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Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Probably not if you're in the midst of beers at the beach!
As a Kiwi, the concept of a white Christmas is about as foreign as it gets, but here are some reasons why a trip to the northern hemisphere should be on your next Christmas list.
Ask any other Kiwi about their experience of Christmas at home, and you'll likely hear all about their summer holidays, weeks off, long days spent on the beach, strawberries and champagne, pohutakawa trees, Santa Claus using sunscreen and wearing flip-flops, Pavlova, and back-yard Cricket.
While summertime Christmas is a blast, there are a few things that we, in southern hemisphere do miss out on when it comes to the festive season. To name just a few; chestnuts roasting on an open fire, the weather outside being frightful and walking in a winter wonderland!
After spending Christmas in Edinburgh in 2017 and Christmas in London in 2018, here are a handful of reasons why I would encourage everyone to make the journey north and try out a European Christmas, just once in their lives.
The Fun-Fairs and Markets
European Christmas markets are a thing dreams are made of. Cozy, Instagram-worthy and fun for the whole family!
When you visit the Christmas markets be prepared to shop till you drop. You'll often find a mixture of boutique or locally produced goods and mass-produced goods on offer, meaning you don't have to battle a mall, or spend your time scrolling site after site, to find the ideal Christmas gift.
The real joy of the Christmas market though is the atmosphere. Families are out having fun, kids are riding carousels, or ice skating under a Christmas tree, friends are sipping on mulled wine or hot chocolate to keep themselves warm, the crowds wander through the rows of fairy-lit wooden chalets and festive music floats on the air around you. It really can be quite romantic.
While many of the markets will operate during the day, they really come alive once the sun goes down, so if you have the time, why not visit late afternoon and into the evening to get the best of both worlds?
Just about every large European city offers visitors the chance to experience the joy of a Christmas market visit. Some cities, like London and Strasbourg offer markets in different parts of the city, or specializing in different niches—so there really is something out there for everyone—except for those Christmas Grinches. You know who you are!).
The Festive Treats
Treats come in many forms around the festive season here—from cheeky tipples to full-blown feasts and everything in between.
For those who like to imbibe you won't have to go far for a mulled wine, Baileys hot chocolate, or even a hot gin cocktail! In the supermarket and coffee chains, you'll also find thousands of special Christmas flavored items from sandwiches, and pies, to crisps, biscuits and cheeses.
Some supermarkets even release 'weird' Christmas foods. In 2018 it was marmite brussel sprouts. I haven't been brave enough to try them!
Then, of course, there is the Christmas Feast. Since it's cold outside, a hot roast meal, with all the trimmings like pigs in blankets, roast vegetables, parfait and more is a welcome sight. Make sure you leave room for Mince Pies, Pudding and a cheese board too! There are plenty of options available for everything. Remember to bring your stretchiest pants!
The Lights, Trees & Windows
With places in the northern hemisphere getting dark around 4 PM in December, it makes sense that massive light displays span large parts of the city and attract both tourists and locals to come and enjoy the spectacle.
Big brands with real estate on the famous shopping streets will also spend months planning their Christmas window displays and their Christmas shops. Some stores and hotels will even decorate their entire premises, with trees, snow machines, giant baubles—you name it, it has probably been included in a Christmas display at least once! Even if you don't buy anything, or stay at the hotel, you can still go in and check out the decorations and get in the festive mood.
The Ugly Jumpers
Christmas Jumper Day, is a whole sub-genre of jumpers that are made just for the month of December. And, since it's the middle of winter, it's totally jumper weather! Treat yourself to something cute, or go all out with a mismatched knitted monstrosity. Christmas jumpers can feature everything from the obvious to the obscure, and you'll spot them on all sorts of people out and about all month long.
The Chance of Snow
Back to that dream about a white Christmas. Christmas in the northern hemisphere is in the middle of winter! So enjoy the romance of getting wrapped up to go out. The delight of ice skating. The fun of long nights and short days.
While snow can be messy and really screw up things like last minute travel plans, it is magical to wake up to a blanket of snow outside the window. If you are treated to a white Christmas, make sure you wrap up warm before you go out there and start a snowball fight. No-one wants to spend boxing day with the flu!
Get booking now...
So, since Christmas 2018 is just around the corner, it might be too late to book in a cheeky round the world trip—but what about next year's Christmas list?