15 best places to spend Christmas

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Malta

Visiting presepju, or nativity scenes, is an integral part of Christmas in Malta.

Every year, residents proudly open their shutters, and sometimes even their garage doors, to display their holy crib confections to the public.

On a grander scale, the Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem is a life-size nativity experience spread over 20,0000 square meters of formerly abandoned fields.

Inhabited and animated by more than 150 actors, including entire families, the village takes visitors back in time to Judea of 2,000 years ago, complete with oil lamps, turn mills, grazing animals, crafts areas teaching traditional skills and folklore, a tavern, and of course a grotto housing baby Jesus.

Downtown Valletta is also home to a lively Christmas spirit, with carolers singing outside the Baroque St. John’s Co-Cathedral during Advent, and a dizzying display of Christmas lights on Republic Street.

The Manoel Theater is well known for its annual Christmas pantomime — this year it’s a folk tale mash-up titled “Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood.”

A visit to the privately owned Museum of Toys, featuring dolls, soldiers, train sets, and clockwork tin trinkets dating as far back as the 1790s, is a heartwarming homage to childhood.