The bright lights, the people, the snow… when it comes to celebrating the holidays, cities play as important a role as the actual celebration. But what makes a city more festive than others?
To find out which location is best at spreading Christmas cheer, CheckMyBus referred to film history. After endless hours of watching and re-watching Christmas flicks from 1901 to 2016 (not that we’re complaining!), we came up with a shortlist of the Ultimate Christmas Towns in Film History.
But first: Methodology
We used Wikipedia’s “List of theatrical Christmas Films” and checked the setting of the 102 listed films. If the plot took place in several locations, all of them were counted. We then checked which location featured most often in these 102 films.
1. New York City
The Big Apple is not only the city that never sleeps but also the most festive city in film history. Its ascent to the Christmas throne started in 1942 with the musical Holiday Inn, featuring Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, whose rendition of the now classic White Christmas helped him to cement his legend status for generations to come.
And that was just the beginning; 16 more Christmas films were set in New York after that, including Holiday Affair (1949), The Family Man (2000) and – probably most famously – Home Alone 2 – Lost in New York (1992).
Whether the city owes its fame to Hollywood or whether it was chosen because of its festive atmosphere is up for grabs. But one thing is certain: New York City, as we know it today, is the most Christmassy of Christmas towns.
The city is full with places to soak in the Christmas spirit: you can feel the magic at Rockefeller Center, where Kevin McCallister got reunited with his mom after taking the wrong flight to the Big Apple. Or stroll through a snow-clad Central Park hearing carolers in the distance… We can definitely see why Hollywood took note.
The list of Holiday classics is long: From Miracle on 34th Street (1947, 1994), Die Hard (1988) -one of the most Christmassy non-Christmas movies- to comedies like Elf (2003) and Scrooged, a spin on Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol”.
2. The North Pole
Second on our list is Santa’s very own hometown, the North Pole. Featured in 11 of the 102 Christmas films, it really makes us wonder why it took us so long to explore Santa’s place of birth.
The North Pole only started to appear in films fairly late, with the first movies set there being One Magic Christmas and Santa Claus: The Movie both from 1985. Afterwards, more and more directors made use of the location, with the Santa Clause trilogy -starring Tim Allen- being among the most popular.
Although most of the Christmas movies set at the North Pole help to spread the traditional festive cheer, the most recent example couldn’t be more different: In A Christmas Horror Story (2015), all the elves and Mrs. Claus are turned into zombies forcing Santa to eliminate them all. That’s what you get for being naughty!
We might have New York now but the city that started it all lies across the pond. Although modern classics, such as Love Actually (2003) and The Holiday (2006) have helped to maintain the city’s status as one of the most Christmassy on Earth, London owns its fame to one man, and one man only: Charles Dickens.
Dickens single-handedly turned the Big Smoke into Christmas Town by penning what is arguably the most festive story of all: “A Christmas Carol”. The story has been adapted to the Big Screen countless times and made our list 8 out 10 times.
Among the best adaptations of the classic tale are: Scrooge (1935)*, Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983) and the heart-warming The Muppets Christmas Carol (1992).
Bah, humbug? We don’t think so…
*The 1901 silent film Scrooge, or, Marley’s Ghost was not counted as a London-based film. Although the source material points to London as the setting, there is only little surviving footage, which is why it’s unclear in how far London features as a location significant to the film.
Fun Facts for Successful Christmas Party Small Talk
When we had a look at all of the 102 Christmas Films from 1901 to now, we found out more interesting facts which will easily break the ice on stiff Christmas Party small talk.