Happy Holidays, Frohe Feiertage, Joyeuses fêtes, ¡Felices Fiestas!

The Best Holiday Lights & Amusement Park, Reindeers, Kids’ Snowboarding, Family Resort
Tivoli Gardens Christmas lights
Can’t be home for the Christmas tree lighting? Watch an even more spectacular display of lights at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. (courtesy, VisitDenmark/Flemming Moller)

Best Holiday Lights & Winter Amusement Park: Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark
From mid November through the end of December, Tivoli is lit with miles of lights—literally miles. The park's original lights were created by John Loring, Tiffany's head designer, and there are thousands of them—800 chains for the willows, three miles for all of the Christmas trees, and another 3,281 feet for Tivoli's buildings. Ride the rides, then shop and nibble at more than 70 Christmas stalls, or sit down to eat in one of many restaurants. At the Concert Hall, catch that family-favorite musical, Oliver! Even though it's in Danish, you can still tap your toes to the music and follow the story—"Please, Sir, I want some more," is clear in any language. www.tivoli.dk

Best Chance to See Reindeer...and the Big Elf Himself: Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland
Any Finnish native can tell you where Santa Clause lives—five miles north of Rovaniemi, capital of Finnish Lapland. You'll find him at Santa Claus' Village, home of Santa's office, the Main Post Office where letters receive a special Santa stamp, a Christmas Exhibition with everything you ever wanted to know about the centuries-old holiday, and you can meet and greet sled dogs up close and personal, too. The Village straddles the Arctic Circle—conveniently painted on the street—so you can hop back and forth across it because, well, because you can (be sure to get your Arctic Circle Crossing Certificate). With reindeer native to Lapland, there are opportunities galore to take a ride on or drive a sled pulled by reindeer (which, frankly, aren't quite as cute as Rudolph). Erasetti Safaris, for one, will pick you up at your hotel for the "Searching for Santa Clause by Reindeer" tour, among others (be sure to get your Reindeer Drivers License at the end). Many tour companies have "Christmas in Finland" family packages, or you can design your own. http:/tourism.rovaniemi.fi, www.erasetti.fi

Best Family Snowboarding: Villars-Gryon, Switzerland
The Rider School of the Swiss Snowboard School was dubbed the best in the country by the Swiss Snowboarding Association. Combine that with Villars-Gryon, one of Switzerland's official Families Welcome resorts (an esteemed honor achieved by organizing a wide variety of family-specific events and activities drawn up by an independent committee overseen by the Swiss Tourism Office), and you've got the setting for a perfect snowboarding vacation, whether you want to learn or just ride. Villars-Gryon has 75 miles of trails and a wealth of family amenities, from childcare and hotels geared for families to baby items for rent. And the fact that kids eight and younger ski and ride free doesn't hurt either. If you're the family that wants to learn together, Rider School has special family rates (boots and boards included). Ecole Suisse de Ski et de Snowboard de Villars also has family pricing for snowboarding lessons, starting with riders-to-be as young as three. www.villars.ch

Best Ski Vacation for Families with Kids 12 and Younger: Les Arcs, France
Les Arcs truly welcomes families—multiple nurseries, kids' clubs, childcare, children's ski school, and lots more make it clear why the resort has been awarded the Label Famille Plus Montagne, the Ski France certificate guaranteeing high-quality facilities for kids and their parents. "We do our best to satisfy the whole family. The infrastructure and preferential rates, along with the wealth of top-quality services guarantee the best holiday ever," says resort management. The award means that Les Arcs must commit to seven services, including organizing a range of suitable activities, encouraging the discovery of the mountain and resort, and developing family policies. It has, and then some. www.lesarcs.com

Published: 22 Nov 2007 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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