Remember advent calendars? Each day leading up to Christmas you would open a window and see a tiny picture or receive a little piece of chocolate. We decided to create a calendar of our own highlighting 31 travel-worthy global events happening every day until the new year. This holiday travel calendar gives you 31 ways to enjoy the 31 days of December:
December 1: Choirs in the City in Sydney, Australia
Imagine a sun-drenched holiday with days spent mostly at the beach. That’s how the Aussies do it, but that doesn’t mean they scrimp on being festive. Beginning December 1, various choral groups belt out holiday hymns nightly in Martin Place in downtown Sydney.
December 2: Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremburg, Germany
If you love outdoor holiday markets, this legendary German bazaar is basically the best of bunch. Enjoy nearly 200 arts and crafts vendors plus mulled spiced wine, gingerbread cookies, sausages and stagecoach tours all season long.
December 3: World of Chocolate in Chicago, IL
The most decadent event of the season, this annual fundraiser for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago is a night of schmoozing, boozing and sampling dozens of chocolate goodies created by the city’s most prestigious chocolatiers.
December 4: WinterFest in Hong Kong, China
Named one of the top 10 places to spend Christmas on earth by CNN, WinterFest in Hong Kong goes all out beginning December 4 with a dazzling light display in Victoria Harbor, evening night strolls, holiday menus and shop discounts all counting down to a New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacular.
December 5: Elf the Broadway Musical in Boston, MA
Remember the movie starring Bob Newhart, Zooey Deschanel and Will Farrell as orphaned elf Buddy? This musical version spreads holiday cheer all over Beantown for a limited engagement running through Sunday, December 6.
December 6: Santa Claus Land of Lights in Santa Claus, IN
Yes, there really is a tiny town in the Hoosier State called Santa Claus and yes they go all out this time of year with numerous activities including this 1.2-mile nighttime driving tour which tells the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer through thousands of lit up LED lights.
December7: Skating by the Sea in San Diego, CA
Wait a minute, ice skating with the sounds of ocean waves crashing just steps from the rink? Yep, this is the holiday season San Diego style so lace up and enjoy this 10th annual tradition while palm trees sway gently in the breeze.
December 8: Santa Park in Lapland, Finland
Hang with elves, visit Santa’s underground lair, snag some souvenirs in the Holiday Village or get a selfie with Santa himself in this actual North Pole location. Santa Park is open year round, but naturally it doesn’t get much better than a December visit.
December 9: Christmas at the Ryman in Nashville, TN
Music City busts out heavyweight country star Vince Gill and Christian music singer turned secular performer Amy Grant for multiple nights of performance in which each star will turn their attention toward classic holiday tunes.
December 10: Holiday Cactus Garden in Las Vegas, NV
Beyond the casinos, nightclubs and glittery lights of the Las Vegas Strip, actual nature does exist and all-month long visitors can view more than a half-million twinkling light at this 20th anniversary event at the Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates Factory in nearby Henderson.
December 11: Trail of Lights in Austin, TX
What began in 1965 with the lighting of a single Yule Log has blossomed into a 1-mile trek through a trail of spectacular lights and a holiday tradition that now attracts more than 400,000 visitors over the course of two weeks to Austin’s lovely Zilker Park.
December 12: Toronto Christmas Festival in Toronto, ON
For ten nights, Canada’s biggest metropolis turns Yonge-Dundas Sqaure into a hub of Yuletide activities including live music, food, beverages, visits with Santa and a nightly laser show. Don’t worry about keeping warm, hot cocoa and marshmallows are complimentary.
December 13: Dreidel Dash 5k in St. Paul, MN
Lace up your sneakers and embrace the cold at this Twin Cities 5 or 10K run that offers a hat tip to Hanukkah. The Maccabee Mini Mile is geared just for kids. Expect music, crafts and goodies galore plus a celebration afterward at the St. Paul JCC.
December 14: Winter Wonderland in London, England
This month-long holiday celebration brings an ice kingdom, Christmas markets, a Bavarian Village, circus shows, light displays, a cocktail bar made entirely of ice and so much more to the heart of England’s exuberant capital.
December 15: Celebrate the Season in Los Angeles, CA
Who says it doesn’t snow in the City of Angels? At the Grove, an outdoor mall that includes an excellent farmer’s market, the season is celebrated all month long with a 100-foot Christmas tree, Santa’s Cottage, live performances and nightly “snowfall”—trust us, these L.A. kids go berserk for it.
December 16: An African Christmas in Cape Town, South Africa
Stroll beautiful Cape Town‘s lovely V&A Waterfront and swing by its amphitheater to catch this free retelling ofthe Nativity Story and classic Christmas hymns but with an African twist courtesy of the Christ Embassy Choir.
December 17: Very Merry Holiday Pops in Atlanta, GA
Deck the halls—the concert halls that is—with the sounds of the season as Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conductor Michael Krajewski leads the orchestra in a night of holiday classics featuring Morris Robinson and the All City High-School Chorus.
December 18: Christmas Spirit Guided Tour in Stockholm, Sweden
If you imagine that Stockholm does the holidays in a big way, you would be correct. Take this guided tour and sample mulled wine, learn why Swedes place an advent chandelier in the window, experience a Swedish Julbord and see what their version of Santa looks like.
December 19: Ugly Sweater Run in Tempe, AZ
In truth, this benefit 5k happens all over the country including in cities like Boston, Charlotte and Omaha, but we love imagining the sight of runners dashing through the desert swaddled in the season’s ugliest garb. Enjoy a free custom-knit hat and unlimited hot chocolate.
December 20: 12 Days of Aspen in Aspen, CO
Today kicks off a 12-day celebration in this quintessential Rocky Mountain ski town featuring DIY ornament making, a family ski party, storytelling for adults and Kevin Smith at the Wheeler Opera House—and that’s just day one!
December 21: The National Christmas Tree in Washington, DC
A smorgasbord of holiday events await visitors to the nation’s capital, but don’t forget to swing by the GE-lit National Christmas Tree and be serenaded by any number of choral groups from the DC metro area and across the country.
December 22: Holidays around the world at Epcot in Orlando, FL
It’s a multi-culti Christmas Disney style at this thrice daily holiday event in which the story of Christmas is retold via a candlelight processional, a celebrity narrator and set against the backdrop of a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir.December 23: The Santaland Diaries in Houston, TX
Dare we say this acerbic and autobiographical tale of Macy’s helper Crumpet the Elf—originally written by David Sedaris—is on its way to becoming a holiday classic alongside The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol? Hit the Alley Theatre in Houston and find out for yourself.
December 24: Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade in Telluride, CO
After the sun dips in this quintessential Colorado ski town, watch in awe as skiers and snowboarders take a run down Coonskin and Telluride Trail carrying blazing red torches and fireworks light up the night sky.
December 25: Eiffel Tower Dinner in Paris, France
Soar to the top of one of the most iconic monuments on earth and have Christmas dinner overlooking the City of Lights. Its been a rough year for the French capital, but the view from the top is a reminder that Paris is one of the greatest cities on earth—now and forever.
December 26: Wildlights at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA
The twinkling lights at the Seattle Zoo aren’t the beady eyes of a thousand wild animals, but rather a dazzling light display that happens all month long and also includes an indoor snowball fight, a night carousel ride, a reindeer meet and greet, hot chocolate and more.
December 27: Kwanzaa 2015 in New York, NY
As Christmas winds down, this week-long celebration of African heritage kicks into high gear including a NYC celebration at the American Museum of Natural History featuring a live performance from Doug E. Fresh and more.
December 28: Illuminate SF Festival of Light in San Francisco, CA
Less about the Christmas spirit per se and more about celebrating artistic celebration in the City by the Bay, this month-long festival includes self-guided walking and bike tours of public installations by the world’s most notable light artists.
December 29: Christmas Canal Lights Cruise, Perth, Australia
The million dollar mansions in Mandurah—a growing suburb just a stone’s throw from Perth—deck their halls and facades with a dazzling light display that can be seen at night from the comfort of a festive cruise ship. Warning: These boats sell out weeks in advance.
December 30: 7th Annual Holiday Pub Tour in Charleston, SC
Although it’s happening all month long, we can’t imagine a better way to spend New Year’s Eve eve than in touring drinking our way through the historic downtown pubs dotting this enchanting low country city.
December 31: New Year’s Eve in Key West, FL
They do things a little different in the Conch Republic and at the stroke of midnight it’s the lowering of not a ball, but a drag queen in a shoe onto Deval Street that will usher in the new year. Expect a raucous street party numbering in the thousands.