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Top five festive cities to spend Christmas

Sprinkle some magic into this year's Christmas by visiting one of the world's most festive locations. With sleigh bells ringing, frosty snow falling and the commencing of the advent calendar in our midst, discover enchanting Christmas cities and add a little cheer to the chillier season.

From the legendary Rockerfeller centre Christmas tree, huskies' sleighs and reindeer riding in Finland to Christmas markets galore, explore some of the brightest shining stars such as New York, Lapland, Tokyo, Paris and Edinburgh.

Follow Father Christmas in Finland

lapland

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If an enchanting Christmas is what you’re yearning for, look no further than the legendary birthplace of Father Christmas – Lapland. A winter wonderland in the Arctic Circle, Finland’s finest gem is not only a magical experience thanks to its snowy aesthetics, it also entails an abundance of exciting activities for everyone from the little ones to the little ones at heart.

Here you can have the experience of a lifetime. Visit the mythical Sarek National Park on huskies’ sleighs, try snowmobile and reindeer riding or even enjoy a private visit to jolly Santa Claus' famous workshop, whose team of trusty elves hand out gifts to children.

Embrace the bandpipes in Edinburgh

edinburgh

Spend a cosmopolitan Christmas in Edinburgh. See the city transform into a snowy wonderland of frosted spires and bright lights with German markets offering Gluhwein and Wursts and the renowned Christmas Fair at Meadowbank Stadium.

The city even hosts the Great Santa Run, where thousands of santas parade through the sparkling city streets. And once Christmas day is over, the turkey might have gone and presents inevitably unwrapped, but there is no need to feel blue – Hogmanay returns every year on December 29. Known as the world's biggest New Year street party, the festivities are prolonged and the celebrations continue far into the night.

Experience the bright lights of the Big Apple 

new york

It's the most wonderful time of the year! This is certainly the case in New York City  – think twinkling lights and the brightly lit Radio City, gliding ice skaters across Rockerfellar Centre and Christmas carols in Times Sqaure.

Snow settles on the streets of Manhatten while excitable Christmas shoppers overflow the streets of Madison Avenue, welcoming the festive spirit that surrounds the vibrant city. The towering skyscrapers, window display masterpieces of Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s elaborate Santaland make a Christmas experience in New York all the more magical.

Paris perfect for Christmas

paris

Known as the City of Light, the beauty of Paris is quite visibly recognisable at any time of year. But at Christmas an even more enchanting spell is cast that leaves with it a feeling of festivity and merriment that echoes across the entire city.

Glittering tinsel garlands, streams of flickering coloured lights, nativity scenes and advent markets surround the city walls while the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees and Notre Dame look all the more impressive.

With Disneyland Paris around the corner and an abundance of bustling boutiques, michellin star-studded restaurants and open-air ice-skating rinks, Paris provides the picturesque backdrop for a romantic getaway.

Tokyo twinkles for the festive season

tokyo

Although potentially not your typical Christmas travel destination, Tokyo's twinkling skyline and festive illuminations earn Japan's star city a firm spot on our Christmas city list. Not to mention its renowned shopping reputation.

Among Japan's first and most spectacular seasonal light shows is Kobe's Luminarie, an Italian designed tunnel boasting millions of decorative lights. Other must-sees this year in Tokyo include the Caretta Illumination 2012 featuring a vast ocean of LED lights in Shiodome, Christmas tree displays along Chuo Street in Ginza and the Yebisu Garden Place featuring an illumination event called Baccarat Eternal Light.

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