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6 of the most magical places to spend Christmas

Around the world

Natarsha Brown jingles all the way around the world in search of the places sure to have your little ones believing in the magic of Christmas.


Carols sung around Christmas trees, decorations adorning homes and entire cities, incredible feasts shared with loved ones, and, of course, presents!

Christmas is an enchanting time no matter where you spend it, but if your family is after a bit of extra magic, these are the places to spend your next holiday season.



The Ritz Hotel, London


ritz london chirstmas


The magic begins the moment you step into the lobby, where a soaring seven-metre Christmas tree takes centre stage: dressed in traditional red and gold, shimmering with baubles, adorned in gigantic velvet red bows and twinkling fairy lights that weave their way to the first floor in a mini light show.

This is just the beginning of the wonder that is Christmas at The Ritz Hotel, London, turning what is an already enchanting stay into one brimming with festive cheer. Guests rooms are personalised with in-room Yuletide trimmings and menus.

And best of all? On Christmas Day the little ones will receive a visit – gifts included – from Father Christmas, followed by a six-course luncheon in the grand Music Room.

And let’s not forget the rest of London. The city’s unique festive atmosphere come holiday season can probably be attributed to how the Brits just love Christmas.

Walking the chilly streets, awash with bustling last-minute shoppers, wrapped from head-to-toe in your woolly wear, enjoying the spectacular lights of Oxford Street, will surely have you and your littlies beaming.

Take time to marvel at the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, then visit the six-week Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, with more than 100 rides and attractions on site, an ice rink around the Victorian bandstand ice rink and the hugely popular sub-zero Magical Ice Kingdom Arctic-inspired sculpture.



Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremburg


Germany


If the thought of Christmas shopping has you wide-eyed and crouching in the corner, then you haven’t experienced Christmas shopping seasons as it’s meant to be: at the Christkindlesmarkt at Nuremburg.

Pulling in over two million visitors each year, the markets have been a German institution for nearly 400 years. Some 180 stalls overflow with toys, trinkets, candles, decorations and sweets – it’s as romantic an atmosphere as they come.

Mum and dad can feast on bratwurst and Glühwein (mulled wine), while littlies explore the Nuremburg Toy Museum, take a ride on the wooden-carved Ferris wheel, explore the old-fashioned steam railway and two-tiered merry-go-round and munch on spicy gingerbread.

On that note, you simply cannot mention Christmas in Germany without mentioning the city’s beloved gingerbread – Nürnberger Lebkuchen. These sweet and spicy desserts have been baked for more than 600 years and are loved by young and old alike.

According to legend, the finest variety is named after Elisabeth, the daughter of a baker, who grew ill. Her father starting baking a new type of bread without flour that used only the finest ingredients – the Elisenlebkuchen – and the girl regained her health.


New York


christmas in Newyork


The Big Apple is, quite simply, a Christmas miracle in itself.

With so many Hollywood movies based around the holiday season in New York, it isn’t hard to imagine how the city transforms into a land of promise and possibility: the streets garnished with a light dusting of snow and alive with music and parades, department stores’ windows aglow with red, green and gold displays; and the East Coast’s tallest Christmas tree luminous with baubles, tinsel and surrounded by flurries of ice-skaters.

The Rockefeller Centre is the heart and soul of an NYC Christmas.

Its famed ice-rink has been around for 80 years, and its tree an 85-year-old tradition decorated with more than 30,000 twinkling lights!

And it doesn’t stop there; most of the city’s most famous landmarks get a Yuletide makeover. Across the road, Radio City hosts the annual Christmas Spectacular featuring The Rockettes; Columbus Circle is awash with vendors selling clothes, gifts, snacks and drinks at its Holiday Market; Central Park becomes a fairytale of horse-drawn carriages and ice-skating ponds; and the famous window displays at Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Macy’s are so extravagant, they would melt the heart of Mrs Claus herself.



Rome, Italy


christmas in rome


The spiritual heart of Catholicism sure knows how to make Christmas time as enchanting as possible.

Rome is always magical, but come Christmas, the city glitters with extra charm: carts selling roasted chestnuts on every corner, presepi (nativity scenes) popping up inside churches, music concerts flowing through the cobblestone streets and into cafes, historic sites – such as the Colosseum and the Spanish Steps – become hosts to Christmas trees, Piazza Navona transforms into a marketplace full of surprises and the shopping district of Via Condotti islit up like a, well, Christmas tree with decorations.

If the kids can stay awake, the Midnight Mass at St Peter’s Basilica is a sight to behold, whether your family are churchgoers or not.

Australia


christmas in australia


If a white Christmas just isn’t your thing, swap the snow for some sand, surf and sunscreen in our very own sunburnt county.

Australia does Christmas as only Australia can, with a good ol’ backyard barbecue (prawns included) and Pavlova for dessert, some beach cricket or a dip in the pool (or if you’re desperate, a run though the sprinklers), followed by an afternoon nap.

If Father Christmas was an Aussie he would definitely be dressed in boardies instead of a Santa suit, and would probably spend the day enjoying a Golden Gaytime on Bondi Beach.

If you are in Sydney pre-Christmas, be sure not to miss Carols in the Domain, the biggest Christmas concert in Australia, and free! 2016 will mark the 34th year of this iconic celebration and is sure to be another star-studded event.

In one of our cutest holiday traditions, kids must be sure to leave some drinks and nibbles out for Santa and his reindeer before going to bed – with most families leaving a glass of whisky (or a beer, depending on Dad’s preference), a mince pie and some carrots for Rudolph on the kitchen table.



Rovaniemi, Finland


christmas 
in finland



If meeting Santa himself isn’t the most magical way to spend Christmas, then I don’t know what is.

Travel to Rovaniemi, Finland, in the Arctic Circle, and discover the place generally accepted as the home of Santa Claus. Here, elfin postal workers receive about half a million letters each year from hopeful children the world over and reply with an Arctic Circle postmark... now that’s devotion to the holiday spirit.

After being picked up by an elf-mobile and whizzed through snowy streets and the depths of the forest, you will come to a village of little wooden huts.

After meeting a friendly troll, decorating cookies, learning how to be kind at elf school, roasting marshmallows and sipping at hot chocolates around an open fire, guests finally arrive at Saint Nicholas’ house, where the real fun begins.

Little ones will most likely go into sensory overload as they discover this pocket of make-believe: Santa’s satellite showing reindeer flying overhead, the mail-sorting system and, if you listen closely, the elves working downstairs in the toy workshop.

Of course, the highlight is meeting the man in red himself, who is eventually revealed sitting by a crackling fire, beckoning his young devotees forward and answering any question they can throw at him.

If your kids are coming to end of their believing days, this is the perfect antidote. Read more about meeting Santa on page 134.




This article featured in volume 49 of Holidays with kids. Enjoy it? Subscribe to see more!

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