Lighting the tree, hanging stockings, making latkes, decorating cookies. We can’t help but get excited for all the holiday festivities and traditions to come. Whether you prefer to spend your holidays with family or friends, it can be hard to spend them away. As the holiday season draws near, many of you world travelers may be starting to feel slightly more homesick. However, we here at World Endeavors strongly believe that spending the holidays in another country can be one of the most exciting and meaningful experiences you can have while you’re abroad. For every family tradition or gathering of friends you may miss out on, there’s an infinite amount of adventure to be had and new memories to be made in your host country. Read on for some tips from our staff, as well as a list of some of our favorite places around the world to visit during the holidays.
Tips For Making the Most of Your Holiday:
Get involved. Head to a local festival, visit the holiday market in town, eat the traditional food, and embrace the unique cultural traditions that make up your host country’s holiday season.
Learn. Ask your host family and friends how they celebrate. What are some of their favorite traditions? If your host country doesn’t celebrate any holidays this season, ask them to tell you about some of their favorite holidays that occur at other times throughout the year. Aside from gaining a deeper understanding of your host country, you’ll also be able to share these cultural traditions with your family and friends back home.
Get in the spirit. Just because you’re away from home, this doesn’t mean you can’t bring your traditions with you. If you usually go to church, find one to visit. If you’re missing the decorations, hang up some of your own in your apartment or dorm. If you like to make hot chocolate and cozy up with movie, this is certainly something you can do abroad as well!
Six of Our Favorite “Winter Wonderlands” Around the World:
London: London turns into a magical winter wonderland around the holidays – literally. If you’ll be in London this winter, head over to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Afterwards, visit Eyeskate at the London Eye, head over Southbank Centre Winter Festival, go skating at Somerset House, or check out the lights lining Regent Street. Seriously, just talking about this is getting us in the holiday spirit.
Paris: If you’re lucky enough to be in France during the holidays, Paris is a must-visit. Streets are decorated, monuments are illuminated, and the whole city buzzes with holiday joy. Visitors can ice skate on the Champs-Elysées, visit the Big Wheel in Place de la Concorde, take in the extraordinary window displays, and see the lights at les Galeries Lafayette.
Beijing: Throughout the holiday season, the city of Beijing glows with lights of all colors. Christmas has more recently become a larger holiday in Beijing, and the city celebrates big. With holiday markets, festivals, and light displays, those looking for some holiday fun are sure to be delighted. One notable event is the Bird’s Nest Ice and Snow Festival. An event for all ages, the festival features ice skating, a snow castle, bumper cars, and a snowball fight contest.
Edinburgh: Becoming almost a different city during the holidays, Edinburgh offers much to visitors looking to get into the holiday spirit. Light Night, a free event with over 1,250 stage performers, acts as the opening ceremony of Edinburgh’s Christmas. Throughout the month of December, visitors can shop at the European Christmas Market, ride the Big Wheel, or go ice skating at the brand new St. Andrew Square Ice Rink.
Sydney: With warm weather and outdoor concerts, why wouldn’t you want to spend the holidays in Sydney? This time of year, the city pulls out all the stops. From numerous outdoor concerts and festivals to the beautiful light displays, Sydney is a city that knows how to celebrate. Be sure to check out the Light Forest hanging above Pitt Street Mall.
Rio de Janeiro: In Rio de Janeiro the holiday season is all about family, and lights, lots of lights. Much of the city shuts down on Christmas Eve, making way for a many evening events. One of the most exciting events of the season? The unveiling of the 278 foot tall floating Christmas tree, which sits just above the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon The tree is illuminated by 3.1 million lights and is welcomed each year with a festival of fireworks and music.