Best places around the world for winter holidays

Want to broaden your horizons this winter and experience something new? Join in on these unique holiday festivities from across the globe.

Shake things up by spending your winter vacation celebrating something new, or finding the perfect location for a holiday you celebrate every year. Here are seven international holidays and the perfect places to celebrate them, which may surprise you.

Dev Deepawali in Varanasi, India

The full moon of the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika (15 days after Diwali). In 2019: November 12

The city of Varanasi is already steeped in spirituality, but Dev Deepawali is the best time to see it in full force. During the day you can enjoy some delicious food and learn more about Hinduism’s roots. At night you’ll find spectacular light displays on every building along banks of The Ganges, as well as hundreds of candles arranged into meticulous designs.

Winter Solstice in Donore, Ireland

December 18-23

In Donore lies Newgrange, a Stone-Age tomb adorned with megalithic art whose chambers and passages are perfectly aligned with the sunrise during Winter Solstice. Unlike Stonehenge, which draws thousands, Newgrange is more exclusive, with a lottery in September determining the 60 people who get to actually go inside and see the spectacle, 10 per morning.

Hanukkah in Jerusalem, Israel

Eight days starting from the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar. In 2019: December 22-30

The best time to be in Jerusalem is during Hanukkah, and the best place to spend Hanukkah is Jerusalem. From the rededication of the city’s Temple back in 168 B.C.E. to today, Hanukkah celebrations have grown far beyond lighting the menorah. See all of Jerusalem’s Old City completely lit up, visit iconic locations in Jewish history, go to the theatre, and indulge in some delicious fried food.

Christmas in Ylläs, Finland

December 25

Lapland may not the true home of Santa Claus as its residents claim, but it’s the closest you’ll get to the magical world depicted in every Christmas movie. Ride in a sled pulled by adorable Huskies or majestic reindeer, go skiing or snowmobiling, and most of all, enjoy the beauty of Finland’s nature knowing you have a cozy cabin to go home to at the end of the day.

Kwanzaa in New York City, U.S.A.

December 26-January 1

The youngest holiday on this list, Kwanzaa was created for African-Americans to celebrate and connect with their culture, with an emphasis on principles like cooperation, creativity, and unity. There are tons of places in New York to join in (it is New York after all), but if we had to narrow it down to one must-visit, it has to be the American Museum of Natural History with a full roster of performances and an artisanal market.

New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh, Scotland

December 31

Scotland’s Hogmanay celebrations aren’t just on the last day of the year, but over the course of three days. Go to a concert, participate in the Loony Dook (a frigid dip in the sea for charity), join the street party, see some traditional Gaelic dancing, take the kids to some family-friendly activities, and of course, enjoy a great fireworks show.

Lunar New Year in Nuanquan Town, China

The first day of the Lunar Year. In 2019: February 5

Nuanquan is a little metal works town in Northern China, about four or five hours away from Beijing. What makes it the best place to celebrate the Chinese New Year is that instead of the usual fireworks display, an artist will throw molten iron into the air, creating a stunning one-of-a-kind light show you won’t see anywhere else.


Marlys Klossner

Marlys, a journalism major from Canada, now calls Germany home. She spends her days writing punchy copy and lovely long-form articles, and spends her evenings watching so-bad-it's-bad reality TV. Her prized possessions? Medals from her days as a synchronized swimmer.