If you’re planning to take your family on an epic holiday getaway this year, then consider packing your bags and heading to some of the most magical Christmas towns around the world.
These whimsical winter wonderlands will make you feel like you’re inside a Christmas postcard. I’m talking cobblestone streets, buzzing markets, and French little towns decked out with twinkling lights, gingerbread houses, carolers, and some of the best Christmas parades you’ve ever seen in your life.
1. HAVE A VERY DANISH CHRISTMAS IN AARHUS, DENMARK
There’s Christmas magic in the air in the quaint town of Aarhus, Denmark, the second-largest city in the country. Stroll through the festive Latin Quarter’s streets, which are lined with Christmas lights, events, and a stunning Christmas tree.
There Salling department store is completely wrapped up to look like a giant Christmas present, so make sure to make a stop and take a few pictures with the kids here. Take a break from shopping and enjoy a traditional Danish Christmas lunch (called Dansk julefrokost,) which consists of sandwiches and warm dishes like meatballs and pork roast.
2. VISIT BELLE’S TOWN IN COLMAR, FRANCE
Are you a big fan of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and want to celebrate Christmas in a fairytale town? Then head to Colmar, a picturesque town that is believed to have inspired Belle’s town.
Try the local specialties such as the scrumptious tarte flambée, which is a flat pastry puff with cream, onions, and a few other toppings. Shop till you drop at one of six Christmas markets surrounded by thousands of twinkling lights, unique handcrafts, and hot chocolate that’s served Viennois style (aka, packed with tons of whipped cream!)
This fairytale town has tons of Christmas events, such as guided Christmas tours, a Christmas treasure hunt called “Le Noël des Grands Crus,” and tons of Christmas concerts.
3. WALK TOWARDS THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS IN DULUTH, MINNESOTA
Surround yourself with Christmas cheer at the marvelous Bentleyville Tour of Lights. This walk-through Christmas light event is full of light displays shaped in the form of castles, Santa, reindeer, and even his elves. And wait until you see the 12-foot Christmas tree and its 4 million lights. You’ll want to take a thousand photos!
And if this tour of lights and the magical snow doesn’t put you in the Christmas spirit, then maybe the various volunteers offering popcorn, cookies, and hot chocolate will!
You can also hop on the Christmas City Express, a real-life train and ride for 30 minutes and visit Lake Superior. You’ll get to eat cookies, hot chocolate and spread tons of cheer.
4. ENJOY THE MAGICAL ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER, GERMANY
Walk along the Christmas market’s snow-covered cobblestone streets of this medieval town and treat yourself to local delicacies at the Rothenberg Reiterlesmarkt. The red-tiled roofs and flower-packed window boxes will make you feel like you’ve stepped inside a fairytale children’s book.
Make sure to try Cambozola, a German triple cream cheese, mulled wine, Rothenburger Ritterrolle (which is sort of like a burrito), and a fried dough pastry called Schneeballs before you leave!
5. GO SEE SOME ELVES IN MONT TREMBLANT, QUEBEC
In December, this Canadian village undergoes a Christmas wonderland transformation. The streets get packed with fireworks, holiday parades, Christmas concerts, the Mont-Tremblant Holiday Market, and a visit from Santa and the Grelot Family elves. And since the streets are covered in snow, expect to see lots of horse-drawn sleighs, tubing, and skiing, too.
6. GET THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS IN WINCHESTER, ENGLAND
Winchester brings the best of German and British culture to celebrate the holidays with Christmas markets full of wooden chalets, a white Christmas outdoor market, and a spectacular LED light train show.
Meet Father Christmas in a spectacular carriage where you can take pictures, go for rides, and enjoy an adorable miniature railway.
Other interesting things you can experience in the “Christmas Capital of England” include the British Crafts Village, where you can eat German-inspired food like bratwurst and minced pies. And if you’re in the mood to skate, there’s an outdoor skating rink where you can kick back for hours.
7. PREPARE FOR SAMICHLÄUS’ ARRIVAL IN BAD RAGAZ, SWITZERLAND
Don’t let the “Bad” in this Swiss town’s name fool you because you’ll find nothing but cheer, joy, and lots of holiday spirit. Their annual celebration starts off with the illumination of their 131-foot-tall sequoia tree outside of Grand Resort Bad Ragaz.
If you’re there on December 6, the bishop and his 40 Samichläus figures bring light and joy to the town in a tradition that is over 60 years old. While you wait for their arrival, you can enjoy Advent songs played by the children of the Dorfbad music school.
8. VISIT SANTA’S HOUSE IN MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND
Montreaux might be small, but they love to celebrate BIG when it comes to Christmas! One of their staples is a Christmas Market full of over 160 chalet stalls that offer local foods and drinks. But you’ll find so much more like live music, events, and more restaurants than you can visit in a lifetime.
You and the kiddos will get a real treat at the Lumberjack Village, where you’ll get to ride on the Big Ferris Wheel and visit the elves on Elves Square. Head to Lumberjack village and the Place du Marché and catch a glimpse of Santa Claus flying on his sleigh. It’ll definitely be the most wonderful time of the year, right?
Oh, and if you’re dreaming of meeting Santa in person, you don’t need to travel to the North Pole to shake his hand. Take a cogwheel train up the Rochers-de-Naye Mountain and visit the real Santa who will be getting a visit from Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost), who’s also known as his Russian “cousin.”