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Sweatpants & Sanity | Fantasy Break: Christmas Festivals Around the World

By Emily Parker

‘Tis the season to be jolly! Whether you’re more likely to go a’wassailing from the comfort of your own home than venture out in the cold, you can’t deny that walking through a literal winter wonderland puts a person in a great holiday mood. Here are five of the most famous Christmas festivals from around the world. Enjoy, and vote for your favorite in our poll!

1. Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London

This year is the 10th anniversary of Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, and it’s more Christmas than you can shake a candy cane at! This year’s festivities include ice skating, the magical ice kingdom, a Cirque-du-Soleil-esque Christmas circus, The Nutcracker on ice, rides for the kids (including a giant ferris wheel and two roller coasters; one of which is the world’s largest transportable), Cirque Berserk, Santa Land, shopping and many more Christmas shows, all amid a massive carnival. Wow! Open 10am-10pm daily through January 2, except for Christmas Day. Learn more here.

2. The Magic of Christmas, Grapevine, Texas

Billed as “The Christmas Capital of Texas”, Grapevine celebrates over 1400 events over 40 days! Featuring shopping, animated characters, millions of lights, choral performances, a vintage railroad, multiple lodges, wine trains, snowland, and ICE! at Gaylord Texan, an extraordinary and magical display of elaborate, life-sized ice sculptures, ice slides and ice monuments with dramatic lighting effects – all created from nearly 2 million pounds of ice. There’s much more – learn about it here.

3. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco, California

Four authentic English pubs and the Bohemian Absinthe Bar serve up fine glasses of Christmas cheer at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party.

Is street theater more your jam? Check out the Great Dickens Christmas Fair! You’ll be transported to magical Victorian London on Christmas Eve by more than 750 joyous performers, and even invited to dance, sing, make merry, and enjoy food and drink! From the website: “Immerse yourself in Dickens’ heartfelt stories as they unfold around you. Explore over three acres of vintage exhibition halls, marvelously transformed into lamplit streets, boisterous pubs and wondrous theatres, music halls, dance parties, tearooms, and shops offering one-of-a-kind treasures.” Learn more here.

4. Santa’s Enchanted Forest, Miami, Florida

Love Christmas but hate the cold? Santa’s Enchanted Forest in Miami might be just the ticket! Billed as the “World’s Largest Holiday Theme Park and Free Carnival”, Santa’s Enchanted Forest features over 100 rides (including about 10 thrill rides), and shows that include alligator wrestling, trained tigers and sea lions! Best of all, you can enjoy it in shorts and flip-flops. Learn more here.

5. Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark

From November 19 through the end of the year, Tivoli Gardens features rides, music, shows including The Nutcracker, food, shopping, theater and dancing, and more! You can decorate honey cakes with your children in Honey Cake Castle, watch the Lucia procession and light show, featuring traditional Christmas music, visit Santa Claus at the Peacock Theater, or enjoy one of the 43 restaurants! Learn more here.

Emily Parker is a musician, writer, and avid reader who started Bucket List Book Reviews, the ‘1,001 Books to Read Before You Die’ project. For Sweatpants & Coffee, Emily hopes to inspire the reading of the classics by a whole new audience by only reviewing the really good stuff.

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