Wintery places to up your Christmas game next year
I grew up in Canada – where Christmas is done properly. I’m talking EVERY house decorated with lights, shopping malls with ‘North Pole villages’ bigger than apartment buildings and Michael Bublé blasting out of every speaker in unison.
The first couple of years in Australia were exciting. Snags on the beach, sunburnt Irish dudes passed out in positions any Yogi would gasp at; and hot weather of course.
And then it wore off.
Now I crave the Northern Hemisphere tidings of Yule – and I hope you will too.
Here are some places to dream of for a White Christmas in 2016 perhaps (or now if you jump on a plane like, in the next 24 hours)…
New York City, USA
The Rockefeller Christmas Tree will make any lumberjack blush. It’s normally a 100ft Norway spruce and lit up from the first week of December for a month. If shiny lights aren’t your bag then head to any number of outdoor ice-skating rinks for a drunken wobble in a cute scarf.
Meet Santa at his actual home in Finnish Lapland. Prices are surprisingly cheap and you can fly direct from about a dozen UK airports. After you’ve met the jolly fat man there are plenty of activities like dog-sledding, snowmobiling. You can even meet a real life reindeer!
Play out your own mini Love Actually fantasy in the Christmas capital of Great Britain. Shopping at Harrods is a must – then visit Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park for a few hot ciders and a stumble through the Magical Ice Kingdom – just try to not knock over the sculptures.
More inspo for a White Xmas?
Christmas market in front of the Frauenkirche #nürnberg #nuremberg A photo posted by Lucy Smith (@lucymrsmith) on
Billed by the locals at the original Christmas market – this annual festival pulls in over two million visitors each year. After you’ve softened the senses with a few mugs of mulled wine take a ride on the wooden Ferris wheel and then cruise with the top down on the steam train. Don’t forget to try the famous gingerbread either.
Santa Claus, USA
No really – there is a place called Santa Claus, Indiana. A group of 3000 Christmas mad residents started a club in the 1930s to respond to kids letters to St Nick year round. If you’re hungry, head to the buffet for dinner with the man in red at Rudolph’s lodge.
Valkenburg, The Netherlands
This tiny hamlet in the deep south of Holland becomes the centre of Dutch Christmas. The Velvet Cave is transformed into a Christmas village complete with Santa’s sleigh, reindeer, an 18th century chapel and inscriptions dating to Roman times. The best way to reach Valkenberg is via the colorfully lit Christmas train departing from nearby Simpelveld.
Check out my hometown for some serious Christmas lights competition. Neighbours try to out-do each other with the best and brightest displays. Sometimes entire streets get in on the action, which end up drawing gawkers from all over the area. Bus companies offer special tours in December to show off the best examples.
You can also spend some time in Stanley Park where the miniature train zooms between brightly decorated ancient cedars. Just remember to grab a bag of roasted chestnuts to keep you warm.