Story by: Madison Facer
Picture this, you’re relaxing on a beach, feet buried in the sand, listening to the waves crashing calm and repeatedly on the soft beach, you’re kicked back in a lounge chair with a nice cool drink and… a Santa hat? Christmas in paradise is the new black, or rather, red (and white and green) and you’ve decided to get away from the old trends of Christmas at Grandma’s and the same old questions year after year. You’ve opted for the heat of the tropical sun, and the only questions you’re getting asked are if you want a refill. But where will you go? This is a guide to this year’s hottest (or coolest) holiday destinations and adventures.
Many travelers are traveling purely for holiday joy may be looking for destinations with those goals in mind. Around the world countries celebrate the holidays in their own special ways. Whether you’re interested in a massive Christmas beach party on Australia’s Bondi Beach or a spectacular Disney style wonderland, these destinations are for you.
Orlando, FL: Travelers looking to stay within the states this year may want to check out the spectacle put on by Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida. The Disney Resort throws an annual party known as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The party includes events at all 4 of the resorts parks, with special events in the Epcot Park featuring Holidays around the World, The Magical Kingdom hosts a Christmas Time parade down Main Street USA with a Mickey and Santa meet and greet. And a Holiday Parade in the Disney Animal Kingdom gives guests even more fun
Lapland, Finland: Travelers in hopes of an international vacation that has offerings for both children and adults, look no further than the Arctic Circle. Lapland, Finland is the official home of Santa Clause and this small town has a “to-do” for everyone in your party. You can start your trip with a tour of the town in a Reindeer drawn sleigh, and follow this up with a trip to the local post-office and see all of Santa’s letters, or head over to Korvatunturi, the town capital where Santa does his business. You can also enjoy a more calming side of the town with the various ski lodges or ice hotels and relax under the lights of the Aurora Borealis. If you’re interested in visiting Santa this winter, read his tips for your visit to get more ideas.
Vienna, Austria: Austria year round offers guests a beautiful destination to enjoy and take in all the history and sites the city has to offer and the holidays are no exception to that. The city hosts several Christmas markets and villages around the city, such as the Viennese Christmas Market which offers guests the chance to learn the history and traditions of the city, get in the Christmas spirit with workshops for Christmas cookies and candles. Or get in some last minute shopping at the Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace with more than 40 festive market stalls with special holiday goodies and decorations.
Many travelers have differing experiences with holiday travel, I had the opportunity to speak with several Utah residents about their experiences. I recently spoke with local business owner Russ Mellor and his wife Joy about their history of holiday travel. Mellor and his wife took a 3 week vacation to Europe over the holidays last year and visited 9 countries in total on their “destination” holiday. The couple decided to opt for a holiday trip instead of the usual holiday celebrations after their youngest child moved out and as their way of celebrating 25 years together.
The couple described the beauty of the sites and cities they visited and how amazing some of the holiday markets, festivals and celebrations were. Joy Mellor talked about her favorite stop of the visit was Lucerne, Switzerland. “I loved it, it is such a beautiful old city sitting on the shores of the massive lake, and surrounded by the towering Swiss Alps, it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.”
The couple also talked about how much they enjoyed the “Venite” holiday festival they had the chance to experience. The festival features booths from twenty nearby countries, with each booth presenting holiday items and Christmas traditions from their homeland.
Russ Mellor described his feelings about the festival and stated “I loved getting to see all of the holiday items and booths and traditions from the different countries, the whole experience was neat getting to see not only all of the different countries, but then having the opportunity to see the holiday side of them too, it was really something else.” The couple overall stated the whole experience was an extremely positive one and given the chance would do it again.
Traveling for the holidays has always been a fun and exciting prospect. Whether traveling to see family, or to get away from them, people around the world will embark on adventures around the globe this season. Hopefully you are feeling inspired to get out and explore this season and stop letting Santa have all the fun.