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The Ultimate Destinations Where You’re Guaranteed to Have a White Christmas

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Turn your icicle-draped fantasies into reality at these gorgeous spots around the globe where a festive, snow-covered holiday is a sure thing.

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Santa Claus Office in Santa Village with Christmas tree, Lapland, Finland, on Arctic Circle in winter. People on the backgroundRoman Babakin/Shutterstock

Snow-covered Christmas

If the holidays aren’t complete for you without a shimmering layer of white snow coating the ground and drifting into soft piles ready to build a snowman or start a snowball fight, we’ve got you covered. To find the ultimate white Christmas destinations, we checked in with the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and their careful observations of climate across the United States. Then we cross-checked with international travel experts to find the most festive winter festivals and snow-covered holiday events, all of which resulted in a towering Christmas tree’s worth of holiday cheer complete with a snow angel on top. Any one of these destinations would make for a lovely experience gift.

Auroroa Borealis over snowy trees and cabin in Finnish LaplandCourtesy Original Travel

Finnish Lapland

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With sub-zero temperatures, a winter that lasts six months of the year, and an average snowfall of 126 inches, Lapland is the ultimate destination for a white Christmas. With every street lined with twinkling lights, endless Christmas markets each day, and myriad holiday celebrations, Finnish Lapland is the place for a truly authentic holiday vacation. While you’re here, try mushing through the snowy woodlands on a dog sled, scan the sky for the Aurora Borealis, or even meet real reindeer. Original Travel can help you plan a picture-perfect festive Finnish winter holiday itinerary down to a meeting with Father Christmas himself. Bundle up to explore these destinations that are even better in the winter.

Corner facade of Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, ColoradoCourtesy Sonnenalp Hotel

Vail, Colorado

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There was already snow on the ground in Vail, Colorado, for Halloween this year, so it’s a safe bet to say that there will be plenty of frozen white stuff piled high in this picturesque ski village come December 25. Vail Village’s quaint shops and streets are strung with twinkling holiday lights illuminating myriad spots to sip hot cocoa. Lace-up your skates to take a spin around the outdoor rink in the West Village then head to the family-owned Sonnenalp Hotel for European-style Christmas charm, including rooms with crackling fireplaces and decadent fondue served at the Swiss Chalet restaurant. Here are more of our favorite small towns that are filled with the Christmas spirit.

 

snowy counrtyside with the carlton hotel at the centerCourtesy Carlton Hotel St. Moritz

St. Moritz, Switzerland

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You’re guaranteed a white Christmas in the Alps, with snow-covered mountains right out of The Sound of Music. The skiing is epic here, but even if you don’t want to swoosh down the slopes, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the gorgeous outdoor scenery, including a sleigh ride over the picturesque Val Roseg Valley or adrenaline-pumping snowmobiling over the Maloja Pass. For an ornate Christmas getaway, book a room at the elegant Carlton Hotel St. Moritz where kids can spend their Christmas eve baking and decorating an exquisite gingerbread house and then, on Christmas Day, meet Santa Claus. While the little ones are busy, adults can enjoy a delicious meal at the property’s Michelin-starred Da Vittorio before unwinding by one of the hotel’s giant fireplaces while enjoying live music. Take a look at these beautiful snow-covered towns around the globe.

Fireworks over park city utahCourtesy Park City Mountain

Park City, Utah

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In the mountains of Utah, the ski resorts are ready to roll by Thanksgiving, so a month later you’ll find the holidays in full swing and ready to celebrate Christmas with plenty of snow in the picture. Last year’s ski season was one of Utah’s snowiest on record, and predictions look wonderfully white for this year as well. The Park City Snowfest is an annual highlight of the holiday season; celebrations include Santa Claus riding down the “Town Lift,” festive live music, and fireworks. Park City and Park City Mountain also host a spectacular Torchlight Parade where a chain of skiers descend the mountain in graceful, coordinated patterns with torches, creating an unforgettable glowing spectacle. There are cookies and hot chocolate, and Santa Claus even joins the parade down the snow-covered mountain. These are the 13 best ski towns to visit this winter.

 

Parliment Hill facade lit up with snowflakes, Ottawa, OntarioCourtesy Destination Canada

Ottawa, Canada

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There has been snow on the ground for Christmas almost every year for the past two decades in this corner of Canada, and this year will probably be no exception. Take in the snow-covered sights with a spin around the outdoor ice skating rinks that dot the city including the famed Rideau Canal Skateway, the largest naturally frozen skating rink in the world. Check out the Ottawa Christmas Market where you can pick up a local delicacy, a Beaver Tail, a cinnamon and sugar-dusted pastry, to dip in hot chocolate. Then take a drive through the Magic of Lights at Wesley Clover Parks where nearly one million LED lights create everything from a drive-through tunnel to snowmen and elves. You can’t miss Parliament Hill (pictured) lit up in its Christmas red and green best. These are 20 of the best small towns in American for Christmas lights.

 

exterior of a cabin with a christmas tree in the center picture windowCourtesy Holland Peak Ranch

Swan Valley, Montana

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It’s known as “Glacier Country,” so it’s no surprise that this stunning corner of Montana looks like a snow-covered storybook in the winter. One of the last remaining wild and intact landscapes in North America. It is one of the few remaining places on earth that still harbors all the large mammals of the Northern Rockies including wolves, grizzly and black bears, elk, mountain lions, moose, coyotes, fox, wolverine, bobcat, and Canada lynx, for a magical winter wonderland. Cozy up at the Holland Peak Ranch, a luxurious private estate with more than 1,000 acres of powder snow. Each private cabin is idyllically located around a private lake with snow-capped mountain views from virtually every room. Perched on a wooded hill, the estate features towering timber log ceilings; snow activities including private ice skating rink, horseback riding lessons, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, dog sledding, and bonfires. You won’t want to miss these 32 things you never knew about the holiday season.

Night scene, two skiers walk through Niseko village in japanCourtesy YTL Hotels

Niseko Village, Japan

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Located on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, Niseko is known for its dry powder snow and its annual average snowfall of about 500 inches (yes, you read that right!), making Niseko the perfect destination for a guaranteed white Christmas. On December 25, the night sky lights up with fireworks against the shimmering snow, and Santa pays a visit to Niskeo Village, too, on December 24. YTL Hotels’ Niseko Village is located right at the base of Mount Niseko Annupuri, where travelers can enjoy fun outdoor pursuits like skiing, snow rafting, reindeer sledding, first tracks cat skiing, and snowmobiling. Visitors to Niseko Village will also enjoy the delicious, fresh seafood restaurants, not to mention the peace and solitude of the traditional Japanese onsens, a lovely break from traditional holiday hustle and bustle. While you’re there, keep an eye out for these 10 unusual things you can only find in Japan.

 

snowy ski lodge in aspen coloradoCourtesy Arrow Lodge Aspen

Aspen, Colorado

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In addition to its world-class skiing, Aspen is home to other winter activities such as snowshoeing, fly-fishing, and even hot air ballooning. The city also has plenty of festive events going on throughout the holiday season including a Polar Express-themed train ride, an old-world merry market, and performances of The Nutcracker. In addition to swishing down the slopes, try a pint or flight at Aspen Brewing Co, snowmobile through White River National Forest, and check out Ashcroft Ghost town, a once prosperous silver mining town. If you want to feel like you’re home for the holidays even though you’re traveling, try this luxury Aspen property available through THIRDHOME‘s vacation rental platform. The home’s grand room has a large fireplace for families to hang their stockings and features floor to ceiling windows that show off stunning views of the frosted Aspen Mountain. Don’t miss these vacations for people who love winter activities.

 

Stowe, Vermont, USA - Feb 10, 2005: Shaws General Store during a snow covered twilightDon Landwehrle/Shutterstock

Stowe, Vermont

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Renowned for the fabulous skiing at the area’s famed Stowe Mountain Resort, this northern Vermont downtown is picture-perfect when covered with a fresh layer of powder, which it will be for Christmas. Stowe’s charming old-fashioned Main Street is where to find their classic Christmas celebration, complete with a tree lighting, a lantern parade, wagon rides, Santa and reindeer visits, and carolers. Plus you can try out candy cane pulling and wreath making and gingerbread and cookie decorating, all a yummy way to warm up! Stowe is one of those mountain towns that look like a storybook paradise in winter.

 

The church in Røros, Norway in snowBoudewijn Sluijk/Shutterstock

Røros, Norway

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If you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit, there are few places on this earth more suitable than Røros, the town that inspired Disney’s megahit Frozen. With its old wooden houses, multitude of crafts shops, and cozy cafes, Røros is the kind of place where it’s hard not to feel a touch of Christmas the first day the snow settles in the streets. And then the real magic starts. Children with rosy cheeks and locally produced artisan wares like knitted gloves, glassware, cured sausages, smoked salmon, and woodwork line the streets and this is where you go for a horse-drawn sleigh ride underneath a sheepskin blanket, or to have close encounters with real reindeer. Don’t miss these Christmas traditions from around the world.

 

Whiteface mountain peak viewed from the frozen Paradox Bay in Lake Placid, Upstate New YorkMihai_Andritoiu/Shutterstock

Lake Placid, New York

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There’s an 87 percent chance of snow falling on the lovely town of Lake Placid in New York’s Adirondacks for Christmas. Skate on the Olympic Oval and race along the frozen Mirror Lake on a dogsled. Catch a festive ride on the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train as it travels through the snow-covered Adirondacks. Extra Christmas bonus: If you dress as Santa, you get a free lift ticket at Whiteface Mountain, so dig out your red hat and beard. Ho, ho, ho! Find out the best winter destination in every state.

 

Downtown Wausau, Wisconsin in winterMichael Tatman/Shutterstock

Wausau, Wisconsin

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You’re sure to have a White Christmas in this charming Wisconsin town which has an average snowfall of 60 inches per year. Snow activities include Granite Peak Ski Area for downhill skiing, Nine Mile Forest for cross-country skiing, and Sylvan Hill for winter tubing. The town is especially magical at Christmastime with a Holiday Parade, Kris Kringle Market, and the festively decorated downtown River District where visitors can shop, dine and explore. These are some of the best places to ski in the United States.

 

Door for The Bar at Deer Path InnCourtesy Deer Path Inn

Lake Forest, Illinois

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Chicago is one of the cities NCEI predicts will be among the snowiest in the country, especially at Christmastime. Lake Forest is one of the most idyllic locales on Chicago’s North Shore, and sparkling swirls of snow flurries are essentially guaranteed to blanket the town each holiday season. Retreat to Deer Path Inn, an English-inspired accommodation that takes holiday cheer to the next level with crackling fireplace in the Hearth Room and beloved holiday traditions including afternoon tea with Mrs. Claus plus seasonal turndown treats such as edible reindeer trail mix and holiday eggnog. Next, read on to find out the best Christmas town in each state.

 

Melissa Klurman
Melissa Klurman is a freelance travel writer and editor with more than 27 years experience who reports on travel trends around the planet for Reader's Digest. Winner of a Lowell Thomas Gold Award for excellence in travel writing, she started her career as an editor at both Frommer’s and Fodor’s travel guides, then went on to write about travel for many publications including Family Traveller, Parents, and Working Mother magazines. More recently she has been a contributing editor at Saveur, Islands, and Caribbean Travel and Life and a senior contributor at Travelocity. A New Jersey native, ice cream addict, and a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, Klurman lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, son, and rescue dog.