‘Tis the season to be jolly, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. There is a bank holiday or two coming up at the end of the year, and that should be enough to get everyone excited. December and January are a great time to travel; there are some incredible deals on offer in places that shine over the winter months. So here’s an article for everyone, not just the who live to sing carols, roast chestnuts on an open fire and see conifers decorated by fairy lights.
Heading to Rome during the Christmas season is a great way to see the city with a smaller portion of the tourist population around: that’s not to say that the city is quiet. On the contrary, Rome is alive with general Buon Natale Christmas festivities. The Piazza Navona transforms into a big Christmas Market, where you will be able to shop, watch street performances and drink coffee to stave off the slight chill of the December air. Midnight Mass at the Pantheon, followed by a trip to the Vatican on Christmas Day is a great way to take part in the rituals of the Roman Catholic faith, right at its spiritual headquarters.
Delight the kids with a trip to the home of Father Christmas. Whether you choose Sweden, Finland, or Norway, it’s going to be extremely cold and snowy, so be sure to bundle up. You can go on tours of the area by riding a husky sled, reindeer or snowmobile, which is guaranteed to be a hit with young ones – especially if it includes a trip to the Christmas village. One of the greatest draws of visiting Lapland (whether you are five or seventy five) is a natural miracle, the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, which are best seen during the darkest time of the year – Christmas.
Another deeply Catholic city, Seville comes into its own at Christmas. Forget gaudy Santas and tinsel, Seville is about the dreamy Christmas of bygone days: nativity scenes, chestnuts roasting, traditional markets, tasteful decorations and the faithful in their Sunday best. Pair this with the finest cuisine and wine Andalusia has on offer. Come night time, the vibe leading up to Christmas is lively and joyous to say the least – expect this fantastic city to keep you going until the small hours of the morning.
The pound to dollar exchange rate may dull the appeal of New York as a festive shopping destination, but flights to the Big Apple are still at rock bottom and the city is as enchanting as ever. Americans are quite big on Christmas lights and decorating their houses (putting it mildly), so you can imagine what the most iconic city in the country looks like over the December/January period – it hums and glows, 24 hours a day. The festive season just adds to the magic that is already there 365 days a year. Head over to Rockefeller Centre for a prime example of New York’s Christmas charm, and to Central Park for outdoor ice skating surrounded by the most famous skyline in the world.
Rio de Janeiro
Rio is famous for two things: a big statue of Jesus and big parties. There could not be a better time of the year to combine these things for Christmas with a new twist. Samba away your winter blues on the beach with a Caipirinha in hand and a cheesy smile on your face. At night time, there are Christmas celebrations in the form of fireworks and decorations that will challenge any city around the world. On Christmas day, the city is quiet and reflective, indicative of the population’s Catholic foundation. Use this time constructively, taking a moment to reflect on the day’s significance, because as New Year’s Eve approaches the city winds up like a crazy tornado of fun again.