In my opinion, December is the best time of the year to travel. After all, “tis the season to be jolly!” Practically every city in the world is decorated with lights and garlands and seems a little merrier than usual. And most cities also offer winter and holiday festivals and celebrations that make visiting a place that much more enjoyable.
Whether you are traveling to visit family or friends over the holidays or you are just merely traveling, take advantage of the local merriment and revelry wherever you go. And, if you are looking for a spot that particularly does the holidays well, consider adding one of these Christmas celebrations to your list of must-dos this season.
Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
You won’t find a more festive celebration than at Walt Disney World in Orlando, you can see Cinderella’s Holiday Wish Stage Show at the Magic Kingdom and perhaps get a ticket to the special Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (a special event on select nights in December. You can order tickets online or by calling 407-WDISNEY). Disney’s budget-tier of All-Star family hotels is super kid-friendly! They provide free shuttle access to the parks, themed pools, and cafeteria-style dining options.
Universal Studios Florida
The Macy’s Holiday Parade operates in the late afternoon every day at Universal Studios through Dec. 31. Mannheim Steamroller will perform six Friday and Saturday night concerts, Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18.
Islands of Adventure guests can see the stage show “Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular” multiple times daily or see Hogwarts during the holidays at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Consider staying at the affordable Nickelodeon Suites Resort where you can deck the halls in slime green and Nick orange this holiday season. Celebrate with a lineup of holiday events that includes: Visit with Santa, Candy Cane Stroll, Holiday Karaoke inside Studio Nick, Nick After Dark Holiday Style which is where kids play while the parents are away! And, don’t forget the New Years Eve Annual Slime Drop.
LegoLand Florida just opened its doors in October and still has that new theme park smell. Families with children under 12 will be full of glee at the Sunshine State’s newest attraction that features more than 50 million of those multi-colored bricks. During this month all can enjoy Christmas Bricktacular celebration with a tree built from 270,000 Lego bricks. Located in Winter Haven, Lego Land is about an hour drive from both Orlando and Tampa. It is expecting to open a water park for the hot summer days just in time for the summer 2012 season.
New York, New York
New York City is more vibrant and breathtaking during the holidays than any other time of the year. From the tree at Rockefeller Center, to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes, and all the lights and sounds in between, the magic is palpable! Visit Macy’s elaborate Santaland and ice skate and shop in Bryant Park. There are so many holiday events in New York City that the only problem you will have is deciding how to fit it all into your visit.
The West Coast celebrates in style with a multitude of Christmas boat parades all month long along the California coast. My favorite is in Newport Beach: The 103rd Christmas Boat Parade is one of the oldest and longest in Southern California. The parade takes place five nights from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 14 through Dec. 18. Yachts to kayaks light up along 14 miles of the harbor starting and ending at Bay Island.
Anyone that grew up with the Andy Williams Christmas Specials must take a holiday trip to Branson to catch the live show version. And if you didn’t, it might be time for you to experience the sights and sounds of an Ozark Mountain Christmas. Silver Dollar City celebrates the season with four million lights, a five-story, special effects Christmas tree, a parade and an elaborate musical stage version of “A Christmas Carol.” The annual celebration is touted as one of the best in the country by CNN, The Travel Channel and “Good Morning America.”
There are more than 100 stage shows in Branson, performed in 50 theaters. Those theaters contain 64,000 seats, more than all the theaters on New York City’s Broadway combined. Another terrific way to spend a couple of hours is to hop aboard the Branson Scenic Railway. Every night during Christmas, the Polar Express run is fun for kids of all ages.
12 Days of Gifts
Ready to go? When you book your hotel for your holiday stay, be sure to check out the 12 Days of Gifts when you book with hotels.com. You’ll save up to 40% on your stay and receive a gift when you book by December 12th. And be sure to download the Hotels.com mobile app for thousands of last-minute exclusive deals.