Spending the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks with family and friends is the longstanding tradition in most of the Western world, but those based in the colder northern climates are looking for alternatives. After a couple decades of being bundled up, many start to wonder if there is another way to spend the holidays. This list of places are the best places to celebrate Christmas.
1. 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 happens to be one of them.
The Theatre Royal, which Austen mentions in “Northanger Abbey” and “Persuasion,” is home to a musical celebration accompanied by mince pies and mulled wine in honor of the literary doyenne. There’s also a varied program of holiday drama, musicals, opera and concerts, including Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin.
2. Chicago, Illinois
Check out the millions of holiday lights strung up around the Magnificent Mile, enjoy the Christ kind market; a large outdoor German crafts market, and the Navy Pier’s Winter WonderFest; a holiday-themed amusement park with an indoor skating rink.
3. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
On Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta remains as one of the country’s tourism jewels. Not only has it avoided the safety problems that a few other resort areas have struggled with in recent years, but it’s also regarded as the most interesting and authentic of Mexico’s resort areas.
The weather during Christmas time is pretty much perfect for anyone wanting to escape the cold, and the large international airport also has good deals on flights from many North American cities as well.
4. 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. Other area attractions include the Ranua Zoo, home to baby polar bears, wolverines and moose;Sirmakko reindeer farm, where visitors can take a sled-led reindeer safari; and the Arktikum, a science center where the mystery of the northern lights is revealed.
5. Montego Bay/Ocho Rios/Negril, Jamaica
Jamaica has 3 busy resort towns that are all served by the same large airport so they are somewhat interchangeable. Montego Bay has the airport so it’s the easiest to reach, but it has fewer affordable 4-star hotels so Ocho Rios and Negril might be better options if you are interested in that category.
All three towns have a different vibe, so it’s really only the weather and most prices that are similar. They are also known for all-inclusive resorts and appealing package deals. Even during the peak holiday months, it’s possible to lock in an appealing deal if you book early enough.
6. Roatán Island, Honduras
Similar in most ways to the islands of Belize, Roatán Island is actually just to their south, so it also sits off the world’s second largest barrier reef. This means there is excellent diving and snorkeling, plus more sandy beaches than you’d get in the Belize islands.
Honduras is a Spanish-speaking country, though especially with the recent influx of cruise-ship crowds here, it’s very easy to get by in English only. There are only about 60 hotels on the island at this point, and holiday rates are still surprisingly reasonable considering what is on offer. Still, booking early is probably wise.