Spending the holidays with loved ones is what it’s all about… Sat around the tree, sipping on a cup of hot chocolate while listing to carols, popping open the board games and feeling like you’re on the front of a Christmas card. Realistically though, that picture perfect image doesn’t always translate into reality; the holidays are known to be the period of the year that cause the most arguments, unsurprisingly because were all in close proximity. For the rest of the year we all have our own independence, schedules and space, but when you chuck people together indefinitely (that often only see each other every few months) the living room can become a pressure cooker. If in the run up to the big event you need some space to breathe and prepare, or you want to spend the holidays away from everything completely, there are some great destinations that will help you get in the festive spirit without the possibility of a family row. Booking yourself a last minute getaway to help perk your mood, use up those last few days of holiday or provide an escape from the stresses and strains of the season is always a good idea! Here are some of my fave destinations that I’ll definitely be wishing I was visiting this December…
NEW YORK CITY, USA
Nothing says Christmas like NYC and the huge tree that sits pride of place in Rockerfeller Centre. We’ve seen it in so many festive movies that it’s become synonymous with Christmas, the ice skating rink below looking like a postcard too. New York is incredible at any point in the year, but as soon as the holiday season approaches is becomes even more special. The lights, the department stores, the parades, the snowy scenes and chill in the air make this a bucket-list destination no matter your age.
The Christmas markets in Germany are iconic in more ways than one, but Munich is consistently rated the best. The annual celebration dates back to the 14th century and is held on the Marienplatz in the heart of the city centre. Today the market offers traditional Bavarian and unique Christmas gifts, including wood carvings from Oberammergau and gingerbread (Lebkuchen) from Nuremberg, alongside musical performances and workshops to learn skills yourself. With it only being around three hours from London, it’s the perfect way to spend a weekend.
DISNEYLAND PARIS, FRANCE
Although Paris itself isn’t the most festive of destinations (it does have a great market towards the bottom of the Champs Elysees that’s worth checking out though,) its Disney theme park takes Christmas to a whole new level. Mickey, Minnie and friends get a holly-filled makeover, with everything from the decorations and lights becoming even more Christmassy than you could ever imagine. If you want to inject a touch of magic into your holiday season, there’s no other place to add to your list.
The Spanish culture celebrates Christmas a little later than most, with the majority of their celebrations being around the 6th January during Epiphany. Their ’Fiesta de Los Tres Reyes Mages’ (or in English ’The Festival of the Three Magic Kings’,) celebrates when the wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus and culminates in an incredible parade of animals, firework displays and partying late into the night. Barcelona lights up during this period and provides a great getaway to re-boot after the Christmas week when you need a little time out before returning to work.
I’ve never been to the city of Edinburgh, but that’s something I want to change this year. If you don’t want to travel too far during Christmas period, then this could be a destination that works both for your diary and wallet. Not only do they host a traditional festive market, but Edinburgh boasts a Christmas tree maze, carousel, ice skating, fair ground rides, regular entertainment and even their ‘Street Of Light’ which boasts over 60,000 bulbs alongside synchronized music to keep you entertained right up until Chrismas Eve.
Possibly the most expensive holiday destination there is, but a life changing moment whether you’re 8, 38 or 80. Snow-dusted forests that stretch for miles, cosy log cabins that look like they’ve been plucked from a storybook, and a population that’s made up of more reindeer than people, Lapland is the stuff of dreams. Jump on a sleigh and take a ride with the huskies to go and say hi to Santa, take in the Northern Lights or simply enjoy a bubbling hot glass of something sweet to counteract the cold. This is literally the best of Christmas there is.
SANTA CLAUS, INDIANA
Yep, there really is a place called Santa Claus in America! Not only does this small town create it’s own festive postmark every year, but it receives thousands of letters from children all around the world; their special ‘elves’ volunteer to manage requests and reply to them in an efficient fashion, making it a destination that lives and breathes the holiday spirit. Santa Claus wholeheartedly embraces its name and is the home to numerous themed attractions including Santa’s Candy Castle, The Santa Museum, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Frosty’s Fun Center, Christmas Lake Golf Course, Santa’s Stables and Santa’s Lodge. Mega LOLZ.
Which of these eight destinations has got your vote? Will you be jetting off somewhere exotic this festive season, or embracing the hustle and bustle wholeheartedly?
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