Chestnuts roasting on an open fire are all well and good, but sometimes eating them at home just doesn’t quite get you into the Christmas spirit. The lights in the town centre are the same as last year, the annual Christmas catch up with friends has left you with a month-long hangover and you’re sick of the sight of your tired old tree. What to do?
Well, escape away from it all, of course. Whether you fancy a romantic break away with your partner, a trip with all the family or simply a few days to yourself before the festive furore begins, there are plenty of cities you can visit to restore your Christmas cheer.
It just isn’t Christmas without Santa, so a trip to Napapiiri in Lapland is a must. Children can meet the big man himself at his post office in the wooden village, and there’s even a chance to study at Elf school, as well as decorate gingerbread and meet real life Elves in Santa’s underground grotto.
The medieval architecture of Prague makes for a beautifully traditional Christmas experience, and when the buildings are lit up at night-time it’s nothing short of magical. There’s no shortage of quaint Christmas markets which provide a useful opportunity to buy some special gifts for the folks back home – the best ones are at Wenceslas Square and the Old Town Square.
The food at the markets is to die for, too – make sure you sample some of the roasted ham, barbecued sausages and Trdelnik, a hot, sugar-coated pastry. And if all that isn’t enough to get you into the Christmas spirit, the school choirs performing carols surely will.
The Germans certainly know how to do Christmas, with no less than 60 markets to whet your appetite. The entertainment certainly isn’t to be sniffed at, with acrobats, jugglers and fire artists joined by jazz and classical music that’s sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. The 20 metre high tree at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Christmas Market is not to be missed.
If you want a magically medieval Christmas, head to one of the most visited cities in the UK – York. The Minster looks nothing short of stunning at any time of year, but against the backdrop of York at Yuletide it’s particularly magnificent. Try to time your visit with the Festival of the Angels in mid-December, when the city will be filled with ice sculptures.
If you’re looking for a shopping opportunity, start Christmas early at St Nicholas Fayre in early December. One of the most popular events in the city’s busy festival calendar, St Nick’s Fayre (as the locals call it) is a traditional medieval market with live crafting, costumed traders and mulled wine.
The big apple provides ample shopping opportunity, and the incredible window displays are sure to take your breath away.
Make time to go ice skating at one of the city’s many outdoor rinks – the Rockefeller Centre is a particular favourite – and it would be a crime to visit New York during the holidays without taking in one of the Christmas shows on Broadway.
Rio de Janeiro
If you’re looking for a little winter sun, you won’t have to sacrifice festive cheer if you choose Rio de Janeiro. The fireworks displays on Christmas Eve are particularly spectacular, and the world’s biggest Christmas tree floating on water is an unusual and gorgeous sight. If you’re looking for a party, this is the city for you!