5 Top Places to Spend Christmas

These spirited cities shine with dazzling light displays, inspiring seasonal scenery and holiday cheer.

U.S. News & World Report

5 Top Places to Spend Christmas

Christmas market in Vienna

Discover festive places to celebrate the season, from Austria to New Mexico.(Getty Images)

Spending the holidays away from home can offer gratifying experiences and a chance to decompress from a hectic season, whether you're traveling solo, with your partner or with friends and family. After all, traveling during Christmastime offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy twinkling lights, great food, seasonal festivities and yuletide cheer without the hassle of decorating. Keep reading to discover festive places to spend Christmas, from Austria to New Mexico.

New York City

Lacing up skates and gliding at The Rink at Rockefeller Center has been a long-standing traditional seasonal pastime. The rink holds up to 150 ice skaters and is even more enchanting with its decked-out tree brightly lit with about 30,000 LED lights. Once you're in the holiday spirit, wander the streets of the city that never sleeps to enjoy the bright lights and cheer, and stop by Santaland attraction at Macy's to take in the wonder with elves, trains and endless trees. Then, admire the dancing Santas on stage at the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular.

Vienna

Imagine bright lights dangling above buildings and trees and festive Christmas markets, where you can taste mulled wine and food from street vendors. Welcome to Vienna, where the holiday cheer is palpable. The vendors offer up traditional Austrian holiday treats, such as maroni (sweet chestnuts) and lebkuchen (gingerbread). Don't skip the checking out the Vienna Christmas market, perched in front of City Hall until Christmas. Other Christmas villages are located at the baroque Belvedere Palace and at Maria-Theresien Platz. Explore all of the area's lively markets and villages to complete your holiday shopping list.

Reykjavik, Iceland

If you love snow and ice, walk in a real-life winter wonderland in Reykjavik, where bright lights deck the city and you can even catch the Northern Lights on a clear night. The holiday spirit kicks up a notch throughout December, with the Austurvollur Square's Christmas tree lighting. Plus, in December, you can catch the 13 Yule Lads - Icelands's iconic singing trolls (the country's counterpart to Santa Claus).

Nuremberg, Germany

For fairytale-like Christmas markets, head to Nuremberg. Kids can ride the wooden Ferris wheel, steam train and carousel. Plus, you can catch sight of Zwetchegenmännle (or Little Prune People). At the market, you can also sample potato pancakes, roasted almonds and sausages, along with mulled wine as you shop for presents to send home while in the charming and historic town.

Taos, New Mexico

Experience a different take on the Christmas season in Taos, which offers a mix of cultural influences and festive annual activities, from tree-lighting ceremonies to dances. Witness the tree lighting at the historic Taos Inn. Ledoux Street also closes off for visitors to shop the galleries and stores, along with a tree lighting and bonfires. For more cultural experiences, go to Taos Pueblo on Christmas Day to enjoy ceremonial dances, bonfires and more.


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Kacey Mya, Contributor

Kacey Mya is a travel and lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle ...  Read more

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Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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