3. Bath, England
There are few cities in the world where you can celebrate the birth of Jesus and the birth of Jane
Austen with the same amount of fanfare, but Bath, England, happens to be one of them.
The Jane Austen Centre -- and on-site Regency Tearoom -- is the best place to learn about the city’s
most famous resident.
The Theatre Royal, which Austen mentions in “Northanger Abbey” and “Persuasion,” has a varied
program of holiday drama, musicals, opera and concerts.
The Bath Christmas Market has more than 170 wooden chalets selling distinctively British
handmade crafts in a quaint Georgian setting. Straddled between the imposing Bath Abbey and the
venerable Roman Baths, the market offers a festive way to discover the character of Bath, which is
the only entire city in the UK to have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4. Barcelona, Spain
Anyone who can manage to extend their Christmas holiday until Three King’s Day (January 6 in
2019), can catch up with Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar in Barcelona.
On the evening of January 5, they arrive at the city’s port on the Santa Eulalia -- their very own ship
-- in bearded and velvet-robed splendor. Cannons are fired, fireworks are set off, and as the mayor
hands them the keys to the city, the magic of the Magi officially commences.
They parade through the streets in a magnificent cavalcade of floats that includes camels, elephants,
giraffes and dazzling costumes.
5. Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland
While legends dating as far back as the 1820s cite the North Pole as the official home of Santa
Claus and his jolly missus, the Finns would have us believe otherwise.
For them, Rovaniemi, Lapland, located just north of the Arctic Circle, is Christmas HQ.
Here, children make gingerbread cookies with Mrs. Claus, enroll in Elf School or take a calligraphy
class and compose their Christmas wish lists with a traditional quill. There are even seasonal
positions available as elf workers in Santa’s post office.
Those in search of a truly frosty experience can stay in the Arctic Snow Hotel, made entirely of
snow and ice, but equipped with saunas and hot tubs in which to thaw.
6. Nuremberg, Germany
The Nuremberg Christmas Market (Nurnberger Christkindlesmarkt) is a German institution, pulling
in more than 2 million visitors each year. Highlights include a giant carved wooden Ferris wheel,
old-fashioned carousel and a steam train.
Nuremberg’s Christmas Market Council is serious about making sure only traditional handmade
toys and holiday goods are sold. No mass-produced plastic garlands here.
The market’s 200 select vendors also put up fantastic displays as they compete for the Most Beautiful
Stall Design award. The top three walk away with a gold, silver or bronze “Plum People” awards.
Best American Small Towns
for the Holidays
Back in 1948, William M. Koziar
began decorating his home in
Bernville for the viewing pleasure of
his family. Now, Koziar’s Christmas
Village is one of the top attractions in
the state of Pennsylvania, and boasts
both indoor and outdoor displays.
On any day of the year, this Bavarian
village gives off an Alpine holiday air.
But during snowy December, visitors
are met with 21 miles of lights along
the homes and fences, and can
also anticipate handbell concerts, a
lively Christkindlmarkt, harp music,
and a weekly festival with carolers,
Gluhwein, and sledding gathered
‘round the town’s tree.
Each year, this Missouri city hosts
the Ozark Mountain Christmas
festival, a month-long extravaganza
with festive music, light shows, and
plenty of parades. You can even
hop aboard the Branson Scenic
Railway’s Polar Express Train Ride
and feel like you’re in a scene from
the classic movie.
It sounds like the image of a
Christmas card: a parade of horses
and buggies circling a snowy village
green. But Woodstock Wassail
Weekend is an actual annual event in
picturesque Woodstock, Vermont.
Carolers serenade townsfolk and
everyone gathers for the lighting
of the tree and Yule log. Historic
homes and farms open to celebrate
rural holiday heritage.
Not surprisingly, much of Asheville’s
holiday focus is on Biltmore, the
historic Vanderbilt mansion, which
dresses up lavishly with ribbons,
garlands, and sparking lights.
Elsewhere in this active mountain
town, locals gather to watch Santa
rappel down Chimney Rock as a
warm-up exercise for his upcoming
Christmas Eve activities.
Known as Michigan’s Little Bavaria,
Frankenmuth’s European heritage is
on full display during the Christmas
season. Some of the town’s charming
holiday highlights include a traditional
Christkindlmarkt, a holiday home tour
hosted by the Frankenmuth Women’s
Club, whimsical light displays, and
Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland —
the world’s largest Christmas store.