Christ­mas Travel Des­ti­na­tions

Dubai is lovely dur­ing win­ters but if you want the real deal, fly to any of these ex­otic des­ti­na­tions. Sana Chikhalia gives you the list. Make your plans NOW!

Masala! - - INSIDE... -

From glit­ter­ing street decor to fes­tive win­ter mar­kets, Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tion hap­pens all around the world so why not pack your bags this De­cem­ber and head to some of the dreami­est places for this fes­tive sea­son? Tick­ets may be dry­ing up so book your flights soon to ring in Xmas and the New Year at a city that is well… known for hav­ing a blast in the last week of the year. Here are our top choices… have you vis­ited any or all?

lon­don

De­cem­ber. Christ­mas. New Year. Lon­don. These four words might as well be syn­onyms.

De­cem­ber lights on Ox­ford Street will il­lu­mi­nate and shops will have their Christ­mas decor up, mak­ing it a daz­zling af­fair. Win­ter Won­der­land at Hyde Park

is the must-visit, the food stalls and pop-up shops, the thrilling rides, all add up to make your ex­pe­ri­ence a spe­cial one. Don’t miss out on the Carn­aby Street

cel­e­bra­tion as every year neon lights light up this al­ley.

Lon­don takes its fes­tive sea­son se­ri­ously and the best street to ex­pe­ri­ence this is Re­gent Street. With life-size an­gel lights twin­kling your way, this spot is a great one for pic­tures. If you are into your shop­ping, your ex­pe­ri­ence will get brighter as the build­ings on Bond Street are usu­ally gar­landed with fancy lights; don’t miss out the Cartier store which trans­forms into a gift box. Lastly, en­joy some del­i­ca­cies at ei­ther Covent Gar­den or the South Bank as they have some won­der­ful treats to sur­prise you.

INFO: Flights takes around 8 hours and cost around Dhs 2,299 via Bri­tish Air­ways.

Den­mark

Im­merse your­self in Dan­ish cul­ture as Christ­mas in this city is dif­fer­ent from the rest. Main­tain­ing its tra­di­tional roots, you will see how dif­fer­ently peo­ple cel­e­brate this fes­ti­val here. The 175-year-old Tivoli Park comes to life where kids can take pic­tures with Santa and his sleigh. The pic­ture post­card area Ny­havn trans­forms into a par­adise with res­tau­rants, shops and mar­kets lined up to make your evening glo­ri­ous. If you want to wit­ness the fes­tive spirit, gather up at the Kron­prin­sens­gade where the en­tire street is shim­mer­ing with lights and fi­nally head to the City Hall where the hu­mon­gous Christ­mas tree is lit with 800 LED lights and 100 Christ­mas hearts. Fab­u­lous, isn’t it? INFO: Flights to Den­mark take around 7 hours; cost around Dhs 3023 via Emi­rates

Za­greb

Their win­ter mar­ket was voted the best in a poll by Euro­pean Best Des­ti­na­tions so with that said, you need to visit this daz­zling city. Ben Jelacic Square is a vi­brant place to be, from con­cert line­ups to ac­tiv­i­ties, give­aways, food and Christ­mas trees, this place has it all. Zrin­je­vac Park is one of the most pic­turesque ar­eas to spec­tate over the twin­kling lights and if you want to have a joy­ous time, head to the Tomis­lav Square to take part in the ice-rink com­pe­ti­tions.

To make your trip even more worth­while, pub­lic trans­port is com­pletely free from De­cem­ber 1 un­til the Jan­uary 7 on the week­ends in Zone One which is the heart of the city. INFO: Flights to Za­greb take around 6 hours and cost around Dhs 2789 via Emi­rates

New York

It’s a mys­ti­cal time in New York when Christ­mas de­scends es­pe­cially at the Rock­e­feller Cen­tre

where one of the big­gest trees is put on dis­play right along­side their fa­mous ice rink. Since we’re talk­ing about ice rinks, how can we not men­tion the ice rink at Bryant Park

where more than 100 shops come to­gether for Christ­mas sales?

Visit the ten-storey Sak Av­enue store on Fifth Av­enue; they have an LED pro­jec­tor which show­cases Christ­mas story snip­pets every few min­utes on the mas­sive build­ing. The neigh­bour­hood of Dyker Heights is an­other place not to miss es­pe­cially if you want to see the houses com­pet­ing against each other for the best decor. Cen­tral Park too is a de­light­ful place to spend the evenings es­pe­cially since it’s buzzing with peo­ple and the frozen lakes add to the ef­fect of Christ­mas.

INFO: Flights to New York takes around 14 hours and cost around Dhs 4138 via Emi­rates

Helsinki

Christ­mas is a year-round cel­e­bra­tion here as this city is very close to La­p­land which is home to Santa Claus, a mustvisit. Alek­san­terinkatu is the Christ­mas Street of the city, with spec­tac­u­lar lights on dis­play. When it comes to Christ­mas mar­kets, there is not one but sev­eral and the highly rec­om­mended one would be at the Se­nate Square. A fun fact: the Fin­nish peo­ple usu­ally start Christ­mas eve with a soak in the hot sauna and later take a splash in the freez­ing Baltic Sea. Don’t miss out on the Win­ter Cir­cus which show­cases tal­ented artists per­form­ing dance and ac­ro­bat­ics. Lastly, you can make the most of this city by go­ing ski­ing or dog sledg­ing. INFO: Flights takes around 7 hours; cost around Dhs 994 via Nor­we­gian Air­lines.

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