As the festive season approaches, hotels worldwide are preparing for joyful celebrations infused with their own unique local flair. Whether it's the singing Christmas trees in Switzerland, the winter romance of Japan, or the burning of el Año Viejo in Ecuador, there's something for everyone to embrace the holiday magic through the following traditions and cultures:
Sing Along with Zürich’s Singing Christmas Tree
In 2023, the iconic "Singing Christmas Tree" at Werdmühleplatz’s Christmas Market will proudly mark its 25th anniversary, a testament to a quarter-century of enchanting Zürich with the festive spirit. This beloved Zürich Christmas tradition is an integral part of the Advent festivities, and will take place during the first weekend of December. The event features various choirs from Switzerland ascending inside the colossal Christmas tree to serenade the audience with a harmonious medley of carols, creating holiday joy that resonates throughout Zürich.
For travelers seeking to immerse themselves in this heartwarming celebration, the nearby Swiss Deluxe Hotels property, The Dolder Grand, beckons with open arms. Offering panoramic views of the snow-dusted Alps and the city of Zurich, this luxurious retreat boasts 175 rooms and suites and top-class dining. During the holiday season, guests can relish in the Dolder’s selection of exceptional dining experiences, whether it's a festive dinner in The Restaurant, an intimate meal in the Saltz Restaurant, or a visit to the renowned Dolder Lodge, which exudes the cozy ambiance of a ski lodge.
Celebrate Christmas like a Local at the Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa
Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa, an exclusive 5-star all-suite hotel situated on 10 acres of lush indigenous gardens, is the place to be this winter season. Tucked away in the serene, tree-lined suburb of Sandhurst, just moments from Johannesburg's premier shopping and business district, this hidden gem offers a unique blend of tranquility and South African heritage. The holiday season, in particular, offers a magical time to visit The Saxon. During this festive period, the hotel hosts a heartwarming tree lighting ceremony. The lobby becomes a showcase for the beautifully adorned tree, embellished with unique decorations in collaboration with Ardmore Ceramics, a well-known ceramic art studio and company that specializes in creating exquisite, handcrafted ceramics, particularly porcelain sculptures and pottery. They are renowned for their unique and vibrant artistic style, often incorporating African wildlife, mythology, and cultural motifs into their creations. The local Ardmore ornaments that are adorning the trees in the hotel can be purchased at The Saxon’s giftshop, so travelers can take a little piece of Johannesburg home with them. Additionally, guests visiting in December looking for more domestic festivities can stroll the nearby Field Market, which is an outdoor Christmas market that features a variety of handcrafted, local products and food all accompanied by live South African music.
The Saxon is also home to the nature-inspired Saxon Spa, which offers the ultimate holiday relaxation oasis featuring rejuvenating menu of therapies and treatments. Following pampering treatments, guests can dine with one of the hotel gourmet restaurants including the Terrace, a causal outdoor space that serves light meals and Qunu, for an elegant dining experience. The Saxon also offers brunch, afternoon tea and a red and white wine cellar. The all-suite property provides a variety of cozy accommodations including luxury suites, presidential suites, luxury villa suites and the Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite.
Enjoy the Festive Season at Milaidhoo Maldives: An Over-the-Top Island Holiday Experience
Milaidhoo Maldives presents an island holiday experience for guests this festive season, all under the enchanting theme of "Tales of Wonder.” Throughout this theme, the Milaidhoo Family extends a warm invitation for guests to indulge in a variety of experiences, including wine pairing dinners, an exhilarating cooking competition with secret ingredients, expert-led mixology masterclasses, delightful high tea moments, sumptuous afternoon luncheons, and delightful surprise pop-up events. Milaidhoo also invites travelers in on the joyous celebration of remarkable stories and adventures on the island paradise.
Milaidhoo's unwavering commitment to preserving the island's natural beauty shines through in their coral planting initiatives and unique underwater experiences, including the captivating underwater Christmas tree. Dive into the mysteries of the ocean through special snorkeling and diving expeditions as Milaidhoo celebrates the transition from the old year to the new. Furthermore, guests can immerse themselves in the island's natural splendor with 'nature walks' or embark on an exhilarating "Seven Wonders of the Ocean" excursion, where extraordinary facets of the breathtaking surroundings will be revealed this holiday season.
Experience NYC Holiday Celebrations, Festive Storefronts, and The Broadway Collection
New York City, the city that never sleeps, transforms into a winter wonderland during the holidays and is full of exciting activities to experience the magic of the season. This year, visitors to the heart of the Big Apple can celebrate like a local by exploring Christmas displays, seeing the giant Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center, and catching a mesmerizing show from Broadway Inbound’s The Broadway Collection under the city’s bright lights.
During their time in NYC, travelers can stroll by the enchanting Christmas window displays as stores such as Macy’s, Barneys, Henri Bendel, and Tiffany & Co. transform their windows into sheer elegance, take a classic horse drawn carriage ride around Central Park, and visit the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. As the city lights come to life each night, visitors can make their way to the Theater District to celebrate the magical holiday season with a Broadway show that will leave them wanting more. To spend their evening immersed in glitz and glamor, travelers can enjoy Broadway classics such as The Lion King, based on the beloved Disney film, and Chicago, a universal tale of fame, fortune, and all that jazz with astonishing choreography and one show stopping song after another. Visitors can also head uptown to the New York City Ballet for their annual performances of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.
Have a Festive Celebration of Tradition and Sustainability: Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach
Nestled within the vibrant village of Seminyak in Bali, Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach captures the ancient and modern zeitgeist in all its color, energy, and lively tradition. What truly sets this destination apart is its unwavering sense of community, an inviting haven for travelers near and far to come together during the Christmas festive season, cherishing moments with loved ones in a place deeply influenced by the flavors, culture, and character of the Seminyak neighborhood. Situated amidst 11 acres of lush, meticulously landscaped grounds, adorned with exotic plants and captivating vertical gardens, the hotel offers an immersive holiday experience with 289 rooms, including 23 suites and 19 villas, complemented by an array of seven distinctive dining options and a world-class spa. Whether one is a guest of the hotel or a passerby, the invitation stands to savor an enchanting beachside dining experience at Sugarsand Beach Club. As a highlight of the festive season, Chef Syamsul sets the stage for a merry Christmas with a 5-course Japanese Set Menu Christmas Dinner by the beach at SugarSand, where culinary excellence meets the spirit of the holidays.
Embracing the festive spirit wholeheartedly, Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach is offering a Christmas Brunch at Makase with a Santa service, Christmas carols, a magician show, and live acoustic performances. This holiday season, the eco-conscious hotel is also offering a selection of unique and sustainable gifts. Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach has partnered with Chop Value, a company that artfully repurposes discarded chopsticks into a diverse range of items, including wall decor, coasters, desks, and more. These gifts, all created one chopstick at a time, not only enhance the beauty of one’s space but also contribute to the protection of forests and the planet's well-being. Embrace the magic of Christmas at Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach, where unforgettable experiences and sustainable gifting come together to create cherished memories this holiday season.
Indulge in a Venetian Artistic Christmas at Violino d’Oro
Recently opened luxury boutique hotel Violino d’Oro offers an ideal holiday retreat adorned with festive delights. Beginning December 8th, the property undergoes a magical transformation with enchanting decorations adorning the Christmas tree and bathing the common areas in a warm glow of lights. Handcrafted Venetian ornaments, meticulously fashioned by Murano's master glassmakers, tell the captivating tale of the city through their colors and shapes.
Guests at Violino d’Oro can indulge in unique experiences, such as personalizing Christmas baubles for a truly bespoke gift. In the waterfront Salotto, a Maestro di Murano collaborates with visitors to craft custom-named decorations, immersing them in the holiday spirit with glass and colors. The holiday spirit extends to Il Piccolo Restaurant, where breakfast and snacks take on a celebratory flair. Guests can savor Panettone and its luscious creams or choose from a selection of teas inspired by Marco Polo's ancient traditions. The concierge tailors memorable city experiences for guests, while Executive Chef Stefano Santo guides them through a delectable culinary journey. From the art of crafting Christmas biscuits to sipping hot punches infused with the city's historical spices, afternoons at the Violino promise warmth, flavor, and festive delight.
Celebrate Chilean Christmas Traditions with The Singular Santiago
The Christmas season in Chile is the perfect opportunity to escape the northern hemisphere's cold winter and offers a unique way for travelers to celebrate. Throughout the country, tales of Santa, known as 'Viejito Pascuero,’ are told with a twist as he known as a rancher accompanied by a llama instead of the reindeer in the traditional story. Locals host their big celebrations on Christmas Eve, with delicious dinners of Chilean barbecued meats, or 'asado,’ and vegetables as well as chicken soup, or 'cazuela de ave,' a popular dish made during this festive time. One must-try beverage is the “Cola de Mono,” a Chilean favorite similar to a White Russian cocktail made from coffee, milk, cinnamon, sugar, and Chilean aguardiente - a staple on any Christmas menu.
Travelers seeking to immerse themselves in Chilean culture and unique holiday traditions this year can plan a stay at The Singular Santiago. Situated in the heart of the Lastarria neighborhood in Chile's capital, The Singular Santiago features 62 rooms, a restaurant, spa, and rooftop bar and pool that skillfully blend elegance with local arts, culture, and gastronomy. Guests visiting during the festive season will find the property offers an authentic immersion into the essence of the region and an abundance of local Christmas traditions to enjoy.
Enjoy Authentic Christmas Festivals in the Dolomites
Most people know German Christmas markets, but not everyone knows that there are also Christmas markets in Italy—especially in the charming town of Bressanone. In the beautiful Cathedral Square, dominated by the two towers of the Cathedral, the Bressanone Christmas market is set in the cultural and artistic capital of the Isarco Valley. Throughout December, guests can take the 30-minute car ride from FORESTIS to the baroque-style Cathedral Square where the market joins the bustle of activity with tranquil surroundings. Additionally, the Krampuslauf tradition, featuring the horned Krampus figure, offers a unique and authentic holiday experience during the Christmas season. Krampus historically scared naughty children, contrasting with Saint Nicholas rewarding the good ones. Today, this tradition continues with Krampus runs in the Dolomites, where participants don elaborate costumes, masks, and create an eerie atmosphere with bells, chains, smoke, and fire.
FORESTIS is the ideal property to celebrate the holidays, immersing guests in traditions with 62 rooms and suites and panoramic views of the Italian Dolomites. FORESTIS also reconnects guests to nature and oneself through restorative wellness treatments, locally-inspired movements, and seasonal forest cuisine at the movie theater-style restaurant. A time of change, air, sun, climate, and water are emphasized throughout Wyda Yoga, forest walks, cycling, and the forest tree circle ceremony to promote rejuvenation.
Dazzle at the Festival of Lights in Florence
December welcomes a magical time in Florence as the city comes alive with festive spirit, marking December as the ideal time to experience the true essence of this enchanting Italian destination. The 2023 “Green Line” Festival of Lights runs from December 7 through January 8, celebrating the four natural elements: air, water, earth, and fire in the city of Art. The festival kicks off with tree lightings at iconic locations like the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio as Florence's monuments and squares come alive with video-mapping, projections, and captivating light displays from 5:30 pm to midnight throughout the entire month of December. From Christmas markets and decorations, the rich tapestry of culinary traditions from every region and wandering around cathedrals and small churches to visit their "presepi" or handcrafted nativity scenes, Florence brings something special around every corner.
Located in the heart of Florence, Grand Hotel Minerva is a 97-room cultural awakening within the city. Located within walking distance to some of the city's most iconic landmarks, including the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, and the Uffizi Gallery, Grand Hotel Minerva is known for its impeccable service, elegant rooms, and rooftop terrace offering stunning views of Florence's skyline.
Participate in The Burning of el Año Viejo with Quasar Expeditions
One of the most amusing yet powerful celebrations in Ecuador, the burning of el Año Viejo takes place on the last day of the calendar year. The December 31 festivities entail various traditions, with the most notorious being the burning of the Año Viejo (old year) doll. This effigy made from newspaper, sawdust, and cardboard represents different popular figures and personalities - or even loved ones - which symbolize the experiences and events of the past year. The burning represents the start of new experiences and better things to come. Las Viudas (The Widows) are one of the core aspects of this celebration, where men dressed as women personify the viudas and mourn for the Año Viejo Puppet.
Travelers planning a trip to Ecuador this holiday season can experience the burning of el Año Viejo in Quito by booking an exclusive city tour with Quasar Expeditions before continuing on to explore the secluded Galapagos Islands in style. During a holiday trip aboard Quasar's two yachts, the M/V Evolution and the M/Y Grace (formerly Grace Kelly’s royal honeymoon yacht), travelers of all ages can get up close and personal with the islands' amazing beaches and animals while hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and spending quality time together. Guests can also expect to see rare species such as blue footed boobies, the Galapagos giant tortoises. and marine iguanas, which can only be found exclusively on the Galapagos Islands.
Soak in an Island Christmas: Festive Culinary Delights at Baros Maldives
In the heart of Baros Maldives, the festive season awakens a wealth of delectable dining experiences. The holiday cheer at Baros starts with an exclusive Christmas Eve gala and gourmet dinners, crafting unforgettable memories for everyone involved. Guests can choose to dine in all white under the sheer glow of the full moon or come together in true festive spirit to savor curated delights at The Chef’s Table in The Lighthouse Restaurant. With three gourmet-class restaurants, guests’ culinary journey will span international cuisines, culminating in an authentic Maldivian gastronomic experience that features a special banquet highlighting the island's exquisite local flavors.
Baros Maldives, with its 50 years of enchanting guests through natural beauty and authentic luxury experiences, has set the standard for other luxury resorts to aspire to. With a range of accommodations, including handcrafted beachfront villas and overwater bungalows that blend seamlessly with the island's beauty, Baros Maldives continues to be a popular destination that guests return to time and again. They have carefully nurtured the natural eco-systems of the island, the lagoon, and the majestic underwater world beyond, showcasing their commitment to environmental preservation. Baros has reinvented luxury and is committed to providing personalized experiences rooted in Maldivian heritage, promising a taste of the true Maldives during this special time of year.
Ring in the New Year with The Glasshouse Hotel
Christmastime in Edinburgh is filled with carolers, holiday lights, mistletoe, Yule logs, and the city’s annual Winter Festival and Hogmanay celebrations. A truly magical array of events to that gets both locals and visitors in the mood for the holiday season, the Winter Festival takes place from November to January. During this time, the Scottish capital boasts Christmas markets, outdoor ice rinks, and the aroma of mulled wine. At the end of December, The Hogmanay Festival takes place from December 29, 2023 to January 1, 2024 to ring in the New Year. Hogmanay, the Scottish word for the last day of the year, is regarded as the most important Scottish holiday, attracting revelers from around the world. Hogmanay celebrations include live music, fireworks, street food and drinks, and Street Party extravaganzas set on Princes Street against the stunning backdrop of the Edinburgh Castle.
For accommodations, travelers to Edinburgh during the holiday season are invited to stay at The Glasshouse Hotel. The luxurious Glasshouse has a rich history, having been converted in 2003 from the 160-year-old Lady Glenorchy Church into what it is today. Leaving only the original front of the Gothic building, this 77-room boutique hotel is one of the best places to stay in Edinburgh, especially during the holidays, with its cozy-contemporary interiors and warm Scottish service.
Experience the Romance of the Festive Holiday Season in Niseko Village
In Japan, the Christmas season unfolds with a distinctive charm, offering a delightful departure from Western traditions. Each year, Christmas Eve is considered a romantic holiday reminiscent of Valentine's Day. Couples eagerly secure reservations at intimate restaurants to celebrate the night, while the streets become adorned with festive decorations, infusing the air with warmth and a celebratory spirit. German-style Christmas markets pop up, presenting seasonal delights from across the globe, including the Japanese Christmas cake or “kurisumasu keki” symbolizing prosperity with its light, spongy layers crowned by whipped cream and red strawberries.
For accommodations during a trip to Japan for the holidays, Niseko Village on Hokkaido is a prime winter wonderland destination. Known for receiving over 60 feet of annual snowfall, the village is known as a haven for winter sports enthusiasts - and a unique location to celebrate the holidays. Nestled within the village lies the luxurious Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, which stands as the perfect winter retreat. During their stay, guests are invited to explore 2,100 acres of winter terrain, three distinct restaurants, and a traditional Japanese Onsen and spa.
Feast on Christmas Cuisine At Finch Hattons
Locate in the heart of Tsavo National Park, Finch Hattons offers an authentic Christmas feast where the African spirit of the holiday season is woven into the experience. In moments of celebration, food becomes a vessel for tradition, as Finch Hattons has created a Kenyan-inspired holiday menu for guests to savor every bite.
With his own Kenyan twist, Chef Kennedy has created a savory Christmas meal beginning with Kachumbari (tomato, onions & Coriander salad), featuring ingredients sourced from the Finch Hattons garden. Then, Chef presents the main entree choices of Mchuzi Wa Nama (beef simmered in Swahili spices), Swahili vegetable stew, or Pilau Ya Nyama (lightly spiced rice with lamb), served alongside Chapati, a flatbread traditionally baked on Christmas. For dessert, guests have a choice between Kulfi (Indian ice cream), chocolate chia pudding, tropical fruit salad, Kaimati (fried sweet dumplings), or freshly brewed coffee in celebration of the special day. Amidst Tsavo’s scenic surroundings, guests will discover dining locations taking center stage after the feast. Guests can celebrate at the Karen Blixen Lounge for cocktails like Red Dot Negroni, select premium cigars from the Cigar Lounge, indulge in tapas at the dining pavilion, drink wine under twinkling stars at the star-gaze terrace, or dance by the poolside dining area.