Love it or hate it, the main theme of December travel is Christmas. Even before the start of the month, the shops are full of tinsel and Christmas carols can be heard everywhere. A holiday in December can be combined with the pleasure of making the most of the festive season and maybe visiting friends and family.
All over the world, Christmas markets are held where local crafts and food can be bought as gifts. Take some time out of your December vacation for some traditional shopping in fairytale surroundings.
In Austria, there are over 20 Christmas markets in Vienna alone, the biggest being Christkindlmarkt in Vienna outside City Hall. Shimmering illuminations in Budapest and Düsseldorf light up the artisan stalls and the aromas of mulled wine and spices add to Christmas atmosphere. In Prague, the streets are full of nativity scenes with real animals and a dusting of snow on the Christmas tree in Old Town Square adds to the magic. In Belfast, the City Hall gardens are transformed into a Christmas Continental Market and village with around 27 different countries being represented.
Oaxaca & Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Many thousands of people every year visit the city of Oaxaca in Mexico for an unusual celebration. Forget turkey and tinsel, the 23rd of December is the Night of the Radishes. Giant radishes are carved by local craftsmen into the most amazing figures of humans, insects, and other animals. The sea of red and white only lasts a few hours, but it is one of the world’s most impressive vegetable festivals. A few hours away on the Pacific coast is Puerto Escondido where thermal waters and white beaches offer a relaxing December holiday in Mexico.
If your priority in December is to see Santa Claus, there are plenty of opportunities to see this jolly fellow. Thousands of people round the world don red suits, beards, and black boots to take part in parades and fun runs. From the chills of London to a slightly warmer Las Vegas, from the heat of summer in Sydney to the snowy towns of Sweden, the main man of the season is everywhere.
Skiing trips in December are a delight: Vermont, Utah, and Colorado in America all offer good snow for the time of year along with stunning scenery, fantastic facilities, and first-rate ski accommodations. For skiing in Europe, Val Thorens in France is the highest resort and offers reliable snowfall. Ischgl in Austria kicks off the ski season with a Top of the Mountain Opening Concert. World famous stars perform in this free concert along with a spectacular light show. Further north and part of the old USSR is Georgia. It is only a tiny country, but there are three ski resorts in the Caucasus Mountains offering heli-skiing and cross country,as well as downhill skiing.
Visiting this part of the world can be wonderful in December .The weather is pleasant as it is not as stiflingly hot or as humid as in the peak summer months. The UAE in particular offers the chance to experience a different culture but with all the modern comforts in a safe environment. The shopping in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are worth the trip alone and the breath-taking skyscrapers and stunning modern architecture have to be seen to be believed.
Seeing the Northern Lights
Take a flight to Helsinki and get the 90-minute connection to Ivalo Airport. Nearby Saariselkä has everything for a winter wonderland holiday. In this area of Northern Lapland, you can take part in many different winter sports plus go and see Santa and his little helpers in his special resort, and on a clear night see the wonders of the Northern Lights. Visitors have been fascinated by this wondrous natural display of lights for hundreds of years. Known as the Aurora Borealis, the lights can be different colors depending on their altitude above the earth’s surface. At 100 km, the lights will be purple or violet and change through to blue, then red and finally green at a height of 240 km.
New York City at Christmas
The Rockefeller Plaza must have the most famous Christmas tree in the world. Every year, the Norway Spruce measures between 20 and 30 meters and is decorated with up to 8 km of lights. It is not just the tourists that come to stare in amazement at the tree, even locals flock to see the magnificent tree. Take a carriage ride through Central Park and then go skating at the Wollman Rink, followed by steaming mugs of hot chocolate to take the chills away. In Grand Central Station, Vanderbilt Hall is lit with chandeliers and, under the sparkling lights, the Grand Central Holiday Fair is full of fantastic gift ideas.
If you have an unlimited bank balance and want to get away from it all, then splash out and rent, or buy, an island. Across the world, there are whole islands just waiting for you where the choice of who to take and whether to celebrate or not is really a personal decision.