Tag Archives: Christmas

The Most Christmassy Places to Visit

What symbolizes a magical Christmas more than freshly fallen snow, twinkling festive lights, Christmas market stalls, mulled wine and roasted chestnuts? Not much, we reckon!

In this second post in our festive series, Tep has put together a list of the most Christmassy places to visit around the northern hemisphere that could give you your dose of magic.

From real snow and reindeer rides to hot mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and dazzling Christmas markets, we’ve got you covered!

Here’s our list of the top 5 places to visit:

5. Nuremberg, Germany

German Christmas markets are known worldwide for their famous mulled wines, gingerbreads, glittering decorations and picturesque wooden chalets. Perhaps the most charming aspect of a German market is that it brings the holiday spirit to town with its aromas, sights and sounds. Yet, none of the imitations you can find across the globe come close to the original treats you will try at the original Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg.

The annual Christmas market, which dates as far back as 1628, descends yearly upon the center of Nuremberg and brings with it a wonderful festive atmosphere that is very contagious, joyful and family friendly.

Some of our favorite picks from the Christkindlesmarkt that just can’t be replicated include; the iconic stagecoach tour, a steaming hot mug of glühwein (mulled wine in German), the famous prune men, delicious Nuremberg lebkuchen (sweet gingerbread) and of course bratwurst. If you are looking for the real deal there is no better German Christmas market than this one!

For a short break in Nuremberg we recommend staying at Hotel Victoria that is perfectly placed to enjoy all the market has to offer!

4. Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City has been consistently named one of the world’s top destinations to visit during Christmas and for good reason. A metamorphosis takes place in the Old city during the holiday season as it transforms “into a Christmas village straight out of a story by Charles Dickens” (CNN, 2015).

There is an undeniable old world charm to this small Canadian town that lures tourists from all over the world to enjoy its Christmas markets, concerts and decorations. Visit the German Christmas Market for your mulled wine, gingerbread and bratwurst fix without having to step outside North America.

For a more quintessential French market head over to the Old Port Market or try the Gourmet Food Tour to get the best of both worlds. If you’re planning to stay inside the Old City, we can’t recommend the historic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac enough. It’s a tourist attraction in itself (and is one of the most photographed hotels in the world) so even if you don’t get the chance to stay in one of its impressive rooms make sure you take a snap before you leave.

3. Vienna, Austria

The musical capital of Europe completely transforms during the run up to Christmas and is a great place to get your festive groove on. As you walk through the many markets the city has to offer, you will be greeted by the inviting aromas of Christmas punch, roasted chestnuts and the sound of trumpets playing advent songs.

If you want all your senses tickled by Christmas fever you should definitely start with the Vienna Magic of Advent Market (a.k.a. Wien Christkindlesmarkt) at Rathausplatz. The square in front of the city’s impressive Town Hall is transformed into a glittering fairy-tale world with Christmas stalls, glittering lights, pony rides and its very own ‘Christkindl Express’ train. Ice skating at Vienna City Hall is also one not to miss out on, with the gigantic 8,000 square meter ‘Ice World’ rink featuring as one of the most beautiful ice rinks in the world this year.

For classical music lovers Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Advent Concert at St Stephansdom are the best way to get submersed in the authentic sound of Christmas. If you want to stay true to the opulent classical Viennese style, check in to Palais Coburg Residence Hotel that is within walking distance from all of the main attractions.

2. Lapland, Finland

The official home of Santa Claus in the Arctic Circle was sure to be on our top list of Christmassy places to visit. With guaranteed snow, stunning scenery, views of the Northern Lights and plenty of outdoor activities, Lapland will definitely bring out your inner child-like awe – even if you don’t bring the kids.

If you do want to take the little ones to visit Father Christmas we suggest booking the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi. The highlights include elf workshops, sleigh rides, a Christmas carousel, Mrs. Claus’ famous kitchen and of course getting to meet the elusive Santa himself.

If you want to stay clear of Santa mania, why not take a day tour of Lapland’s picturesque scenery by going on a husky or reindeer excursion through the magical woodlands?

At night, the skyline over Lapland is transformed by one of the most spectacular natural light shows on earth, the northern lights. We recommend viewing the lights from the comfort of your own glass igloo or ‘kota’ at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.

For the more adventurous and thick-skinned individuals, the Snow Village with ice bar and rooms is a once in a lifetime experience. Every year a new village is built out of 350,000 kilos of ice which will completely melt away come spring – enjoy its beauty whilst you can as it really is never the same twice.

Unlike the other Christmassy destinations we’ve focused on, Lapland has its own unique culinary delights that you won’t find anywhere else. Reindeer, bear, wild fowl and willow grouse are amongst some of the Lappish specialties – just be warned that Santa does not approve of eating Rudolf’s relatives for dinner!

1. Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg is known as the capital of Christmas for good reason, it’s home to some exceptional decoration displays, caroling choirs, stalls, festive delicacies and one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe. In the heart of the Alsace region, you will find the wonders of Strasbourg’s famed Christkindelsmärik, one of the oldest Christmas markets in France.

A dazzling Christmas tree sits in the center of the market, at Place Kléber, and marks the perfect starting point to begin your journey through the 300 stalls on offer. The must tries at the market include, hot mulled wine served in boot shaped mugs, bredeles, kugelhopf, Alsatian Christmas beer and foie gras.

For the best Christmas gingerbread you may ever taste head over to Mireille Oster’s Pain d’Epices in La Petite France (their recipe has been passed down through 3 generations and is the reason people flock there year round). The ice skating rink located on Place du Château is the perfect way to have some fun away from the market’s bustling stalls and take in the city’s gorgeous architecture.

We highly recommend the Hotel Cour du Corbeau for a charming and historic stay within walking distance to all the Christmas attractions. Be sure to book ahead of time, as Strasbourg is extremely popular during the festive season!

We hope our list left you feeling warm and Christmassy all over. If you are yearning for a magical trip abroad and plan on staying connected on your travels make sure you read up on the costs of using your mobile phone abroad.

Tep offers unbeatable value for unlimited portable wifi in over 72 countries for just $9.95 a day and that includes up to 5 separate devices.

For more information on how to avoid getting ripped off for using your mobile phone check out our post on how to avoid data roaming charges here.

Tep wishes you Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Most Amazing Christmas Lights and Decorations Displays Across the World

Christmas time is all about bringing together the very best things in life; family, friends, lavish food and of course lots and lots of wonderful light displays. From the very biggest Christmas trees to classic inflatable Santas – we’ve given you a rundown of the best places in the world to enjoy the sparkling lights and Christmas cheer with some tips on how to make the most of your own Christmas lights!

8. Cathedral Square, Vilnius, Lithuania

With a population of just under 3 million, Lithuania is certainly on the smaller side of the European countries. Although small in size, this Christian country doesn’t disappoint on Christmas cheer. Every year, towards the end of November, the center of Vilnius (Lithuania’s capital) transforms into a winter wonderland complete with its very own giant Christmas tree. This year’s tree has been draped with 50,000 light bulbs! The lights, Christmas tree, and market stalls are all a must see if you’re in the northern Baltic region this Christmas.

7. Ayala Triangle Gardens, Manila, Philippines

Manila’s business district, Makati City, is home to one of the best Christmas lights displays in the Philippines. The outdoor display held in the Ayala Triangle Gardens, is comprised of more than a million tiny lights that decorate the trees and surrounding gardens. The magical light show, complete with festive tunes, runs every day from 6pm to 8pm and will be on until early January.

6. Medellin, Colombia

The infamous home of Pablo Escobar is also equally famous for its annual Christmas lights display, El Alumbrado. This year’s Christmas light show will feature an extraordinary 31 million LED lights, 42,000 hand woven figures and 13 tons of multicolored metallic paper. The entire city comes to life during the festive season and is definitely worth a visit if you’re planning Christmas in the South American continent.

5. Oxford Street, London

London’s premier shopping street gets a yearly glamorous makeover to celebrate all things Christmas and 2016 is no different. For Christmas 2016, Oxford Street will be lit up with over 750,000 LED bulbs and close to 2,000 sparkling snowball-like decorations. It’s the perfect place to feel the magic of the season before getting stuck into some serious shopping.

4. Rockefeller Centre, New York

Every year the square in front of the Rockefeller Centre, in New York, is brought to life with an intricately decorated gigantic Norwegian Spruce tree – and this year’s tree stands at an impressive 94 ft.! The Rockefeller Christmas Tree, as it’s referred to, is the city’s Christmas centerpiece. Apart from the spectacular tree, there are plenty of Christmassy things to keep you enjoying the festive spirit – here’s Timeout’s handy guide to give you the complete low down.

3. Vienna, Austria

Christmas time in Vienna is not so much about inflatable Santas and red nosed reindeer but more about understated glittering elegance. We recommend walking around the city’s center starting at Michaelerplatz Christmas market and meandering your way through the glittering lights to finish in the famous Christkindlmarkt at Rathauspark – by which time you would have earned yourself a mug of delicious traditional mulled wine – or two or four!

2. Shiodome Caretta Illumination

Every year the Shiodome shopping center in Tokyo puts on a light show like no other. This year will see the Caretta Illumination 2016 ‘Canyon d’Azur’, the malls 11th running show, come to life right in the middle of the shopping complex. Between November 17th and Valentine’s Day (2017) you can enjoy a 6 minute audio-visual light show, featuring over 250,000 LEDs. This is one not to miss if you find yourself in Japan this Christmas season.

1. Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, New York

In the heart of Brooklyn lies a row of houses, which for most of the year are pretty average looking. However for a few weeks every year, during Christmas time, the residents of Dyker Heights put on the most outrageous and out there Christmas decoration displays you’ve ever set your eyes on. Think enormous inflatable Santas, sparkling Rudolfs and millions of Christmas light varieties to dazzle you. This neighborhood is so popular that every year over 100,000 people visit the streets just to take in the homemade displays of Christmas cheer. We recommend you take a personalized tour and book early to avoid disappointment as tickets sell out fast!

Christmas fairy lights bring a festive magic like nothing else and if you’re planning to decorate your home with them this year there are a few things to keep in mind. Here some top tips to keep you and your family merry and safe this Christmas!

1. When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree.

2. Because heated rooms dry out live trees rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water by refilling daily.

3. When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” This label indicates that the tree is more resistant to burning.

4. Don’t use electrical ornaments or light strings on artificial trees with metallic leaves or branch coverings.

5. Place your tree at least 3 feet away from all heat sources, including fireplaces, radiators, and space heaters.

6. Remember to keep your wifi router as far away from the Christmas tree as possible. Your wifi signal can be affected by your fairy lights because of the electromagnetic radiation they emit. In fact, Ofcom has even warned that it could significantly slow your internet down!

7. And finally… if you want to avoid all the internet drama caused by fairy lights or you want to visit any of the Christmas lights we’ve highlighted in this post get your hands on your very own Tep wifi device.

Tep’s device works in 80+ countries worldwide and gives you access to unlimited internet for a fixed daily cost of just $9.95. You’ll never have to worry about those shock data roaming bills and most importantly Tep’s device won’t be impacted by any Christmas lights! That means you can live stream the switching on of the Rockefeller Tree or even enjoy your own fresh tree without any negative impacts on your internet browsing speeds! To find out more or to rent/buy your own Tep device click here.

10 Christmas street markets to visit in the US and Europe

As Christmas approaches most people love nothing better than an event which embraces the colors, sounds and smells of the holiday season. One old tradition which retains enormous popularity to achieve this is Christmas street markets. These have been held since medieval times in Europe but have migrated with people across the Atlantic and become incredibly popular in North America as well. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to get some early festive cheer with friends and family.

1. Nuremberg, Germany

Let’s begin in the home of the Christmas market tradition: Germany. You’ll find these events on in every city in Germany so selecting just one is tricky. But we’ve opted for the pretty town of Nuremberg in Northern Bavaria. It’s one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets, dating back to the 16th Century and retains every bit of that authenticity right through to the present day. It’s even the place where Bratwurst sausage was invented, so you know the food is going to be good!

2. Arlington, TX, USA

Arlington hosts one of Texas’ most popular Christmas markets which runs from late November through New Year’s Eve. As well as the usual skating, shopping and food outlets it also claims to have the world’s largest light maze to explore and solve. Should keep the whole family entertained for a while!

3. Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotland is perhaps most famous for its own Hogmanay New Year celebrations, but it embraces the Christmas market tradition as well. So much so, that Edinburgh actually has two-street markets in different parts of the city. One focuses on local gifts and produce; the other is a more traditional German-style market, so it’s worth visiting both for the full experience.

4. Brussels, Belgium

The Belgian capital, Brussels, has a more modern feel to its Christmas market, established in 2000. It has definite eco-friendly and multi-cultural values and a little less emphasis on history. Don’t worry, it’s still definitely got the right Christmas spirit. They’ve even produced their own trailer video for this year’s event, check it out here.

5. San Francisco, CA, USA

San Francisco is a city that always manages to put a unique spin on things and their Christmas market is no different. Can’t make it to London? No problem, the spirit of a Victorian-era English Christmas, as evoked in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, is faithfully recreated in SF’s Dickensian-themed market. It runs until December 17, so if you like an experience brought to life by colorful characters, this is for you!

6. Strasbourg, France

Although Germany is often considered the birthplace of the Christmas market tradition, the biggest and best in Europe might well be held in Strasbourg. It’s not a large city but it deserves its moniker as the “capital of Christmas” and the market here has been around for hundreds of years. Rather than being in a single area the market is spread across 11 different “villages” spread out all over the city, each with its own theme.

7. New York City, NY, USA

What could be a more spectacular location for a Christmas market than in the heart of Manhattan? That’s exactly what you can experience at the Union Square Holiday Market. You’d expect a big market in the Big Apple and this doesn’t disappoint, with over 150 vendors, you can probably nail a good portion of the Christmas shopping in one go here!

8. Bath, England

If you’re in the UK over Christmas you’ll have plenty of choice of Christmas markets, they’re everywhere! But we’d recommend a visit to the historic city of Bath (so named for its Roman-era public baths). The market has grown to over 200 wooden chalets and is set amidst some stunning architecture. You get to visit a great market and visit a World Heritage Site at the same time. Bonus!

9. Washington DC, USA

America’s capital has one of the most popular Christmas markets in the country. The Downtown Holiday Market is an eclectic mix of stalls, performers, artists and other vendors. It’s handily located as the name suggests in the heart of downtown DC just in front of the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum so this one is a winner for a great cultural experience.

10. Copenhagen, Denmark

As you’d expect from the home of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales, Copenhagen loves the spirit of Christmas and the city hosts markets in various locations. From the pretty Nyhavn waterfront area to the famous Tivoli Gardens there are festivities going on everywhere. Try them all and find your favorite!

Wherever your travels take you and however you spend your holiday season, you can ensure you can share your experiences anywhere in the world in real-time by using a Tep portable wifi device. The device is only $8.95 per day for unlimited data usage, plus, you and your friends or family can all share one device (up to 5 gadgets can connect at a time).

Tep’s portable device is amazingly travel-friendly too, it will slip into a handbag, pocket or rucksack. Find out more or buy/rent a device here.

If Santa had Tep Wi-Fi this Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, children everywhere will be eagerly awaiting the visit of Santa Claus. Traditionally, children contact the infamous Saint Nick by posting a handwritten wish list to his home in the North Pole. But with the next generation of kids growing up with technology at their fingertips, we wondered how the modern Santa might cope? For the first post in our festive series, we’ve reimagined how a tech savvy Santa Claus would manage demands of modern Christmas if he had Tep’s portable wifi device with him on his travels.

It must be a pretty lengthy task, compiling lists of all the 2.2 billion children around the world and making sure each one gets a gift that their heart truly desires. This would be made infinitely easier if Santa had access to the internet on the go, making everything from composing gift lists to the logistics of worldwide delivery, a whole lot easier.

Thankfully for him, Tep’s device works seamlessly across 72 countries, meaning he no longer has to worry about switching SIMs or buying costly data add-ons.

If Santa had Wi-Fi he would be able to create his own Pinterest Boards so that children can log in and pin the latest toys and gadgets that tickle their fancy.

Instead of having to write letters and posting them to the North Pole, kids would be able to tweet to @Santa__Claus directly with their wish lists. Parents would be able to live tweet when their children have been ‘naughty or nice’, so that Santa doesn’t have to check his list twice.

Santa would also be able to maintain his own blog which gives children and adults helpful tips on how to stay in his good books this holiday season. By hosting an ‘Ask Me Anything’ on the web he could invite children to ask him those burning questions – how does he get around the world in just one night?

As soon as the gift registry is updated online, Santa would be able to Skype his elves back at H.Q. to make sure everything’s running smoothly.

Even Santa’s little helpers would be able to join in by taking ‘elfies’ and Snapchatting newly wrapped presents! With the ability to connect wirelessly to the internet wherever he goes, Santa would be able to live update the world on his travels. He would even be able to use GPS tracking on his sleigh and reindeer so they would never get lost, even with Rudolph’s guiding red nose.

Once Santa sets off on his epic journey around the world in 24 hours, his loving wife would never be more than a Whatsapp message away, sending him gentle reminders to go easy on the mince pies!

For those eager to catch a glimpse into the life of the elusive man, Saint Nick would be able to reveal his location on FourSquare or even share live videos of himself climbing down chimneys via Periscope.

A selfie stick would be an essential tool for the tech savvy Santa who has millions of instagramming opportunities to pose alongside cookies, mince pies, or whatever delicious treats are on offer from around the world.

With a portable wifi device to accompany him on his Christmas Eve mission, Santa would be able to stay connected to the world and make sure his delivery happens seamlessly.

But even If you’re not orchestrating a global mission impossible like Santa, Tep’s device is perfect for any holiday abroad and will ensure you stay connected during this festive season.

Happy Holidays, from the Tep Team!