5 Cities that do Christmas Better than Hallmark
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Instead of Watching a Hallmark Christmas Movie, why not feel like you are in one?
Hallmark Christmas movies have become a holiday staple. More than 85 million people are expected to watch the Hallmark Channel this holiday season.
The movies always feature charming towns with twinkling lights, festive decorations at every turn, delicious Christmas food, and outdoor markets. Each of these cities and towns is awash in decorations, great food, and markets.
The good news is that there are real places that can give you the Hallmark Christmas movie experience – and they do it better than Hallmark ever could. Here are 5 of the best Christmas spots.
Christmas in Quebec City, Canada, is an immersive experience. Carolers line the historic streets, the smell of candied nuts is in the air, and light snow almost always falls! Quebec City is one of the oldest European settlements in all of North America, and its European flair is on full display during Christmastime.
The main landmark in Quebec City is the stunning Chateau Frontenac. The grand hotel is adorned with lights and wreaths and overlooks the St. Lawrence River. The interior of the hotel is decorated with dozens of Christmas trees and garlands. It’s the perfect place to stay if you want to feel like you are living in a real-life Hallmark movie!
For a next-level Christmas experience, take a stroll through Old Quebec, where you can admire 18th-century architecture and listen to live holiday music. Go on the ice slide in front of the Château Frontenac, one of the most iconic buildings in the city. Twirl around with the locals on the ice rink in Place d’Youville.
Eat some traditional Quebecois food at the local Christkindlemark (a holiday market). Try the local favorite dish of poutine, which is french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. Or, enjoy a sweet treat like maple taffy, a candy made from boiled maple syrup.
On Christmas Eve, join the locals in attending Midnight Mass at Notre Dame de Quebec, the first cathedral built in North America. Then, wander through the deserted streets of the city, which are illuminated by thousands of Christmas lights. It’s a magical experience that you won’t soon forget!
Whatever you do, you’re sure to fall in love with Quebec City during this special time of year.
Strasbourg, France, in the Alsace region, is often referred to as the “Capital of Christmas.” The city takes Christmas very seriously. The decorations start going up in October, and they are truly over-the-top “Christmasiness.” Large stuffed animals adorn buildings, huge Nutcrackers stand at attention, and every storefront is elaborately decorated.
The markets in Strasbourg are some of the best in Europe. There are 13 different Christmas Markets within the city where you’ll find traditional French Christmas gifts like candles, soaps, and nativity scenes. There are also plenty of food stalls selling delicious treats like gingerbread, hot chocolate, hot wine, and roasted chestnuts.
Take a break from the markets and head into one of the many churches in Strasbourg. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg is particularly beautiful, with its Gothic architecture and stunning stained glass windows.
While you are in Alsace make sure to visit Colmar for more Christmas markets. It is a much smaller city but just as charming.
Leavenworth is a quiet town located in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. While it is only a two-hour drive from Seattle, it like a different world.
Maybe it’s the fairy-tale turreted roofs or the colorful facades, but whatever the reason, the Bavarian Village in Leavenworth, Washington, is the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit.
Each year, the village is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with snow and more than half a million holiday lights. The effect is magical, like something straight out of a Hallmark movie. A lighting ceremony is held every weekend in December, and you can see the town come alive with lights.
Visitors can enjoy strolling down the streets, admiring the decorated storefronts and houses, and even visiting with reindeer! Don’t miss the Nutcracker Museum, where you can learn the history and see over 6,000 different Nutcrackers.
You can also enjoy the outdoors by snowshoeing, sledding, or cross-country skiing. Or you can choose to catch a ride on an open sleigh through the wintery mountains.
Leavenworth is an unforgettable experience that will leave you feeling merry and bright all season long.
Christmas in Bruges is a Hallmark-worthy experience. The whole city is decked out in festive decorations, and the streets are filled with 2 Christmas markets and vendors selling holiday treats.
There are over 50 chocolatiers in Bruge alone, so you’ll definitely want to indulge in some of the delicious chocolate or just grab a mug of hot chocolate to keep you warm as you explore.
Make sure to visit Market Square, which is home to the 13th-century belfry tower. The views from the top are incredible, and you can see all of the festive decorations throughout the city.
Bruges is also home to some beautiful churches, including the Basilica of the Holy Blood. This church houses a relic of Christ’s blood, which is brought out and paraded through the streets every May. But during Christmas, the church is decorated with garlands and lights, making it a must-see during your visit.
And, of course, no trip to Bruges would be complete without taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city.
So if you’re looking for a Christmas destination that’s full of charm and beauty, be sure to add Bruges to your list.
Rovaniemi is the official home of Santa Claus! The city is located right on the Arctic Circle, so you can be sure that there will be snow! And if you visit during December, you’ll get to see the Northern Lights.
Christmas is a special time in Rovaniemi, and you can visit Santa’s Village to see where he lives and get your photo taken with him. You can also go on a reindeer sleigh ride or take a husky sled ride through the snow-covered forest.
Santas Village offers tons of entertainment for kids and grown-ups alike.
There’s an ice bar where you can drink cocktails from glasses made of ice, a planetarium, and even an Arctic Snow Hotel. So whether you’re looking for Christmas fun or just a unique experience, Rovaniemi is the place to be.
And when you need a break from all the Christmas activities, you can relax in one of the many saunas. Finland is known for its saunas, and there are even some that are built right into the snow!
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