Where To Head In December
We might equate summer with holidays but actually December could just be the month with the widest choice of destinations. All the regular summer city getaways in Europe are trimmed up for Christmas, the markets are in full swing, and the festive lights luminate these cities. It’s also when many winter sports resorts start up with the welcome return of snow. And while it’s great time for getting cosy in frosty destinations, further afield you can catch some winter sun to beat the winter blues.
In early December, good deals are easy to find, so you can jet off somewhere hot before you delve into Christmas. Later in the month prices rise, but it means you can battle the stress of Christmas with a fun getaway in December and head off for mulled wine and Christmas shopping. To help you choose where to go, here’s our pick of where to travel to in this festive month.
The intense heat of Dubai cools down in December, but at a pleasant 25C it’s the perfect time to enjoy the city to its full without having to duck in and out of air-conditioned buildings to escape the heat. Visit at the beginning of December and you can catch the National Day of Independence on the 2nd, which is a huge celebration with fireworks and light shows. The Rugby Sevens takes place here in December, and for film buffs the annual Film Festival of Dubai is also held this month. At the same time, Dubai lives up to its glitzy reputation and goes all-out for Christmas, with impressive Christmas tree decorations and decked out shopping malls. It’ll be one to remember.
You might think of Milan more for its chic shopping opportunities than Christmas markets, but in early December the city revels its own unique tradition. It’s when a festive-feeling market springs up in the grounds of Castello Sforzesco, an imposing red brick fortress, originally to celebrate Milan’s patron saint Sant’Ambrgio. The O Bej O Bej market (which translates to ‘Oh beautiful, oh beautiful’ in the local dialect) features mulled wine and local crafts and gifts. It kicks off on 7 December, and only lasts until 10 December, making it one of the busier and more anticipated markets in Italy. Yes, it’s pretty chilly in Milan at this time of year, at around 7C, but it’s worth braving the cold for.
December is Miami’s driest month, but at around 24C, it’s still beach weather and Miami is buzzing. Art Basel is a visiting contemporary art fair that is spread across the city with fringe events, pop-ups, installations and public sculptures, all of which make Miami feel like one big open-air gallery. Stick around after Art Basel has wrapped up and you can experience its follow-on event, Art Gaysel, the queerest art fair in the world.
Between the 7 and 17 December each year, the central Turkish city Konya is host to the Rumi Festival. Over 100,000 Sufi pilgrims descend on the city to experience the festival and, most of all, to witness the famous whirling dervishes. In 2008, UNESCO called the dance as one of the “masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.” Visitors are welcome to watch the spectacle as the dancers (also known as semazen) perform a meditative dance that sees the dancers spin in one direction and then the other. But be aware: this is a serious religious occasion and while tourists can attend, always be respectful. You’ll also need to dress appropriately and cover up to see this incredible festival take place.
Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland
To get into the Christmas spirit, there’s nothing better than a trip to see Santa Claus himself in his home in Lapland. Situated in the north of Finland, Rovaniemi is the capital of Finnish Lapland and delivers everything you’d expect from the most Christmassy region on earth. Temperatures can fall to just 4C in the daytime, so you’ll need to wrap up, but there’s plenty of Christmas cheer in the form of local delicacies like cloudberries, fish and reindeer…although that may bring up mixed feelings at Christmas time! Aside from visiting Santa, families can explore snow buildings like igloos, ice saunas and the SnowCastle of Kemi (the biggest snow fort in the world) or catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights – if you’re lucky!
Wherever you’re heading to this festive season make sure to have peace of mind by protecting your trip with a Switched On Travel Insurance policy. There’s a 24/7 emergency helpline so we’re always only a phone call away when you need us. Plus, gadget insurance is included automatically. Find out more by visiting the travel section of the Switched On website.