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The Globe and Mail

The 10 merriest places to spend Christmas (other than home)

Sometimes you need to leave town to get into the Christmas spirit

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Christmas markets, Germany: Sip mulled wine in collectible mugs while browsing any of the 2,500 holiday markets across Germany. Be sure to visit to Dresden’s Striezelmarkt, believed to be Germany’s oldest.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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Fête de la Dinde, France: From Dec. 10 to 12, the best-looking of Licques’s famously tasty turkeys are paraded through town to the abattoir. They'll be served at a dinner-dance capping this 20-year-old festival and food market in northern France.


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Midnight mass, Bethlehem: On Christmas Eve, tour buses stop at places like Shepherds’ Fields and the Church of the Nativity for midnight mass. Don't miss a concert series called Rock to Bethlehem in Manger Square.

Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP

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Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara Falls, Ont.: North Americans love their Christmas lights, and this extravaganza, on until Jan. 31, has three-million bulbs in 125 displays. Explore the sparkle, then glide around Rink on the Brink overlooking the Horseshoe Falls - also a good spot to catch the famous Friday-night fireworks.

Niagara Parks

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Santa Claus Village, Arctic Circle: The Finns claim Santa comes from Finland, so why not visit his home at Santa Claus Village, where you’ll find vintage-looking shops with a post office next to Lapland’s capital, Rovaniemi. Check into Rovaniemi’s four-star Santa Claus Hotel. And fly home with Finnair, Santa’s “official airline.”


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SugarMas, St. Kitts and Nevis: At this month-long Christmas-themed arts festival catch dance performances, gospel and calypso singing, poetry and theatre and stilt-walkers called Moko Jumbies. On Boxing Day, J'ouvert, a weeklong Carnival begins.

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“Women’s Little Christmas,” Cork and Kerry, Ireland: On Epiphany, Jan. 6, there's a women-only pub crawl called Oíche Nollaig na mBan, or “Women’s Little Christmas.” Ring out the holiday season on hip High Street in Killarney (while the menfolk mind the kids) at pubs like O’Shea Seamus or Crock O’Gold.


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Winterfest, Hong Kong: The decade-old Winterfest runs until New Year’s Day featuring ice-skating, a Tiffany-sponsored Christmas tree in Statue Square, and the marquee Turf World Championships (the country’s major horse race of the year on Dec. 11).

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Carols by Candlelight, Melbourne, Australia: This year, at Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl a sell-out crowd of 10,000 will be led by Australian Idol winner Stan Walker. You can catch the live show free of charge by joining carollers gathered before giant screens in Federation Square.

Thomas Kane

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Martyrs’ Square, Beirut, Lebanon: With a joie de vivre that is characteristic of the Parisians of the Middle East, Beiruters of every religion celebrate the season with lights, carolling and, of course, plenty of partying. Check out a 20-metre-tall Christmas tree donated annually by couturier Elie Saab to Martyrs’ Square.


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