Feeling Festive: 11 Photo Spots to Get into the Holiday Spirit
Winter wonderlands, red decor—these Insta-worthy spots will leave you feeling merry and bright.
The holidays are upon us! Now that we've gotten through Thanksgiving, we've begun the transition into the winter season of 2021. Can you believe how quickly this year has gone by? We sure can't! And while so many good things have happened in the last 12 months, the world is still reeling from a challenging pandemic and adjusting to "new normals" that have set us back. As a way to brighten your spirits, we wanted to shine a light on eleven festive photo locations around the globe.
These international photo spots will have you feeling ready to take on the cold as you embrace glimmering lights, snowfall and jovial decorations. All eleven locations can be found in the Explorest app, and below, we're giving you a sneak-peek into what makes each place so special.
Rue des Marchands
Embrace the holiday cheer on Rue des Marchands in the quaint town of Colmar, France. The gingerbread-style houses along the christmas tree-lined street make the perfect backdrop for a seasonal shot. Every winter, visitors flock to Colmar, eager to get bundled up as they shop for gifts. There are six Christmas Markets within the small French village and each one offers a special theme that'll whisk you away into a winter wonderland. With a hot cocoa in hand, stroll down Rue des Marchands and feel the joyful energy of the holidays.
credit: @a_ontheroad — discover Gingerbread-Style Buildings on Rue des Marchands on the Explorest app
Gently falling snowflakes create a flurry of festivity on Emerald Island. This secluded islet is nestled in the eastern slope of the PNW's Cascade Mountains and in the winter, the crystal-blue alpine waters of Lake Wenatchee will take your breath away—and not just because of the cold temperatures! With over 12,623 feet of stunning waterfront, the 5-mile lake is an expansive setting for a seasonal picture. Grab a friend and have them stand on an isolated rock (bonus points if they're dressed in holiday red) to capture the essence of the holidays in the United State's Pacific Northwest.
credit: @zachnicholz — discover Lake Wenatchee State Park view of Emerald Island on the Explorest app
Brocken Railway Train
All abroad the Brocken Railway Train! This marvelous steam engine train, with old-style interior cars, takes you to the highest mountain of the Harz region of Germany. Dating back to its original construction in the late 1800s, the Brocken Railway Train evokes a sense of holiday spirit as it chugs through the centuries-old railway tracks in the forest of Wernigerode. Stand before the train, in the winter-white forest, and see the locomotive full steam ahead!
credit: @ericreinheart — discover Brocken Railway Train near Schierke Station on the Explorest app
Natural History Museum London
We've already crowned the Natural History Museum as one of the best photo spots in London, and during the holidays, the prestigious landmark is elevated with an ice rink and decorative tree. The inside of the museum is filled with valuable artifacts, like Hope the Blue Whale Skeleton, but the outside lawn is where you can make magical memories for years to come! The crisp air, festive tree, and setting sun all make for a picturesque foreground of this museum shot.
credit: @a_ontheroad — discover Natural History Museum Ice Rink & Christmas Tree on the Explorest app
Bask in post-holiday bliss at the New Year's Eve firework display in Hallstatt, Austria. This dazzling viewpoint is in one of Austria's most well-known villages and when the fireworks illuminate the night sky, you'll be able to capture a photo of the last few minutes of the year. Standing along the shore of the water will also grant you the opportunity to practice your reflection photography. The display of light looks just as celebratory in the night sky as it does reflected onto the water.
credit: @ericreinheart — discover Hallstatt Viewpoint of Evangelische Pfarrkirche Hallstatt & Fireworks on the Explorest app
The Mall in Central Park
Central Park is a whimsical place, no matter the time of year. In the summer, the park is crawling with sunbathers and tourists; in the spring, the landscape is blossoming in all directions; in the fall, the changing foliage paints the trees in shades of red, yellow, and orange. And while the aforementioned seasons are stunning, there's nothing quite like the winter in Central Park. The blanket of snow clings to the bare branches and people trek through The Mall in chilly city temperatures. For an added element of festivity, consider bringing along a red umbrella to celebrate the holiday season in NYC.
credit: @gmp3 — discover The Mall in Central Park on the Explorest app
Another New York City staple that'll get you in the holiday spirit is the Cartier storefront on the world-famous street of 5th Avenue. Wrapped in a giant bow, the luxurious storefront is transformed into a festive work of art every winter. The cheerful red awnings and twinkling lights are especially photogenic after the sun begins to set—the colors will really pop against the darkening sky. What's inside the store may not be within your holiday shopping budget, but to see the exterior decorated like a larger-than-life present is priceless!
credit: @joethommas — discover Cartier Holiday Decorations on the Explorest app
Elm Valley Farms
In the countryside of Michigan, this red barn serves as a friendly welcome to the holiday season. The Santa Claus-red paint is drenched in the vivid morning sunlight that creates a jolly vibe when paired with a fresh layer of snow. The small area of Leelanau County in Sutton's Bay is home to many barns, but Elm Valley Farms is the cherry (or should we say mistletoe?) on top of a frosty farm scene. Winters in Michigan can reach below freezing, so make sure to dress warmly when you visit this festive photo spot.
credit: @snaphappymichigan — discover Elm Valley Farms Red Barn & Pine Trees on the Explorest app
Similar to how the Natural History Museum transforms itself during the winter, Regent Street in the West End of London does the same. London is known for its over-the-top Christmas decorations and the shopping district of Regent Street is one of the best areas to photograph the ornamentation on full display. Our personal recommendation is to stand (safely) in the middle of the street on the pavement so you can align yourself with the glorious golden angels soaring above you. Additionally, the red lights from the traffic whizzing by will also enhance the festive atmosphere, turning the entire street into a seasonal display of light and energy.
credit: @chrisjdalton — discover Central Pavement on Regent Street with Angels on the Explorest app
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a sacred tradition amongst New Yorkers. It all started back in 1931 at the height of the Great Depression, when Rockefeller Center employees gathered their own money to buy a Christmas tree. Their initial hope was that the tree's presence would lift the spirit of those around them, and decades later, the tree continues to bring joy to visitors and residents of Manhattan. From the perspective shot by @gmp3, you can see the angelic statues playing their trumpets toward the massive tree in the middle of Rockefeller Center as they ring in another year of the holidays.
credit: @gmp3 — discover The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree on the Explorest app
Coppa Club Tower Bridge
The best way to get into the holiday spirit? Dine inside an igloo! At Coppa Club Tower Bridge in London, the restauranteurs got creative when trying to think of ways to withstand biting winter weather and their brilliant solution was to develop a one-of-a-kind dining experience. These private igloos on the roof of the eatery face the River Thames and the skyline of the city, so not only do you get a delicious meal in a cozy pod, you also get fantastic views of London. Step outside of your igloo and photograph the entire scene to incorporate delicate lights strung above you and see how the entire roof lights up against the setting sun—it's truly magical!
credit: @a_ontheroad — discover Coppa Club Tower Bridge Igloos view of The Shard on the Explorest app
If you're looking to discover new photo spots, download the Explorest app today. We provide insider recommendations to help you capture your travels, near and far.