You guys, we almost made it. 2019 was a doozy. There were plenty of incredible highs, some pretty low lows and lots of real-life goodness in between. Before the New Year frenzy of to-do lists, resolutions and fitness journeys begins, why not take some time for a getaway. A trip can be so healing and energizing, and it’s the perfect way to celebrate 2019 and start 2020 with renewed perspective.
Last year I spent my Christmas holiday visiting several Christmas markets in Europe, so this year I decided to embrace the sun and spend my holiday in the tropics. For those of you who might still be trying to figure out where to spend the holidays fret not, Temi is here to the rescue with a few memorable holiday destinations that might interest you – in no particular order.
1. London, England: I’m generally not the biggest fan of London but during the holidays London gets a lot of things right, I mean so right the only word you can use to describe the city is festive. The Christmas markets, the lights and probably some of the best shopping in the world all within a stone’s throw– I’m coming for you Harrods. Check out this detailed London Travel Guide for all the info you need. And lest I forget, Hyde Park is turned into a winter wonderland with rides, a big ice skating rink, games and performances.
2. Prague, Czech Republic: This is no exaggeration, Prague currently ranks as one of my top 2 places to go in the whole world because the Christmas Market is like none I’ve ever seen before and the architecture, city backdrop and the lights were so magical they were unforgettable.
The Christmas markets in Prague are some of the best in the world and run a full month, with locals and travelers (I’ve been one of them) passing through for mulled wine, sticky and sweet pastries, roasted ham and hand made trinkets. Prague also has some of the prettiest gothic architecture I’ve ever seen, and the pedestrian Charles bridge lined with statues of Catholic Saints. The main markets take place in the Old Town and Wenceslas squares are just five minutes apart and you can’t miss the Prague astronomical clock as you walk about – read up on this if you can, its soooo interesting (says the geek in me) .
3. New York City: I live within 3 hours of the city so I visit the Big Apple quite often but I still get lost in the magic of New York during Christmas time. Spend a day ice skating at the Rockefeller Center where you definitely can’t miss the gigantic spruce Christmas tree. Then shopping at some of famed department stores in New York or just browsing at the holiday- themed windows – make sure to pop into Macy’s and say hello to Santa. Of course Christmas in New York wouldn’t be complete without a Broadway show; with any luck you could probably catch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, high-kicking Rockettes at the Radio City Music Hall or the New York City Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’.
4. Tokyo, Japan: Christmas in Tokyo is lights galore – each year the different districts try to out SHINE each other by creating some extraordinary displays. Imagine nightly date nights in different districts, Christmas shopping and enjoying some of the best light displays in each district at night.
5. West Africa (Nigeria/Ghana): Come on people, did you think I could give travel suggestions and not suggest the Giant of Africa and its sister country. It’s the year of the Return in Ghana, and almost every celeb on this universe (rumors of Beyonce as well) is heading “back home” to celebrate. I’m not going to say much about West Africa other than if you got the money saved up and you are ready to let loose, get that tan going, eat and drink your weight in both food and alcohol and have an unforgettable Christmas then ladies and gents I’ll catch you on the flip side. Don’t be the uncool friend this holidays, grab those tickets A-S-A-P as numbers are going up every single day.
6. Paris, France: Slightly biased here based on our incredible trip this summer, but nothing quite beats the city of love. Have a croissant at the Eiffel Tower, shop your heart out at the flagship Chanel store (a girl can dream) and stroll through the opulent gardens of Versailles. It’s certain to be less crowded than summer, and is there anything more romantic than Paris in the rain? I think not. For a full list of the best eats and sights, check out our guide to Paris.
7. Quebec City, Canada: Cobblestone streets dusted with snow, quaint shops, the most decadent poutine from delicious bistros all found within the merrily decorated streets of the Old Town. Quebec City is one of the oldest and most charming cities in North America, with its French colonial architecture that makes you feel like you’ve flown across the pond. It’s a city that was designed to be the perfect Christmas village- a true winter wonderland.
8. Reykjavik, Iceland: Christmas celebrations Iceland are peculiar, alternative and unforgettable. Reykjavik has only about 4 -5 hours of daylight in the winter, but even with the few daylight hours there’s still so much to do and see in that timeframe and even more to do in the dark. Enjoy the quaint beautiful town of Reykjavik, and take day trips to Thingvllier National Park, ride Icelandic horses; snowmobiling; glacier hiking (I did this 😊). Listen to the locals tell the Icelandic Christmas folklore about Gryla and Leppaludi and their Yule Cat and Yule Children. If you are lucky you might see the elusive Northern Lights before the end of your trip, before or after your is it to the blue Lagoon.
9. Dubai, UAE: If you want a break from the freezing winter weather, why not Dubai, and of course Dubai does Christmas the same way Dubai does nearly everything—in true, over-the-top fashion. From shopping at Madinat Jumeirah, the popular festival market and Mall of the Emirates, to over the top brunches and dining at top of restaurants and hotels – like the underwater dining in Atlantis at the Palm. Dubai is the perfect non-winter Christmas getaway, and if by any chance you would want ‘winter wonderland’ fear not Dubai has that for you also. If you’re more of the fun in the sun type, there’s sand dunes and deserts, go-karting and camel rides, literally every thing you need in a holiday trip.
Christmas aside, have you seen how Dubai does New Year’s Eve? Trust me, when I say, YOU CAN NOT MISS IT! From experiencing the epic fireworks atop panoramic views, to fantastic parties to ring in the new year, there’s way too much fun to be had. It’s really one of those destinations that has something for any and everyone. You won’t be sorry!
10. Las Vegas, Nevada: Speaking of cities of pleasure, Vegas will forever be a top destination for any celebration. If you’re looking for lights, cameras and a whole lot of action, book your tickets to Sin City. New Year’s Eve is HUGE in Vegas and features the best performers at a variety of hotels. You will definitely catch the holiday spirit and probably lose a LOT of that at the slots, but hey, what are the holidays for? lol
11. Aspen, Colorado: A white Christmas is guaranteed in the soaring Colorado Rockies mountain town of Aspen. The main draw to Aspen is skiing, with four premier ski areas which cater to skiers and snowboarders of all levels. For the none skiers there are cozy spots to sit back and relax, high- end shopping, fun festivals, galleries and museums. No matter how you choose to spend your time in Aspen it will be a memorable vacation.
12. Maui, Hawaii: Looking to escape frigid temps and really don’t care about snow? Go to dreamy Maui and kick back with a dose of island life. Stunning year round, Hawaii is consistently a top travel spot for so many reasons. Incredible beaches, lush greenery, hana tours, whale watching and delicious seafood. Attend the annual lighting of the Banyan Tree for some Christmas magic. The Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton are our posh top picks to stay on the island. There’s also a really killer adults only resort, Hotel Wailea, if you’re looking for something a bit more romantic.
13. Cologne, Germany: Nothing says Christmas like Christmas markets and nobody does Christmas markets like the Germans- argue with your shadow and the four million visitors yearly!!! Cologne has eight different Christmas markets on both sides of the Rhien River, with plenty of stalls offering the perfect gifts and foods. The architecture in Cologne is also a site to behold.
14. Ireland: The land of my (Editor Brianna) people! If you’ve never been to Ireland, get thee to the Emerald Isle. Yes, you should spend a day crossing Dublin off your list, but the true magic lies in the Ring of Kerry. Green hills like you’ve never seen them, pubs and tea times galore and the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Be sure to see Connor’s Pass, the Cliffs of Moher, Gap of Dunlow and Muckross Castle. Light a candle in the window, attend a Christmas mass and of course have yourself a pint.
15. Chicago: This is the biased part of the list. Yea, yea, yea – Chicago is cold. But it is SO worth a visit during Christmas. The Goodman Theatre has their annual production of “A Christmas Carol” and you can’t miss the Joffrey Ballet’s “Nutcracker.” Stop by Macy’s (old Marshall Field’s) to see the Christmas windows and have lunch or dinner at the Walnut Room after and see the giant Christmas tree. Ice Skating at Millenium Park or Daley Park is a must, and be sure to check out the Christkindlmarket for hand made ornaments and a cup of mulled wine to keep you warm.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia: If you’ve got cash to spare and don’t mind a bit of a flight, visit this spot that is surely on everyone’s bucket list. The spot where Kim lost her diamond earring in the ocean is popular for a reason: crystal clear blue water, private huts and a stunningly gorgeous tropical backdrop. For a dose of Christmas spirit in between Pina coladas, check out the annual “Parade de Noel” where beautiful decorated floats parade by, followed by a night-time dance spectacle.