Top ten Christmas destinations

Fri Dec 7, 2012 10:35am EST
 
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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The Christmas season might be famous for carols and colored lights where you're from, but it's also the perfect time to experience new destinations and check out their holiday customs as well. From the jazz music and Nativity parades of New Orleans, to the Santa hats and sandy beaches of Australia, there's no better opportunity than Christmas to try seeing the holiday season in a brand new light. Online travel adviser Hotwire.com (www.hotwire.com) has compiled a list of its Top 10 most festive destinations for this year's holiday season. Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. San Juan, Puerto Rico

There are only twelve days of Christmas, right? Not in Puerto Rico. This U.S. commonwealth begins its celebrations the day after Thanksgiving and keeps the Yuletide spirit flowing until the feast of the three kings on January 6. During the six-week-long festivity, visitors can enjoy the Christmas decorations seen at homes, businesses and throughout the streets. While you're there, you should also witness one of Puerto Rico's famous holiday traditions - group caroling called parrandas. Visitors to this Caribbean locale can also experience unique holiday culinary customs like lechón asado - roast pig on a spit - a coconut pudding called Tembleque, or the sweet sap from a Chilean palm tree, coquito.

2. New York, New York

If there's anything more iconic than the New York City skyline, it's the New York City Christmas tradition. Every year, The Big Apple plays host to some of the most famous holiday traditions in the world, including the nationally televised lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. But The Empire State has tons more up its sleeve when it comes to Christmas traditions. Travelers can go ice skating in Central Park, discover unique international gifts at The Pond at Bryant Park, experience the incredible toy selection of FAO Schwartz and enjoy the spectacle of Macy's annual Santaland display.

3. Bondi Beach, Australia

In Australia, summer starts on December 1st, so while the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing a white Christmas, our friends down under are busy surfing and sunbathing. Bondi Beach, just four miles outside of Sydney, is a famous beachgoer hotspot, so the unsuspecting traveler could very easily mistake Christmas Day for spring break. Every year on December 25th, the beach turns into one big Christmas party, with festive trees in the sand, surfers wearing Santa hats and suits, live music and more. It might seem unusual to spend a Christmas on the beach, but there's also no denying the appeal of a good beach party. At Bondi Beach, you can have both.

4. Santa Claus, Indiana

With a city like Santa Claus, Indiana, the name really does say it all. This small Midwestern destination fancies itself "America's Christmas Hometown," and offers three weekends of Santa Claus celebrations throughout the month of December that are perfect for Christmas lovers of all ages. Travelers can journey into Santa's Candy Castle and enjoy 25 different gourmet chocolates, chat with online elves and check to see if their name is on the naughty or nice list. Santa's visitors can also enjoy other holiday attractions such as the amazing lights down Mistletoe Drive, a wooden rollercoaster, a Santa Claus museum and even a Christmas-themed miniature golf course.   Continued...

 
The tree is seen during the 80th Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in New York, November 28, 2012. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri