Whether you’re dreaming of a white Christmas or a day on the beach, people are already turning their minds to Christmas holidays, so here are some great ideas for those planning their Christmas break, from beautiful Christmas markets trips to less traditional festive escapes.
Christmas holidays in the United Kingdom
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is London’s largest and most dazzling winter event and is open for six whole weeks of festive fun from late November until early January. With no admission fee, Winter Wonderland offers a whole day out from 10:00 to 22:00 with beautifully themed attractions set out under thousands of twinkly lights. The event seems to add more rides and attractions every year, including the popular ice rink, the iconic 50m observation wheel and the atmospheric German Christmas market. The free Father Christmas experience will welcome all children with a surprise gift. Read here for more ideas about Christmas in London.
Discover the magic of an Edwardian Christmas in Britain at Batemans, the former home of Rudyard Kipling in East Sussex. This 17th Century home provides a remarkable insight into the life of the well known author. For the second year running Batemans will be opening its doors for the first three weekends in December to display the ground floor of the house all decked out for Christmas.
Santa’s Winter Wonderland at the Snowdome in Tamworth looks set to be just as popular as ever, with families and visitors flocking to experience Christmas magic in the Midlands. This festive attraction guarantees real snow to play in, have snowball fights or hitch a ride on a sledge as you wander through the snowy Christmas forest.
Christmas can sometimes be a stressful period with family members coming to visit, a Christmas dinner to prepare for everyone and debates over who does the washing up! If this sounds all too familiar then why not take a break from it all this year with a Christmas holiday in Edinburgh?
At Christmas Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most memorable destinations for romantic getaways, family adventures, cultural explorations and shopping breaks. Scotland’s capital is staging a month of winter festivities and this beautiful city will be alive with markets, entertainment and events from late November. Beneath the dramatic backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, thousands of fairy lights illuminate the streets and gardens where activities include one of Europe’s largest outdoor ice rinks, the iconic Big Wheel swirling with colour and lights and a range of exhilarating fun fair rides, combining to create a breathtaking way to celebrate Christmas.
Sip traditional Gluhwein and browse handcrafted gifts at the popular German market, or enjoy the first class food at the Highland village market This year a new lantern parade, twinkling through the city streets, will mark the arrival of Santa himself in Princes Street Gardens, before thousands take to the streets for the Great Santa Run.
For a UK Christmas holiday with a difference head to the beautiful island of St Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly. The largest and most vibrant of the islands, St Mary’s offers around 30 miles of coastal paths and nature trails to explore. The landscape ranges from woodlands to heaths and marshland to sand dunes. There are also many ancient monuments to see.
One of the best Christmas Grottos in the south of England this year will be at Colchester Zoo. Their Magic of Christmas season will feature beautiful lighting displays, loads of special activities and of course the opportunity to meet Santa between 09:30 and 16:00 each day. Every child will receive a present and Santa will even be bringing his reindeer.
European Christmas breaks
There is no better time to visit the stunning medieval city of Bruges than over the Christmas period, when the city’s main square comes alive with the hustle and bustle of the Christmas market. Browse tables laden with elegantly wrapped chocolates, brightly coloured sweets and handmade decorations while admiring the lights that adorn the cobbled streets and historic buildings. At the centre of the market is a beautiful ice rink and for those who would like an extra wintery experience, Europe’s only Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival is held in Station Square. Read more about Christmas markets holiday ideas in Europe here.
Visiting Santa on his home turf
For some a trip to Lapland to meet Santa Claus is the ultimate Christmas holiday and with fairy-tale landscapes, Christmas attractions and magic in the air it’s little wonder the old gent chose the snowy wilderness of Lapland to be his home. You can do day trips and three and four night stays in Lapland throughout December, as well as special seven-night holidays. Enjoy starlit firework displays, visit the Snow Ice Park and the amazing ice hotel, go husky dog sledding, snowmobiling and of course meet Santa and the elves.
Christmas in the sun
Forget the traditional turkey and trimmings, how about a festive escape with a tropical twist? Treat yourself to Christmas in Hawaii this year and enjoy stunning beaches, sun-filled vistas, dramatic landscapes, welcoming locals, the world’s best surfing spots and a balmy 28 degrees Celsius during winter. Christmas in Hawaii comes with a definite (hula) twist, from street parades to rice cake making, there’s a variety of activities across all of the islands for the whole family to enjoy.
Christmas holidays with a difference
For an event capturing the traditional spirit of a pioneer Christmas, how about a trip to Texas? The National Ranching Heritage Centre hosts the annual ‘Candlelight at the Ranch’ event, when luminarias light the paths around historic structures and Ranch Hosts recreate holiday scenes of trimming trees with home-made decorations, playing traditional music and gathering around the campfire on a cold winter’s night. Visitors can experience authentic yuletide celebrations that took place on the open prairie more than 100 years ago.
Indulgent Christmas holidays
Escape the cold and dark days and celebrate the festive season Polynesian style in Bora Bora with a turquoise Christmas dream in Bora Bora’s pristine lagoon, fringed with coral islets and soft sands. Have a festive season of indulgence and leave your winter woes behind as you enjoy the special programme of culinary treats, as well as pampering in the Spa Miri Miri. Father Christmas himself even makes his way to the French Polynesian island bearing gifts for all on Christmas Day – after the champagne brunch of course.
By Natasha von Geldern
Where is your favourite place to travel for Christmas and why?