Didn’t plan in time to travel out of town this year? Well ETI has suggestions for you to make next year a special Christmas getaway! Sure, there’s nothing quite like celebrating Christmas at home with your loved ones, but why not take your tradition on the road for a change? Here are ten destinations that’ll inspire you to change things up this year.
New York City
The city that never sleeps is arguably most abuzz around the holidays. Pay a visit to the towering Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, shop the holiday markets at Union Square, and take your skating talents to the ice rink at Bryant Park, which is (slightly) less crowded than the one in Rock Center. For a classic New York experience, book a room at the delightfully festive St. Regis. You’ll also want to check out the incredible holiday window displays at places like Bergdorf’s, Macy’s, and Saks, and then head to Lincoln Center for the ultimate Christmas tradition: The Nutcracker. In need of a bit more inspiration? Check out this list of our editors’ favorite things to do in New York during the holidays.
Traveling with kids? Look no further than Tuscany, where child-friendly holiday activities and eye-catching nativity scenes are abundant. One standout: Santa Claus’ Village of Montepulciano, which features a Santa Claus castle, a “Toy Factory” exhibit, and a mini pony ranch. Book a room at Il Castelfalfi, a new five-star resort located in a restored medieval village, or check out the equally luxurious Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, an 800-year-old Tuscan estate owned by the Ferragamo family. “Last year was the first year that the Ferragamos decided to keep it open for the holiday,” says says Jaclyn Sienna India, president and founder of the luxury travel firm Sienna Charles. “It’s perfect for families—there’s exceptional food, and pizza and pasta-making for the kids.” And for adults, “What’s more cozy than enjoying Super Tuscans by the fire?”
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
West Virginia might not be the first place that comes to mind for a late December getaway, but that’s probably because you’ve never spent Christmas at The Greenbrier. The historic hotel—which has hosted 26 U.S. presidents—pulls out all the stops for its guests as part of a “60 Days of Holiday Cheer” tradition. On property, you’ll find more than 100 Christmas trees, 120,000 lights, 2,000 poinsettias, a 2,000 pound chocolate display, and a plethora of holiday-centric meals and events.
Arguably Europe’s most festive city come holiday season, London is an idyllic place to spend Christmas. Explore Christmas markets, cozy up by the fire at a posh hotel, go ice skating, and indulge in a shopping spree at Harrods. Shack up at the Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, where a festive Afternoon Tea promises the ultimate in British tradition.
Despite being ravaged by Hurricane Irma last year, the posh Caribbean enclave has proven itself to be as resilient as ever. By Christmastime, nearly every hotel will be back up and running—as will all of the island’s signature restaurants. And, considering most regulars missed out on the 2017 season, this year promises to better than ever.
Is there anything more authentic than spending Christmas in the Article Circle? Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland in Northern Scandinavia, is known as the “Official Hometown of Santa Claus”—and it looks exactly like the Santa Claus’ village you grew up fantasizing about. Kids will encounter elves, play with Rudolf and his reindeer, and decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus; for adults, there’s snowmobile safaris, husky rides, and Northern Light hunting.
St. Petersburg, Russia
“It’s incredibly dreamy this time of year with the snow and the historic buildings,” says Sienna India. She recommends buying tickets to the Russian ballets and catching a performance of the original Nutcracker at the Mariinsky, which is the theater that hosted the famed production’s world premiere in 1892.
Mediterranean Island of Malta
You won’t find snowmen (or snow, for that matter) on the Mediterranean island of Malta, but you will find baroque churches overflowing at midnight mass, Christmas carolers parading through the streets, and temperatures in the low 60s. At the Corinthia Palace Hotel, guests can partake in an indulgent Christmas morning brunch and “festive” happenings all week long.
BOOK NOW Corinthia Palace and Spa Hotel, Malta
No one does Christmas markets quite like the Germans—particularly in Nuremburg, which is known for having the country’s best. Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt dates back to 1628, and even though it has now expanded to more than 180 stalls, much of the old-world tradition and charm remains the same. Of course, there’s more to the city than its market. The medieval architecture appeals to culture lovers, as do Nuremberg’s 43 museums.
For those in search of a truly sacred Christmas experience, Sienna India recommends Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus and home to the original nativity scene. Christmas carolers and processions pass through Manger Square, and churches host services for a number of different Christian denominations.
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