Tim Minchin really likes Christmas. He sings about it at length in the beautiful and moving song White Wine In The Sun. While it’s a clever and emotional ode to his love / hate relationship with the season it also offers an interesting insight into the antipodean Christmas traditions. As we wrap the blankets around ourselves and nurse our toffee nut lattes, it can be ever so tempting to pine for the sense of adventure that comes with celebrating a winter holiday in a part of the world that’s hot and sunny right through the winter months.
As the chill and the dark set in and we feel the familiar embrace of Seasonal Affective Disorder it’s not uncommon for people to want to retreat to somewhere bright, warm and sunny, even if it comes at the expense of the superficial trappings of the “traditional” Christmas. Here we’ll look at some of the hottest (in every sense of the word) locales where you, your significant other and your family can enjoy an extra large side portion of sunshine with your turkey and sprouts this Christmas.
Cold is Cool, Too!
Of course, if the idea of celebrating Christmas in the sun is anathema for you, there are a whole host of bewitchingly beautiful locations that really come alive in the winter months. Prague is one of the most obvious that springs to mind. The picturesque gothic architecture is rendered all the more charming when lightly dusted with snow and frost, and you simply haven’t lived if you haven’t enjoyed a hot cup of mulled wine and a Trdelník in the picture perfect Wenceslas Square.
If, however, you prefer to go a little further afield, (and have the budget for it) there’s nothing quite like Christmas in New York. There’s a palpable sense of magic that hovers over the teeming streets in winter as you partake in the legendary Christmas shopping. The Rockefeller Christmas tree never fails to astonish nor do the famous displays at Macy’s. The ice skating rink at Bryant Park Winter Village has all the rom com charm you’d expect and (if you can handle the crush) celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square is an experience for every bucket list.
If, however, you’re determined to get yourself out in the sun this winter, there’s always…
If you want a drastically different climate without forking out for long haul flights then now might be the time to take up Spanish lessons for beginners! Lanzarote entices holidaymakers from the UK all year round but it’s gaining popularity in the winter. While you’d be forgiven to thinking that there’s little to this canary islands summer holiday mainstay outside of tired beach resorts like Costa Teguise and Playa Blanca, this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Why not check out the quintessentially Spanish capital of Arrecife for a unique perspective on Christmas this year? There you may enjoy a selection of fresh seafoods and Pavo Trufado de Navidad (turkey stuffed with truffles) in the sun as you sip Cognac and marvel at the picturesque seaside scenery. Don’t you just feel warmer already?
If you’re looking for something truly unique this Christmas you’ll find it in this Caribbean socialist paradise. You’ll find none of the ubiquitous commercialism and commodity fetishism from which Christmas is sadly inextricable for many Western countries. In fact, despite the country’s heavily Roman Catholic population, many Cubans don’t celebrate Christmas at all. The holiday was in fact outlawed under the Castro government as he believed that it interfered with the production of sugarcane. While it was reinstated in 1998, those that do celebrate it do so in a far less ostentatious way than more Americanised countries across Europe.
If you’re looking for something a little closer to the true meaning of Christmas without the greetings card confections that have robbed the holiday of its soul, here’s where you’ll find it.
A rising star of African tourism, Mozambique offers some truly special beach resorts spread across its 1,430 miles of glittering coastline. If you’re pining for some winter sun, there are few places in the world where you’ll find it in such abundance. December is essentially mid summer for the southern African region so you’ll find temperatures in excess of 30 degrees celsius (and likely some rain too).
Finally, if you’d like to spend Christmas somewhere that’s culturally similar to home but with a wildly different climate, look no further than the sunshine state. Florida has more coastline than any other American state besides Alaska meaning that there’s no safer bet for Christmas on the beach. If you’re travelling with kids, however, nothing could be more magical than Christmas at Disneyland.