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15+ Places that you would never have considered for a Christmas break – Our Best Kept Secrets

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It can be difficult to know where to go for a Christmas Break, so we’ve decided to share our favorite places to visit over Christmas – You can thank us when you get back from the best Christmas Vacation you’ve ever been on!

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

This product was recommended by Austin Tuwiner from ScubaOtter

Puerto Rico has one of the longest Christmas seasons in the world. Beginning just after Halloween and culminating with the San Sebastian Festival in mid-January. The country boasts some of the greatest celebrations and festivals during that time. Every town seems to have an ongoing party celebrating the Christmas season. It’s really quite an amazing experience.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

This product was recommended by Alicia Quinn from Discover Lehigh Valley

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania – also known as “Christmas City” – exudes holiday spirit from the moment you arrive with its festive decor and streets lined with twinkling lights. Founded by Moravians and named on Christmas Eve, Bethlehem’s charm resembles a scene from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Capture true holiday spirit by wandering Christkindlmarkt, enjoying a beautiful horse-drawn carriage ride and experiencing the Live Advent Calendar. A quick drive from Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York City, Christmas City is classic, small town holiday cheer.


This product was recommended by Stephanie Schneiderman from Tia Stephanie Tours

You likely have heard of ice carving contests, or chocolate carving contests, but radishes? On December 23, Oaxaca holds the largest (only) radish carving contest in the world. The contest is large, and the radishes are too, weighing up to seven pounds! Primarily Nativity Scenes, the carvers now use their imagination and carve everything from famous Mexican revolutionaries, like Pancho Villa, to Guelaguetza dancers. It is believed that this tradition is derived from the Christmas Eve market vendors, who used carved radish sculptures to attract customers to their stalls.

This early form of advertising is now an art form and a serious contest that has been in existence since 1897. In addition to the Night of the Radishes, we will enjoy the Pageants, Posadas, Big Head parade and other colorful and exciting traditions that take place during the holidays.

Hendersonville, North Carolina

Downtown Hendersonville at Christmas time

This product was recommended by Leah Hughes from Visit Hendersonville NC

No matter where visitors call home, Hendersonville, North Carolina, invites them to make this small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains their Home for the Holidays. With two full months of events, Nov. 1-Jan. 1, the town fills the season with festivities. Just south of busy Asheville, Hendersonville has its own blend of arts, culture, music and culinary delights. Its serpentine Main Street is one of the most welcoming in the region, and this time of year it’s particularly magical.

Santa arrives on Nov. 28, the Friday after Thanksgiving, to illuminate block after block of twinkling lights. Home for the Holidays activities are family focused to encourage families to delight in this special time of year and make memories that last much longer than the season.

Manali, Himachal Pradesh

This product was recommended by Divya Bhatia from Indian travel store.

What’s Christmas without snow? For those of us who realized Santa isn’t real and the ones who could do without turkey. Manali, located in a scenic valley in the north-eastern region of India is a chance to re-invent Christmas Celebrations. A cozy little heaven in the hills, perfect for milk and cookies. You could decorate an entire forest here! Ski down vanilla slopes of snow and Get your Sleigh on!

Goa, India

This product was recommended by Divya Bhatia from Indian travel store.

Goa is at it’s best and brightest during the holidays! With plenty of sunshine, Goa adds so many options to add to your holiday bucket list! Take a quick swim, go wild with water sports and let loose at the nigh long parties. You can book a private Villa at Goa and be the best host ever! You can also plan to attend the Tribal festival and Tattoo festival. Your Goa Christmas stories would surely be super fun.

Darjeeling, West Bengal

This product was recommended by Divya Bhatia from Indian travel store.

Darjeeling in India is a strong whiff of freshness! Its scenery in winters is unique, making guests nostalgic about the fragrance of wildflowers. For a culture trip and to enjoy a slow and simple lifestyle, plan to be here during the Christmas and New year;’s celebrations. Some special treats at the time include Carol singing, cultural dances, local delicacies, bonfire, homemade goodies and much more. The quiet streets are all lit up and you will meet many wanderers like you having a great time! Lovely views of Kanchenjunga snow peaks are a special treat!


This product was recommended by Taylor Madigan from Velas Resorts

Along with sunshine and warmth, Velas Resorts in Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta-Riviera Nayarit, and Riviera Maya offer a plethora of activities and special experiences travelers can enjoy during the holidays. From a helicopter arrival by Santa Clause to insuite Christmas trees to life-size gingerbread houses, there is something for everyone at all 5 Velas Resorts. Other examples of activities include Christmas candy stations, Mexican Posadas; Alebrijes workshop teaching children how to make traditional Mexican spirit animal figurines, Tequila, Mezcal & Craft Beer tastings, unlimited golf included in the rate, and much more.

Rome, Italy

This product was recommended by Taylor Madigan from Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese

Travelers visiting Rome around the holidays can get one of the best views of the Eternal City at Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese. The hotel’s garden-escape restaurant, Settimo, offers a special Christmas menu as well as panoramic views of the city lit up for the festive season. Along with traditional Roman cuisine, Settimo also offers a delicious bar program with classic Italian cocktails. Additionally, guests of the hotel can venture out into the city and enjoy the lit up streets, see the vibrant nativity scenes called “presepe” or “presepio”, known as a large, lavishly decorated Christmas tree in front of the Altar of the Fatherland (Altare della Patria), and more.


This product was recommended by Taylor Madigan from Up Norway

While some travelers like to escape to warmth over the holidays, others may enjoy a getaway to a winter wonderland such as Norway. With the help of one of the country’s leading travel curators like Up Norway travelers can experience a variety of snowy activities such as dog sledding with Alaskan huskies, snowmobiling, reindeer sledding, and more. Depending on the itinerary, travelers also have options for their accomodation, including a stay in the frozen Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, decorated with intricate ice sculptures, a wooden lodge in a forest with a cozy fireplace, and more. Additionally, this time of year is one of the best times to see the Northern Lights. In fact, Up Norway offers a few Northern Lights curated journeys that allow families to head up north and witness mother nature’s spectacular light show.

Skaneateles, NY

This product was recommended by Briahnna Gibson from FinnPartners

Nestled on the shores of Skaneateles Lake (pronounced Skinny-Atlas), this town celebrates the season with an event called Winterfest. A flaming ice tower and ice sculptures stand majestically over the frozen lake. The highlight of any trip in this destination is the Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles where the whole village comes alive with scenes from A Christmas Carol. Here, travelers can interact with residents and visitors in the streets, stores and restaurants with live music, shopping, food and wagon rides.

Ellicottsville, NY

This product was recommended by Briahnna Gibson from FinnPartners

Step into a winter wonderland at the Christmas in Ellicottville event going every November. Create special memories with your family and friends, like taking horse-drawn carriage rides, caroling with live reindeer, and strolling through the light-filled streets of a Norman Rockwell painting with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. When Ellicottville’s three-story tall Christmas tree switches on at 6:30 pm every night, it’s like you’ve stepped into a scene of It’s a Wonderful Life!

Lake Placid, NY

This product was recommended by Briahnna Gibson from FinnPartners

Lake Placid is truly one of New York’s great escapes. From world-class skiing in winter to epic paddling in summer to incredible fall foliage, this postcard-perfect village is an ideal year-round destination. It also happens to be a two-time host to the Winter Olympic Games. Experience the thrill of bobsledding or skiing at the original 1980 Olympic venues, and so much more!

Manistee, Michigan

This product was recommended by Kim Skeltis from Manistee Victorian Sleighbell & Old Christmas Weekend

The quaint, Lake Michigan port city of Manistee celebrates its Victorian-era roots with the annual Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend, this year Dec. 3-6. Now in its 32th year, the Old Christmas Weekend is straight out of a Dickens Christmas story. The four-day event is crammed with enough quaint, storybook-worthy holiday activities to make a Christmas lover giddy, from guided tours of historic lumber baron mansions, to downtown carriage rides, to strollers in Victorian attire singing Christmas carols and roasting chestnuts.

The weekend tradition culminates with the Victorian Sleighbell Parade with horse-drawn entries, culminating with draft horses pulling a 30-foot Christmas tree down River Street. The evening is topped off by a stunning display of fireworks over the downtown followed by community caroling around the lit tree. Manistee is easily accessible via car off US-31 (4 hours from Detroit, 4.5 hours from Chicago), or by a short, one-hour flight to Manistee Blacker Airport from Chicago Midway Airport. And Manistee boasts a variety of lodging options, from world-class golf resort lodgings to mom-and-pop properties.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Philadelphia has developed Christmas traditions that those who grew up there keep coming back to, and those who visit for the first time love instantly. Nearby Longwood Gardens hosts a beautiful outdoor light and fountain display as well as an indoor dramatically festive conservatory. Christmas carol sing-alongs continue are a favorite. Downtown Philadelphia hosts a skating rink in Dillworth Plaza just outside of City Hall. The Wanamaker Organ in Macy’s department store accompanies a light show in the grand court several times a day. Christmas in Philadelphia combines colonial tradition with modern advances.

Nashville, Tennessee

This product was recommended by Genma Holmes from Genma Holmes

In the Christmas Community I am known as Ms. Santa year round. Nashville is my hometown so of course I know where all the great places for families, singles, couples, groups and children would love to visit in Nashville for Christmas and the New Year. With Nashville being such a diverse community and know as the IT City around the world, here are a few of my favorite places: Opryland Hotel and Resort; has over three million lights. The Hermitage for the Holidays, home of President Andrew Jackson Zoolumination, The Nashville Zoo totally decorated for the holidays The Cheekwood Mansion, the lights are jaw dropping. GLOW Nashville, millions of lights and a custom-built ice skating rink Heated Igloos at Nordic Winter Village, you are outside on the rooftop in heated igloos. Too amazing not to share! And, lastly the Nashville Christmas Parade

Çirağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

This product was recommended by Loren Duran from FinnPartners

Çirağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul is the only Ottoman imperial palace and hotel on the Bosphorus and has been an Istanbul classic since opening in 1991. The property has 313 rooms, including 20 suites in the hotel and 11 suites in the historical palace; guests staying at the palace suites arrive via a private entrance and enjoy 24-hour private butler service and several bragworthy restaurants. In addition, the property offers an authentic Turkish bath Hamam experience.

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Written by Tan Sauteed


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