Getting away from it all this Christmas

Christmas at the beachI’ve spent Christmas abroad a few times and am just as happy celebrating with a BBQ on the beach as I am wrapped up in the UK enjoying roast turkey and all the trimmings. Our recent Facebook discussion on the subject revealed that many of you love to get away from the cold at home, lounge around in the sun and let someone else prepare your Christmas lunch.  The general consensus was that if you haven’t gone abroad for Christmas before you should try it at least once.

Florida is a great place to head to for Christmas, especially if you are travelling with children. Aside from enjoying the sunshine, there is plenty of festive activity going on at the numerous theme parks. At The Hollywood Studios guests can enjoy the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing lights from 20th Nov until 3rd Jan. Every 10 minutes over 4 million Christmas lights dance to music while ‘snow’ falls in the background.  For something different try the popular Ice! attraction at Gaylord Palms Resort. This year scenes and characters from Shrek and Kung Fu Panda are the focus of this interactive world carved from two million pounds of ice (from Nov 16 – Jan 2). Just 20 miles east of Orlando is the town of Fort Christmas where you can get your cards and letters postmarked with “Christmas, Florida” to be sent home to your loved ones. The period between Christmas day and New Year are the busiest at Disney World so it’s best to try and go the week before Christmas. Waldorf AstoriaFor a touch of luxury try the five star Waldorf Astoria Hotel which is a short drive from Orlando’s main attractions. The hotel is hosting a special Christmas buffet on December 25th, an elaborate event which will include the Waldorf’s famous signature dishes.

Closer to home are the Canary Islands, a popular winter sun destination from the UK, with a flying time of around four hours. Just off the West Coast of Africa, the weather is usually excellent throughout the winter with an average of seven hours of sunshine a day. Plenty of the Christmas customs in the Canaries are similar to our own but there are lots of different cultural rituals to enjoy and make your Christmas one to remember. The timings for Christmas celebrations are a little different to ours which is something to bear in mind when planning your trip.  The 25th December is a fairly low key event and the main celebrations take place on 6th January. Lanzarote is a popular choice for those heading abroad for Christmas. New Year’s Eve here is a huge event celebrated with impressive fireworks displays across the island. The biggest firework display takes place in the main tourist town of Puerto Del Carmen.

Cape VerdeCape Verde, a group of islands south of the Canaries, is a great choice if you want to enjoy the sunshine of the Canaries without the crowds. The islands enjoy eight to ten hours of sunshine a day, virtually no rain during our winter and don’t feel overcrowded even at peak times like Christmas.

Christmas is celebrated with enthusiasm in Goa, India, which is ten hours flying time from the UK. This tropical paradise boasts a 130km coastline and an abundance of palm fringed sandy beaches. The white washed churches, Hindu temples, vivid colours and pungent aromas of the street markets make this destination a treat for your senses and a real break from winter in the UK.  The beaches in Goa are a focus for Christmas celebrations with dancing, eating and parties taking place on the sand late into the night. The four star Cidade De Goa Hotel, set between green hills and the sea and with its own luxury spa, is the perfect place to unwind before a new year begins.

AndorraIf you are dreaming of a white Christmas but want to get away, head out to Andorra, a fabulous skiing destination which is great value for money. Christmas here is lively and very picturesque and the ski lifts and lessons run throughout the Christmas period. Routes into Andorra are varied and you can fly into Barcelona, Girona or Toulouse.  On our website at the moment are flights from London, Stansted to Barcelona from 19th December to 26th December for just £104 and plenty of availability in Andorra’s hotels.

Philippa