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10 places to spend the holidays away from home

In the mood for a new adventure or looking for a change of scenery? The holiday season is the perfect time to explore a new destination, see new things and learn about different cultures. 

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Here are 10 places to consider visiting: 

1. Tromso, Norway

ALTA, NORWAY - MARCH 29: A general view of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights between Jokelfjord and Alteidet on March 29, 2017 in Troms, Norway. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Photo: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

If you like the night life, Tromso is the place for you. Daylight during the holiday season is just a couple of hours long.

But the darkness is lit up by incredible views of the northern lights (look for them between 6 p.m. and midnight) and a chance to say you’ve been to the North Pole -- well, the Arctic Circle, anyway -- for Christmas.

2. Prague, Czech Republic

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - APRIL 12: The Moldau River flows under the Charles Bridge (2nd from bottom) and past buildings in Old Town on April 12, 2009 in Prague, Czech Republic. Prague is among Europe's major tourist destinations. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Seeing “The Nutcracker” is a great experience. Seeing it in Prague, one of the homes of ballet, is an even more noteworthy experience.

After leaving the Czech ballet, enjoy historic Nerudova Street in Mala Strana, which is filled with Gothic and Baroque architecture. Don’t miss the holiday markets in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.

3. Lapland, Finland

ROVANIEMI, FINLAND - NOVEMBER 27: Entrance of Santa Claus' Main Post Office in Santa Claus' Village on November 27, 2006 at the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Province of Lapland, Finland. Each year over 600,000 letters are received from children in over 150 countries, particularly Great Britain, Poland and Japan. The staff speak many languages and endeavour to reply on Santa's behalf to all those who provide a return address.
Photo: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Want to walk in a real winter wonderland? Urho Kekkonen National Park, a 90-minute flight from Helsinki, is the real thing. Cross the frosty landscape via a reindeer-pulled sled or go cross-country skiing on the Saariselkä trails.

If you want to watch the northern lights warmly, some of the igloos at Hotel Kakslauttanen are made of thermal glass.

4. Zurich, Switzerland

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - FEBRUARY 21: Snow covered alpine mountains seen from a commercial flight from Athens International Airport to Heathrow Airport on February 21, 2012 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

One of the most beautiful cities in Europe believes in lighting up the holidays. A display of 12,000 crystal lights are turned on to mark the season starting in late November.

On the eve of Dec. 19, children set candles afloat on the Limmat River near City Hall. And don’t miss the Conelli Christmas Circus.

5. Charleston, South Carolina

Market Hall is a Greek Revival style building and is part of a Colonial era historic market complex in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Located on Meeting Street, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a National Historic Landmark.
Photo: John Coletti/Getty Images

If you’re not in the mood for Europe, Charleston has its own spin on the holidays. Pecans roasting instead of chestnuts, eggnog spiked with bourbon, and choirs singing spirituals at Drayton Hall plantation are among the signs of the season.

The city has an extensive list of events at

6. Reykjavik, Iceland

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND - APRIL 07: Tourists visit a geyser Ioutside of Reykjavik on April 7, 2016 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Tourism is one of Iceland's most important sectors with thousands visiting every year to indulge in nature and to see the Northern Lights. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Iceland has been a hot vacation spot for the last several years, and the center of that is Reykjavik, the capital city. It’s another northern location where daylight is a four-hour affair and the aurora borealis is the biggest holiday light of them all. Statues of the 12 Yule Lads -- the Icelandic version of Santa Claus -- peek around every corner and from every window.

7. Santa Barbara, California

SANTA BARBARA, CA - MAY 07: Butterfly Beach on May 7, 2009 in Montecito, just south of Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

So you’d rather be warm for Christmas -- who wouldn’t? Hotels in the Santa Barbara area can give you the New England winter lodge feeling just steps from the beach.

If you are there on a Sunday, check out the Sunday Arts & Crafts Show for last-minute shopping.

8. Boston

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 13: A girl sleds on Boston Common following a winter storm February 13, 2017 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

If you want New England’s Old World ambience with snow, Boston is the place to go.

Enjoy Beacon Hill’s cobblestone streets dusted with snow, and celebrate the ghosts of Christmases past with the Christmas Revels at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. Get some skating in on Boston Common.

9. Edinburgh, Scotland

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 07: A general view of Edinburgh Castle on February 7, 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The castle dominates the city skyline was built on top of an extinct volcano, and has had a human settlement on the castle site since 900BC. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Fireworks lighting up over Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse? Yes, please. Add in bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” around the Sir Walter Scott monument, and the sounds of the season are fully engaged here.

10. Taos, New Mexico

Rio Grande by John Dunn Bridge in Arroyo Hondo in Taos County, New Mexico. A popular recreational spot for locals and tourists alike for hiking, biking, swimming and fishing.
Photo: Mona Makela Photography/Getty Images

For a unique holiday season, light a farolito (little lantern) in Taos. The Native American and Hispanic influences are prevalent, bringing a multicultural twist to the holiday season with activities like the lighting of Ledoux Street with the tiny lanterns.

In the days before Christmas, the town also celebrates the Hispanic tradition Las Posadas.

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