I’ve never traveled over Christmas and New Years.  We live within driving distance of both sides of the family, and we always have a lot of family events to attend.  That doesn’t keep me from dreaming of Christmas adventures.  So I’ve been thinking…what are some interesting, unique places to spend Christmas?  Several places immediately sprung to mind, such as New York for the big Christmas tree and ice skating at Rockefeller Center, Germany for the Christkindlmarkts, maybe someplace warm.  I did some exploring…

Christkindlemarkets

There’s no need to go the whole way to Germany for the Christkindlmarkt, although the world famous Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt with its wooden stalls full of baked goods and Christmas arts and crafts sounds like a blast.  Instead, I might just head to Chicago  for the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza to enjoy traditional German food, practice my German language skills (as minuscule as they are), and be blessed by brass bands playing Christmas music.  But in Germany, it’s possible to travel from town to town to explore the many markets, as most German towns uphold this tradition.  I recently heard about the Medieval Christmas Market  in Dresden on an episode of my favorite travel podcast, The Amateur Traveler.  There are other Christmas markets in Dresden, too.  In fact, they have an area called the Christmas Mile.  Hmmm…how much distance is there between Nuremberg and Dresden? And how many other German towns can I stop in on the way to enjoy mulled wine and buy handmade goods?

New York

Rockefeller Center with its huge Christmas tree, ice skating rink, and 70,000+ lights is an obvious draw.  Then there’s the Rockettes Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall.   I’d have to check out the window display at Macy’s, where they depict scenes from Miracle on 34th Street.  The other fancy department stores are known to have amazing window displays, too.  Up near Tiffany’s on 5th Avenue, I’ll check out the big crystal snowflake.  Hey, I had no idea there were Christmas Markets in NYC.  And of course the trip could be extended to include the big party in Times Square on New Years Eve.  The ball drop must be more interesting in person, right?

Times Square

New Zealand

I listen to a lot of travel podcasts.  One of my other favorites is the Indie Travel Podcast, produced by two Kiwis, Craig and Linda Martin.  I recently listened to an (older) episode in which they talked about Christmas traditions in New Zealand.  Just the thought of celebrating Christmas during summer seems foreign to me.  How about a picnic at the beach on Christmas day?  Sounds like fun!

Adventures Closer to Home (southeast Pennsylvania, USA)

Closer to home, there’s Christmas Street in Baltimore, Maryland. A festival of lights in the neighborhood at 34th Street.  Really close to home, there’s Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  I’m just throwing this one in there for all of you out-of-towners that will read this post.  I’ve actually been to this one several times, and will continue to go back as long as I can get someone interested in exploring (hint, hint).  Local florists and artists design Christmas trees in themes for the various rooms in the garden conservatory.  Local students do a fantastic job on their themed trees, which are featured in the greenhouses. I’ll never forget the first time I saw the lit snowflakes hanging from the trees in the garden, and the shrubs that had been transformed into “flowers” with lights.  It is really hard to imagine or describe, and especially hard to photograph (sorry!).  Well worth the trip and a great bargain at about $20 admission.

Bunnies in a tree at Longwood Gardens

What other adventures would you recommend at Christmas? Please comment below!

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4 Comments on Where to travel at Christmas?

  1. Nancie says:

    The closest I’ve been to a traditional Christmas since moving to Asia is Hong Kong. That was amazing! This year (and last year) it’s Bali and I can’t wait. Not at all traditional, but very special in a unique way.

  2. Adrienne says:

    I’m thinking about NY..and Times Square, the kids have been asking to go for a few months now. Thanks for sharing

  3. Mary says:

    @Lucie thanks for the tip about San Antonio. It would be a great warm-weather destination for Christmas. I visited San Antonio a couple of years ago, and totally loved it. In fact, I’m working on a blog article about my trip. Hopefully, it will be out soon. I especially enjoyed the Catholic missions, river walk, and architecture.

  4. Lucie says:

    Germany appears to be really interesting!

    However, closer to home, I think San Antonio is also a great place to be around Thanksgiving and Christmas. The River Walk is absolutely amazing and all the restaurants terrace are filled with customers who just want to be outside regardless of weather. There are also rafts going up and down the River Walk with choirs singing Christmas carols. It’s quite incredible or at least it was 10 years ago when I was there.

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