Are Christmas holidays feeling a little subdued? Have you been visiting the same hometown year after year? Or even nowhere at all? There is good news: a whole wide world exists, and really, it's yours to explore.
Sure, each country celebrates Christmas differently, but almost all come alive during the festive season. Travellers will think of obvious tinseltastic destinations - Germany, London, Italy and the Caribbean - but what about adding a dash of the unexpected? How about one of these five places you might not consider top of mind?
No one seeking to escape a forecast of snow will overlook Brazil's legendary beaches and warm temperatures. What they will overlook are the country's Christmas celebrations. Holiday traditions here may be vastly overshadowed raucous Carnival and New Year's Eve parties, but they have an allure all their own.
If you're used to celebrating with tinsel and snow, it's a bit shocking to be walking around in shorts with Christmas decorations hanging from the palms. Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo are always popular destinations (lounge in the sun by day, salsa dance by night), but Brazil actually has a town named after Christmas. What better place to spend Christmas than in the northeastern city of Natal? They go all out with decor and host parades and parties on Christmas day to assure everyone is in the holiday spirit.
Without a doubt, Hong Kong is a fun place to visit any time of the year. Those who haven't seen it during the Christmas holidays are missing out on one of the city's most beautiful seasons. It simply comes alive during Christmas; a true feast for the senses.
Giant shopping malls break out a host of Christmas decorations; lights are strung in the marketplaces, and the city is littered with festive and creative displays. However, the most fantastic part of Hong Kong during the Christmas season is what they do to the skyscrapers. The iconic towers that shape the Victoria Harbour skyline are lined with Christmas lights. After dark, the view is even more breathtaking that usual. What's more, the lights make the legendary Symphony of Lights light show all the better.
What better place to spend Christmas than the home of Santa's Workshop? The Finnish Lapland is a wild and rugged place. During the Christmas season, it's certainly no warm beach, but it holds a seasonal beauty all its own. Visitors can learn about the Laplander people who live a nomadic way of life; a lifestyle that may disappear completely in the next hundred years.
These friendly people are also more than happy to share their unique lifestyle, as well as some hospitality to curious visitors. Travellers to the Lapland will enjoy reindeer sleigh rides during the day and admire what could possibly be the world's most impressive Aurora Borealis at night. Anyone up to stay in an igloo hotel?
Are you looking for a Christmas season that seemingly never ends? Set your compass to the Philippines. The Pacific nation boasts the world's longest Christmas season: stretching from the start of September until the 'Feast of the Epiphany' on January 6th.
In September, carolers carrying star-shaped bamboo lanterns, called parols, travel the streets spreading Christmas cheer. Did we mention this starts in September?! It all sets the scene for a festive, albeit balmy, holiday.
The main Christmas festivities kick into high gear on December 16th with the Giant Lantern Festival in the capital of Manila. At this time, other cities around the country host a series of vibrant street parties that culminate on Christmas Eve with a huge feast.
Sometimes the most traditional place to spend Christmas is also the most unusual. Not many would consider spending Christmas in the town where Christmas, or at least the original Christian definition of it, first started.
Bethlehem was the birthplace of Jesus and the centre of the iconic Christmas nativity scene. Visitors gather in Manger Square on Christmas Eve to attend Midnight Mass which is set against the Church of Nativity, built on the birthplace of Jesus. Afterwards, there is Christmas caroling, candle parades and live music throughout the city.
Even with Israel's occasionally unstable reputation, things seem to calm down around Christmas and Bethlehem is outside the major areas of conflict.
Are you spending Christmas in any of these places?
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