During these times, we couldn’t help but let our minds wander through the Christmas destinations we miss, we’ve never been to, or we may never see. Yes, we wouldn’t trade celebrating the holidays at home with loved ones for anything in the world, but the pandemic has also testified to our dream of seeing Christmas in a new light, like literally—from snow-dusted Christmas trees to a whole town fully-enveloped with glittering lights.
Here are the top spots that are moving right past our “100 Places to Visit Before we Die (Christmas edition)” bucket list, or maybe just the places we would love to visit when we can fly international again.
Top Destination in Asia: Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo eternally shines with buildings, skyscrapers, and window displays bedecked in glowing LED lights, but half a million more of these installations (and light snowfall) blanket the city during winter season. Roppongi Hills, a complex that provides nightlife for the locals, is at the forefront of Tokyo’s holiday tourism, flocked by a total of seven million tourists every year. The 400-meter stretch is lined with illuminated grove of Keyaki trees on both sides, Christmas markets that sell German specialties and fluffy cakes, and a walkway draped in actual elegant robes.
Top Destination in North America: New York, US
Undoubtedly the busiest and top holiday destination in the world, New York is marked with everything you would expect from a Christmas movie you loved growing up—bedazzling storefronts, themed shows, live outdoor concerts, Christmas markets, carriage rides, and a public ice-skating rink that cuts right through the heart of the city!
Your stay wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Rockefeller Christmas tree at the Center Plaza, the tallest in the world and is also the city’s favorite landmark in lieu of the Statue of Liberty during the holidays. Also, catch a show or two (or how New Yorker titas would put it: SEE THE ROCKETTES) at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular!
Top Destination in Europe: Lapland, Finland
Ah, Europe, where quaint architecture and cobbled streets scream Christmas all year round and transform into a winter wonderland even without all the razzle-dazzle of the holidays, but the quiet town of Finnish Lapland grabs the fanfare.
If Manhattan is the best place to reenact scenes from holiday family movies, then your polar, fictional, 3D white Christmas dreams come true in this postcard-perfect city of Lapland where you can see a real herd of pampered reindeers, ride a snowmobile, cross the Arctic Circle, check in at alpine lodges, and meet and greet Santa Claus at his village in Rovaniemi. Both locals and tourists, however, agree that your festive meanderings as you work your way to every Christmas tree found at every square stop is the simplest yet most meaningful Christmas experience in this city.
Top Destination in South America: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
If you’re looking for a different Christmas experience, then fly to Rio de Janeiro during its summer season. You’ll be in for a treat as you witness the grand festivities, street parties, fireworks, and revelries by the Copacabana Beach, with the world’s largest floating Christmas tree serving as the perfect backdrop. Soak up the sun and culture and learn about the marriage of old and new Christmas traditions in the city all month long.