Christmas and New Year celebrations bring the warm and fuzzies as swathes of the northern hemisphere get a glittering coat of snow (or December drizzle). Much of the month is spent in anticipation for the big day, but there’s plenty to entertain in the run up, not to mention sun to be sought in equator-hugging hotspots – so reasons to celebrate all round…
GO WITH THE FLOW
Chill-dodgers can flee to the Caribbean or the Indian Ocean where swimwear is still in business. Hurricanes have spun off, so tick off tropical forays to Antigua & Barbuda, St Kitts & Nevis, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos or exclusive, party-starting isle St Barths. Otherwise, Mauritius’ and the Maldives’ only icy bits are those shaken up behind the bar. Central America’s rains abate for wildlife-watching in Costa Rica and scuba diving in Belize, Mexico’s Caribbean coast lures sun-seekers to Tulum and the Riviera Maya, but if Christmas isn’t the same without white-out scenery, layer up for Switzerland’s card-worthy chalets and magical mountains. Elsewhere, head for treehouses in the Arctic Circle and Santa’s home in Rovaniemi for festive cheer in the wilds of Finnish Lapland.
ESCAPE THE CROWDS
December is the best time to fire up the asado in Uruguay as summer arrives. The British countryside’s grande-dame hotels and Cotswolds cottages make the cosiest fire-warmed roosts for watching the snow fall. Get your ‘fa la la la las’ in Europe’s historic hubs: Budapest, Prague and Vienna feel like Christmas past, with markets in their main squares, cosy pubs to crowd into and chill-beating stodge to dine on.
Turkey, carols, stockings: you know the drill. Then New Year’s Eve sends shockwaves through the time zones as we flip the calendar, with Twixtmas giving some respite in between. Christmas is joined by Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and some more unique celebrations: the Krampus arrives in Austria, St Nicholas gives gifts early in Germany and mulled-wine stalls pop up in its country-wide Christmas markets, while Iceland’s Yule Lads get up to no good. To see in the New Year, head to Edinburgh for a Hogmanay knees-up and whisky-soused renditions of Auld Lang Syne.
BOOK NOW FOR…
…next year’s summer break to get ahead of the holidaying crowds (especially if you’re travelling with kids) or a spa break to bust those January blues. And, it’s not too early to let the season of goodwill’s largesse inspire you for Valentine’s Day.
For more travel inspiration, explore where to go in January…