Skip family get-togethers and home-made cookies for one year and choose one of these Christmas destinations for the holidays to come.
If you feel that Christmas holidays resemble each other, maybe it's time you do something different this year and plunge into one of these 12 destinations for the winter holidays.
1. Nassau, Bahamas
If you want a less traditional Christmas, you like percussion rhythms that make you want to dance and adore the glowing heat of the sun, then give yourself the pleasure of being present at the Nassau festival - the oldest traditional Caribbean street parade taking place every year, on the second day of Christmas and on New Year's Day. Think Mardi Gras in New Orleans, think the Rio Festival and you will get the picture of what it is like to be present at the Nassau Festival – the same colourful, bright clothes, loaded with lots of jewellery.
You can spend here the perfect winter holidays, you can upload your batteries on the less crowded Cable Beach, or scuba dive in the clear blue azure depths.
2. Tromsø, Norway
When you say winter, you may also say the Arctic Circle. In Tromsø, winter seems to have trained hard all year long so that on Christmas, it may win the international championship of winters.
Dressed in dark all winter, the island town of Tromsø takes off its cloak in December and reveals its entire splendour. The smell of clementines, spruce branches and sweet ginger will follow you everywhere and carols will flood the delightful Arctic Cathedral.
The locals get together in the Christmas markets, and if you plan to join them, do not blame yourself too much if your diet will be annihilated. There are infinite varieties of delicious treats for you, so make sure you eat in responsible quantities traditional pastries, sweet gingerbread and crowberry tea.
One of the advantages of complete darkness is that it gives you the opportunity to see the Northern Lights that splash the sky - aurora borealis. Watch them in the afternoon from 6 until midnight, and while you wait for the show, take advantage of the snow: do dog sledging, do some cross country skiing or simply indulge in a classic snowball fight.
3. Küssnacht, Switzerland
Santa Claus is eagerly expected and welcome in all corners of the world. The same cannot be said to happen in a small town near Zurich, Küssnacht, on the Northern shore of Lake Lucerne, where 20,000 people wake up early on the morning of December 5th to hunt and harass the old bearded man.
The event, named "Klausjagen", "The Hunting of the Claus," is one of the strangest Christmas celebrations in Europe, dating back to the Middle Ages, when pagan communities tried to chase the evil spirits with noisy explosions. It was eventually banned in 1700, only to be reintroduced a century later, under a new Christian form, this time having a direct target on St. Nicholas.
The parade stretches over the entire night of St. Nicholas and consists of 180 horn blowers, 200 gunmen, giant archers lit up with candle-like candles, and 700 percussion bells, all looking for him and hunting down the rebellious St. Nicholas and the four black spirits.
4. Douz, Tunisia
Famous for the Star Wars series, the city of East Mlokow Douz is often called “Stargate of the Sahara”. In the last 4 days of December, the Arabian tribes in the area turn this huge sand bucket into a magnificent Bedouin show.
The Sahara International Festival attracts tourists from all over the world to experience sand hockey tours, Arabic cuisine, craft fairs and traditional belly dancing shows. In Douz, the humble camel is man's best friend, and the 50,000 visitors each year enjoy great pleasure in watching camel competitions through the desert.
5. Castleton, the United Kingdom
There are more Christmas trees than people on the streets of the town of Castleton in England! If you want to avoid the craziness of December, searching for gifts through shops, post-party cleaning and dough work, we suggest hiding in a charming town in the heart of England, where the little joys of life become as natural as breathing.
Christmas lights on each street meter announce clearly and bluntly that the season has begun, and every store is overhead to create inviting decorations for both locals and tourists. Most of them seem more than delighted to keep their shops open and compete in events, competitions, all kind of craft workshops and games for the little ones.
The 4 caves, between Castleton's boundaries, have their say in creating a Christmas atmosphere; at Peak Cavern, for example, carol singing by the candlelight is already a tradition. What else do we suggest? Concerts held by fanfare in the company of boiled wine mugs and minced meat pies. Such a holiday, away from any kind of worry, is always better in December.
6. Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto is the heart of Japanese Buddhism, so imagine that Christmas is more or less different than what you know.
With a religious background not so much connected with Christmas, the locals celebrate the moment with an abundance of brilliant decorations and old-fashioned romance, with couples coming out of the streets on Christmas Eve to dine in restaurants, bars, "Hotels of love". Once you've tasted a bit of the town's tenderness, you’ll have to attend the "O-Minugui Shiki” annual ceremony at the Chion Temple, taking place on December 25.
While you’re in Japan, you’ll also have to visit Arashiyama, the "Place of Beauty" in The Land of the Rising Sun. The region offers a real adventure among bamboo bees, giving you the feeling you are in another world. What better way to spend Christmas?
7. Provence, France
If your travelling plans include France, make sure you get to Provence; and while you’re there, don’t forget to bring back home traditional figurines for your loved ones back home.
Provence is all about great-tasting food, representations of scenes of the birth of Jesus and wonderful decorations, and if you think the cold and the red noses can make French people forget their joie de vivre, you couldn’t be more wrong ... The streets are adorned with wonderful decorations and shop owners do their utmost to decorate even the highest of windows. After the green decorations in the city are completed, the famous santons - small clay figures created by local craftsmen - will be displayed and put up for sale.
Initially, santons represented scenes of the birth of Jesus Christ. But in the nineteenth century, one of their creators thought of adding ordinary people - bakers, priests, fishermen, singers, butchers ... all these Christian professions have been replicated in small clay figures. And last, but not least, there is the fabulous food, and we know too well that France is not joking when it comes to food. The Christmas Table includes seven light dishes, symbolizing the seven pains of the Virgin Mary, served alongside 13 rolls of bread, followed by 13 desserts, representing Last Supper with the 12 Apostles.
8. Honolulu, Hawaii
Before we go on, we just want to wish you "Mele Kalikimaka"? and you should know it means "A Merry Christmas”.
If you want to spend Christmas in paradise, Ho-Ho-Honolulu is the perfect destination. The sunniest and most blooming state of the United States celebrates winter holidays since the early 19th century, in a unique and original manner. The Christmas party lasts for a whole month, with fireworks, parades and Christmas carols.
It is probably the only place in the world where Santa Claus is so happy and relaxed to be wearing blond and red Aloha shirts, beach slippers and flower necklaces around the neck. If you can imagine that, he arrives in a canoe pulled by dolphins, not as the Santa that we, Europeans, know.
The ancient city centre, with its colourful roofs, seems to have frozen in its midst Middle Ages carved in Baroque architecture. And with a little twist of imagination, you can hear the sound of hooves in the cobbled streets.
Legends say that Tallinn was the host of the first Christmas tree set in the streets of a European city, somewhere around 1441 when the Brotherhood of the Black Heads, an association of celibate German merchants, erected the first fir tree in the market in front of the Town Hall, starting to sing and dance around it.
Although the Brotherhood has long since disappeared, the tradition remained. Christmas is still celebrated this way every year in some of Europe's largest, warmest and most charming Christmas markets where you can find from handcrafted products, woollen hats and ceramics to scented candles and wooden decorations. Between shopping sessions, stop at one of the trays for some traditional sauerkraut (cabbage salted with flax seed), traditional sausages “in blood” and a glass of boiled wine.
10. Livingstone, Zambia
With a predominantly Christian population, the capital city of Zambia, Livingstone, is always cheerful and happy in December, with locals welcoming guests with open arms, listening to Christmas carols and sharing gifts.
But the coolest gift you can give yourself in this location is a trip to the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, a UNESCO site.
The park connects Zambia with its Southern neighbour, Zimbabwe, and is known for the wildlife jungle and the Victoria Falls, named by the locals "Smoke that screams." The locals are extremely proud of this noisy national treasure, and the fact that Zambia is little visited by tourists only means that an adventure through the jungle is not disturbed by noisy crowds.
Victoria Falls is one of the most impressive (and incurably romantic places on Earth). The semi-moon rainbow and the kaleidoscope of colours will remain in your memory for the rest of your life.
11. Budapest, Hungary
If you are you looking for a cheap and lasting Christmas offer, suited to a low budget, then the Hungarian capital is the best choice for a charming Christmas! First, you have the Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market. Known as one of Europe's cheapest Christmas fairs, traditional Christmas presents are replaced here by handmade Hungarian items.
If the negative temperatures of December, the cold wind and the snow finally get you, then you can warm yourself up in the biggest thermal bath in Budapest, Széchenyi.
Last, but not least, throughout December, you can take one of the trams that circulate on three central tramlines, being decorated like sleighs from the fairy tale The Snow Queen, which will definitely make your Hungarian Christmas holiday one to remember for a long time.
12. Sydney, Australia – or Christmas on ocean waves
For those who hate the winter cold, we recommend Bondi Beach – a fantastic Christmas destination. It is the perfect location to kiss under the mistletoe, ride the waves and make a perfect barbecue for the Christmas Eve dinner. Lovers of rhythm and dance can go to Australia’s Biggest Xmas Day festival - the Christmas Sunburnt festival.
For any of these destinations, feel free to fill in your wishlist and our travel experts will build tailored packages. As always, profit goes to charity!