Eyes On Tourism - Where do people travel at Christmas time?

Nola Snyder
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You’ve heard the term “No Place Like Home For The Holidays” many, many times I’m sure. There is certainly a lot of truth to this statement. Christmas is about family and the warmth of a fire and being with family and friends, and of course the best place to find all of that is at home. There are people who live away from home who want nothing more than to come back to their home towns and their family at Christmas time. This reason alone creates a whole lot tourism travel over the holidays.

For a growing number of Canadians, Americans and International travelers, Christmas time has become a very popular time to travel. For some the time between Christmas and New Years is the easiest time to get off work. For the majority of families who take advantage of their holiday time to travel, they tend to wait until Boxing Day or later, so that they can still enjoy the traditional Christmas festivities at home.

Some large families live scattered throughout the country, so for some of them it makes sense to pick a destination where everyone can meet, not necessarily at a family member’s home, but a fun Christmas time location. Ski holidays have become extremely popular and ski resorts all over the world put together special festive holiday packages for couples and families. The snow covered mountains provide the ideal setting to get into the Christmas spirit. Special packages don’t just include skiing but many other activities such as horse drawn sleigh rides through trees heavy laden with snow, ice skating or wandering through Christmas markets.

Colorado is a popular ski holiday destination with snowy slopes and cozy chalets providing the perfect sights for the holidays. The state of Colorado is home to the well known resort towns of Aspen and Vail which are both post-card perfect for anyone who loves Christmas. People who like to track Santa on Christmas Eve should know that Colorado is also home to the NORAD, the government agency that tracks Santa’s gift giving course on Christmas Eve. For the people here in Newfoundland who are looking for a fun holiday ski vacation you need not go any further than Marble Mountain in Corner Brook or White Hills in Clarenville.

There are some who prefer the city lights at Christmas time. One of the hot spots apparently is New York City. In addition to the superb shopping for those looking for a unique gift for someone special or just to see the spectacular holiday-themed windows at New York’s famed department stores. The city also boasts many holiday traditions. There is the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Centre which is almost certainly the world’s most famous Christmas tree, but it’s just the centerpiece for a city-wide display of lights. The lighting of the tree is celebrated with a special ceremony and musical performances. The one attraction that brings scores of tourists every Christmas is the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular”, a Broadway-style show put on by the famous Rockettes. A trip to New York at Christmas time wouldn’t be complete without a carriage ride through Central Park to see the amazing display of lights.

Then you have the people that want to seek out the ‘ultimate Christmas fantasy destination’. There are places in the world that boasts the perfect backdrop and natural setting for a dream Christmas holiday; a place with snowy backdrops, twinkling lights, and perhaps even the natural presence of reindeer. Yes there are such places. There is a place which straddles the Arctic Circle called Lapland, Finland, where the conditions are prime for holiday revelers and where Christmas fantasies abound, including reindeer. While legends may cite the North Pole as the official home of Santa Claus, the people of Finland would have us believe otherwise. For them Lapland is Christmas headquarters. Here children can make gingerbread cookies with Mrs. Claus or enroll in Elf School. It has two major St. Nick-themed parks: The Santa Claus Village and Santa Park which draws families from all over Europe during the Christmas season. Perhaps the most thrilling of all is the Sirmakko Reindeer Farm where visitors can take a sled-led reindeer ride. For those in search of a truly frosty experience can stay in the Arctic Snow Hotel, made entirely of snow and ice.

If you are looking for a more old-school holiday experience, try Amsterdam, the country where Santa Claus himself was born. The Dutch Christmas celebration is a huge affair with Sinterklaas (Santa) arriving on December 5th to bring all the good children gifts and Christmas being celebrated on the 25th. You will be greeted by a city that positively twinkles with white lights everywhere you look, with reflections from the city’s canals creating a magnificent mirroring effect. Apparently it is a sight to behold.

Would you like to visit the North Pole during the holiday season? There is a town called North Pole located in Alaska near Fairbanks. Of course you must really be OK with the idea of a cold, white Christmas to want to head to Alaska for the holidays. For some people, Alaska is the North Pole. In fact, since 1952, thousands of children who have written to Santa have sent their letters to the “Santa Claus House” in North Pole, Alaska. The town of North Pole is a place where the spirit of Christmas is alive all year round but during the holiday season, Alaska as a whole puts on some great Christmas events and festivals including train rides with Santa aboard the Alaska Railroad.

Everyone’s idea of where and how to spend their Christmas holidays is different. Some want to stay safe and warm at home with family and friends, some want to escape the cold and prefer the heat of the sun to the heat of a fire, while others are always in search of something new and better. Personally I wouldn’t want to spend Christmas anywhere but right here in Newfoundland, where things are familiar and where we still hold the oldest of traditions dear to us.

Organizations: NORAD, Rockefeller Centre, Elf School Arctic Snow Hotel

Geographic location: Colorado, North Pole, New York City New Years Newfoundland Alaska Aspen Vail Lapland Finland Marble Mountain Corner Brook White Hills Broadway Central Park Arctic Circle The Santa Claus Village Santa Park Europe Amsterdam Fairbanks

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