Video: Travel's Best Holiday Attractions

Get a look at the best places around the world to kick off the holiday season.
Gary Yeowell / The Image Bank / Getty Images
Gary Yeowell / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Take the Celebration With You

Maybe you make your way back to your hometown for every holiday. Maybe you prefer to jet off to some exotic locale. Or maybe you use those extra days off to visit friends, take a road trip or check out a seasonal spot. Regardless, travel at the holidays can be both a lot of fun and a lot of hassle. So be prepared!

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2013
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Head to the Big Apple for Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. The 3-hour event starts at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, but better come early (and wear warm clothes); crowds start arriving hours earlier to stake out a spot. If a 5 a.m. wakeup call’s not your thing, these NYC hotels offer great views of the parade’s lineup of floats, clowns and more. 960 1280

Reuters  

Breeders' Cup

Breeders' Cup

Wondering where to travel in November? Start by taking in 2 days of action-packed thoroughbred horse races. The annual Breeders’ Cup World Championship kicks off this month at California’s oldest racetrack, Santa Anita Park. Better grab your tickets fast, though; attendance is usually much higher than other stake races in North America.
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Reuters  

Movember

Movember


Bros! Ditch the razor for a month-long celebration of some fierce facial hair. Movember (the month formerly known as November) unfolds with dozens of runs and gala parties nationwide to raise awareness of men’s health issues. That spells one perfect excuse to finally try out that wicked handlebar ’stache. 960 1280

  

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead

Remember Día de Muertos aka Day of the Dead this month! This 3-day Mexican holiday dates back thousands of years to a traditional Aztec festival dedicated to the Queen of the Underworld. Honor the dead with personalized alters, parades and special events around the world, including LA, Tucson, Missoula and in Metepec, Mexico (pictured). 960 1280

Mario Vazquez/AFP/Getty Images  

Buffalo Trot

Buffalo Trot

The average Thanksgiving Day meal is 3,000 calories. Get a calorie-burning start at a turkey trot. Our vote is on the Buffalo Turkey Trot, the oldest continually running public footrace in the US, spanning nearly 5 miles down Buffalo’s Delaware Avenue. If you’ve already consumed your wondrously delish meal, we compute you’ll need to run this stretch roughly 6 times. 960 1280

Julio Gonzalez, flickr  

Black Friday

Black Friday

America at its finest, folks. Yes, you too can trample over terrified cashiers in pursuit of a bargain HD TV. If you prefer something a little more orderly this Black Friday, head to some of America’s best shopping malls. Our top pick: Mall of America, home to more than 180 retailers. Bring your ID and some good walking shoes. Plus better remember where you parked! 960 1280

Mall of America  

Pirate Ship arrives for Pirate Celebration

Pirate Ship arrives for Pirate Celebration

Ahoy matey! Grab your best pirate hat and eye patch for the Cayman Islands Annual Pirates Week Festival. The 11-day celebration includes parades, 5k races, live music, food and fireworks. Don’t miss the children’s pirate costume competition, the underwater treasure hunt and the Miss Festival Queen Pageant. 960 1280

David C Tomlinson/Getty Images/Lonely Planet  

Busiest Travel Days, Start Planning!

Busiest Travel Days, Start Planning!

Start planning around the busiest travel days of the year – the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after. Kayak.com reports that while airfare begins to rise this time of year, there’s a brief dip for a few days during the second week of October. For more travel tips, check out our Top 10 Survival Tips for Holiday Travel. 960 1280

Getty Images  

NYC Marathon

NYC Marathon

Lace up your sneakers for the New York City Marathon. More than 50,000 people compete in the world’s largest marathon. Cheer on the participants as they race through the city’s 5 boroughs and head to the finish line if you’re not competing in the 26-mile run. 960 1280

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NASCAR Sprint for the Cup

NASCAR Sprint for the Cup

Feeling the need for speed? NASCAR enthusiasts will feel it in droves at one of the country's best NASCAR racetracks, the Homestead-Miami Speedway. This month, the motor racing track hosts the annual NASCAR Sprint for the Cup, in which racing’s top drivers will compete for the championship trophy – it all unfolds in the Ford EcoBoost 400 season finale. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Annual Oyster Cook-Off & Craft Beer Weekend

Annual Oyster Cook-Off & Craft Beer Weekend

Head to Gulf Shores, AL, for the Annual Oyster Cook-Off & Craft Beer Weekend. Watch as all-star chefs and amateurs compete for a chance to win up to $20,000 in cash and prizes. Celebrity judges will select winners a few categories including Rockefeller, Cajun and create your own raw oyster dish. An oyster shucking contest, bloody mary invitational and live music are also part of the 3-day event. 960 1280

The Hangout  

American Indian Heritage Month

American Indian Heritage Month

Celebrate America’s first pioneers during American Indian Heritage Month. Among the hundreds of memorable cultural sites nationwide is Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. The 1,758-acre site, in Stanton, ND, preserves the historic and archaeological remnants of the Northern Plains Indians. 960 1280

Peter Baer, flickr  

National Christmas Tree
National Christmas Tree

National Christmas Tree

Looking for ideas on where to travel in December? Kick off the month with a tour of the National Christmas Tree. Located on the White House’s South Lawn, a towering 40-foot evergreen spruce has been a seasonal fixture of the nation’s capital since 1923. 960 1280

Getty Images  

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio River Walk

Keep the Christmas spirit going in San Antonio. Every December, more than a mile of the San Antonio River Walk comes alive with over 100 underwater lights, as well as LED rope lighting crossing from one side of the river to the other. 960 1280

Getty Images   

Hobbit Tour

Hobbit Tour

Hobbit fans, rejoice! With this month's release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Tolkien fans have a reason to follow the Hobbit trail to New Zealand. Besides being a great time to visit (December is the start of New Zealand’s summer season), the country has a Hobbit movie set tour on upper North Island. 960 1280

Jeff Hitchcock, flickr  

Ice Fishing, Colorado Style

Ice Fishing, Colorado Style

This December, put Colorado on your outdoors adventure map: Colorado's robust winters lure ice-fishing enthusiasts to gear up and head out for the thrill of the catch. Prime spots include Wolford Mountain Reservoir, a 1,550- acre reservoir, about 100 miles west of Denver. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Caribbean Cruise: Early December

Caribbean Cruise: Early December

For an impromptu December getaway, set sail for the Caribbean. The first 2 weeks of December are your best bet for bargain prices on cruises and hotels, before fares rise come Christmas and New Year’s. Combine your warm winter escape with cool events, like the Bahamas International Film Festival. 960 1280

Royal Caribbean International  

San Francisco Ballet's The Nutcracker

San Francisco Ballet's The Nutcracker

The holiday season wouldn’t be quite the same without catching a performance of The Nutcracker. We suggest heading to the City by the Bay to see the sparkling 2-act ballet performed by the San Francisco Ballet, which first introduced Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece to American audiences in 1944. 960 1280

Erik Tomasson  

Rockefeller Center Ice Skating

Rockefeller Center Ice Skating

For the quintessential NYC Christmas experience, take a whirl on the ice at Rockefeller Center. The world-famous ice-skating rink at the famed commercial complex, in the heart of Manhattan, has been a fixture of Rockefeller Center since 1936. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Stonehenge Winter Solstice

Stonehenge Winter Solstice

Take in the winter solstice at Stonehenge. Every year, more than 5,000 people gather at the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, to mark the time when the sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon. And good news in 2013: Visitors can explore a new visitor center close to the ancient site that's set to open this month. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Santa Claus House in North Pole

Santa Claus House in North Pole

Just where does Santa Claus live? North Pole, AK, of course. Head to this small, wintery city in the heart of Alaska to see Santa Claus House: A storefront, built in the early 1950s, it’s the spot from which the Original Letter From Santa is mailed out, proclaiming the bearer to be “on Santa’s Good List.” 960 1280

Rosie Rosenberger, flickr  

Hit the Slopes

Hit the Slopes

Hit the slopes this month at North America’s most popular ski resort. In addition to being home to more groomed terrain than any other resort in the world, Vail, CO, boasts the country’s largest ski school for all skill levels. For the more seasoned skier, head to Jackson Hole, where over 90% of the trails fall into intermediate to expert categories. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

NOLA Christmas Bonfires

NOLA Christmas Bonfires

Add a little spice to the holiday season with a trip to The Big Easy. Come Christmas Eve, dozens of bonfires light up along the Mississippi River levee to make way for Papa Noel, as locals in bayou country call Santa. Arrive by 7 p.m. to watch the fiery feu de joie (“fires of joy”)! 960 1280

Douglas and Charlene Guilliams of Baton Rouge, LA: A Father and Daughter Photography Team  

Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Come December, the City of Brotherly Love transforms itself into a Christmas Village. This annual holiday market in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park features traditional German Christmas market items, displayed by more than 60 vendors in decorated booths and tents. Get your fill of holiday goodies like gingerbread cookies and mulled wine. 960 1280

Christmas Village in Philadelphia  

Chicago's Polar Adventure Days

Chicago's Polar Adventure Days

Learn dog sledding in … Chicago? Yep, for outdoor winter adventure, head to the Windy City’s Northerly Island, site of the 9th annual Polar Adventure Days. Beginning in early December, the family-friendly event includes a toddler zone with outdoor “ice fishing,” an REI winter activity station and a dog-sledding demo with huskies. 960 1280

Chicago's Polar Adventure Days  

Israel: Sukkot
Israel: Sukkot

Israel: Sukkot

Sukkot (Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles) is a biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei, which is between late September and late October. On this special occasion, Jewish people reflect on how the Israelites felt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the exodus from slavery in Egypt, as referenced in the Bible. The 7-day tradition includes special prayer services and holiday meals. 960 1280

Reuters  

Canada: Jour de l'Action de Grâce

Canada: Jour de l'Action de Grâce

Canadians celebrate Jour de l'Action de Grâce, aka Thanksgiving Day, on the second Monday in October. Similar to the American Thanksgiving, people in Canada reserve this time to celebrate the harvest and other blessing of the past year. And Canucks enjoy a good feast, too. During the holiday weekend, most families have the big Thanksgiving meal on Sunday or on Monday. 960 1280

Monkey Business Images  

Korea: Chuseok

Korea: Chuseok

Chuseok, a major harvest festival and 3-day holiday in Korea, is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. Koreans return to their hometowns to perform traditional rituals in the morning to remember their ancestors. Family members also visit and clean up the area around the tombs of their immediate ancestors, before offering food, drink and crops to their lost loved ones.  Japchae, bulgogi and songpyeon (a crescent-shaped rice cake) are popular foods prepared during the holiday. 960 1280

riNux, Flickr  

Vietnam: Tết Trung Thu Festival

Vietnam: Tết Trung Thu Festival

In Vietnam, people celebrate the Tết Trung Thu Festival (Mid-Autumn Festival) in September or in early October. This fall celebration is also known as the Children’s Festival. The Vietnamese believe children are symbols of innocence and purity -- the closest connection to the sacred and natural world. Children light lanterns and perform lion dances as part of the celebration. This is the second most important holiday tradition in Vietnam. 960 1280

Viethavvh, Wikimedia Commons  

UK: London's Harvest Festival

UK: London's Harvest Festival

Locals and tourists with “green thumbs” converge on London to stroll through the city’s Harvest Festival in October. Organized by the Royal Horticultural Society, this festival has several fun activities including the Fruit & Vegetable Competition, which highlights the UK’s best growers and their best produce. Gardening tips, apple tasting and a giant pumpkin contest are other featured events held during the 2-day festival. 960 1280

Reuters  

Ghana: Homowo Festival

Ghana: Homowo Festival

Ga people celebrate Homowo, a festival to commemorate the pre-colonial famine that occurred in Ghana. The festival starts in May during the planting of the crops -- just before the rainy season begins. The celebration includes marching in the streets with drums, face painting, singing and performing traditional dances, like the Kpanlogo. 960 1280

Reuters  

Germany: Erntedankfest

Germany: Erntedankfest

Although it’s not an official holiday, Germans celebrate Erntedankfest (The Harvest of Thanks) on the first Sunday in October. Usually a church-organized celebration, this harvest festival includes several fun activities including a Thanksgiving parade and carnival with elaborate decorations made from harvested fruits and vegetables. 960 1280

madle-fotowelt.de, flickr  

China: August Moon Festival

China: August Moon Festival

Celebrated in China, the August Moon Festival is a 1,000-year-old tradition for the Chinese to reflect on the bounty of the summer harvest, the fullness of the moon and the myth of the immortal goddess, Chang O, who lives in the moon. Millions of Mooncakes -- flaky, round, semi-sweet pastries -- are given as gifts during this celebration. The festival is often thought of as “Chinese Thanksgiving” because of its spirit of gratitude and abundant food. 960 1280

Shizhao, Wikimedia Commons  

India: Pongal

India: Pongal

Pongal is a 4-day festival celebrated January 12th through the 15th, to mark the beginning of the end of the winter season in India. The second day, Surya Pongal, is the most important day of the festival. On this day, people throw their old clothes into the fire, have an oil massage and then wear new clothes, to worship Surya, the sun god. During the festival, cattle are bathed, dressed and served pongal (rice boiled in milk), women of the house perform puja for the prosperity of their brothers, and families decorate their floor with decorative patterns using rice flour. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Barbados: Crop Over

Barbados: Crop Over

The Crop Over, a traditional harvest festival in Barbados, features singing, dancing, climbing a greased pole, feasting, drinking competitions and a calypso music competition. The celebration starts in June and ends on the first Monday in August. With street parties, craft markets, food tents, Crop Over has evolved into Barbados’ biggest national festival -- similar to Carnival in Brazil and Trinidad. 960 1280

Getty Images  

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