As major retailers begin bombarding the public with what should be the perfect gift on anyone’s list, it’s an “in-your-face” reminder that the Christmas spending spree is sprouting. This equates to spending hours in overcrowded department stores searching for gifts that will probably be returned, standing over a hot stove cooking for the famed family feast, reminding your kids who the strange relatives they only see once a year are, and keeping the pets away from the tree.
As well as being a time of joy, peace, and fellowship, the season can also be exasperating. More than one sigh of relief is heaved when life finally goes back to normal and Great Aunt Edna catches a bus back to Boise once the egg-nog runs out.
Have you ever thought about getting away and just saying the heck with it? Not because you don’t have the Christmas spirit, but because just for once it would be nice to treat yourself instead of worrying about everyone else. They can figure things out without you.
If you were to really do this, where would you go? Wherever it is you would still like to feel the Yuletide magic in the air, but you want to experience it on your own terms with no list of things that have to get done mostly for the benefit of others.
Quit thinking so hard about it. As Nike says, “Just do it.”
The city center turns into a Christmas market with hot winter drinks, roasted chestnuts, and an array of gifts which can be purchased from the over 100 vendors. White lights hanging from trees gives the entire spectacle a fairytale type quality.
For a spectacular panoramic winter wonderland view of the area, take a ride on the Ferris wheel and explore new heights.
The ice adventure is a trip through frozen Scotland. It’s a walking experience which features snow and ice sculptures. Mary Queen of Scots, the Loch Ness Monster, and Dolly the Sheep are just a few of the many displays guaranteed to take your breath away.
There are shows galore all over town to include La Clique, a fantastic theatrical performance. You’ll also see dog sleds and hear carolers on every corner. And of course, Santa is on hand through the entire event with a small gift for every kid who plops on his ample lap.
New York City
Nothing spells Christmas more than the Big Apple. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. As far as shopping goes, if you can’t find it in NYC it can’t be found anywhere. But there is so much more.
Department store windows are all decorated in holiday fashion and the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza which has left more than one person spellbound with its colorful decorations. Ice skaters at the plaza add further to the festive ambiance. If you can, be there for the tree lighting ceremony complete with musical performances.
While you are there make certain to catch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the world-famous Rockettes. Or perhaps the Nutcracker Suite is more to your liking.
Don’t forget to visit the Bryant Park Winter Village where Christmas is kicked-off in style with over 170 vendors, food, drink, and merry-making. The 17,000 square foot free ice skating rink springs to life during the holidays and it is open from 8 am until 10 pm every night.
Leavenworth is a mountain Bavarian-themed city which resembles a snow globe during the holiday season. If old-fashioned is what you are looking for, this is the place to go.
The A&E Network declared Leavenworth as the ultimate Christmas town. You’ll see holiday characters, crack open roasted chestnuts, listen to carolers singing traditional songs, and stare in awe at the many decorations as the town transforms into a village of lights with millions of them strung from storefronts and other buildings.
There are plenty of hills for children to go sledding, and every year a brand new population of festively dressed snowmen moves into town.
Lighting ceremonies are held on the first three weekends following Thanksgiving giving locals and visitors plenty of chances to join in the celebration.
If a hike down a forest trail where the fir branches are delicately covered with freshly fallen snow will help get you in the holiday spirit, bundle up and start walking. You’ll be singing “Jingle Bells” in no time flat.
Quebec City, Canada
Like something out of a Dickens novel, Old Quebec is completely transformed into a Christmas village.
The German Christmas Market is not to be missed with its thousands of vendors selling their wares from small wooden booths. As with most markets, plenty of food and drink is available.
Each store in the downtown area puts out a lighted tree and lights are strung between buildings giving the streets the appearance of well-lit pathways rather than roads.
There are lots of cozy lodges available and plenty of intimate little restaurants, all decorated both inside and out. Experiencing the wonders of Quebec will be a Christmas for the books. It’ll never be forgotten.
Key West, Florida
Bet you didn’t see this one coming. Key West certainly does not offer the winter wonderland we imagine when thinking of Christmas, but nonetheless, these folks know how to get into the spirit of things.
The lighted boat parade provides beauty beyond words. Some boat owners spend weeks getting their craft ready for this big event. Lights dangle from masts, lit up plastic reindeers are strapped to bows, and Christmas tunes are blasted from loudspeakers. The event draws thousands. For a close-up and personal view of the water parade, jump on board one of the many catamarans and join the fun.
Take the Old Town Trolley to see all the islands decorations and enjoy some warm cider and cookies, or a Corona. Your choice.
Break free this year and do something for yourself for a change. After all, Christmas is everywhere.