Seasonal Cities to Sing Over

December 6, 2022
Gstaad Palace and the city scape at sunset with snow covered trees and roofs.

Around the globe, every city enjoys the holiday season in its own unique way. In New York City, urbanites and tourists alike bask under twinkling, seasonally lit streets alive with annual festivities. In the Philippines, traditional star-shaped lanterns known as parols serve as decor, and in New Zealand, Christmas is celebrated at the beach with a cookout. No matter how you celebrate, this special time of year is truly like no other, gifting us all with a chance to reflect on the year past and enjoy the company of friends, family, and loved ones.

As a global real estate brand, we relish the opportunity to partake in celebrations with the communities we serve. In this blog, we are highlighting three markets across the globe whose festivities’ cheer has transcended their borders and reached the hearts of those far and wide. 

Québec City, Canada 

A street of old Quebec city during the winter on an overcast evening.

Québec is known throughout the world for its European mystique—being the only official French province in Canada. Québec City, in particular, is one of the oldest settlements in North America. Here, millions of visitors each year come to view the over 400 years of culture and architecture that have earned the city designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

While the cobblestone streets are enchanting year round, during the holiday season, they have an especially festive energy; snow-dusted streets, sparkling lights, masterfully decorated historic buildings, and a charming community of people come together to create a magic unlike any other time of year. Though the average temperature for this time of year may be a mere 23° Fahrenheit, the faintest heart cannot help but be immersed in the city’s extensive list of festivities. 

Snowy decorated streets, trees, and shops in the Historic District of Quebec City.

To get the full movie experience, touring (or, better yet, staying at) the famed Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is the perfect place to start. Though beautiful at all times of year (and well-appreciated as one of the most photographed hotels in the world), its special holiday adornments make for an unrivaled experience. 

Once you’ve settled in, enjoy one of Canada’s snowiest cities with some ice skating at Place D’Youville, tobogganing, or, best yet, a visit to a one-of-a-kind palace—the Ice Palace’s 44-room building is constructed entirely from snow and ice, the only such dwelling in North America. 

No matter how you spend your time, visiting Québec City at this time of year promises a holiday experience like no other. For an even more tailored itinerary, consult our resident local experts at Engel & Völkers Québec

Gstaad, Switzerland 

Hopping across the pond, Gstaad, Switzerland, boasts an international reputation. This ski-village-by-winter, hiking-oasis-by-summer village is tucked in the mountains of Switzerland, and has caught the attention of celebrity homebuyers like Julie Andrews and the imaginations of millions across the globe. 

The snowy, dusk streets of Gstaad, Switzerland, with people walking in and out of shops under the light of pretty lamp posts.

The magic begins on the drive in. After ensuring your vehicle comes with proper headlights and four-wheel drive, enjoy the scenery of winding mountain roads. 

Whether staying in a hotel or a chalet, there is no shortage of opportunities for one-of-a-kind stays in Gstaad during the holiday season. Perhaps the throughline of Gstaad and the holidays is just that: one-of-a-kind. The perfect opportunity to get your much anticipated holiday shopping done, local ski and ribbon stores are complemented by global presences such as Prada, Rolex, and Patek Philippe; however, each store is geographically unique—decked to the nines with ski-village merchandise. A gift for someone (or yourself) from any of these desirable destinations will be coveted for its unique nature—for they exist nowhere else in the world. 

Streets and homes of Gstaad, Switzerland, during the winter, overlooked by Gstaad Palace.

If you’re going to be in Gstaad during the holiday season, whether you ski or not, a mountain excursion is a must. We would recommend the expertly decorated Eggli restaurant; reachable by the Eggli gondola. Just make sure to make a reservation. Oh, and take their sled service back down. (You can thank us later.)

This time of year in Gstaad may just inspire something within you that’s not ready to let go. In that case, get in touch with one of our advisors at Engel & Völkers Gstaad

Solvang, California 

Dutch-style architecture on the main streets of Solvang, California.

Last, but not least, we have reached the spectacular Solvang, California. This town is easily reachable from Santa Barabra, and what awaits is a holiday experience unlike anywhere else in the United States.

Solvang, recognized by Time Magazine as “One of the Most Christmassy Towns in America,” has become world-famous for its inspired, Dutch-style architecture and a full month of holiday celebrations. 

Christmas decorations on a wind mill in Solvang, California.

Each morning, a stroll down Mission Drive—the town’s main street—is complimented by the lovely fragrance of fresh, Danish pastries from a variety of authentic bakeries. Perhaps more than any other community featured in our list today, Solvang is known for its rich tastes. Though the day may start with pastries, it can be followed by enjoying its extensive repertoire of mom-and-pop restaurants and wineries. 

As night falls, the streets of Solvang are lit by the stars in the sky and the lights lining all their streets. For those looking for the best route in town to take in expertly decorated trees and the thousands of twinkling lights, we would be remiss to not recommend Copenhagen Drive, Alisal Road, and Solvang Park.

Sunset over the skyline of Solvang, California.

Solvang Julefest, its calendar of month-long holiday celebrations, kicks off with its famous Julefest Parade. Here a spectacle of colorful floats, marching bands, horses, and every holiday decoration imaginable is enjoyed by the city’s residents and visitors. 

It must not go without mentioning that, in Solvang, the holiday spirit can be enjoyed without the cold bite that accompanies our other featured destinations. Here, the decorations are so grand that no snow is required to enjoy the season. 

This concludes our list of holiday cities worth singing about. Whether getting lost in the enchanted street of Québec City, mountain-top in Gstaad, or under the lights of Solvang’s Julefest, Engel & Völkers wishes you all the joy, happiness, and prosperity of the holiday season. 

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