Dreaming of a white Christmas? Experience the magic of a Christmas holiday by visiting these five snow-sure cities around the world for an authentic winter wonderland break.
Quebec City, Canada
Lights and garlands decorate Quebec City during Christmas while the city itself brims with seasonal festivities. The snow-blanketed streets are lined with nativity scenes and carol singers as well as festive shopping opportunities at places like the Old Port Christmas Market. If you can brave the cold, hop into a horse-drawn calèche or trek through the snow to visit old Quebec, featuring magnificent sites such as the Fortifications de Quebec, the old city walls, and the towering, castle-like Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Hotel. Warm up with a jolly Christmas service in picturesque Basilique-Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Québec in the upper town area.
It’s not only snow – which can fall thickly from December onwards – or even the picturesque Christkindlmarkt in front of City Hall, that puts the white into a very special white Christmas in the Austrian capital. The city is of course famous for its white Lippizaner horses and their classical dressage routine. The horses can be seen daily in training at the Spanish Riding School but you need to book now for show performances during December. Vienna is also renowned for the Vienna Boys Choir who have been going strong for over 500 years. They forgo their trademark sailor suits for white robes and sing like angels at Holy Mass at the Vienna Imperial Chapel every Sunday.
Riga’s cobbled-stone streets and striking architecture give this snowbound city a winter glow. Warm taverns offering mulled wine are a perfect reprieve from a day of shopping in Riga‘s traditional wooden markets. Explore the city’s landscape replete with architectural gems from gothic Riga Cathedral to the traditional brick façade of Saint Peter’s Church. As the temperature plummets, so can the city’s theatre prices; treat yourself to a Christmas favourite such as ‘The Nutcracker’.
Winter in Germany’s second largest city often brings snow. Expect perfectly chilled lagers, Christmas markets, warm, hearty food and plenty of winter activity options. Enjoy carol singers at St Michael’s Church before climbing the tower for stunning city views. Visit Hamburg‘s town hall, which is transformed into a village of shops and stalls. Glug on some of the city’s legendary Glühwein (mulled wine) or schuss (schnapps). Get active by whizzing along to Planten un Blomen Park for some ice skating in the heart of the city. If that fails to warm you up, a little German hot chocolate on the side undoubtedly will.
St Petersburg, Russia
Dostoevsky may not have painted a pretty picture of Russian winters but when it comes to St Petersburg, this destination at the end of the year is nothing short of enchanting. The history of St Petersburg is captured in its magnificent palaces and churches. Climb up the cupola of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral and enjoy a panoramic view of the snowy metropolis. Visit the Peter and Paul Fortress where you can see the iconic Peter and Paul Cathedral boasting a beautiful golden spire. The Hermitage, once the home of Russian tsars, is a must-see and a lovely way to shake off the cold. As one of the world’s most famous art galleries, the winter palace, as it is also known, includes priceless works by Van Gogh, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.