The best way to enjoy a white Christmas is to hit the slopes. There are loads of great ski resorts but the only way to choose the right ones for your Christmas break is by checking which ones will have powder in December. Low-level resorts in the Alps along with famous high-level ones like Val d’Isere in France and St. Moritz in Switzerland have all been affected by global warming.
Below are a few resorts that offer great skiing and a lovely atmosphere for Christmas. All of them cater to beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers and are sure to make your Christmas holidays truly memorable.
Keystone, Colorado, USA
Keystone is just a 90-minute drive from Denver and covers 3,148 acres of skiing area. It gets plenty of deep dry powder in winter and is already packed with snow by the beginning of December.
Keystone has three mountain peaks: Dercum Mountain, North Peak and The Outback. Its diverse terrains have plenty to offer beginners as well as experts – open glades, fresh corduroy, moguls, steeps, bowls, trees and terrain parks. Keystone also offers night skiing.
There are some nice shops, restaurants and bars in the villages.
Nearby Breckenbridge is located higher at over 3,900 meters and has equally good slopes.
Val Thorens, France
It is Europe’s highest resort so snow is not a problem in December. There are 170 kms of ski pistes in Val Thorens and although all the skiing is above the tree line, the off-piste and powder skiing is fabulous. The ski lifts in Val Thorens can get a bit crowded but they are very efficiently run. The resort along with Meribel and Courchevel constitutes The 3 Valleys. The three resorts are linked, offering skiers some incredibly varied skiing. At 2,300m, Val Thorens is located considerably higher than the other two resorts.
Val Thorens has loads of boutiques and gourmet restaurants and really comes alive at night. Its many trendy nightclubs and bars are known to stay open till the wee hours of the morning.
As its name implies, Whistler-Blackcomb comprises the mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb. Often rated as North America’s best ski resort, it covers an astonishing 8,000 acres and has a vertical drop of 5,280 feet! It offers something for all level of skiers.
Blackcomb is steeper than Whistler with challenging back bowls, open powder fields, fast chutes and heavily treed areas. Whistler-Blackcomb hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics so it now sports upgraded facilities.
There are plenty of great shops, restaurants and bars. You can also catch some live bands.
Few resorts can rival Chamonix for its unique combination of varied terrain, wonderful scenery and a picturesque town. It’s often rated as one of the world’s top mountain sports destinations. Chamonix offers 11 separate ski areas on its lift pass so you can choose the one that suits you. Plus the vast spread ensures that the weather will be good for skiing in some place in the valley. Advanced skiers will delight in the area’s challenging breakneck powder-filled terrain.
The town is vibrant with great sports stores, fashion boutiques, bars, restaurants and two nightclubs. There’s also a superb Michelin-rated restaurant – Restaurant Atmosphere.
Although not as famous as Gstaad and St. Moritz, Zermatt is regarded by many as a better resort. Its high altitude means it receives ample snow and its long season runs from November to May. Zermatt is great for beginners and intermediate skiers but those wanting to go off piste should watch out for rocks. It is linked by lift to the Italian resort of Cervinia so you can actually go skiing from Switzerland to Italy!
The scenery is breathtaking and the village is car free. An array of pubs, wine bars, fine-dining restaurants, discos and shops make it a lively place.
Check out Ski Vacations to find out what you need to take with you on a skiing holiday.
Not everybody wants to stay home during their Christmas holidays and shovel snow. If you are looking forward to getting away from the cold and simply lazing on a sun-kissed beach, there are some great beaches where you can spend your Christmas break.
Every hotel and resort will have something special organized for Christmas so the mood will be festive. It’s best to plan for Christmas breaks well in advance because December is peak travel season and flight and hotel bookings can be difficult to get.
Here are a few great beach places to spend your Christmas and New Year holidays:
If you don’t want a white Christmas, head for the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean. The island is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide and is of volcanic origin. The best beaches like Reduit are on the northwest of the island and have white sands, lush tropical greenery and blue coves. The rugged and spectacular twin peaks of the Pitons are on the south and the scenery throughout the island is gorgeous and is studded with waterfalls. Don’t miss the Sulphur Springs and visit Soufriere for its unique West Indian charm. There are some good dive sites so a popular activity on the island is scuba diving.
Weather in December: Temperatures range from 24 to 27º C and it’s dry so you are free to work on your tan
Europe’s sun destination in winter, Tenerife is the biggest of the Canary Islands’ seven islands. It’s absolutely picturesque and is dominated by the Pico del Teide which rises 12,194 feet above sea level and is Spain’s highest mountain. The view from the peak is awe-inspiring and you can see volcanic rocks in a variety of intense hues. While the north coast has steep cliffs, the south is flatter and the majority of the resorts and therefore crowds are found here. The beaches of Los Cristianos, Playa de Las Américas and Costa Adeje attract the most sun worshippers. The active nightlife too is centred around these beaches whose white sand has been imported from the Sahara desert! If you are looking for a quieter experience, head to the centre of the island.
Weather in December: Temperatures range from 18 to 20ºC and it’s mostly dry in the south of the island. The north gets rain.
Santa will probably say “Aloha!” and arrive in beach slippers! So Christmas in Hawaii can be fascinating. A 50-foot Christmas tree is put up in the Honolulu City Hall and the area is festooned with lights and you can catch some live entertainment. You can go snorkeling, whale and dolphin watching, scuba diving, sailing, fishing or choose to simply laze on Hawaii’s pristine beaches fringed with palm trees. Hawaii is genuinely a tropical paradise and there’s plenty to see apart from beaches. The islands of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and Big Island make up the main islands in Hawaii. Each island has something unique to offer and each has a landscape that is just breathtakingly beautiful.
Weather in December: The average temperature is 23ºC and though it rains in December, it won’t disrupt your holiday.
Read reviews about the Best Hawaii Beaches.
Goa is the only state in India where the majority of the population is Christian. So Christmas is a lively affair with colourful street dances and concerts. Almost all the houses are lit up with pretty paper lanterns and the atmosphere is truly festive. The two-year-old Sunburn Music Festival takes place from December 27 to 29, 2009, and is billed as South Asia’s largest music fest.
The legendary sandy beaches are of course Goa’s main attraction. The beaches on the north are touristy but the ones in the south are prettier and quieter. Venture into the interiors and you will see lush fields, coconut plantations, churches, temples and even forests. Most visitors don’t go beyond the beaches and miss out on the true essence of Goa.
Weather in December: Temperatures range from 24 to 30ºC, humidity is low and there’s no rain.
Also see Christmas Breaks – Ski Resorts, Christmas Cruises and New Year’s Eve Destinations for more holiday travel ideas for the festive season.