Autumn is here and, before you know it, it will be November and time to step into the Christmas spirit. Christmas festivities have been disrupted due to the pandemic, however now the world has begun to re-open there are plenty of activities you can engage with during the holiday season around the world. Discover a selection of our top 11 Christmas picks.
Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan
Cowbridge has always been at the prosperous heart of the Vale of Glamorgan. Accordingly, there’s an upper-echelon feel to Cowbridge’s many shops, galleries and bars, which are mostly strung along a single high street that runs the whole length of the town. Christmas begins here on the last Sunday of November at the Reindeer Parade, when Father Christmas is drawn by real reindeer down the high street, accompanied by a mass of festive elves. The parade starts at midday and includes a local nativity, a marching band and elves who make way for Santa himself. Following this, children can visit Santa in his grotto to tell him their Christmas wishes, and see the Reindeer up-close in their pens behind the Town Hall.
Valencia is an ideal destination for families to visit and explore at Christmas where children (and adults alike) will delight in the traditions, markets, fair decorations and child-friendly cultural attractions. One of the most important Christmas traditions is the Nativity Scene, which dates back to Saint Francis of Assisi, who placed a manger inside a cave with an image of the Baby Jesus and a live ox and mule beside the manger. It was with this scene as a backdrop that the Christmas Eve mass of 1223 was celebrated. The idea was so successful that it extended to all Italy and King Charles III of Spain imported the tradition to his country in the 18th century. This tradition is kept alive in people’s houses, where small nativity scenes are built, as well as in the city’s public spaces, with the monumental Nativity Scene built by the City Council in Plaza del Ayuntamiento for example. In addition, there are a number of Nativity Scenes in shopping centres, churches, the Cathedral and many of the city’s museums, such as the Ceramics Museum.
For anyone who wants to get into the festive spirit Slovenia’s Christmas markets are the place to check. With fairytale winter scenery, soul-stirring festive foods, dazzling light displays, unique traditions and merry fun for the whole family it is a perfect Christmas holiday. The Slovenian markets are up there with anything the famously festive countries like Germany, France, Italy and the UK can offer. But the best part is that it is not as crowded as other places. From the vibrant Christmas markets of Ljubljana to fairytale festivities of Lake Bled, visitors will be able to discover all the dazzling decor, handmade crafts, unique gifts, Christmas concerts, and delicious treats. The Slovenian Christmas markets serve up an incredible array of unique experiences. Visitors can check the underground wonderland of the giant Postojna Caves to find their extraordinary Living Nativity Scenes. This thrilling experience goes on a five-kilometre train ride through 16 biblical scenes and musical performances, with 150 performers taking part in the underground spectacle. For more nativity scenes, there is also a fantastic show at Ljubljana’s Franciscan Church in Prešeren Square.
Denver Christkindl Market, Colorado
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Denver Christkindl Market brings traditional German fare to the Mile High City. Visitors can enjoy live music, European cuisine and an artisan market selling handmade crafts that make perfect Christmas gifts. It’s free to attend, with this year’s market will take place 19 Nov – 23 Dec.
Peoples Gas Holiday Market, Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is truly magical during the winter season and there’s nowhere better to enjoy the Christmas festivities than at Peoples Gas Holiday Market. Taking place in Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh, there’s plenty for visitors to enjoy, from ice skating around the beautiful ice rink or shopping the many market stalls. www.visitpittsburgh.com
Christmas Tree Trail, San Diego
San Diego may be known for its winter sun but the Southern Californian city is transformed with Christmas sparkle during the colder months. The Christmas Tree Trail lights up San Diego with trees in different shapes, sizes and themes. From an extravagantly-lit tree at the iconic Hotel del Coronado to a Grinch-themed tree at The Old Globe, visitors can follow the trail and spot nine different trees around the city.
A Chanticleer Christmas comes to West Hollywood
The much-celebrated, Grammy®-winning, 12-man ensemble makes its return on 14 December 2021 to West Hollywood for a classic holiday program of a cappella choral music, presented with stunning clarity, precision and excellence. From the candlelit chant procession to the triumphant gospel conclusion, A Chanticleer Christmas cleaves to the founder Louis Botto’s original vision to offer joy and transcendence through beautifully sung music of all centuries from classical to carols.
The Nutcracker comes to Sacramento this Christmas
Sacramento has a vibrant performing arts scene including its own professional ballet, opera and philharmonic organisations that perform regularly at SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Centre. This year Sacramento Ballet unveils a new holiday tradition in the new SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Centre. Enjoy a Christmas ballet favourite and get tickets to the Nutcracker with three Sacramento Ballet Artists, current and alumni retelling the timeless classic through the eyes of a child. Watch Clara battle the Rat King, travel through winter wonderlands and explore the Land of the Sweets. Being performed between 11 and 23 December.
Merry Mountain Parade and Christmas Tree Lighting
Join the Mariposa County Chamber of Commerce for the 21st annual Merry Mountain Christmas Parade followed by the Lions Club Tree Lighting. The night starts with a parade through Old Town Mariposa that even Santa can’t miss. After the parade, visitors make their way to Mariposa County’s historic courthouse for the annual tree lighting. Hot chocolate and popcorn are complementary and served to all in attendance.
Frankie Furmont’s festive tea party and Reindeer Rally at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Celebrate the festive season in a home-away-from-home at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. The hotel offers an incredible Christmas itinerary with several well curated experiences for visitors and families to enjoy. For those with children, sign up to Frankie Furmont’s festive tea party where little princes and princesses of The Chateau are cordially invited by Master Frankie Furmont, the Cub Club President, to attend a holiday tea party, complete with tasty treats and holiday crafts. Additionally, guests can embark on an interactive virtual outdoor adventure – the Reindeer Rally. This ‘Reindeer Rally’ game by Eventology is in the style of ‘Pokemon Go’. Find Rudolph the Reindeer in the Frontenac Foyer to scan a QR code and download the free App on a smartphone or tablet. Rudolph has lost his reindeer friends and needs help finding them as quickly as possible. Beat the clock and earn extra points by completing a series.
Christmas has become increasingly popular in Japan in recent years. However, instead of celebrating on Christmas Day, the holiday is mainly celebrated on Christmas Eve. One of the most notable things about Christmas in Japan is the fried chicken dinner from KFC. Christmas in Japan is synonymous with KFC over the years and has become an essential staple for Japanese Christmas Dinner. Every Christmas holiday many families pre-order their fried chicken dinner sets from KFC weeks in advance. Dinner is usually followed with a delicious Christmas Cake. The cake is usually covered in white whipped cream and decorated with strawberries and often miniature Santa figurines. Illumination is also a big part of Christmas in Japan. Many cities, especially the more populated areas like Tokyo Skytree or Tokyo Tower, are lit by thousands of Christmas lights. Most illumination shows begin before the official holiday starts, and run for a few days after to let visitors enjoy the beautiful show.