(CNN) — Anyplace can throw up a few lights and call it a holiday celebration, but travelers who really love Christmas want more.
Many places have plans to return to a livelier season after two years of subdued or canceled festivities because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
From Finland to Mexico, these 15 destinations around the world traditionally offer up some of the best holiday atmosphere for a Christmas-themed vacation:
Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland
While popular lore would have us believe the North Pole as the official home of Santa Claus and his jolly missus, the Finns would have us believe otherwise.
Close to Philadelphia and New York City, Bethlehem offers a smaller-city Christmas escape.
It is a free, family-friendly event in which a town crier rings a bell up and down Main Street to call visitors to the Goundie House (the oldest house on Main Street). A child from the crowd is invited to come knock three times, and then a local business comes out with a surprise for everyone.
The Christmas Market is illuminated at night behind Bath Abbey.
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This historic city in southwest England celebrates both the birth of Jesus and the birth of Jane Austen with plenty of fanfare.
San Fernando, Philippines
The city, northwest of Manila, is renowned for its Giant Lantern Festival, which starts on December 17 and ends January 1. San Fernando’s lantern-making tradition dates back to the late 18th century.
On the evening of January 5, the kings (also known as the “three wise men”) arrive in bearded and velvet-robed splendor at the city’s port on the Santa Eulalia, their very own ship.
Cannons are fired, fireworks are set off, and as the mayor hands them the keys to the city, the magic of the Magi officially commences.
They parade through the streets in a magnificent cavalcade of floats that includes camels, elephants, giraffes and dazzling costumes.
New York City
New York is overflowing with Christmas traditions. One favorite of tourists and residents is ice skating at the Rockefeller Plaza rink.
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The magic of Christmas is in the holiday chaos of the Kenyan capital.
Visitors will find boisterous carol music blaring in different languages at various stores, on public transportation and in the long lines at restaurants and supermarkets.
A visit to a friend’s house or popular eatery might mean a plate heaped with chapati (flat bread), a spicy rice known as pilau and grilled meat — or nyama choma in Swahili — just to name a few.
Adults can enjoy Nuremberg spicy gingerbread and mugs of mulled wine.
A woman dressed as Santa Claus sits next to a Christmas tree and a Christmas star at Bolivar Square in Bogota.
Colombia’s high-altitude capital brightens up each year with Christmas lights galore.
While December is off-season, this heavily Roman Catholic island in the Mediterranean Sea has a festive and spiritual vibe at Christmas.
Visiting presepju, or nativity scenes, is an integral part of Christmas here. Every year, residents proudly open their shutters, and sometimes even their garage doors, to display their holy crib confections to the public.
Downtown Valletta is home to a lively holiday spirit, with carolers singing outside the Baroque St. John’s Co-Cathedral during Advent. See a dizzying display of Christmas lights on Republic Street.
Quebec City, Canada
The graceful streets of the historic Petit Champlain district in Quebec City make for a sublime winter holiday stroll.
A haven for environmentally friendly, outdoor enthusiasts, Quebec bustles with winter activity, offering holiday programs for all tastes.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Piñatas, posadas and ponche sum up the festivities in this colorful town in central interior Mexico, where Christmas is both a solemn and celebratory affair.
Leading up to December 24, visitors are likely to stumble upon Mary and Joseph strolling the streets, as locals make pilgrimages from home to home, singing to beg for “posada” (or “shelter”) as they reenact the journey to Bethlehem.
Salzburg and Oberndorf, Austria
The Christmas Market and associated festivities in Salzburg are really something to sing about.
The town also plays host to a more unusual Yuletide tradition.
Make photographic and visual memories with a 30-meter-tall (98-foot-tall) Christmas tree that is brought to the central square of Place Kléber each year and decorated with ornaments and lights.
Queenstown, New Zealand
A paraglider takes to the the sky in New Zealand, where outdoor activities and Christmas meet.
The traditional Christmas colors of red, green and white take on an entirely new meaning in New Zealand.
Here, red represents the pōhutukawa (New Zealand’s ruby-red flowering Christmas tree). White represents the pristine sandy beaches. And green? The kiwi, of course!
Or visitors can simply set up camp along the lakefront and enjoy a hearty Christmas meal of lamb, seafood and chicken on the barbie.
Forrest Brown, Roseann Lake, Laura Ma, Faith Karimi, Maureen O’Hare and Al Gerard de la Cruz contributed to this article.