15 November 2018
Christmas time has a distinctly European feel to it. From the myriad of German markets to Father Christmas’ Lapland home in Finland, the annual celebration is very much rooted in the continent. However, there are places all over the world which get in the festive spirit at the end of December and do so in style. Here are five of the best.
New York City, USA
New York City is synonymous with Christmas. From Home Alone 2 to Elf, Manhattan is a staple of many households over the festive period with good reason, as New York does Christmas right. Celebrations start with the conclusion of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade when Santa Claus comes to a stop in front of the famous department store while the iconic Empire State Building illuminates in shades of red and green to mark the occasion. Annual features include two ice rinks – one in Central Park and one at the Rockefeller Center – which also hosts the famed Christmas tree.
Christmas is celebrated with energetic enthusiasm in Cancun, and most restaurants remain open on Christmas Day to celebrate the festive season. Celebrations and candlelight processions known as 'Los Posadas' start on 16th December, where locals re-enact the nativity play. Within the procession, there's a visit to the nativity scene followed by festivities with food, dancing and traditional Mexican pinatas. Expect a real extravaganza in Mexico, with beautifully decorated streets, parks and houses along with huge Christmas trees, pinatas and appearances from Santa Claus himself!
There's also a series of free to attend concerts in Kukulkan Plaza from 20th December to 31st - you'll see the City choir, singers and be able to spread some Christmas cheer.
Cebu, The Philippines
The Philippines may seem like an obscure place to celebrate Christmas, but it shouldn’t be quite so surprising as 92% of the East Asian nation’s population is Christian. One of the best places to get in the mood is Cebu, where the lighting of a large Christmas tree in the Fuente Circle signifies the month-long celebration.
Though the tradition isn’t quite the same as in Europe, as the Filipino climate means that mulled wine and turkey can be enjoyed on the beaches of Cebu, or one of the surrounding islands.
Christmas in Sydney is very similar to celebrations in Britain and the rest of Europe, although it does have one key difference – December in Australia is the first month of summer. Sit-down dinners are replaced by beachside barbeques, and there’s no chance of a white Christmas. That isn’t a bad thing though, as sunshine and clear skies mean that Sydney puts its own spin on things. Proceedings kick off with the Martin Place Christmas Concert and Tree Lighting ceremony, while a whole catalogue of Christmas markets pop up all over the city through November and December selling festive food and gifts. Boxing Day is the start of the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, where people congregate to see the spectacle of the boats setting sail from Nielsen Park.
Maldives, Indian Ocean
For a blissful Christmas escape to the Maldives. Each resort has their own celebrations with many hotels preparing special Christmas dinners. You'll be spoilt for choice of things to do in the impeccable weather - spend your Christmas Day relaxing on white sands, snorkelling in crystal clear waters and sipping on cocktails. There are also several lavish gala dinners so attend to ring in the new year, so you can celebrate in true style.