Explore the world’s best Christmas holiday destinations.  From Lapland’s snowy magic to Hawaii’s sunny shores, find your perfect festive getaway for 2024.

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Rockefellar Christmas Tree illuminated with coloured lights and white star at top set against night sky with empty ice skating rink below in New York City.

Whether you’re dreaming of Bing Crosby’s Winter Wonderland or sipped a festive cocktail on a sun-kissed beach, there’s a Christmas holiday destination tailored just for you.  Curious about the top spots to celebrate – or perhaps escape – the festive season in 2024?  Let’s journey to some of the globe’s most enchanting places to revel in, or retreat from, the Christmas cheer. 

White-furred reindeer leaning in towards camera with red reins in snow setting in Rovamiemi.

Reindeer in Rovaniemi, Hannah Bartlett

Experience the magic of Christmas in the Arctic Circle!  Rovaniemi in Finland lies precisely on the Arctic Circle line and is the self-proclaimed official home of Santa Claus.

Not only can you whisper your wishes to the man in red himself, but you can also immerse in Lappish culture with reindeer sleigh rides, husky mushing, and ice fishing.  Embrace wintry activities from snowmobiling to sauna, all under the wonder of the (near permanent) night sky and perhaps even the captivating Northern Lights.

2. German Christmas Markets, Germany

Cologne Christmas Market in the Cathedral Square

Cologne Christmas Market in the Cathedral Square

Embrace the yuletide spirit amidst Germany’s famed Christmas markets, where the scent of mulled wine and the warmth of festive lights abound.  Whether it’s the vast array of markets in Cologne, the oldest of all in Dresden, or a tour of Germany’s small towns to visit more intimate markets well away from the beaten track, each one offers something unique and rather special.  Or, why not meander along the Rhine or Danube, sampling various markets on a scenic river cruise.

3. Ice Hotels, Various Locations

Bedroom in the Arctic Snowhotel in Finland with ice carving of arch above bed and person to side, illuminated with coloured lights and furs on the bed carved from ice.

Arctic Snowhotel Finland, Hannah Bartlett

Surrender to the frosty charm of an ice hotel, where artistry meets nature. These stunning creations of snow and ice are rebuilt annually, providing an extraordinary stay amidst sculptures and furnishings carved from ice.   Toast the occasion at an ice bar, dine in a glacial restaurant, or unwind in an ice sauna for an unforgettable icy escapade at one of the ‘coolest hotels’ on the planet!

4. Hawaii, U.S.A.

Yellow sands and blue sea with Santa hat on the sand and Ho Ho Ho written in the sand to its side.

Christmas in Hawaii

Swap the cold for warm Hawaiian breezes, where Christmas comes with a tropical twist. Carols are accompanied by ukelele and Santa Claus arrives by canoe.  Replace Christmas dinner with a Christmas lu’au and roast turkey with roasted Kālua pig.  Working up an appetite is no issue as winter brings the best surfing waves to the archipelago.  So, grab your festive Mai Tai and get ready to toast: Mele Kalikimaka!

5. New York City, U.S.A.

Christmas tree covered in coloured lights at Rockefellar Center in New York City with fanfare angels in the foreground.

Christmas Tree at the Rockefellar Center in New York City, Hannah Bartlett

Fulfil your Christmas movie fantasies in New York City, a dazzling winter stage set with twinkling lights and festive joy.  Stroll through decorated stores on Fifth Avenue, ice skate under the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza, and dance along to the Rockettes at Radio City Hall.  New York’s festive allure is truly the epitome of Christmas wonder.

6. Colmar, Alsace, France

Beautiful traditional Alsacian buildings on either side of street with chain of lights and star hanging across street.

Colmar, Alsace, France at Christmas

Nestled on the France-Germany border, Colmar exudes storybook charm, making it a picturesque backdrop for festive celebrations. Wander the cobbled alleyways of the Old Town, illuminated by fairy lights and lined with quaint market stalls, offering the finest Alsatian wines and seasonal delights amidst a picture-perfect setting.

7. The Caribbean

Woman (Hannah) wearing sparkly Santa hat in foreground with beautiful Caribbean sea behind and blue sky and greenery.

Hannah on Christmas Day in the Caribbean

Christmas is one of the best times of year to visit the sun-drenched islands of the Caribbean.  Each island promises a unique festive season, blending traditional cheer with tropical zest and a whole lot of blue sea and golden sand!  Fairy-lit palm trees and festive resort entertainment programmes ensure there’s enough Christmas on offer to remember the time of year.  And plenty of relaxation and beachfront activity to forget about it too, should you prefer.

8. Northern Lights, Various Locations

Northern Lights in night sky above snowy ground and pine trees

Northern Lights in Canada

There is surely some kind of Christmas magic at work when the Northern Lights shine!  Almost otherworldly, the aurora borealis casts a paintbrush over the night sky with its vivid and everchanging palette and patterns.  Whilst not guaranteed, head to a location within the auroral oval (area of solar magnetic activity) to try and catch them.  Then, wish upon a Christmas star for clear nights and strong sky activity.  And don’t worry; there’ll be myriad other winter joys to keep you busy as you wait.

9. Edinburgh, Scotland

Christmas market with funfair and Christmas tree maze in Princes Street Gardens on side of the hill in central Edinburgh

Christmas Markets in Edinburgh

Home to one of Europe’s best Christmas markets, the Scottish capital makes a brilliant Christmas holiday destination.  And the city’s Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) celebrations extend the merriment, ensuring the festive spirit lingers well into the New Year.  Blending traditional charm and Scottish vivacity, you’ll find illuminations on Edinburgh Castle walls, a light trail in the city’s Royal Botanic Gardens and plenty more seasonal activities throughout the city.

10. Mauritius

Musician trio with guitars next to tropical Christmas tree at beachside under cover with table laid for Christmas meal in Mauritius.

Live Music at Christmas in Mauritius, Hannah Bartlett

December is peak season in Mauritius, with beautiful weather and festive resort experiences aplenty on offer.  The blossoming of the local flame trees offers a stunning tropical take on the classic red and green backdrop for the festivities.  If you can drag yourself away from the crystal-clear water, there’s all sorts of sumptuous Christmas feasting on offer throughout the island’s resorts.  Plus, some world class golf courses on which to work off the banquets for those so inclined.

11. Skiing, France (& Beyond!)

Father Christmas on snowboard facing towards camera on ski slope with snow dusted pine trees to rear.

Skiing with Santa at Christmas

Don’t just think of skiing for the post-Christmas spot on the calendar.  Ski resorts often go all out for Christmas, decking the halls, trails, and lodges with festive decorations and twinkling lights, creating a cosy, joyful atmosphere.

Beyond the pistes, you can indulge in après-ski activities such as sipping hot cocoa by a roaring fire, exploring quaint alpine villages adorned with Christmas lights, or even meeting Santa on the slopes. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time skier, hitting the slopes during the holiday season promises not just exhilarating sport but also unforgettable Yuletide cheer in a winter wonderland setting, and memories to last a lifetime.

12. Reykjavik, Iceland

Grassy bell decoration hanging above street in Reykjavik at Christmas time with Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral in background.

Christmas decorations towards Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral in Reykjavik Iceland

With its vast array of breathtaking natural wonders, from geysers to waterfalls, caves to glaciers, Iceland’s winter marvels offer a Christmas setting like no other.  And whilst many are surprised to discover that almost all the country lies beneath the Arctic Circle, there is still a good chance of experiencing a snowy Christmas and even seeing the Northern Lights dance across the night sky.

Reykjavik shines with yuletide lights and festive warmth, enhanced by the enchanting Icelandic tradition of the visits of the 13 ‘Yule Lads’ and the beloved book gifting tradition which results in an annual Christmas Book Flood (Jolabokaflodid).

13. Québec City

Funicular train track in Québec Old City with dusting of snow and street with Christmas lights to fore.

Christmas time in Québec City

Beautiful French-Canadian Québec City comes alive for the festive season.  Meander the snow-dusted cobbled streets of the Old City and admire the Christmas card worthy architecture in its white winter blanket.

Head up the hill to the iconic Château Frontenac and take a ride on the classic wooden toboggan slide.  Explore the fairy lit Christmas markets and icicle-filled Montmorency Falls.  And consider extending your visit after Christmas to enjoy a trip to the nearby Hôtel de Glace – North America’s only ice hotel.

14. Walt Disney World, Florida, U.S.A.

Walt Disney World castle at the end of Main Street USA with blue sky above and Christmas garlands and wreaths strung across street.

Walt Disney World at Christmas, Hannah Bartlett

No one does Christmas magic quite like Disney does Christmas magic!  Walk down Main Street U.S.A. in the snow, party with everyone’s favourite mouse at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and indulgence in amazing festive treats you didn’t even know you needed!  Plus, no super-hot, sticky summer weather to worry about as you charge around the parks.  A Christmas time trip to Walt Disney World really can make dreams come true.

15. Sydney, Australia

Close up view of very large Christmas tree with golden bows, crystals and other luxurious decorations, with camera angled upwards towards light spray strands tree topper and ornate domed stained glass roof above in shopping centre.

Christmas Tree In Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building Shopping Mall, Hannah Bartlett

Christmas Down Under?  You know you’ve thought about it!  Throwing a shrimp on the barbie whilst you catch some rays at the beach.  With summer in full swing, Christmas is a fabulous time to head to Sydney.  Turn the festivities completely on their head and lean into Santa’s surfing vibes – Christmas Day on Bondi Beach, Christmas tree in Martin Place, Carols in the Domain, and fireworks at Darling Harbour.  There’s more than enough to keep the festive feels going strong in this brilliantly buzzy icon of a city.

16. The Maldives

Wooden sun lounger on white sand beach facing turquoise sea with Santa hat hanging over back of lounger.

Santa Hat on the Beach with white sand and turquoise sea

Escapism at its very best.  Remove your shoes as you arrive and feel the weight lift from your shoulders as the pre-Christmas busy-ness melts away.  Spend Christmas in a villa suspended above warm turquoise waters and indulge in doing absolutely nothing!  Surrender to serene luxury, replacing turkey with lobster and mulled wine with champagne, and embrace the tropical elegance of The Maldives.

17. London, U.K.

Regent Street curved away from camera at dusk with white light illuminated angel spanning street and London taxis and buses below.

Christmas lights on Regent Street in London, Hannah Bartlett

Famed for its Christmas lights, store windows and pantomimes, a trip to London at Christmas time can be just as magical as adventures further afield.  Work your way around the Monopoly board as you admire the city’s Christmas streetlights.

Check out Christmas markets, from Southbank’s foodie delights to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland thrills and entertainment.  And be sure to stop by one of the city’s many pubs for some warming Christmas cheer.

Where will the festive season take you in 2024? From the traditional German Christmas markets to the balmy breezes of the Caribbean, each destination offers a unique slice of Christmas cheer, waiting to be discovered.  What Christmas holiday destination is top of your list? 

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Big Sis - Hannah

Hannah Bartlett

Hannah Bartlett, former Travel & Hospitality Professional and Mum of two, co-founded Christmas blog Jolly Festive alongside her sister, Jo.  The pair have a voracious appetite for all things Christmas, researching and creating inspiration year-round for all aspects of the festivities.  More about Hannah