- BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK
Nothing compares to a pilgrimage to Jesus’ birthplace. on Christmas Eve when the clock strikes 12 you need to be at St Catherine’s Church, for the Midnight Mass service.
- SANTA CLAUS VILLAGE, FINLAND
The deep wintertime snow and reindeer-dotted forests go a long way toward off setting the touristy atmosphere, there’s an amusement park called Santa Park you’d have to be pretty Grinch-like to leave without a smile.
- NEW YORK CITY, USA
The world’s tallest Christmas tree is lit at the Rockefeller Center in early December. Ice skating below it is a must for wintertime visitors, as is checking out the window displays in New York’s largest department stores.
- BONDI BEACH, AUSTRALIA
sun, sand and surf replace snow and fairy lights. celebrate alongside other “Christmas orphans.” Bands and DJs rock the Pavilion, everyone checks out everyone else, and a festive atmosphere prevails. Items you may not normally take to Christmas dinner: swimsuit, sunscreen, sunhat.
- MIDNIGHT MASS, THE VATICAN, ITALY
The Eternal City is magical at any time of year, but December has an extra frisson,check out St Peter’s Square, Piazza Navona, and in the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli on the Capitoline Hill.
- DUBLIN, IRELAND
There’s the 12 Days of Christmas Market at the Docklands, cheesy pantos, Christmas lights, ice skating, and markets and seasonal cheer in Temple Bar. Don’t miss carols at St Patrick’s Cathedral.
- NUREMBERG, GERMANY
experience the marvelous Christmas Market, in Nuremberg’s Hauptmarkt. Here, 180 stalls proffer toys, trinkets, candles, gingerbread and sweets to shoppers warmed by sizzling bratwurst and mulled wine. Visit after dark, when the colored lights create a fairy-tale spectacle. Christmas shopping never looked this enchanting.
- ZURICH, SWITZERLAND
Zurich wins with Christmas markets, guided Christmas-themed city strolls, and the enchanting all-singing Christmas tree that comes alive on Werdmuhleplatz; a choir of local youngsters sweetly delivers Christmas carols.
- TOKYO, JAPAN
Traditionally, celebrating the New Year is more important in Japan than Christmas, but this is what happens when non-Christians embrace Christmas, and with spectacularly over-the-top decorations and lights.