'Tis the season for Christmas festivals, and cities around the globe are gearing up for epic celebrations.
We've made a list (and checked it twice) of the world's greatest Christmas festivals. They're loaded with holiday cheer, from bustling Christmas markets and holiday performances, to festive light displays and appearances by Jolly Old St. Nick.
Click through to see our picks.
Nuremberg Christmas Market, Nuremberg, Germany
Nuremberg's Christmas Market ranks as Europe's most epic holiday market. More than 200 vendors pack into festively decorated wooden stalls in the Old Quarter to sell Christmas tree angels, ornaments, jewelry, mulled wine and gingerbread.
A whopping 2 million visitors descend upon Nuremberg's market each holiday season to take in the wares and enjoy children's rides, including a wooden ferris wheel, steam train and carousel. If you go, be sure to purchase the Zwetschgenmännele, or "Little Prune People." They're tiny figures made from prunes, and they're the market's signature souvenir.
Wiener Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz, Vienna, Austria
Vienna bursts with Christmas cheer each holiday season. The city's signature Christmas Market at Rathausplatz plaza springs to life each November with vendors selling hand-crafted gifts, mulled wine and street foods. Make like a local and tuck into traditional Austrian treats, like lebkuchen (gingerbread), maroni (sweet chestnuts), bratwurst and spiced, warm glühwein (mulled wine).
Once fortified, try ice skating at the enormous rink erected on the Rathausplatz, with the town's stunning town hall bedecked in Christmas lights as a backdrop.
The festival is also home to the city's largest Christmas market, featuring more than 140 vendors selling everything from wooden toys to candles.
Santa Claus Christmas Celebration, Santa Claus, Indiana
Some towns in America have the will to celebrate Christmas year-round; case in point, Santa Claus, Indiana. While the town boasts a Santa Claus-themed amusement park open all year, the love of St. Nick really kicks into high gear come Christmastime, when the town hosts the three-week-long Santa Claus Christmas Celebration.
Events include a mile-long Santa Claus Land of Lights display, three Santa Claus Arts & Crafts shows, a Christmas dinner with Santa, Christmas woodcarving demonstrations and a chestnut roast (over an open fire, naturally) at Santa's Castle.
Visitors can also explore the Santa Claus Museum and Village, where it's possible to write letters to Santa. Guests can also plan to spend the night in Christmas-themed lodging, such as Santa's Lodge or Santa's Lakeside Cottages.
Cathedral Christmas Market, Cologne, Germany
Cologne's Cathedral Christmas Market, one of six throughout the city, springs to life each holiday in the city center. The festivities have helped make Cologne one of Germany's most popular Christmas Market destinations for travelers. The city's four major markets surround the iconic cathedral, which lends a magical backdrop to the festivities.
Head to the Cathedral Christmas Market and purchase mulled wine, then explore the wooden stalls, which are chock-full of traditional wares and food for sale. Watch as artisans pour pewter, bind wreaths, blow glass and carve wood.
More than 100 holiday-themed performances take place throughout the festival, and you'll find rides and activities for children, as well.
Prague Christmas Market, Prague, Czech Republic
One of Europe's more storied Christmas markets, the Prague Christmas Market opens each December in the city's Old Town Square, which morphs into an old-fashioned Christmas festival, complete with chestnuts roasting on open fires, a ham spinning and roasting on a spit, horse-drawn carriages and costumed Christmas carolers.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Christmas market without the dozens of crafts and food vendors, and the square is indeed bedecked with red, wooden stalls proffering all manner of treats, from hand-crafted jewelry and toys to embroidery and Bohemian crystal.
Plan to gorge on trdelnik rolls, a type of sugar-dusted pastry, and homemade gingerbread, washing it all down with a chilly and strong Czech beer.
Christmas in Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark
Enjoy a Russian-themed holiday experience in Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens. The gardens' central square is transformed into a Russian village, though the highlight is the stunning, twinkling replica of St. Basil's Cathedral.
A series of small villages throughout the gardens feature Christmas decor and shopkeepers selling Christmas gifts and traditional Danish snacks. Visitors can also watch fireworks displays and a performance of the Nutcracker.
If you go with kids, visit the Pantomime Theater, where children can see Father Christmas. Then go for a spin on some of the holiday rides, such as the Chinese Lantern, Russian Troika, Siberian Railroad and Music Carousel.
Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, London
Londoners looking for a jolly good holiday time head to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, a Christmas festival featuring London's largest outdoor ice rink, an ice- and snow-sculpture display, a Christmas-themed Circus, a 200-foot-tall observation wheel, and Santa Land, filled with games, children's rides and even Santa's Factory.
The festival's Bavarian Village is another popular spot. There, visitors can experience a German-style Christmas market, complete with mulled wine and Bratwurst.
Holiday shoppers can find unique gifts at the Yuletide Market or Angels Christmas Market, where they'll discover more than 150 vendors hawking handmade crafts and holiday decorations.
Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Leave it to ever-colorful Dollywood to devise an enormous, boot-stompin', Southern-style Christmas extravaganza: the Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival. As Christmas approaches, the theme park transforms into a Winter Wonderland laden with holiday decorations and lights, as well as dozens of special activities and performances.
Visitors will enjoy evening caroling, holiday lights and fireworks shows, nightly parades, the acoustic Appalachian Christmas performance, a Christmas on Ice skating production, a performance of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," and even Santa's Workshop and the Kringle Kids Shopping Mall. Be sure to join the Polar Express 4-D Experience; the film is brought to life using 4-D technology.
Festival of Lights, Natchitoches, Louisiana
Louisiana's oldest town morphs into a winter wonderland of more than 300,000 sparkling holiday lights during its extraordinary Festival of Lights, a holiday tradition since 1926. Now one of the state's most popular festivals, the event began when the town's chief electrician decided that stringing up lights on the main street would thrill residents.
Today, the six-week festival features thousands of lights around the town and along Cane River Lake. The festival features regular fireworks displays and draws more than 150,000 visitors. Special events and activities include a holiday parade, carnival rides, river cruises, a marketplace featuring craft vendors, and carriage and trolley tours of the town.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, San Francisco
If you're in the Bay Area and looking for holiday cheer, head to the Great Dickens Christmas Fair to catch a live version one of the most iconic films of all time, "A Christmas Carol."
The fair transforms a San Francisco exhibition hall into the streets of Victorian London. You'll find music venues, pubs, dance floors, Christmas shops, and hundreds of performers dressed in period costumes interacting with fair-goers, who also often dress up.
Continuous performances take place across seven stages, while Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and other characters from Dickens' London roam the streets. Other activities include old-fashioned holiday games, music and dancing, Punch and Judy puppet shows, a visit from Father Christmas and Victorian arts and crafts.
Striezelmarkt, Dresden, Germany
Germany's oldest holiday market, the Dresden Christmas Market, or Striezelmarkt, has been bringing holiday cheer to the city since 1434 and today attracts nearly 2 million visitors. The name is derived from a sweet, traditional Christmas pastry, Hefestriezel, now commonly known as Dresden Christstollen.
Set in the city center, with the dramatic Church of Our Lady as a backdrop, the Christmas market's highlights include one of the world's largest nutcrackers, and the Christmas Pyramid, a 45-foot-high wooden carousel with life-size representations of nativity figures and angels. Visitors can climb to different levels of the carousel to look out on the festival.
With more than 250 stalls, the fair is an ideal place to purchase traditional holiday gift from regional artisans, or simply to indulge in a warm slice of Stollen.
Christmas Prelude, Kennebunkport, Maine
Celebrate Christmas in seafaring style at Kennebunkport, Maine's Christmas Prelude. Held annually for more than 30 years, the festival stretches across two weekends, both chock full of holiday-centric events. Highlights include the lighting of the Dock Square Christmas tree, which appropriately features a lobster, not an angel, perched on its top.
Other highlight's include Santa's arrival aboard a real Maine lobster boat, historic house tours, caroler concerts, arts and crafts shows, sleigh rides and a holiday tree made entirely out of lobster traps.
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Budapest Christmas Fair, Budapest, Hungary
Every holiday season, Budapest's Vorosmarty Square transforms into Hungary's largest Christmas market, draped with twinkling lights and filled with vendors selling traditional Hungarian Christmas decorations and crafts.
In addition to shopping at more than 120 stalls, visitors enjoy jazz and world music concerts, dance performances, and puppet shows for children.
Warm your spirits and belly with traditional Hungarian treats, including Kurtoskalacs, or Chimney Cakes, stuffed cabbage, roasted goose thigh and pork knuckle. Grab a mug of hot, mulled wine, and watch the "light painting" on the square's historic buildings, an event held each evening of the fair.
The World's Best Christmas FestivalsThese celebrations from Indiana to Germany are loaded with holiday cheer