There is no doubt that Christmas is one of the best times of the year. It’s when we get the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family, indulge ourselves with some great food and drinks, and of course give and receive wonderful presents too. And when it is all over, we immediately start looking forward to next year, letting the anticipation slowly build over the following 12 months. It’s a shame that such a wonderful day only comes once a year. That is, unless you live in one of these Christmas themed destinations, where the holiday spirit can last all year long.
Santa Clause, Indiana
Calling itself ”America’s Christmas Hometown,” Santa Clause, Indiana certainly lives up to its billing. The holiday doesn’t come but once a year in Santa Clause, where the theme has trickled over into all areas of life for the town’s 3000 residents. Since the local post office bears the name of Santa, the town receives thousands of letters addressed to him each year. A dedicated group of volunteer “elves” works hard to answer each and every one of those letters, making sure the children get a note from the jolly man himself. A dedicated Santa museum, a popular Christmas candy store, and various other attractions help to complete the theme, which keeps the festivities going all year long.
Founded on Christmas Eve, 1741, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has quite literally been celebrating the holiday since its inception. The city of 75,000 is home to the famous Christkindlmarkt, Bethlehem, a market place that is globally renowned for its holiday shopping. The market draws thousands of visitors each year with its Christmas music, food and locally crafted goods from talented craftsmen. Often referred to as “The Christmas City,” Bethlehem organizes a live Advent calendar, strings up thousands of lights and decorates over 800 trees each year. This creates a festive environment to the town, which was named after the birthplace of Jesus.
Boasting two Christmas themed amusement parks – Santa Clause Village and Santa Park – it is hard to argue with why Lapland, Finland should make a list such as this one. Add in the fact that the most of the region sits above the Arctic Circle, and you get a winter wonderland for the better part of the year. Visitors can take a ride on a sled that is actually pulled by reindeer, exploring a landscape that isn’t unlike Santa’s home at the North Pole, while the aurora borealis shimmers overhead. The biggest attraction however is Father Christmas himself, who makes regular visits to Lapland both before, during, and after the holidays.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam is one location that has managed to find a way to celebrate Christmas twice a year. Residents in that city get their first taste of the season on December 5, which happens to be the feast of St. Nicolas on the Christian calendar. That is when Sinterklaas visits, bringing the first round of gifts for Dutch children. Sinterklaas is the inspiration for Santa Claus, who still arrives on his traditional date of December 25, setting off a two-day celebration and delivering yet more gifts. This double holiday within just a few weeks of each other typically results in two gatherings of friends and family, with lavish meals and generous gift exchanges as well.
The North Pole
While there isn’t anyone to celebrate Christmas at the North Pole each year, it still obviously plays a significant role in the legend of Santa Clause. Many travelers don’t know that it is actually possible to visit the Pole, which can be reached by icebreaker ship, helicopter or on skis. A trip to the top of the world won’t come cheap however, as a typical ski expedition, which takes about two weeks to complete, will set you back more than $40,000. Those with the disposable income to make such a journey won’t discover Santa’s workshop once they get there either. Instead, they’ll have the unique opportunity to visit a place that very few humans ever see.
Happy holidays from the team at FlightNetwork. We hope you enjoy the season to its fullest.