If you’ve been travelling long enough chances are you may have (or you will) miss one of the major holidays throughout the year. This can be pretty depressing for some people, while others rejoice in getting away from the crazy traditions, the duties of visiting people you don’t really want to see and buying gifts for people who don’t appreciate them. Christmas is one of the most important “holidays” anywhere, and it’s celebrated by many throughout the world, and it’s also one of best holidays to spend abroad if you find yourself somewhere else other than “home” on the holiday.
Probably the best part of celebrating Christmas abroad is that it’s one of those rare moments where citizens of your host country aren’t paying any attention to you as a tourist. They’re focusing on themselves and their family, so your experience is going to be just slightly more authentic, as you’ll get to see everyone in their element. Whether that is going to various malls, street markets, churches or Christmas street festivities, as a tourist or traveller you will find people fairly upbeat during the Christmas season.
Daylight is overrated. And you won’t be getting much daylight in Iceland. What you will be getting are the Northern Lights, one of the world’s most beautiful and surreal landscapes, and some of the friendliest people on the planet. Also, apparently they go all out on Christmas lights as well.
Part of the Christmas holiday, though, is enjoying winter, and while it’s not the snowiest of all possible destinations it’s definitely one of the best.
Also, Iceland has 13 Santas called the Yule Lads, and apparently they once were trolls that were used to terrify children. They’re friendlier than they used to be, and are far from the weirdest Santa Claus tradition, but they’ll be a fun thing to ask the locals about when you go into the bar.
2. EUROPE STREET MARKETS
Markets are fun at the best of times, but over Christmas European street markets are full of Street meat, powdered pastries, and mulled wines all packed into open-air spaces where you can get literally all of your Christmas shopping done in five minutes, to the tune of live brass ensembles playing classic Christmas tunes. The bad news is there are just too many of them to limit it to one. The good news is Europe is actually pretty tiny, and Europeans believe in public transportation. So you can see a ton over the course of the month of Christmas.
3. NEW YORK
There are a ton of great places to celebrate Christmas in America but New York is the most iconic place in America to spend Christmas.
Americans everywhere ring in the Christmas season when Santa comes at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. It’s another big television event when they light the massive Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.
Like any big city however, accommodation isn’t cheap in New York over Christmas and it’s REALLY cold, but something to be experienced once in your life if you get the chance to.
London is a great city and capture many traditions so important to the difficult cultures based in the city. Their Christmas markets are among the best and there are usually actual carolers roaming the city, as well as many different church services available.
Covent Garden, Oxford Street, Bond Street and Harrods are a fantastic visual display of lights, decorations and people genuinely in the Christmas spirit. And if you’re after a traditional Christmas lunch or dinner, there are so many brilliant choices to choose from.
I’m sure many people on the road during the holidays would love nothing better to be than at home. Everyone has different memories, traditions and cultures that they partake in on Christmas Day, and in spite of what the perception is about an “Aussie” Christmas, we never eat a Seafood lunch or end up surfing or playing cricket in the backyard. But that’s just us.
Christmas for me has always been about family, the same foods we eat every year as per our family Christmas traditions, our annual Christmas Eve get together with friends and a pretty funny KK exchange.
Wherever you are in the world on Christmas Day, safe travels and happy holidays to you.