A trip to North Pole
North Pole, Alaska, is not the North Pole, said Marshall S. Berdan in The Philadelphia Inquirer. But it’s still possible for visitors to “sit on Santa’s
lap and tell him exactly what they want for Christmas.” Situated just south of the Arctic Circle, and 14 miles south of Fairbanks, this community of 1,800 doesn’t just share the same name as Mr. Claus’ reputed abode. It celebrates Christmas year-round with holiday banners, candy-cane street signs, and other seasonal decorations. The “star attraction” is the 55-year-old Santa Claus House, which draws up to 100,000 visitors a year. It’s easy to find. Just look for “the world’s largest statue” of Santa, a 42-foot-tall, 900-pound likeness. Among the wares for sale are such distinctively Alaskan merchandise as Eskimo Nativity sets, beaver-pelt pillows, and birch bowls. The 1954 movie White Christmas, starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, “plays continuously on an elevated TV monitor.” The Santa Claus House is closed Christmas Day, “naturally.”
Contact: Santaclaushouse.com

Quebec City’s 400th birthday party
Quebec City is “so terrific, it doesn’t really need roaming costumed opera singers, fireworks, a floating dance floor the size of Kansas,” and other props to celebrate its 400th birthday, said Alan Solomon in the Chicago Tribune. But those are just a few of the ways this French-speaking provincial capital is commemorating its founding, in 1608. “In a scaled-down sort of way,” Quebec City is almost like Paris. The streets are narrow and twisting, galleries and churches” are everywhere, and the cuisine is haute but “without the haughtiness.” Plans for the birthday bash from July 3 to 6, the actual anniversary, include an Urban Opera, which will envelop the city with 1,500 extras, and a massive group photo on July 6 on the Plains of Abraham, a French and Indian War battlefield that is now a park. Cirque du Soleil, “Quebec’s gift to Las Vegas and the world,” will perform a one-time-only spectacular in mid-October.
Contact: Myquebec2008.com