Dec 31, 2020
Health & Lifestyle | Lauranne Heres
This Christmas was pretty terrible, let’s admit it. If you did manage to see your family, you might’ve spent a lot of time worrying about social-distancing, how often to open the windows and how to sit around the table. And if you ended up staying home, things must’ve felt quite different. Whether you were alone or not, the day was probably filled with way more TV and sweatpants as usual, interspersed with family zoom calls to unpack the one parcel that didn’t get stuck in the mail.
But by next year hopefully, travel should be easier, and we might be able to get away. So, if you’re desperate to spend Christmas 2021 anywhere but on your couch, here’s some festive travel inspiration!
The best places to be in the run-up to Christmas are Christmas markets. There’s plenty in England, but for the absolute best, you’ll have to take the train or plane and head to the continent. It’s a Germanic tradition, so the best places to go are Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
A special mention needs to be made for Strasbourg, which used to be part of Germany and has a super famous Christmas market which I’m yet to attend.
For maximum markets, you can head to Cologne and visit 7 (!) in 2 days. Most other cities will have one big one and potentially a couple of smaller ones further out from the city centre. I particularly enjoyed Zürich, and I’ve heard great things about Vienna, Hamburg, Berlin and Munich.
One of the best places to go, especially if you have children, is the Santa Claus village in Rovaniemi, Finland. Here you can enrol in Elf school, learn how to bake, visit a local wildlife park with polar bears and wolves and of course meet Santa and his wife. And if you fancy becoming an elf, they’re always looking for new recruits!
If you like it cold, head over to the one and only original IceHotel in Sweden. The entire building is rebuilt from scratch every year in Jukkasjärvi and stands between December and April. You can enjoy skiing, feeding the reindeer or get married there if you wanted! There are basic ice rooms as well as individually designed rooms by famous artists.
Now if Northern Lights are your jam, you can go either to Iceland or Norway. Reykjavik has a great Christmas market with different stalls every day as local artisans rotate. Follow along the Golden circle for some amazing sights and book a night tour to catch the lights. In Norway, head to the north to Tromsø for some epic views surrounded by mountains and fjords. The country even offers an app for all the important info you need.
Are you a fan of Home Alone 2, Serendipity, Miracle on 34th Street and Elf, then you’ve probably always wanted to go check out New York in December. Check out the tree at Rockefeller Center, put on your ice skates or go to Macy’s for some shopping. Try FAO Schwartz to pretend like you’re Kevin in Duncan’s Toy shop or take a stroll through Central Park.
Those in the know always recommend Quebec City as an absolute must for the festive season. The old town is completely transformed into a beautiful Christmas market and looks absolutely magical. While you’re there, catch a Hockey match and stuff your face with Poutine!
Always fancied spending Christmas in the sun, away from your weird uncle John and your annoying sister? Why not ditch them all and fly away for an epic holiday! You could go to Dubai, where malls and hotels are decked out in in festive colours. You could go to the top of the Burj Khalifa or take a boat tour through the marina.
If you prefer exotic animals, Australia truly is the best place to be. You can buy yourself an ornament with Santa and a kangaroo, and then go meet the jumpy marsupials in a wildlife park. Have a picture taken with koalas, surf on Bondi beach and have a shrimp barbie instead of a roast!
Hawai’i is also very popular around the holidays. Christmas trees are decked out in ukulele, surfboard and flip flop ornaments, and Santa often struts around in shorts and a T-shirt, while snowmen are replaced by sandmen. Don’t forget to wish everyone a Mele Kalikimaka when you see them!
Japan is also one to go all out at Christmas, even though it’s not on of their traditional holidays. There are lights and decorations everywhere, and on the 25th, people flock to KFC in droves for some festive fried chicken, a tradition that hails back to WW2 when American GIs desperately looked for turkeys to have. Stay through NYE for some epic fun.
And for those who need thrills, magic and all your favourite characters, why not go crazy and have Christmas at Disney? All the parks go all out for the holidays, so you can choose which climate suits you better. Tokyo has repeatedly been named the best park, and Sea Disney next door is quite a sight. Disneyworld and Disneyland in Anaheim have the best climate, while Paris is closest to get to from London. You can skip Hong Kong though, as it’s been named the worst of all parks.
Where will you go next year?