Holiday Traditions Around the Globe to Try This Festive Season
For many, traveling is an opportunity to explore new cultures, with 60% of global travelers* noting that they want to enjoy new experiences and visit new places on their next trip. There’s no better time to embrace something new than the holiday season. Enjoy tasty foods, celebrate cultural traditions or swap the cold weather for warmer skies. As over three quarters (76%) of global travelers* say that immersing themselves in a new culture helps them to disconnect from daily life, we share a list of some memorable festive traditions across the globe to help inspire travelers seeking to celebrate a different holiday tradition as it becomes safe to travel again.
Philadelphia, US - Thanksgiving
Celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month in November (25 November in 2021), Thanksgiving is a national holiday across America, dedicated to giving thanks and celebrating with loved ones. Truly immerse yourself in the culture and festivities by attending the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade on the day itself, America’s oldest parade having run for over 100 years. The parade features an array of lively floats, marching bands and plenty of music to kick start the holiday season.
Where to stay: For a unique experience stay at the family-owned boutique B&B, Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast which is a restored 1865 Victorian home. The luxurious rooms offer guests comfort and a perfect opportunity to relax. Guests can also enjoy a full gourmet locally sourced breakfast every morning. The B&B is aptly located near the parade route, head down to Benjamin Franklin Parkway for a scenic view of the activities, or gather by The Philadelphia Museum of Art where the parade finishes.
This year Hanukkah, the festival of light, begins on the 28th November and lasts until sundown on 6th December. The celebrations consist of lighting the menorah on each day and eating traditional foods such as potato latke. Explore the city and experience live music in celebration of the festival at Tel Aviv Independence Park. Head to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to see what special events are on for the celebrations, or attend one of the city's special Hannukah events complete with colorful and artistic installations, arts and crafts for kids and more.
Where to stay: Situated in the Old City of Jaffa, Casa Nova - Luxury Suites & Boutique Apart-Hotel offers breath-taking views over the Mediterranean, and features modern rooms with traditional touches throughout. Explore what this historical city has to offer by visiting nearby sites including the Old Jaffa Antiquities Museum and Jaffa Flea Market. Or venture further out on a guided walking tour through Tel Aviv to explore the city’s first skyscraper and hear intriguing tales of the city's history and culture.
In Germany, St. Nicholas Day on the 6th December marks the beginning of the Christmas season. The tradition which originates from St Nicholas’ role as the patron of children and magical gift bringer is popular amongst children. Children put their freshly polished boots by the front door or fireplace hoping to find them filled with small gifts and candy in the morning. While in town why not also visit another festivity ubiquitous with Germany? Stroll around the Munich Christkindlmarkt and sample local delicacies and purchase traditional crafts.
Where to stay: Located in the heart of Munich, BEYOND by Geisel is the perfect option for those wanting to get into the Christmas spirit. Guests can enjoy the views of Munich town hall from the relaxing wine bar or venture out to explore what the city has to offer during the festive season with easy access to the metro, or discover the city on bike with a guided bike tour which includes landmarks such as Bavarian National Museum and Odeonsplatz.
St. Lucia’s Day, held annually on the 13th December is one of Sweden’s biggest celebrations, marking the beginning of the holidays and honoring the memory of St. Lucia. Candle-lit processions are held in schools and by local choirs to celebrate the day, with groups traditionally choosing an individual to be Lucia to lead the procession. Traditional foods such as saffron buns ‘Lussekatter’ and ginger snap biscuits 'Pepparkakor', are also served for the occasion.
Where to stay: Stay at the cozy Downtown Camper, which offers guests a variety of activities for all types of travelers. For those who wish to relax before the excitement of Christmas gets underway, utilise the wellness area, complete with a rooftop sauna and a pool with city views. For the more adventurous, there are a plethora of activities for guests, such as movie nights, yoga, kayaking and skateboarding lessons. For those wanting to discover the city in all its glory during the holidays, venture on a tour to see Stockholm's Sights and Christmas Lights, where exploring the city’s historical areas, see the city’s lights and stop along the route for mulled wine and snacks.
Buenos Aires, Argentina - Christmas Day
For those used to a colder holiday season, experience a warmer Christmas in Argentina. Here, Christmas trees are decorated with cotton balls to represent snow, whilst the traditional nativity scene (Pesebre) is the focal point when decorating homes for the season. As you venture around the city at night you’ll see spectacular sights in the sky as paper lanterns containing small candles (globos) are often lit around the city. Present exchanges happen on 6th January, known as Three Kings Day where children traditionally leave their shoes at the door to be filled with gifts for the morning.
Where to stay: The stylish and sophisticated Casa Bevant is the perfect place to stay for those who want to fully embrace the culture of Argentina and have an authentic yet luxurious stay. This hotel has a contemporary Argentinean design throughout, and is centrally located with easy access to local landmarks including the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and Colon Theater. Make the most of your stay and book a Private Tour of Buenos Aires where you’ll explore the city’s highlights like San Telmo and Palermo followed by a Tango show.
New York City, US - Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African-American culture, unity and community development. Taking place annually from 26th December – 1st January, the holiday is rooted in seven principles known as Nguzo Saba and each day is dedicated to one of the principles. Across New York City, there are various family-friendly activities to celebrate the holiday including live music and arts & crafts at Brooklyn’s Kwanzaa Fest.
Where to stay: The Hotel Indigo in Williamsburg offers a luxurious stay in a modern and sleek hotel. Featuring an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre and a fantastic restaurant, guests can relax in this trendy New York neighbourhood. The hotel is also a short drive away from the Brooklyn Children’s Museum which hosts the largest family Kwanzaa event in New York City with a five day program highlighting culture, art, dancing, and music.
New Year’s Eve in Japan is known as Omisoka, a traditional celebration on the last day of the year. It’s a time to resolve old problems and clear out old things to make way for a fresh start in the new year. Family and friends gather together for a feast, awaiting the midnight ritual of joyanokane, the ringing of the bell. For those seeking a laid back start to the year, take a visit to one of the Shinto shrines such as the Fushimi Inari Shrine once the clock strikes midnight, or for the outgoing, there’s plenty of parties to dance your way into the new year with friends and family.
Where to stay: Built 160 years ago, Ryokan Mugen is an adult only hotel, located a short walk away from the World heritage site, Nijo Castle. Featuring modern amenities throughout and maintaining the traditional look and feel of Japanese culture, this hotel is a must stay. Experience the festivities by visiting the nearby Kiyomizu-dera Temple, one of the most celebrated temples of Japan.
*Travel Predictions 2022 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,055 respondents across 31 countries and territories were polled (including 501 from Argentina, 1003 from Australia, 500 from Belgium, 1001 from Brazil, 500 from Canada, 1000 from China, 1007 from Colombia, 1001 from Croatia, 508 from Denmark, 1002 from France, 1000 from Germany, 1005 from Hong Kong, 1000 from India, 502 from Israel, 1003 from Italy, 1002 from Japan, 500 from Mexico, 501 from The Netherlands, 501 from New Zealand, 500 from Peru, 1000 from Russia, 1005 from Singapore, 1002 from South Korea, 1002 from Spain, 501 from Sweden, 501 from Switzerland, 504 from Taiwan, 500 from Thailand, 1000 from the UK, 1002 from the US and 501 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2021.