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This time of year can be stressful with shopping for presents, sending cards, cooking, baking, and finding enough time to spend with family and friends. I’ve found that sometimes it’s nice to get away for a few days to take a breath and get re-energized before the holidays. It’s fascinating to see how Christmas is celebrated in cities around the world with different customs and food. Here are some of my favorite places to get into the holiday spirit.
You’ll find Christmas markets and a whole lot more in Hungary. Take a cruise on the Danube River or check out one of the thermal baths. Even the streetcars are decked out this time of year. Anthony’s Must: stop by the Christmas market at the Basilica for a Chimney Cake.
9. Miami Beach
If you want to feel festive while being surrounded by palm trees then head to south Florida. The Miami area offers boat parades, visit Santa’s Enchanted Forest, which is considered the world’s largest holiday theme park, or just soak up some sun on the beach. We like to stay north of Miami at the St. Regis Bal Harbour. Anthony’s Must: check out the designer Christmas tree installation at the Bal Harbour Shops.
Paris is a great city to visit any time of year. During the holidays, the City of Lights sparkles just a bit brighter with shops along the Champs Elysées glistening, Christmas markets (or Marchés de Noël as the French call them), and decorations covering the city. Anthony’s Must: take time for a hot chocolate at Angelina.
7. San Francisco
San Francisco offers several ice skating rinks (Embarcadero and Union Square) as well as holiday markets, the Pier 39 Christmas tree, and more throughout the City by the Bay. Anthony’s Must: Head into the Palace Hotel for a drink under its domed restaurant. Several trees fill the space and make it even more impressive.
London is one of my favorite cities and it’s even more fun during the holidays. From window shopping in Mayfair to the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, there is something for everyone this time of year. Anthony’s Must: wander Harrods and treat yourself to some delicious pastries, chocolates, and other holiday yummies. They also have some amazing gifts for every budget in the food hall.
5. Las Vegas
Sin City knows a bit about glitz and glamour. The Wynn, Caesar’s Palace, and the rest of the Strip hotels are done up in over-the-top flowers, lights, and trees. Wander from casino to casino and take in the fabulous decorations. Anthony’s Must: visit the Bellagio Conservatory for one of the most impressive Christmas displays.
The Swiss know how to celebrate Christmas in a festive and cozy way. Head to one of the city’s many Christmas markets, cozy up with your love over a pot of fondue, or just stroll along the lake and take in the lights. Anthony’s Must: go to the main train station for a holiday market and beautiful Christmas tree.
The Windy City has the most authentic Christmas market with its annual Christkindlmarket. You’ll also find Michigan Avenue packed with shoppers and decorations as well as ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago is home and feels very festive this time of year. Anthony’s Must: Sip some glühwein at Christkindlmarket and get a collectible mug to take home.
Any time in December is a great time to go to Munich with its Christmas markets and holiday treats. But, in mid-December Krampuslauf takes place. Hundreds of costumed revelers fill Marienplatz while thousands watch them run through the city making mischief. Krampus is a Christmas demon that comes for misbehaving children. Forget Elf on a Shelf, this seems much more effective and terrifying. Anthony’s Must: plan to be in the city for this one-day event. It’s amazing how much work goes into the costumes.
1. New York City
No other city evokes the spirit of Christmas like NYC. From Macy’s holiday windows to the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park, and of course, Rockefeller Center, New York has more Christmas cheer than anywhere else. Shop, eat, drink, and be merry throughout the city. Anthony’s Must: it’s a bit cheesy, but it’s a classic. Get tickets for the Rockettes and the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.
Anthony’s Take: Any of these cities will get you into the holiday spirit this year. From Christmas markets to festive treats and lots of hot, mulled glühwein.
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