The Christmas tour: New York City ? USA

New York?s famous Christmas reputation is well deserved, and it would take the most stern of Scrooges to have a bad time in this urban winter wonderland. From the enormous Christmas tree and lighting display in Rockefeller Center, to the picturesque ice-skating rink in Central Park, there is something for everyone here during the holidays.

What better place to visit for Christmas than the home of Santa himself? Although plenty of places around the world claim to be the true home of St Nick, the residents of the city of Rovaniemi in Lapland have gone to the trouble of building a theme park to honour the fact, and that?s good enough for us.

Surrounded by dramatic gothic architecture and the crisp winter air, Christmas in Vienna is an unforgettable experience. You?ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to festive activities, including perusing the various stalls and visiting some of the local bars and restaurants. It?s also well worth catching an open-air orchestral performance of Christmas carols.

Even if you aren?t religious you?ll still enjoy a festive trip to Bethlehem, as the town turns into a hotbed of excited activity with over a million visitors in the lead up to Christmas. The highlight of the celebrations is the midnight mass held in the Church of the Nativity, which marks the spot where Jesus was born.

We all like a good shop at Christmas, and this is one of the best places in the world to do it. The Munich Christmas Market (Christkindlmarkt) sees the city?s central square filled with stalls selling all manner of Christmassy items. As well as handmade ornaments and decorations, you?ll also be able to sample some freshly prepared local food.

Held in Vancouver?s VanDusen Garden, the Festival of Lights is exactly as the name would suggest ? a huge light show that envelops the whole park. It comes complete with Christmas themed attractions such as a carolling choir, Santa?s workshop, and workers dressed up as Christmas gnomes, which coupled with the lights make for a magical trip.

In Santa Claus, Indiana, it?s Christmas all day every day, with Christmas attractions at seemingly every turn. Remember all those letters you wrote to Santa as a kid? This might be where they ended up. Every year the town?s post office receives thousands of letters addressed to Santa Claus, and even employs a group of ?Santa?s Elves? to reply to each and every one.

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