All Things December
From climbing the heights of Mount Kenya to basking in the sun on the beaches of Boracay, watch our episode Globe Guides – December to discover the very best this month has to offer worldwide.
Christmas is a magical time wherever you are, whether you are enjoying the white snow and Christmas markets of Europe and basking in the sun with a beer on a beach somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere.
There’s nothing like wandering through twinkling Christmas markets. The big ones are brilliant and awe-inspiring, but there are some real gems off the beaten track. Here’s a list of some of the best lesser-known markets where you can escape the crowds and enjoy an authentic Christmas market experience.
The Aurora Borealis
Often described as natural fireworks, the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis most often take the form of streaks of colours across the sky, and vary in colour from faint pastel tones of greens, yellows and pinks, through to bright shades of reds and golden yellows. Best seen between the months of October and March in throughout the extreme Northern Hemisphere – arguably best seen in North Norway.
Pilgrimage to the Virgin of the Valley
In December the residents of Catamarca celebrate the annual festival in honour of the Virgin of the Valley. Thousands of people participate in the celebrations and some come from hundreds of miles away to celebrate the special event. Some devotees even walk for as many as 6 days to get there!
Held on the 5th of December every year, the eve of St. Nicholas’ Day, the Klausjagen is truly one of the weirdest festivals in Switzerland, a nation usually renowned for its restraint. Klausjagen literally means ‘chasing the Klaus’ and the festival is believed to have sprung from an age-old tradition to chase away evil spirits.
For a total whiteout, sail to the ends of the earth to Antarctica – the last true remaining wilderness on the planet. Cruise along the Antarctic Peninsula aboard an expedition vessel or yacht charter, and experience truly breathtaking scenery. See towering cliffs, spectacular iceberg sculptures, cathedral-sized glaciers and witness an abundance of wildlife from humpback, minke and orca whales, to seal-covered backaches and rookeries of penguins, whilst sea leopards bask menacingly.
Perhaps the apex of intense exploration, Antarctica represented the most trying and brutal of conditions for explorers, which made it an enticing yet dangerous proposition for a number of major historical figures. Read about the great explorers of Antarctica here!
Pearl Harbour Remembrance Day
On Sunday the 7th of December 1941 at around 7:55 a Japanese strike against the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbour, Honolulu, changed the course of the Second World War. 353 Japanese aircraft attacked the island of Oahu, concentrating their efforts against the US Naval base at Pearl Harbour.
Day of Reconciliation
The Day of Reconciliation is a public holiday in South Africa held annually on 16 December. The holiday came into effect in 1994 after the end of apartheid, with the intention of fostering reconciliation and national unity for the country. The celebration of the Day of Reconciliation can take the form of remembering past history, recognizing veteran’s contributions, marching and other festivities.
Chase the sunshine to Australia
For sparkling sunshine, head to the land down under. Australia’s sun-kissed coastline stretches for nearly 37,000 kilometres and includes 11,761 named beaches – more than any other nation in the world. According to tourism figures, beaches are the number one reason why tourists visit the country and the number one reason why Australian travel domestically – so timing your Aussie adventure for the balmy summer months is a must!
Choose from our extensive list of articles:
- The Top 10 Things To See & Do In Melbourne
- Everything You Need To Know: Fraser Island
- Best beaches in and around Sydney
- Counter Culture of Byron Bay
- Taste of Australia: Chomp on a Kangaroo
- Hamilton Hume: The bushman behind the highway
- Shopping for Aboriginal Art in Australia
- Barbie a Barra: Seafood of Australia
Husky Sledding in Lapland
The Norwegian Arctic – frozen, barren, empty, still – all these things AND home to one of the hottest winter adventure spots on the planet. Holly Morris travels to Norway’s northern-most region to try her hand at Dog Sledding. Holly’s Arctic journey starts in the northern Norwegian town of Alta, the gateway to Lapland (also known as Finnmark). She meets up with Roger Dahl, one of the country’s most revered dog-mushers and together they head east across the frozen Arctic.
Glacier Kissing in Switzerland
This bizarre downhill race in the Alpine resort of Flims, is reminiscent of Wacky Races on ice. Hundreds gather in the freezing cold to take to the slopes in their own home-made sliding contraptions for the Gletscherkuss race.
Anything goes at this bonkers event. In fact, the more original competitors are, the more they stand a chance of winning. Inspired daredevils hurdle down the side of a mountain in their colourful snow-proof creations forwards, sideways and backwards. The brave and bonkers that fancy their chances of reaching the bottom in one piece should make sure they test their sledging devices beforehand.
Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus: Nazareth to Galilee
No December guide would be complete without a mention of the great man who lent his name to Christmas and we join Zay Harding as he embarks on a 2 day Trek where it all began, in Bethlehem. He joins the guided Jesus Trail , a 65-kilometre (40-mile) hiking trail through Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee. Literally following in Jesus’ footsteps, the 40-mile route immerses hikers in biblical history. Zay’s journey starts in Nazareth, the home town of Jesus, where he embarks on a two day hike along the Jesus trail to the Sea of Galilee. On his trek he visits many of the places where Jesus is said to have performed miracles and even has a go at walking on water himself!
The Festive Season In… Wales
The Brecon Beacons National Park, located in South Wales, is a treasure trove for visitors. From adrenaline-fueled abseiling and mountain biking, to scenic walks and pub lunches, visitors can explore the destination year-round. Christmas is a particularly magical time to visit the National Park as the market towns come to life with festive markets, food celebrations and Santa grottos in underground caves.
Tanzania’s Republic Day
Every 9 December, Tanzania celebrates Republic Day, which is also sometimes referred to as “Independence Day”. It was on this day in 1961 that the British colony of Tanganyika declared its independence. And on 9 December, 1962, it became a republic. So what better time to travel to this amazing country?
If you who love nothing more than ticking off an ever-expanding list of bucket-list ventures… then watching Africa’s Great Migration is for you! Read everything you need to know about this phenomenon here.