10 of the best Christmas movie locations you can visit IRL
The holiday season is here and there’s no better way to get #festive than snuggling up with a cup of hot cocoa and watching your fave Christmas movie. We’ve made a list (and checked it twice) of the best EVER Christmas picks that will also give you some serious festive wanderlust. Trust us, these legendary movies will bring you all the holiday cheer you need and some serious travel inspo…
10. Frozen (2013) & Frozen 2 (2019)
Arendelle – the fictional home of Elsa, Anna, Olaf – is actually based on this dreamy corner of Scandinavia. Norway’s sparkling fjords, snowy peaks and even the traditional wooden Stave churches all feature in the film, and according to the experts at Disney, a UNESCO Heritage Site known as Bryggen is the specific inspiration for the setting of Arendelle. If you want a slice of the icy action for yourself, mid-December to mid-April is the best time to visit Norway for plenty of fresh snow and wintry scenes. After all, who doesn’t want to build a snowman?
9. A Christmas Story (1983)
Destination: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
This classic film is a seasonal staple – it’s one of those films that just never gets old. The 1940s town in which little Ralphie lives was inspired by the cute residential streets of Cleveland, which becomes even more picturesque around Christmas time. And now, you can even visit the Christmas Story house and museum for a tour…
8. Love Actually (2003)
Destination: London, UK
Warning! This film WILL break your heart. From unrequited love and unexpected hook ups to painful revelations and shocking infidelity, these intertwining stories all play out across London, as the city readies itself for Christmas. To immerse yourself in all things Love Actually, we recommend Christmas shopping in Selfridge’s on Oxford Street, ice skating at Somerset House and strolling down the Southbank (where Colin Firth delivers a very emotional speech to his step son). Because if you can’t explore at Christmas, when can you?
7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 & 2000)
Destination: Orlando, USA
*Spoiler alert* Whoville doesn’t actually exist but you can get your Grinchmas on at Universal Studios in Orlando. Whether you’re a fan of the classic cartoon, Jim Carrey’s comedic version or the latest musical rendition – this is the place to head to indulge your love of all things green and Grinch-themed. Bah humbug!
6. Holiday In The Wild (2019)
So, Netflix’ latest holiday movie isn’t exactly the most Christmassy, but it is full of festive cheer. Set across the stunning Zambian plains, Kristen Davis (you know, Charlotte York in Sex and the City) and Rob Lowe (Sam Seaborn from The West Wing) film alongside actual wild elephants. It’s a feast for the eyes and will warm anyone’s heart.
Feeling inspired? Check out Contiki’s link with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya where you can meet the resident elephants (responsibly of course) and help support the amazing cause.
5. Elf (2003)
Destination: New York, USA
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear…” or may we recommend a visit to New York during the holidays. Christmas in NYC is truly magical. Follow in Will Ferrell’s footsteps and head all the way to the top of the Empire State Building, go gift shopping in one of the city’s iconic department stores (fun fact: Gimbel’s doesn’t actually exist and was actually creating using CGI), before going to the Rockefeller Centre to soak up that sparkling, towering Christmas tree. SANTAAA!
4. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Destination: Budapest, Hungary
This lesser-known movie is SO worth a watch this year. A classic romantic comedy where two employees, who hate each other at first, fall unwittingly in love. It’s all set in the wintry streets of Hungary’s capital city – what’s not to like? Cosy up and enjoy… or book yourself a cultural European break and visit Budapest’s legendary Christmas markets. Win-win.
3. Die Hard
Destination: Los Angeles, USA
Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? We’re going with yes, as millions of us sit down to watch John McClane (Bruce Willis obv) save the day every festive season. Because nothing says Christmas like a bit of #yippeekiyay magic. The film is scattered across L.A. but maybe the most iconic of its locations is Fox Plaza in Century City (or Nakatomi Plaza as it’s called in the film).
2. The Holiday
Destination: Surrey, England & Los Angeles, USA
Who doesn’t love options? Make like Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and head to the quaint town of ‘Shere’ or Surrey IRL, just outside of London. You’ll find plenty of cosy pubs, cottages with wood-burning fires and beautiful wintry walks, giving plenty of classic festive vibes. Or, if you’re looking for something balmier and with more palm trees, follow Iris (Kate Winslet) all the way to The City of Angels. Both are perfect destinations to visit during Christmas, we just can’t promise that Jack Black or Jude Law will be there…
1. Home Alone
Destination: Chicago, USA
In at number one is perhaps the most iconic of all. Macaulay Culkin had us at the movie poster – remember that little shocked face? The McCallister’s enormous house is in the suburbs just north of Chicago and is actually a private residence (yep, someone actually lives in the Home Alone house!). If you’re flying in, you’ll arrive at O’Hare International Airport – the setting for all those ‘family leaving’ scenes.
But we urge you, unlike Kevin’s family, to stay put and explore the rest of Chicago. At Christmas there’s a giant German Christmas market and ice skating in picturesque Millennium Park.
All that’s left to say really is… Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal!