Christmas is in the air and lots of people are gearing up to travel this holiday season. There are many cities all around the world that are decked up for Christmas and offer plenty of seasonal events and activities for visitors. The good news is that a large number of these Christmas destinations are moderately or extremely wheelchair accessible. Here is a list of seven accessible cities in Europe and the United States that offer a wide variety of activities to get you in the Christmas spirit. wheelchair accessible christmas destinations
New York City
There are many sights to enjoy in Manhattan during the Christmas season, like the stunning 76-foot tall tree in Rockefeller Center with its 45,000 LED lights. Some of the museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art offer special seasonal exhibits and programming. At its main building, the Met displays a stunning Christmas tree, a Neapolitan Baroque nativity display and a variety of events, and the Cloisters in northern Manhattan hosts seasonal concerts. Both locations are accessible, though accessibility is somewhat limited at the Cloisters. You also won’t want to miss the holiday shows, and there are a huge number to choose from. The famous Radio City Christmas Spectacular is the best known, but other options include Paul’s Winter Solstice Celebration at the beautiful St. John the Divine cathedral. This show is non-denominational and features dancers and musicians portraying ancient solstice rituals. With the vast array of Christmas events, the decorations and the endless sights, New York City is an ideal place to spend the holidays.
The fairy tale city of Prague is a truly magical place to enjoy the holiday season. If you are lucky enough to make it for Christmas, you won’t want to miss the city’s amazing Christmas markets. With the red-topped booths decorated with garlands and lights, the delicious pastries and hot spiced wine, these markets are the perfect place to get into the holiday mood. The main markets are located at Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, which are only a short distance from one another. The Old Town Square location is the best option for wheelchair users, as it is very level and easy to maneuver. Prague is known as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, and it is never more beautiful than at Christmastime. While Prague may not be the most accessible city in the world if you are wanting to explore on your own, it is possible to get around thanks to wheelchair friendly tour companies such as Accessible Prague.
Austria is also notable for its Christmas markets, but the Belvedere Palace Christmas Village rates at the top of the list. The Village is located right outside the famous Belevedere Palace, which was built in 1717, and both the market and palace are decked out with lights and decorations for the holidays. Vienna is known for its beautiful displays of Christmas lights on the main shopping areas, as well as in many stores and hotels. If you enjoy musical performances, you might want to attend the famous “Christmas in Vienna Concert” in the city’s main concert hall, which features internationally famous singers, choirs and orchestras. Many of the city churches also host Christmas concerts. Vienna has an incredible variety of Christmas sights and activities, and is a wonderful place to spend the holidays.
This is a truly incredible city to visit during the holidays! There are lavish displays of Christmas trees all over the city, including outside the Colosseum, and around the Spanish Steps, and the churches are known for their Nativity scenes. If you enjoy Nativity scenes, you won’t want to miss the breathtaking one in St. Peter’s Square. If you are a music lover, you are also in luck, as many of the churches hold Christmas concerts that are free and open to the public. On Christmas Day, you can go out to have a festive multi-course Italian meal in one of the city’s delightful restaurants. If you plan to do this, be sure to set up your reservation in advance and to double check that the restaurant is wheelchair friendly. And much like Prague, you may want to book an accessible tour to get around the city instead of conquering it on your own.
Another fantastic place to enjoy the holidays is London, where there is a huge array of events going on. Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland features an amazing fair, Christmas markets, and plenty of seasonal fare. Another destination in London is the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which features two tour options. The self-guided tour is more cost effective, but the Deluxe tour includes a guide, photo ops and lunch and may be well worth the extra money. During Christmas time, the Hogwarts Great Hall is decorated with plenty of trees and wreaths to get you in the holiday spirit. If you are in London, you won’t want to miss the spectacular light displays around the lake in Syon Park’s Enchanted Woodland. You can also stop by Trafalgar Square to see the huge Christmas tree and listen to the carolers in the evening.
Asheville, North Carolina
If you are unable to travel overseas this holiday season, you might want to consider a trip to Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore House in particular is a well-known Christmas destination. This mansion was commissioned by George Vanderbilt in 1895, and it is an especially impressive place to visit around the holidays. The best option is to reserve tickets for the Biltmore’s Candlelight Christmas Evening tour, where you can see the mansion all decked out for the holidays. An immense Norway spruce tree illuminates the front lawn, and inside are dozens of decorated trees, twinkle lights and fireplaces. In the mansion’s Winter Garden are live musical performances throughout the evenings. The Biltmore does have some degree of accessibility, and offers discounted rates for visitors with disabilities. A car is necessary to move among locations on the estate, though the Biltmore does offer a shuttle to some locations. In addition, only the first and second floors of the Biltmore House are wheelchair accessible, but there is still much you can enjoy during the holidays.
For a somewhat less traditional and more colorful Christmas experience, New Orleans is the place to be. Throughout December, St. Louis Cathedral hosts free concerts featuring local musicians representing a variety of genres, including jazz, gospel and zydeco. For a more lighthearted experience, check out the annual Running of the Santas, where participants in Santa suits race each other. Many high-end restaurants in New Orleans offer the option to partake in a traditional French Creole meal called reveillon on Christmas Eve. You’ll want to be sure to sample some Christmas King Cake, a traditional New Orleans dessert. Other sights include bonfires on the levee, caroling, and holiday home tours. New Orleans offers a moderate degree of accessibility, with accessible buses, streetcars and taxis, and most of the tourist sights are wheelchair friendly as well.
This Christmas season, why not plan a vacation to a new city to celebrate the holidays? If you are able to travel overseas, nothing can beat the Christmas festivities in cities like Prague and Vienna with their Christmas markets and decorated city squares. But there are plenty of amazing holiday destinations in the United States, in major cities like New York and New Orleans, as well as historic towns like Asheville, North Carolina. Any of the places listed here are largely wheelchair accessible, and they are truly magical destinations to spend the Christmas season.