Snow turns winter into a wonderland, and there is nothing better than heading for the white stuff to celebrate the festive season. Point your compass towards the north pole and let the reindeer guide you to dear old Santa Claus in the heart of snowy Lapland, in the northern most regions of Finland’s territory or to some of Scandinavia’s other stunning natural landscapes. If you’re struggling for inspiration, here are some top choices to spend your winter holidays.
Visit Swedish Lapland’s 406-year old indigenous Sámi market in Jokkmokk, and race across frozen lakes pulled by Siberian huskies, wrapped up warm with a thermal of hot chocolate or mulled wine. Wintertime conditions are harsh in Lapland, with freezing temperatures and very few hours of daylight, but with flood lit downhill and cross country ski slopes you can still enjoy many activities in the twilight, including a very refreshing dip in an ice pool and of course a visit to Santa’s grotto.
If you are lucky you may also have the chance to see the most incredible spectacle of the far north at Christmas time – the Aurora Borealis– commonly known as the Northern Lights. This is a natural light show in the sky, which is especially common in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. It is created by charged particles colliding together with atoms in the upper regions of the atmosphere. The result is a magical moving display of colourful lights, which will beat any flashing lights you can find on a Christmas tree at home!
If a trip on snowy land doesn’t float your boat, then why not get aboard one of the many all-inclusive cruises that are offered at Christmas time. You could set sail in the Caribbean and spend Christmas between the beach and the swimming pool, diving the stunning reefs of Barbados or dancing to Bob Marley in Jamaica. Forget tradition and make Christmas a tropical affair!
Or if you prefer cooler climes then why not cruise the fjords of Norway from Oslo to Svalbard and enjoy the traditional celebrations of this Scandinavian nation – dancing around the native Christmas tree singing carols before opening your presents, tucking into a deliciousRibbe (roasted pork belly) washed down with homemade Gløgg (the Norwegian equivalent to mulled wine). And, of course, in Norway, Santa is just next door in neighbouring Lapland and will be sure to deliver your presents!
So whether you prefer Christmas in the heat or frosts, there’s plenty of options open for spending a completely different festive season this year. Research last-minute Christmas deals and you never know what surprises may await you under the tree this year…
Isabel Delande writes for a number of travel publications and has spent several Christmases away from home, in places as far reaching as Antigua and Finland.
Images by Timo Newton-Syms and eGuide Travel, used under Creative Comms license