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Debbie
San Francisco

General Travel

Best towns around the world to experience the holiday magic?

What are some of the best small towns around the world to experience the holiday festivities?  I'm thinking Christmas lanes with extravagant lights, town squares with giant Christmas trees, good holiday shopping with festive store displays, and holiday feast-worthy eats.  

Would love if you had photos to share, too!


17 Answers

top answer by
Ernst from Long Island (New York)

I immediately think of the Christmas Markets in Germany!  :)  It seems every town and city in Germany has them.  I only had the opportunity to go to a couple of them when I studied in Heidelberg for a semester of college. The other was in Augsburg where my mother is from.  The best Lebkuchen (gingerbread) I have ever eaten comes from Cafe Eber in Augsburg (located on the town square where the Christmas Market takes place).  It is made fresh there, but only during the holidays: http://www.cafe-eber.de/lebkuchentuete.html  My grandmother sent it to us every year for Christmas, and it's something I miss since she passed away in 2006.  There are lots of feast-worthy eats at these markets, and they are very festive and fun! 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Heidelberg (city)
  2. Augsburg (city)
6 thankscomments (3)


answered first by
Laura from Honolulu

Clifton Mill in Clifton, Ohio.  


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Clifton Mill (restaurant)
6 thankscomments (1)


answered by
N H from Seattle

My Family lives in Belgium - the Wintermarkets are amazing there. Grab some Glug, have a chocolate treat and walk the stalls, all while carolers sing, music floats in the air and people mingle happily, skate on the little rinks, or play games. It really is a lovely tradition!

Here are some recommendations:

Brussels Winter Wonders
Brussels Christmas Market, the Winter Wonders takes place in the heart of Brussels. Hailed as ‘Europe’s most original Christmas market’ by British tour operators. Prepare to be impressed !

Open From 28 Nov 14 to 04 Jan 15

Winterland Hasselt
Winterland Hasselt turns Hasselt – already known as the Capital of Taste – into the most atmospheric of Christmas towns in Belgium.

Open From 15 Nov 14 to 04 Jan 15

Ghent Christmas Market
At Ghent Christmas Market, you can enjoy the best of the city's sights, whilst sampling the delights of the region's food and drinks, such as chocolates, cookies and local specialities

Open From 05 Dec 14 to 04 Jan 15

Liege Christmas Market
The “Village de Noël de Liège” (Christmas Village) has become one of Belgiums' most famous Chrismas Markets in Belgium, with wooden chalets offering gastronomic specialities, handicrafts and souvenirs

Open From 28 Nov 14 to 30 Dec 14


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Belgium (country)
  2. Brussels (city)
  3. Hasselt (city)
  4. Ghent (city)
  5. Liege (city)
5 thankscomments (3)


answered by
Yoko

Funchal, capital of the Portuguese island Madeira is a real treat for Christmas lovers! Think: tiny island, warm Portuguese people, and an absolutely crazy amount of Christmas lights. Any winter lover would fall in love with this place! It's a best seller in Portugal to spend New Year's Eve as well. And overal, the island is just dropdead gorgeous!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Funchal (city)
  2. Madeira (region)
3 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Jenna from Oakville, Ontario

Ahhhh! 

I would love to answer this question :) 

GermanyGermanyGermany

I would love to spend the entire month of December one year (who knows maybe even this year...) travelling across Germany visiting all the Christmas Markets!

It is filled with snow, children's games, sledding, food, hot wine, holiday ornaments and Christmas spirit! 

This is coming from a Canadian who is severely missing her homeland and currently living in Freiburg im Breisgau

Another great place for Christmas markets is Strasbourg

<3, 

Jenna 
http://www.giveforgranted.com


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Germany (country)
  2. Freiburg im Breisgau (city)
  3. Strasbourg (city)
3 thanks


answered by
Ben from London

Central Europe is hands down the best place for a bit of Christmas magic.  I would say especially Austria.  The markets in Vienna at Rathaus is magical along with the one at Schönbrunn Palace just outside Vienna.

The one in Munich in Marienplatz is beautiful also.

The best thing is also the special Christmas mugs you get from each one (or you get your €2 deposit back) when you get a Gluhwein for a souvenir or Christmas present for family/friends!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Rathaus (attraction)
  2. Schönbrunn Palace (attraction)
  3. Marienplatz (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
claus

Funchal is probably the place in the world where I have seen the most festivity during christmas and new year.

They really love the holidays there.


If you are in Southeast Asia then the malls in Kuala Lumpur have massive decorations too during holidays and this goes for almost all religious holidays there as the country is very multi cultural.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Funchal (city)
  2. Kuala Lumpur (city)
2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Polly from Washington, DC

Completely obvious answer, but since no one else has listed it yet - New York City! Christmas markets at Bryant Park and Union Square, ice skating at Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park, the most famous holiday window displays in the world on 5th Ave, Christmas shows at Radio City Music Hall and Lincoln Center, and of course, the tree at Rockefeller Plaza.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. New York City (city)
  2. Bryant Park (attraction)
  3. Union Square (neighborhood)
  4. 5th Ave (attraction)
  5. Radio City Music Hall (attraction)
  6. Lincoln Center (attraction)
  7. Rockefeller Plaza (attraction)
2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Jaleh from Baltimore

My two favorites were the Christmas Market in Piazza Navona and the huge Christmas celebration that ran up and down the Champs-Élysées. The one in Rome isn't huge, but is a great place to find Christmas gifts, while the one in Paris is absolutely extravagant with ice rinks, food vendors, etc. Both of these go up right around U.S. Thanksgiving time, allowing people a large window of time to really soak it all up and see everything. I have a ton of great pictures, but they won't load for some reason; however, trust me, they're both really great experiences!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Piazza Navona (attraction)
  2. Champs-Élysées (attraction)
  3. Rome (city)
  4. Paris (city)
2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Jacey & Scott from Fort Collins

Aside from the large obvious choices, I love what Leavenworth (Washington) does!  It looks like a quaint German Alpine town everyday, but they do it up rigth at Christmas with lights and huge decorated trees!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Leavenworth (Washington) (city)
2 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Ernst from Long Island (New York)

I answered previously, but just found a website linking to Christmas Markets in 32 countries: http://www.christmasmarkets.com/


1 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Danny from Brooklyn

There is this little town i love called New York City!!! Lol


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. New York City (city)
1 thankscomments (1)


answered by
John from Casper

For a delightful Thanksgiving weekend you may want to try Healdsburg, CA, in Sonoma County.  The town plaza has the lighted big trees, decorations and town carolers. As a community near the Sonoma, Alexander and Napa Valley wine producing regions the community will have at least one downtown walk, where shops are open and serving wine or hors d'oeuvres or desserts. Such fun, that Santa too, will stop in. A surprisingly good selection of restaurants, a great town square bakery, easy and safe walking and very pleasant people.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Healdsburg (city)
1 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Roxanne from Montreal

Annecy in Savoie,   best old town, romming in the street, don't miss the "marché".  Take a stroll along the lake or take a car arround it. Go to smaler villages in the region.  Good food, good wine, good company, what els can you want ?


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Annecy (city)
1 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Mei & Kerstin from Larochette

Salzburg and Strasbourg  are definitely the best small towns in Europe for Christmas holidays! It's where the largest AND oldest Christmas markets in Europe are held! We're heading to Strasbourg for the Holidays this year. Want to join us? :) 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Salzburg (city)
  2. Strasbourg (city)
1 thankscomments (1)


answered by
N H from Seattle

Just wanted to follow up - where did you end up visiting?




answered by
ronald from Roanoke

Iceland and in the capital city during december


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Iceland (country)




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