I Heart My Festive City

Button up your winter coat and grab a cup of cocoa, because the holiday season is upon us. To toast the wonders of winter, we are highlighting seasonal must-dos from our fantastic I Heart My City community.

From Christmas markets to ice skating, delicious delicacies to botanical gardens, here are 20 ways to celebrate the festive season in 20 cities around the world:

Annie’s New York City (USA): Go see the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden, which has incredible model replicas of NYC landmarks. Then go eat pasta on Arthur Avenue, the Little Italy of the Bronx!

Keith’s Montreal (Canada): Spend a magical evening at the Nuits Blanche festival.

Sarah’s Cape Town (South Africa): Celebrate Tweede Nuwe Jaar, or “second new year” on January 2 at the Cape Minstrel Carnival, a crazy street party dating back to the 1800s.

Molly’s Galway (Ireland): Take a seat near the fireplace at the Kings Head Pub for free live music and a pint to warm you up.

Ellen’s Antalaya (Turkey): Go skiing, or at least take a cable-car ride in Saklikent.

Caroline’s Atlanta (USA): Grab a chai latte from Octane Coffee and check out the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s holiday lights.

Sofia’s Gothenburg (Sweden): Indulge in Swedish Christmas snacks, shop at the Christmas markets, and go to Christmas at Liseberg.

Audrey’s Seoul (South Korea): Go ice skating in front of Seoul City Hall. The plaza is turned into a giant rink and colorful lights illuminate the ice.

Liz’s Bilbao (Spain): Celebrate the Festival of San Juan, where students make huge bonfires and burn their papers and tests from the past semester.

Keiran’s Breckenridge (USA): Head to the Ullr Fest, a week-long celebration including a parade, giant bonfire, and other zany activities designed to honor Ullr, the legendary Norse god of snow.

Julia’s Glasgow (Scotland): Check out a gig at the Celtic Connections annual festival in January.

Jasmine’s Mumbai (India): Be ready to celebrate weddings, Diwali, and a plethora of other festivals, like the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in February.

Bruce’s Cambridge (USA): Have oysters by the fire inside the Red House Restaurant, a circa 1802 building in Harvard Square.

Karina’s Tallinn (Estonia): Check out the best the best Christmas market in Europe. From the snow and cold temperatures to the smell of glögg and gingerbread in the middle of the medieval town, there’s no better place to get in the Christmas mood. In fact, Tallinn displayed the first ever public Christmas tree back in 1441!

Lizz’s Chicago (USA): Check out the Christmas lights on Magnificent Mile.

Shelly’s Oxford (UK): Hope for snow, grab a toboggan, and then head to South Park to careen down the only hill in town.

Larissa & Michael’s Philadelphia (USA): Take in the Mummers Parade. A New Year’s Day tradition, this parade is part cornball, part spectacle—and 100 percent Philly. Think Mardi Gras with marching bands and better costumes. It goes on all day, but is definitely worth checking out for an hour or two.

Mehnaz’s Vancouver (Canada): Enjoy free skating at Robson Square and check out the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden.

Shannon’s San Diego (USA): Go play in the snow in the mountain town of Julian and enjoy a slice of their world-famous apple pie made from apples grown in the local orchards.

Martins’s Riga (Latvia): Warm yourself with a glass of hot Riga Black Balsam and make a snowman.

Wherever you are, what’s your favorite festive thing about your city? Tell us about it in the comment section below.


  1. Kealan
    Galway, Ireland
    December 24, 2013, 5:48 pm

    Ireland isn’t all about having a “pint of alcohol”. Of all the things you could have said about Galway its a god dam drink in a bar! Typical!

    Please replace it with: a cappuccino on the crisp streets outside ‘McCambridge’s of Galway’ watching the sun pass over head through the man-made gap of roof tops.

    Or: Take a brisk, yet seasonal, walk along the canals of the beautiful city of Galway and gaze out over the bay from the end of the pier where Claddagh sailors went to sea for over five centuries. And then warm yourself in-front of a fire with a cup of tea!

  2. suzette
    playa del rey CA
    December 12, 2013, 2:23 pm

    What a great post! As a Cali girl I love Christmas visits to Julian in San Diego and the incredible decorations in Las Vegas.