As the weather gets cooler, the most magical time of the year gets closer and closer. There's nothing quite like the joy of the holiday season, and if you're hunting for the perfect winter wonderland getaway, these destinations will be nothing short of enchanting.
From breathtaking ice sculptures in Alaska to ancient Christmas traditions in Bethlehem, here are the best Christmas towns around the world that truly encapsulate the spirit of the season!
North Pole, Alaska
At the North Pole, it's Christmas all year round! With candy cane-striped street lights, live reindeer, and loads of tinsel-strung pine trees, the North Pole is as close to Santa's hometown as it gets. While you're here, check out the annual North Pole Christmas in Ice contest in December – this festival attracts expert sculptures from around the world!
Every Christmas, this Bavarian-style town transforms into a magical kingdom of over half a million lights reflecting off blanketed white snow. Located on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, this village will make you feel like you're exploring a real-life snow globe.
Don't miss the captivating Christmas Lighting Festival, where you can enjoy old-fashioned caroling, incredible light displays, and Christmas characters, including St. Nick himself.
Bethlehem, West Bank
Even if you don't identify as a Christian, Bethlehem offers an unbeatable holiday experience for history lovers. This biblical birthplace of Jesus Christ is captivating during Christmas, with a giant tree in Manger Square, candlelight processions, carol concerts, and mass services celebrating the season. The Church of the Nativity, constructed on the site where Jesus is believed to be born, hosts one of the most renowned midnight masses on Christmas Eve.
Midwest charm comes alive in Frankenmuth, Michigan, dubbed as "Michigan's Little Bavaria." Its crown jewel, Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, is the world's largest Christmas store. While this small city only has a population of 5,000, it witnesses over a million visitors each year. This town's Bavarian-style architecture, horse-drawn carriages, streets lined with boutiques, and enticing fudge shops build a cozy Christmas scene that's hard to beat.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Christmas in San Miguel de Allende is an explosion of colors, flavors, and, most importantly, posada processions. These traditional candlelit parades start on December 16th and lead up to Christmas Eve, in which the locals reenact the story of Mary and Joseph by going door to door and asking for the "posada," or "inn," through singing. On December 12th, you can also participate in the Festival of Guadalupe, where you'll witness fireworks and live music celebrating Mexico's patron saint.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Germany's impeccably preserved medieval town, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, is home to the German Christmas Museum. Meander through cobblestone streets, explore the enchanting Christmas market, and admire the spectacular light displays adorning the timber-framed houses.
The picturesque village of Grindelwald, Switzerland, lies in the snowy Swiss Alps, located on the base of two dramatic peaks. Here, the Christmas period is filled with picturesque views, luxurious winter resorts, snow sports, massive Christmas trees, and a dazzling Christmas market imbued with the scent of mulled wine and fresh Swiss pastries.
Strasbourg, in France, is touted as the "Capital of Christmas." Its mind-blowing decorations, 300-stall Christmas market, and towering Christmas tree in the city center are nothing short of awe-inspiring. This city has a series of different Christmas villages, including the Village of Alsace Farmhouse, where you can sample holiday-themed variations of foie gras. Meanwhile, in the Village of Bredle, you can snack on traditional Christmas biscuits paired with a large glass of mulled wine.
Whether you want to sit by the fireplace with a snowy mountain view and a glass of mulled wine or stroll around a twinkling village with a cup of hot cocoa in hand, these destinations have something for every kind of winter enthusiast.