If you’re keen to head abroad over the Christmas holidays, there are plenty of places where you can still get your festive fix. Go ice skating in New York’s Central Park, build sandmen in Dubai on the beach, or explore the Christmas Markets in Vienna. The choice is endless.
To help you plan your festive escape, here’s what’s going on over Christmas in cities across the globe…
Christmas in Australia is all about barbeques and beach time – it is their hottest (and most wonderful) time of year, after all. On Christmas Day, families flock to the city’s famous beaches wearing Santa hats bringing loads of festive cheer. Christmas dinner is usually ham and turkey (sometimes cold) with roast vegetables, gravy and cranberry sauce. And dessert is usually a fruity pavlova rather than anything heavy. Over the Christmas period, there’s also a free annual Christmas concert near the Royal Botanic Gardens, carol performances and decorations everywhere.
Bondi Route, Stop: Bondi Beach
Christmas in New York is the stuff of dreams. Not only has the city been the backdrop for so many classic Christmas films like Home Alone 2, Miracle on 34th Street and Elf, there’s nothing more magical than seeing the snow-covered Big Apple after its festive makeover. In the centre of the city, you’ll find the huge Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree – catch the tree lighting ceremony if you’re there in late November or early December.
You can also get your skates on and whizz around the famous ice rink in Central Park, browse the stalls and enjoy a hot chocolate at Bryant Park Winter Village, and see the spectacular Fifth Avenue window displays.
Explore Uptown Route, Stop: Times Square North
London goes all out for the festive season, so pick this European city for your Christmas escape. You’ll find carol concerts across the city, huge Christmas displays in Oxford Street’s shop windows, a giant Xmas tree in Trafalgar Square, and lights and decorations just about everywhere. Hyde Park plays host to Winter Wonderland every year – a winter festival with fairground rides, shows, ice skating and a German-style beer hall. And, there are plenty of top restaurants open over the Christmas period where you can get a traditional British Christmas dinner consisting of roast turkey and veg with stuffing and pigs in blankets.
Austria’s capital city is beautiful at the best of times, but over Christmas it gets an added dose of festive sparkle. The city’s majestic architecture is covered in Christmas lights, and you’ll find special festive displays in the luxury stores. There are plenty of magical Christmas markets to explore where you can browse traditional treats, drink plenty of hot glühwein, and tuck into sausages and freshly-bakes pastries. There’s also a huge ice rink on the Rathausplatz and loads of concerts and carol services held in churches across the city.
Pick Dubai for your yuletide escape and you can bask in toasty temperatures and enjoy sunshine almost every day. Dubai’s malls are dressed to the nines in sparkling decorations and snow scenes, so you’ll get that festive feeling while you shop. And, if you’re really missing the cold weather, you can head to Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates which has over 22,000 square meters of snow. As well as ski runs of varying difficulty, there’s a Twin Track Bobsled run, a Snow Cavern and an Avalanche Café where you can grab a hot chocolate.
Thanks to its British Colonial roots, Hong Kong embraces lots of Christmas traditions and celebrates in style. Best of all, the shops, restaurants and attractions stay open, so if you’re visiting the city, you can get out and explore on Christmas Day. Disneyland Hong Kong and Madame Tussauds get a festive makeover every year, and the malls are decked out in Christmas trees and decorations. And, throughout the whole of December, Hong Kong’s skyline is lit up with dancing Santas, sparkling baubles and light shows across the skyscrapers. If you’re desperate for a turkey dinner, you’ll be pleased to know that several city restaurants offer traditional turkey dinners on Christmas Day, with a choice of big buffet spreads or gourmet meals with several courses.
Excited to experience Christmas in another country? Head to any of these top cities and you’ll have a Christmas holiday to remember. Browse our bus routes and attractions for more inspiration on how to fill the rest of your time.