Falling over two bank holidays, the Christmas period is the perfect time to get a lot of holiday for just a little of your annual leave. Tempted by shunning tradition in favour of a more alternative Christmas Day, we thought we would take a look at the best places to spend the festive period; from hiking in the Arizona desert, to meditation in Sri Lanka and wrapping up against the cold in New York – we have got your alternative Christmas covered.
On Piste in Austria
Snow is synonymous with Christmas and you will certainly find plenty of it on a ski holiday. Perfect for families, couples and singles alike, skiing is great for adrenaline junkies who prefer an active Christmas Day.
For the perfect experience, split your holiday into two; Vienna transforms into a winter wonderland during the Christmas period, with the city’s prettiest squares dotted with charming markets.
Awarded the title of most beautiful Austrian village, Alpbach is just a one hour flight from Vienna. Hit the piste at Ski Jewel Alpbachtal Wildschönau, where 145km of pristine pistes wind through the mountains of the Kitzbühel Alps.
Sail Away on a Christmas Cruise
If palm trees and azure waters sound like the perfect accompaniment to your festive time of the year, Christmas on board a cruise ship could be the perfect way to celebrate. The level of on board festivities depends on which cruise line you choose, but a lavish turkey dinner and beautiful decorations are a given.
Extend your cruise to include New Year’s Eve and you can experience fantastic on board parties, and fireworks lighting Caribbean skies or the port of Madeira.
Sunbathe on Bondi Beach
As the traditional gathering place for foreigners celebrating Christmas away from home, Bondi Beach is transformed with a sea of red and white swimwear (and more than a few Santa hats). The festive period falls during the height of the Australian Summer, and as one of the most iconic beaches in the world, Bondi Beach is the perfect place to enjoy a BBQ Christmas Dinner and a cool in the ocean. Alcohol is not allowed on the beach, so leave your sherry here in England and get tipsy on the atmosphere of Bondi’s notorious Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve parties instead.
Live the Christmas Fairy Tale of New York
Setting for the famous poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’, subject of The Pogues ‘Fairy Tale of New York’, and home of the world’s most famous tree.
Midtown is decorated to the hilt with giant wooden soldiers, fairy lights galore, giant red baubles and the instantly recognisable lights of the Radio City Music Hall – home to the Rockettes and their Christmas Spectacular. Amble along Fifth Avenue, where designer boutiques display their wares in beautifully decorated festive windows.
Skating to the sounds of carols at the Rockefeller Centre is the perfect start to Christmas morning; best followed by breakfast at the Rock Centre Café. A trip to the cinema or a Broadway show is a favourite Christmas Day pastime for New Yorkers, while tourist attractions including the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Madame Tussauds and Central Park Zoo are all open throughout the festive period. The festive market at Bryant Park is best explored with a hot chocolate in hand and dollars at the ready; it’s the perfect place for quaint souvenirs and the most last-minute of gifts.
Hire Your Own Private Island
If your Christmas bonus exceeded your wildest expectations, hiring your own private island is the most lavish way to spend Christmas Day. Richard Branson recently made the Great House on Necker Island available for hire once again, with up to 36 guests enjoying accommodation, gourmet cuisine by Michelin-starred chefs, a multitude of activities and even access to a 3-person submarine! You might need to cut back on presents though; each night spent at the house in the British Virgin Islands will set you back £32,000. You could give it a try on your Christmas list, but even Santa has to draw a line somewhere!
Marvel at the Red-Rock Scenery of Arizona
The desert may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of festivities, but a holiday to Sedona in the Arizona desert is a spectacular way to spend your Christmas Day. Surrounded by stunning red-rock scenery and located just 100 miles south of the Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona is rugged and resort combined. Snow is unlikely, but you will experience pleasant temperatures during the day and very cold evenings once the sun sets. Often voted one of the most beautiful places in America, Sedona is surrounded by 1.8 million acres of forest; spend Christmas morning hiking spectacular hills, riding horses through the desert or on a jeep trek across the vast red-rocks. With art galleries, spas and vineyards, along with the beautifully designed Tlaquepaque shopping centre, Sedona really is a unique place to spend the festive period.
Indulge Your Body and Mind with a Yoga Retreat in Sri Lanka
Cast aside the stresses of the festive period, in favour of the health and wellbeing benefits of Ayurveda and Yoga on the beaches of Sri Lanka. Located on the beach, the West Coast Ayurveda Resort is a million miles away from the frenetic festive preparations of home. Sit on the balcony of your luxury ensuite room, gazing across the sea or garden views; indulge in full body massages and steam baths as part of your personalised Ayurvedic treatment package, and enjoy fresh and healthy cuisine. Excursions to temples, romantic gardens and on river cruises will provide once in a lifetime experience. While everyone else begins the New Year frazzled, you’ll arrive home feeling nothing but short of blissful.
A Traditional British Christmas
Tree sparkling; jumpers on; kids awake by 5am; bacon sandwiches and bucks fizz for breakfast; Mum on the sherry; always more toys than batteries; selection boxes gone before dinner and everyone asleep before the Queen’s speech – a traditional British Christmas may often be a cold and drizzly affair, but it is also a special one.
Gather friends for festive drinks; eat ‘Christmas’ dinners throughout the month; give gifts you’d secretly like to keep and curl up in front of the cheesiest Christmas film you can find; all in the name of Christmas.