Christmas might seem to fill most of the world — and you’re sure to find a Christmas celebration to suit you, if that’s what you’re after. But there are also plenty of Santa-free events around the world to fill your December.

Beat up on Santa!

Where: Küssnacht, Switzerland
When: December 5 every year
You heard that right! Join in the annual Chasing the Claus in Küssnacht, Switzerland where St Nick is ‘chased’ through the streets in a parade of cow bells and horns. It’s enough to put people on his naughty list!

Santa in tree
This Santa would be pretty easy to catch.

Fête des Lumières (The Festival of Lights)

Where: Lyon, France
When: 2018: December 6-9, 2019: December 5-8
The Festival of Lights (Fêtes des Lumières in French) was born out of disaster as inclement weather cancelled the inauguration of a tower sculpture and then the festival of the Immaculate Conception. The Lyonnaise lit up their homes with candles instead, and now the festival of lights illuminates the city for several nights a year.

The city lights up as part of the festival of lights


Where: Nassau, Bahamas
When: December 26 and January 1 every year
A street parade that celebrates the Bahamas and gives everyone a chance to get out and party, it is a mass of energy, colour and partying. The biggest events are held in the capital, Nassau, but you’ll find Junkanoo celebrations all over the country.

The Nassau New Year’s Parade starts at 2am (AM!) and finishes around 8am with prizes given out for the best floats and costumes. Tickets to the stadium finish are in high demand and usually priced between $10 and $50.


Christmas wherever you happen to be

Where: Many countries around the world
When: Various dates from late December to mid January every year
In fact, there are plenty of Christmas events around the world, with local councils and businesses putting on all sorts of celebrations. Check out our Christmas in Jerez post about the kind of things you can get up to in Spain, or do a Google search for “Christmas in [destination]” to find local events.


Where: Edinburgh, Scotland
When: December 30-January 1 every year
There are so many places to celebrate New Year’s (and check out our January Festivals page for more ideas), but Hogmanay in Edinburgh is something special. There are events all over the city, but the big one is the street party on December 31 — pick up your tickets here.

This list of the top December festivals is in no particular order, and is also completely subjective — they’re the festivals we’ve most enjoyed, or would most like to take part in, of all the festivals that take place in December. Let us know if there are festivals you think we should add to this list!

December festivals pin
Pin me on Pinterest!