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12 Picturesque Festive Locations for the Winter Holidays

 It’s finally December and everyone is slowly getting into the holiday spirit. Families are busy decorating their homes and putting up Christmas lights, and the same can be said about thousands of cities all across the globe. And while some places are modest in their festive preparations, others go all in and amaze people with their dazzling decorations and entertainment year after year. The 12 cities we list in this article, big or small, all have one thing in common - they are the leaders of winter holiday decorations and celebrations, which makes them the absolute best cities to visit and admire during the winter holidays.

1. Colmar, France

Picturesque Christmas Locations Colmar, France
Colmar is a historic town in the east of France, around a 3-hour train ride away from Paris. The town's history dates back to the Middle Ages. Colmar is full of charming ancient buildings and is fun to visit year-round, but it's during the Christmas season that it really comes to life, for which the small town earned the title "Christmas town".
The dazzling and authentic festive decorations are the main attraction. These are usually set up at around November 22 and stay up until December 29, and immediately, the city experiences a rapid influx of tourists from all corners of the Earth. There are also six Christmas markets set up in the town during this time where tourists can enjoy authentic festive treats and purchase handcrafted souvenirs.

2. Rovaniemi, Finland

Picturesque Christmas Locations Rovaniemi, Finland
In Rovaniemi, Christmas lasts all year. After all, when a town calls itself "The Official Hometown of Santa Claus", you know they're not joking around with their Christmas program. Throughout the year you can meet Santa Claus and visit the beautiful Santa Claus Village, or take a ride on a reindeer-pulled sleigh.
Things become even more serious when the holidays come around and a yearly Christmas parade with a Christmas Fantasy show featuring Lumberjacks and Elves is organized. The small Finnish town also offers visitors to admire polar lights and visit a restaurant made completely of ice.

3. New York City, USA

Picturesque Christmas Locations new york city

Image Source: Mickaël T./ Flickr

New York City is among the most popular winter destinations in the world, with the Christmas tree and skating rink at the Rockefeller Center and the famous New Year's Eve Ball Drop at Times Square being iconic places to spend for the holiday fanatic. But these two locations are by far not the only places worth your attention in New York City during the winter season.

The magnificent store displays at Bloomingdale's, Macy's, and Saks Fifth Avenue are likewise a traditional festive pastime, as is seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, visiting one of the Christmas markets or taking the little ones to The Gingerbread House at Madison Square Park.

4. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Picturesque Christmas Locations Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
The small town of Rothenburg in Bavaria, Germany, is one of the favorite tourist spots in the country, as it has everything an authentic German city should have, starting from the half-timbered houses to the cobblestone streets and a majestic mountainous backdrop.
The winter holiday season is one of the best to visit this picturesque town, as the snow-covered roofs combined with richly decorated houses and Christmas trees make for an unforgettable vista. As most European towns, the city also holds a Christmas market and a winter festival during December.

5. Tokyo, Japan

Picturesque Christmas Locations tokyo japan
If you want to experience a different take on Christmas celebrations, Tokyo is an excellent option. For one, Tokyo doesn't shy away from festive illuminations. On the contrary, each city district is trying to outdo the others with its dazzling display every year, so simply strolling through the city is a magical experience. These illuminations stay up until the end of February.
There are also several Christmas markets and holiday displays throughout the city, but if you want to get a truly authentic Japanese experience, make sure to stop by a KFC and get a bucket of crispy chicken. We're not kidding, it's a traditional winter holiday meal in Japan.

6. Honolulu, Hawaii

Picturesque Christmas Locations Honolulu, Hawaii
Not everyone is a fan of the cold, winter holidays or not. As a matter of fact, December is the busiest month for tourism in Honolulu, which holds a massive winter holiday celebration every year. The Honolulu City Lights encompass an impressive colorful lights display in downtown Honolulu pictured above.
The most noteworthy attractions are the New Year's Eve fireworks, as well as the Festival of Boats Light Parade, during which a multitude of decorated boats, some featuring performances, cruise around the city marina.

7. London, UK

Picturesque Christmas Locations london uk
If you're going to spend your winter holidays in London, you should definitely drop by Oxford Street, which amazes locals and visitors alike with a multitude of stunning light displays, festive fireworks on New Year, and a myriad of shops and restaurants open around the clock.
Of course, there are also several Christmas markets around the city, with visitors being recommended to try out the traditional combination of tea and a sausage pastry. Our final recommendation is the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, an all in one market and ice rink that also features incredible circus performances.

8. Copenhagen, Denmark

Picturesque Christmas Locations Copenhagen, Denmark
Like most European cities, Copenhagen has a long-standing Christmas tradition. The picturesque Tivoli Gardens were opened in 1843, and ever since, this location has become a winter holiday tradition. Apart from the dazzling light display, traditional fireworks are set off on Christmas and New Year.
Another fun Christmas tradition is the kayak parade held in the Copenhagen harbor every Christmas, with thousands of people boarding kayaks decorated with lights and swimming around the harbor and the canals. Finally, travelers can visit traditional Christmas Markets or the beautifully decorated city zoo, or go ice skating at the Frederiksberg Rundel.

9. Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Picturesque Christmas Locations Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
There is no doubt that celebrating the winter holidays in the party capital of the United States will be a blast, as the multitude of fireworks and lights displays at the Las Vegas strip cannot possibly leave you indifferent. Apart from all the festive beauty, there are countless holiday events and concerts happening all around the city, so everyone is sure to find something interesting and fun.
Among the most popular Christmas spots in Las Vegas are the Christmas tree at the Venetian, the Bellagio Fountains that hold special holiday performances, free indoor Christmas displays at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and an ice skating rink at the Cosmopolitan. 

10. Quebec, Canada

Picturesque Christmas Locations Quebec, Canada
Quebec is another beautiful city with a historical feel and beautiful landscape. Apart from walking through the snow-covered, beautifully illuminated streets of the city, however, travelers can enjoy a variety of exclusive experiences, such as staying at an ice hotel and bar that's being rebuilt every year or visiting the Quebec Winter Carnival that features countless snow sculptures, including Bonhomme, the 7 feet tall snowman, as well as different outdoor activities and a Christmas market.
Vieux-Quebec, the ancient fortified part of the city, too, is very beautiful during the winter and contains many tourist destinations. During the New Year's celebrations, you'll find folk performances and other outdoor entertainment activities throughout the city as well, along with spectacular fireworks.

11. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Picturesque Christmas Locations Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Visiting Rio de Janeiro during the holidays in a very memorable experience, as a 82 meter tall Christmas tree known as the Lagoa Christmas Tree is floating around in the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon. During New Year's Eve, this spectacle is further complemented by a carnival accompanied by magnificent fireworks. 
This New Year's celebration at the Copacabana Beach is known as Rio's second-biggest party and it typically attracts around 2.5 million visitors every year.

12. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Picturesque Christmas Locations Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam usually experiences a barrage of tourists in the spring, as the picturesque tulip fields are the reason why many people decide to visit the Dutch capital. However, this is by far not the only good time to pay this beautiful historic city a visit, as, during December, the city becomes the location of the yearly Amsterdam Light Festival, a festivity that takes the historical part of the city by storm and transforms it into an astonishing visual performance.
The 2019 festival started on November 28 and will continue until January 19, 2020, giving the tourists plenty of time to see the beautiful lights display. Apart from the festival, there is also a Christmas Market where visitors can enjoy the mandatory sausage and mulled wine. Finally, several museums, including the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, stay open even on Christmas.
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