The holidays are nearly upon us and you might plan to travel somewhere new this December. We completely understand. Halloween is gone, Thanksgiving is on its way, then Black Friday and the official start of the holidays shopping season. You're probably already tired of all the hustle and bustle and the cold and everything. So, maybe you want to travel somewhere warm. Or, maybe you want to experience the cold weather, the soft snow, warm seasonal beverages and the colourful, cheerful lights, but in good company and away from traffic jams and noise and all the usual madness. There are solutions for both of these preferences. There are great places to travel to this December or any December!
1. Cologne, Germany
If you really enjoy the traditional, like-in-the-movies Christmas spirit, but still feel like making a change this year and avoid watching TV with your "favourite" aunt, then Cologne is perfect for you. It has seven main Christmas markets to delight your eyes and taste buds and raise your spirits. You should definitely not miss the Cathedral Market renowned for its huge Christmas tree. Also, Angel's Market is where you can meet people dressed as angels and have interesting conversations and drink a lot of eggnog punch. Also, if you're lucky enough, you could also meet Santa who likes to walk around on horseback. Lovely Christmas experience.
2. St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands
If you've decided to trade the cold, soft snow for the sun and good vibes of a tropical vacation, then this is a good choice. Hurricane season is over in December and the flights are quite cheap. You can go for a swim because the water is good and the hotel rooms should be enough because, usually, people come here via cruise ship. Moreover, if you happen to plan your vacation around the 15th of December, don't miss the St. Thomes Lighted Boat Parade. This is where boats are judged by their originality and for real holiday spirit.
3. Kyoto, Japan
For Japan, oshogatsu (the New Year) is one of the most important holidays, if not the most important. The month leading to it is full of festivals and markets, such as Shimai Kobo (December 21) or Shimai Tenjin (December 25). If you're a fan of ceramics and handicraft, then you shouldn't meet these festivals. Moreover, you can't miss the bamboo forest being adorned with thousands of lanterns.
4. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Reveillon on Copacabana beach is one of the biggest and most famous New Year's Een parties in the world. If you're too fed up of the cold chilly December, how about spending your New Year's under illuminated palm trees, in a swimming suit together with more than two million people. You can make it all better by choosing a one-week tour through the rainforest, the cities and the beach. You will never forget this Brazillian vacay!
5. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho
If "iconic" is the word you want to describe your future December holiday, then you should also consider the Yellowstone National Park. Snowmobiling, skiing and other winter activities are waiting for you. Moreover, if you are really courageous and know what you are doing, you can also do backcountry camping here! What else would you want for "iconic"?
6. Quebec City, Canada
In Quebec, you will experience the cold winter better than anywhere in North America. Covered in snow, Quebec City is a big life-size Christmas village, like in your favourite childhood Christmas stories. The streets are just a big Christmas fair and you will find all sorts of traditional hot food and baked goodies to delight your taste buds. There are Christmas wreaths everywhere and there is nothing that you can call "unchristmasy" there. So, for an all-things-Christmas experience, this city is for you!
7. Albuquerque, New Mexico
This is something you might not have expected. Albuquerque is usually a deserted city, but which becomes a beacon of Christmas on December 7, with the occasion of the Twinkle Light Parade. On December 24th, there is the Old Town Luminaria Tour. Moreover, all throughout December, you can go see the largest walk-through holiday production in the state.
8. Reykjavik, Iceland
If you want Christmas as the North Pole, then Reykjavik is the ultimate experience. Moreover, what better way to celebrate Christmas, than watching the northern lights? Moreover, Santa Clause is more at home in Iceland than in any other country on the globe. So, chances are you'll see about 14-15 Santas walking around posing for pictures. And while you're at it, you can't miss The Christmas Village at Hafnarfjordur!
December is summer in Antarctica. Of course, it's not the summer you would expect, but usually, it's the time when Penguin chicks are hatching, blue whales begin their migration and the temperatures are above the freezing point. Moreover, the Drake Passage is accessible to ships. A Christmas on a Cruise ship passing through Antarctica is surely one of a kind experience and you cannot compare it to anything else.