6 Fantastic Destinations for Christmas and Holiday Season Travel
Great destinations around the world put on their best face for the holiday time leading up to Christmas and New Year’s. Whether you prefer your holidays cold or hot, there’s a place that’s perfect for you to vacation, some with traditional celebrations and others less so.
The kids are on break, and you should use some vacation time before the year is out, so choose your favorite from among these incredible cities, countries, and regions for your next holiday vacation.
Christmas Vacation Ideas:
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville puts on its best face for the holidays, and since its face is plenty attractive to start with, the end result is a beautiful and delightful holiday that’s both Appalachian-warm and Portland-quirky.
The legendary lodgings of Asheville compete for your attention throughout the holidays, starting in mid-November with the National Gingerbread House competition at the spectacular Omni Grove Park Inn.
Not to be outdone, the national treasure that is the Biltmore ups the ante with its Candlelight Christmas Evenings.
Asheville, ever the gracious host, even allows you to have it both ways, by offering beer tours and some of the best barbecue restaurants in the eastern U.S., balanced by great hiking in the surrounding mountains.
How can you go wrong in Asheville for the holidays? You can’t!
River cruise to Christkindl markets
You may not think of December as European river-cruising season. You’d be mistaken. All the major cruise lines offer itineraries that stop at the major Christmas markets – a/k/a “Christkindl markts” – that stretch from Copenhagen to Bratislava.
Virtually every major city along the Rhine and Danube River has one of these markets, and while they have become more touristy over time, they remain essentially charming and enchanting places to explore sweet treats and handcrafts while sipping mulled wine or cider.
The European holiday vacation of your dreams does exist – and it’s a river cruise.
Key West, Florida
Contrary to reports, the land of Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Buffett does celebrate Christmas. They just don’t get all traditional about it.
What that means in practical terms is that while there are tours of holiday lights and the island’s historic houses and inns decorate for the holidays, there’s also a classic car show, a boat parade, and sailing adventures that give you the opportunity to leave the hoopla behind and simply sail away into the sunset.
Which reminds us: Sunset parties go right through the holidays in Key West, so don’t ever feel like you’re missing out.
If your main complaint about the holidays is there’s not enough haggis, do we have the destination for you.
It’s a Scottish tradition to give common things unappealing names, so New Year’s is known as Hogmanay, and Hogmanay is the holiday of choice in Edinburgh (where Christmas was not an official holiday until 1958).
Don’t despair, Christmas-lovers: the holidays in Scotland are a long run of events that start in mid-November with Light Night, where the city’s largest buildings take on a festive glow and fireworks punctuate the night sky.
In terms of tone and style, the holiday season in Edinburgh runs the gamut from afternoon tea at The Dome to Loony Dook on New Year’s Day/Hogmanay, where “dookers” dress up in fancy costumes and march in a long parade to the freezing River Forth in South Queensferry, where they blithely throw themselves in.
If you’re thinking of joining the dookers, be advised that you need to register and the event quickly sells out, with the proceeds going to local charities.
It’s summer in Australia during the holidays, and boy does that change things. Instead of milk and cookies, many households leave a nice cold one for the big, jolly man in the bright red suit. It also makes it a nice place to escape the cold at Christmastime.
Bear in mind that Australia follows the European tradition of celebrating more on Christmas Eve than Christmas Day. It’s not uncommon in Australia to see Santa wearing beach shorts and sandals.
Finally, one of the most Christmassy things to do in Australia is to head to Christmas Island. Yes, it’s a place, and yes, it’s an Australian territory, and yes, on Christmas Island the crabs migrate at Christmas, turning the entire island red.
Also read: Best Places to Visit in Australia
The thing about Christmas in Colorado Springs is that you might be wearing shorts as you clamber around the Garden of the Gods, or you might be taking out the fat-tire bike for a slush run. The only thing you know for certain is that if there is snow on Christmas, it won’t stick around long.
The mountains are a different story, obviously, and one of the appealing things of a Colorado Springs Christmas is that you might be able to do summer and winter things on the same day, just by changing elevation.
That’s in addition to all the cool Christmas-specific things to do in the city, like checking out the Christmas decorations at the Broadmoor, taking tea at the Glen Eyrie Castle, enjoying a ranch Christmas down at the Flying W, or riding the Santa Train through the spectacular Royal Gorge.
Colorado Springs offers lots to do in an unmatched setting. So Merry Christmas to one and all!
Also read: Six Great Small-Town Colorado Getaways