DAZZLING DISPLAY IN DC
CityCenterDC is the go-to shopping destination this time of year (Chanel and Georgio Armani both opened boutiques in the luxury retail space in 2021), but it’s also a gathering spot for anyone in the holiday mood.
A 75-foot tree—with 150,000 twinkling lights and 4,500 ornaments—stands tall, while violinist Stephanie Mathias plays a soundtrack to your shopping on select weekends. And CityCenterDC’s cozy outdoor dining chalets offer the perfect place to recharge after a holiday shopping spree.
But, coolest (literally) of all is the beloved ice maze. Washingtonians look forward to the expansive labyrinth every year, and it makes its triumphant return Dec. 10-12 with even more nooks and crannies to explore. The 130,000-pound clear ice maze (that’s 20,000 more pounds than in 2019) runs through The Plaza at City Center for a long weekend of merriment.
PRETTY IN PARIS
Before Versailles, there was Vaux-le-Vicomte. The picturesque chateau, also built under Louis XIV’s direction, served as the Sun King’s inspiration for the historic Palace of Versailles. Just 30 miles outside of Paris, Vaux-le-Vicomte was a private residence until the late ’60s when it was restored and opened to the public. For the holiday season, visitors can take in the annual “Vaux-le-Vicomte en Lumières,” a stunning experience that alights the chateau in thousands of seasonal decorations, both indoors and out. This year’s theme celebrates the magic of fables, and each evening closes out with a sound and light spectacle projected on the facade of the chateau. And of course, our plan is to spend our time in Paris proper at the Hôtel de Crillon, where holiday festivities abound throughout December.
FATHER CHRISTMAS IN FINLAND
You may find yourself second guessing the myth of Santa Claus if you visit Finland during the holiday season. The tourist town of Rovaniemi, Lapland has combined the bucket list adventures of crossing the Arctic Circle and seeing the Northern Lights with the childhood fantasy of visiting St. Nick in his northern home. Santa Claus Village, where visitors can meet with the big guy, go on a reindeer-led sleigh ride and sit down with Mrs. Claus for a cozy meal, is open year-round, but feels particularly poignant in December. But perhaps best of all, the tiny town is home to a number of luxury snow hotels and ice igloos, where you can sleep inside but peer up through expansive glass windows at the wondrous winter sky.
HOLIDAY FUN IN HYDE PARK
It’s easy to conjure up an image of a classic English Christmas (in our head, it includes shopping at Harrods and Dickens’ ghosts). But Londeners know the real holiday action happens in Hyde Park. Back this year after a Covid hiatus, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland features acres of seasonal things to do: from an ice bar and ice sculpting classes to carnival rides and quaint Christmas markets. We’d still recommend visiting Harrods and having a traditional high tea, but heading to Hyde Park is a definite holiday-must if you find yourself in London this month.