to Rovaniemi, Finland. This official hometown of Santa Claus north of the Arctic Circle brings winter magic with reindeer rides, the Santa Claus Village, snowy woods perfect for Northern Lights viewing, and Arctic Circle snow sports.
Do they celebrate Christmas in Dubai? Yes, Dubai embraces Christmas festivities even though Islam is the official state religion. Dubai celebrates Christmas as a multi-cultural global destination. You'll find Christmas trees, lights, holiday markets and events, hotel deals, and decoration contests creating festive ambiance throughout December.
People Also Ask About Christmas Travel
Where are the best places to spend Christmas in the US? Top Christmas destinations in the United States include New York City, Chicago, Nashville, Portland (Oregon), Jackson Hole, San Antonio, and McAdenville (North Carolina). These cities showcase abundant lights, holiday markets, seasonal charm, Christmas shows and parades for exceptional Yuletide cheer.
How early should you book Christmas travel? To save money, book Christmas flights, hotels, tours and activities as early as January to March the same year as your trip. Holiday demand drives earlier price hikes. So lock in deals 9-12 months in advance, especially for popular Christmas destinations like New York, London or Paris.
What days are cheapest to fly at Christmas? Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have the most expensive airfare around the winter holidays. Travel mid-week instead for deals. Typically, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays offer the best prices on airfare to fly before or after December 25.
Is Christmas week or New Years week more expensive? New Years week tends to have higher demand and pricier airfare than Christmas week. Traveling on or around January 1 compared to December 25 costs more and sells out faster. However, both periods have very high airfare compared to other times of the year.
What food do they eat at Christmas? Classic Christmas foods include roast turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, Christmas cookies, eggnog, cinnamon rolls, fruitcake, gingerbread houses, candy canes, hot chocolate, mulled wine, Christmas pudding, and pumpkin pie. However, families worldwide have traditional holiday meals incorporating favorite local ingredients too.
More Ideas For Christmas Travel
Christmas vacations create lasting memories, whether you’re looking for snow or sun. Beyond the cities noted, winter cruises and all-inclusive resorts also make fantastic holiday trips.
Best Places for a White Christmas
Dreaming of a white Christmas? These northern hemisphere destinations often have snow in December for picturesque winter backdrops:
- Aspen, Colorado
- Lapland, Finland
- Banff, Alberta
- Stowe or Woodstock, Vermont
- Zermatt, Switzerland
- Northern Michigan
- Quebec, Canada
- Obertauern, Austria
- Niseko, Japan
Best Tropical Christmas Vacations
If you’d rather soak up the sun over the holidays, head south to:
- Puerto Vallarta or Cancun, Mexico
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Turks and Caicos
- Costa Rica
- St. Lucia
- Miami Beach, Florida You could also island hop Southeast Asia locales like Bali, Phuket or the Maldives. Or explore Australian and New Zealand beaches this Christmas summer.
Luxury Christmas Cruises
Sailing over Christmas and New Years onboard a cruise ship makes holiday hassles disappear. You’ll still enjoy festive meals, trees, events, midnight champagne toasts and more.
Some top luxury lines offering Christmas cruises include:
- Regent Seven Seas
- Silversea Cruises
- Seabourn Cruise Line
- Crystal Cruises
- Viking Ocean Cruises
- Oceania Cruises You can island hop the Caribbean, cross the Atlantic to Europe, explore exotic Asia, or circumnavigate South America while celebrating Christmas at sea in serious style.
Family Resorts for Christmas
Several family-friendly resorts worldwide offer special Christmas and holiday packages. Kids of all ages will embrace the merry ambiance. Top options include:
- Hotel del Coronado (San Diego)
- The Broadmoor (Colorado)
- Mohonk Mountain House (New York)
- Woodloch Resort (Pennsylvania)
- Florida hotels like The Breakers Palm Beach
- Atlantis Resorts in the Bahamas
- Club Med resorts globally like Club Med Cancun Yucatan
- Holiday Inn Resort packages in Mexico, the Caribbean, etc.
Make Christmas 2023 Unforgettable
The most festive places worldwide await this Christmas. From winter wonderlands draped in twinkling lights to sunny beaches ringing in 2024, ‘tis the season for an incredible getaway. Use this guide to decide where your perfect Christmas destination exists. Then start planning a holiday trip you’ll forever cherish.