Sure, holidays with turkey dinner and hot chocolate by the fire sound spectacular. But if you’re looking for a more exotic experience, there are other unforgettable ways to celebrate all around the world.
You could take in a concert at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, for example. “Italy during the holidays is full of interesting traditions to partake in,” says a representative from bespoke travel company Audley Travel. “Not only are there beautiful Christmas markets scattered throughout the country, but there are also a multitude of events to witness.” A live orchestra concert takes place in the Colosseum on New Year’s Eve. Not only interested in Rome? Take in a bull parade in Bologna or fireworks over the lagoon in Venice.
Another Audley holiday activity suggestion involves a two day party in Edinburgh, Scotland. “Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is a two-day, nonstop celebration including a lineup of quirky events that will leave you energized and ready for the New Year (or, maybe a bit hungover).” Hogmanay events include a torchlight procession, traditional ceilidh dance party in the streets, a baby disco, a cold water plunge, a literary projection experience through the city, international concerts, and even a dog-sledding competition.
Over Christmas and New Year, the crisp cold days and bright blue skies make Japan an excellent place to explore, plus there are sake & snow monkeys! In the more mountainous areas of the country, like Nagano, thick blankets of snow sit atop shrines and temples, and snow monkeys can be seen bathing in the snow in natural hot springs. Oshougatsu, the New Year festival, is an important holiday that happens during this time as well. According to Audley, “The first shrine visit of the New Year (Hatsumode) is highly significant, with giant bells tolling at midnight to mark the occasion. All visitors are served a hot cup of sweet rice wine to welcome the New Year as they line up to pray.”
Visitors to Saigon in Vietnam at Christmastime will see the streets lined with decorations, enjoy local holiday cuisine, and ideal daytime temperatures, without a struggle for hotel availability. “On Christmas Eve, the entire city comes alive with fireworks, bands playing and confetti, and residents driving around on motorbikes with children dressed up in Santa suits,” Audley’s representatives told Pursuitist. Visiting Notre Dame Cathedral for Midnight Mass is a particularly festive atmosphere.
Or perhaps singing underwater carols in the Maldives sounds like your perfect holiday happiness? Picture yourself sunning on some of the world’s most stunning beaches, effectively escaping the cold dark nights of December. “In the evening book a dinner reservation at the Anantara Kihavah Villa’s underwater restaurant for a night of cheer,” Audley suggests. “Start with carols on the beach and then move to your table with a view where you can dine alongside their live coral Christmas tree!”
Kate Michael is a Writer, Emcee, On-Camera Host and Fashion/Commercial Model. Follow her at @kstreetkate