Unsure where to holiday in December, during the festive season or to see in the new year? Here are some of our best tips.If you’re seeking some typical, wintery Christmas celebrations, Germany is perfect at this time of year. The Christmas markets are some of the best in the world – wooden huts are filled with trinkets, food and warming gluehwein; perfect to warm you up while you browse the stalls. Meanwhile, Finnish Lapland offers you a chance to meet Santa or to go on a reindeer safari. It’s also the perfect time for winter activities in Scandinavia, like icebreaker excursions, staying in the ice hotel or chasing the northern lights. What’s more, Iceland features some impressive New Year’s Eve celebrations, with all profits from fireworks being donated to the local fire and rescue service. Alternatively, for something to warm the spirit, head to the sultry shores of the Maldives and Belize, or enjoy warmer climes in Laos.
Ethiopia enjoys relatively mild climates, and December is one of the more temperate, drier months; making it a great time to explore the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. In higher regions like the Simien mountains, temperatures may be a little cooler at night. It is the ideal time to visit the north, especially Axum where the Hidar Tsion festival is celebrated. An annual pilgrimage, it attracts Ethiopians from all over the country to pay homage to St Mary, and under the belief that the Ark of the Covenant is held in Axum. It is a joyous occasion, and provides an ethereal atmosphere both in the city and when visiting nearby holy sites.
While Australia can be visited all year round, it can depend where you go. December is best for visiting the east coast, where temperatures can be high but not humid – and where there is almost always a beach in sight anyway. Christmas brings traditional celebrations, but with an Australian twist – expect to meet Santa wearing shorts, and casual Christmas parties by the barbecue. However, the prime attraction of visiting in December is to see the fireworks over Sydney harbour. One of the first time zones to celebrate New Year’s every year, Sydney goes off with a bang – with fireworks illuminating the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, and shimmering in the watery reflections.
Never the type to back down from a party, locals in Rio de Janeiro embrace New Year’s Eve celebrations and make them their own. Thousands of people, dressed in white for luck, flock to the beach to enjoy the festivities. Some bring flowers to place in the sea before midnight as an offering to the goddess of the seas, Yemanja. Beachside, there are musical performances before midnight, when there are spectacular fireworks over Copacabana and champagne bottles being popped all around. Although it will be hot, the festivities will surely take your mind off the weather.