We’ve put together five of the best places to visit for Christmas and New Year.
With average December temperatures of 25°C, Cape Verde is an ideal place to escape Britain’s grey skies at Christmas. It’s not too far away, either: this archipelago of 10 islands lies just off the coast of West Africa, around 6 hours’ flying time from the UK. Cape Verde is becoming increasingly popular with British travelers thanks to its stunning beaches, and the island of Sal has some of the best. The white sands of Santa Maria beach remain relatively unspoiled despite its increasing popularity, and the aptly named Kite Beach is packed with kite surfers between November and June,
New York United States
New York is a city that’s known for its excess, and it goes all out at Christmas. Go ice skating on the Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park, a snip at $3, and marvel at the skyscrapers looming behind you, or gawp at the astonishing Christmas window displays in stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany’s. Make sure to take a look at the enormous Christmas tree in Rockefeller Square, which last year was nearly 29 meters tall and lit with around 50,000 lights. And if you can get tickets, check out the glitzy Radio City Christmas Spectacular, featuring the dancing Rockettes and a flying Santa. If you’re planning to visit at New Year, it may be tempting to head to Times Square to join around 1 million revelers watching the famous ball descend to signal the New Year. But you’ll have to get there in the afternoon to bag a good spot, and you’ll have to cross your legs, too – there are no toilets. Perhaps it’s just as well that public drinking is banned as well.
Despite December being the coolest month of the year in Bangkok, the city still sees an average temperature of 26°C – more than hot enough to break out the crop tops and surf shorts on Christmas Day. It’s the perfect destination if you really want to get away from all things Christmassy – 95% of the population is Buddhist, and Christmas is not widely celebrated, although you might see the odd Christmas tree in the commercial districts. If you’re looking for a luxury festive treat, try heading for a fancy cocktail in the Moon Bar atop one of Bangkok’s tallest buildings (cocktails start at around £13*). And if you’re visiting Bangkok for New Year, you’re in for a great time – Bangkok is famed for its nightlife, and hotspots.
If you’re looking for a Christmas beach holiday, the Canary Islands boast plenty of beautiful coastline along with average December temperatures of around 19°C. Christmas is widely celebrated throughout these Spanish islands, although with the odd tropical twist – head to Las Canteras beach in the city of Las Palmas on Gran Canaria to see the annual display of Christmas-themed sand sculptures. While we’re on the subject of beaches, the tall cliffs and black sands of nearby Playa de Puerto Naos make it an ideal sun trap for some winter sunbathing. But if you really want to get some peace, head to Playa de Guigui, a remote beach that’s only reachable by water taxi or by a two-hour walk from the nearest road. Meanwhile, Playa de las Teresitas in Santa Cruz on Tenerife offers golden sands courtesy of the Sahara Desert: the entirety of this man-made beach was imported from the African mainland. On New Year’s Eve, towns across the islands hold street parties, such as the annual gathering in Corralejo town square on Fuerteventura.
Vienna is the place to come if you’re after a postcard-perfect Christmas. And at New Year, everyone gets down and waltzes like its 1899. There are more than 20 Christmas markets in Vienna, many of which run right through Christmas and out the other side. For example, the market held in front of the stunningly lit city hall runs until 30th December, and it offers a warren of wooden stalls selling traditional handicrafts and a smorgasbord of winter food, from gluhwein to sausages topped with grated horseradish. But New Year is when Vienna gets its glad rags on and shows its true colours – more than 300 balls take place in January, and the highlight of the social calendar is undoubtedly the New Year Concert at the Vienna State Opera on New Year’s Day. The concert has been held since 1939 and is broadcast to more than 50 million people