Although some people find the idea of spending Christmas in a warm country strange, it’s actually a wonderful way to escape and really enjoy this time of year. If the thought of spending Christmas Day sitting in the sunshine appeals to you, check out our top three suggestions of winter sun destinations to jet off to this year.
1. Gran Canaria
While all the Canary Islands are lovely places to head to for a spot of winter sunshine, Gran Canaria really stands out because of its varied microclimates. Essentially this means that travelling around the island is like visiting several different countries – something that’s earned it the nickname of ‘miniature continent’.
It’s a real pleasure to explore Gran Canaria, so hire a car and do some driving in the days leading up to December 25th. You can stop for scenic walks or to just admire the views – be as active (or lazy) as you want on your holiday!
If you still want to get into the festive spirit while you’re here, don’t miss the Christmas concert on December 21st in the theatre in Aguimes. If you’re travelling with kids, you’ll be pleased to know there are some family-friendly shows going on, too, including Mary Poppins (also in Aguimes) and Pippi Longstocking in Las Palmas.
You could be forgiven for thinking that heading to Goa in India would be a good way to avoid the festive season, but you’ll find Christmas is celebrated with much enthusiasm in this part of the world. Due to the Portuguese occupation, there’s a strong Christian community here, not to mention a lot of expats.
Colourful decorations spring up everywhere and, yes, you will more than likely spot a Christmas tree or two. Now, Goa is busy around Christmas time, which makes it great if you want to mingle and party, but not ideal if you’re looking for a peaceful getaway.
Goa is also renowned for its New Year’s Eve celebrations, so if you’re planning to have an extended trip, maybe plan to be in the north of Goa for NYE and head to the quieter southern areas for a chilled-out Christmas beforehand.
Portugal’s Algarve is a fantastic place to visit in the winter, as its mild climate and sunshine make a pleasant change from what you’ll leave behind in the UK. What makes it especially nice at Christmas is the traditional celebrations that take place in December.
Unlike in the UK, you won’t see festive decorations going up until late November and when you do you’ll be amazed, as the seasonal lights in the Algarve are beautiful. The Christmas festivities themselves officially begin on December 8th, and most families have their main gathering on Christmas Eve, rather than the following day.
The vast majority of the Algarve’s resorts and hotels will have Christmas events and activities planned, while there will be things going on in local restaurants too. If you’re taking the whole family away, it’s worth noting that attractions like Lagos Zoo have, in the past, run special seasonal promotions and events, so it’s worth checking what’s going on before you travel.