As the pressure of Christmas begins to mount, it can be tempting to dust off your passport and disappear for a week or so.
After all, when you are juggling sourcing this year’s must have toy, buying enough drink to fuel a University rugby team’s summer tour and trying to build a menu that suits your vegan cousin with the nut and gluten allergies it can all be a bit much.
Well, if you fancy getting away from all that this year, here are some of the best places for a Christmas holiday.
If nature ever provided a winter wonderland, then Reykjavik could well be that place. Iceland as a whole is a beautiful, almost otherworldly landscape that provides scenery quite unlike anything else on the planet.
But at Christmas, nature and the land itself combine to create truly magical scenery. During the depths of winter, Iceland can experience as little as four hours of daylight per day. Don’t let that trick you into thinking Christmas is dark and dull however. This time of year, the Aurora Borealis paints the sky in vivid green illuminations, creating a breathtaking backdrop to your Christmas.
Santa Barbara, California
This is perhaps more holiday of a lifetime territory than a quick getaway. However, it cannot be denied that if you want a Christmas with great weather but still a real festive feel, nothing comes close to the coastal towns of Santa Barbara County.
California may not scream traditional Christmas, however down in this corner of the state, the landscape, the people and the general vibe have more in common with traditional New England hospitality than what you might expect from California.
Friendly people, great seafood, amazing ranch style accommodation – and you can even go surfing if you really want to.
This is real Brothers Grimm style Christmas territory. Christmas is big news right across Germany, but nowhere does it better than Nuremberg.
The city is the proud home of the Christkindlesmarkt, an incredible Christmas market with over 170 stalls selling everything from handcrafted Christmas ornaments to traditional Gingerbread treats.
Add to that the fact that you can wash it all down with huge steins of some the best beers in Europe, and frankly, you can see that this city contains all the ingredients for an outstanding, traditional European Christmas.
Bruges looks amazing at near-enough any time of the year. This picturesque, mediaeval enclosed city is one of the most charming in all of Europe.
At Christmas however, the whole place looks like a picture from a traditional Christmas card come to life. The usual Christmas markets that are the centerpiece of any European city are of course present (as is an amazing outdoor ice skating rink), but it is the backdrop of the city itself that truly makes it stand out from the crowd.
Visit Santa in Lapland
Finally, what says Christmas more than paying a visit to Lapland.
Oh ok – Santa doesn’t really exist (bah, humbug) but Finnish Lapland is home to several attractions based on the image and idea of the jolly big man with the jolly big beard.
Because there are quite a few Santa’s Villages in Lapland, it pays off to research them all and book well in advance. The most authentic tend to be based slightly further out into the wilderness, but include Husky or, even more appropriately, Reindeer-driven sleigh rides to reach them.
Families with older children in the group could perhaps consider combining a trip to see Santa with a winter skiing holiday – the conditions in Lapland being generally superb for almost all winter sports.