In the second instalment of our blog series looking at inspiring destinations for the month ahead, we explore some December gems. From the obligatory Christmas market to something for the sun worshippers, we have something for everyone.
1. Visit the Marché de Noël in Montreux (Switzerland)
For many people, the Christmas market is a staple of the season. There are several that we could include here but the Marché de Noël in Montreux is one of the biggest and best – in large part due to its stunning location. The main market is on the banks of Lake Geneva, offering breath-taking views, not only of the lake but also the snow-covered Alps. So inspirational is the setting that the band Queen were even inspired to write the song A Winter’s Tale by the views in Montreux. Each year, more than 170 market stalls gather in Montreux selling items from art and antiques to Christmas decorations and hand-crafted gifts. You can also to indulge (and warm) yourself with a vin chaud (mulled wine), chestnuts, and hot crepes and chocolate!
2. Take in a performance at the Royal Opera House in Muscat (Oman)
You can leave the thick coats and gloves behind for this one. As well as having ‘mid-twenties in December’ temperatures, Muscat is home to some wonderful architecture including numerous mosques, palaces and museums. The Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) is another stunning building inside and out, where some of the biggest stars of opera and ballet have performed. Taking in a performance here is a great way to unwind after a busy day of bartering at Muscat’s souks!
3. Enjoy Hamshushalayim in Jerusalem (Israel)
Hamshushalayim - a combination of the words Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Hebrew - is a festival that takes place each weekend through December in Jerusalem. Special night tours, street theatres, and musical performances are just some of the activities on this festival’s rich agenda. Jerusalem, and Israel overall, is a great destination if you’re looking to rediscover the true Christmas spirit, and experience the different cultures and faiths that are represented in the country.
4. Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights) in Lyon (France)
Every December, Lyon, plays host to a visual light spectacle that now attracts millions of visitors and tourists every year. The city’s Festival of Lights began in 1852, when its people would light up their homes and the city with tiny, flickering candles in honour of The Virgin Mary. Today the event is celebrated still, but on a much grander scale. A central feature is the showcasing of some of the Lyon’s amazing architecture through installations which young lighting designers are invited to create, which are then projected onto its landmark buildings, and shared around the world.
5. Antigua (Antigua and Barbuda)
Escape the stress of Christmas shopping and put your feet up on this beautiful Caribbean island. You’ll be surrounded by a nearly unbroken offshore reef protecting miles of sugar-white sands, and if the total ‘laid-back’ holiday is not for you, there are plenty of opportunities to sail and dive around the island. In December you can expect temperatures of up to 26 degrees too.