With the exception of when I was living in Cuernavaca, Mexico, I’ve never actually traveled during the month of December (flying home from Hawaii on December 1 and day trips to nearby places do not count). When I studied abroad in college, it was always during either the spring or summer and my vacations and smaller trips have always happened during the rest of the year. I think some of the reason for this is that I don’t want to have to wait until the very end of the year to go on a trip; however, I know that the five destinations I listed below would probably be extremely magical in December.
-Christmas markets (anywhere in Europe)
I “like” the Visit Bruges page on Facebook and so for the past couple of weeks I have been “teased” with the incredible images of the Christmas market that is now taking place in the city’s Markt. Although I always enjoy visiting new places (i.e. I’d love to go to a Christmas market in Prague or a city in Germany), if someone said, here’s a free plane ticket and accommodations to see Bruges during the holidays, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down. Pittsburgh is featuring its own Christmas market for the second year in a row, but it’s still in infancy I’d say.
-Taos, New Mexico
This New Mexican town seems to put on the best Christmas festivities. Featuring everything from a street being lit up with luminarias (paper lanterns) and nightly posadas, ceremonial reenactments of Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging, it’s a place I would love to experience firsthand. I’ve also never been to New Mexico before so that would be another added plus.
-Quebec City, Quebec
I really enjoyed my visit to Montreal this summer; however, Montreal is still an extremely large city. Quebec City is much smaller than it’s province neighbor and also from what I’ve read has a larger and more intimate historic area, (i.e. think cobblestone streets that make one feel as if he has been transported back in time). Although I’m sure the winter cold would be brutal, I’m ready to brave it for the Christmas season.
-Somewhere in the Scandinavian region to see the Northern Lights
As a child I adored the American Girl dolls and while I did not get the Kirsten doll until I was an adult, I still had read all of the Swedish doll’s books. As such I’ve always been fascinated by the cultural traditions surrounding St. Lucia Day which is a festival of lights. This holiday is celebrated in Sweden, Norway, and the Swedish speaking parts of Finland in honor of St. Lucia, one of the earliest Christian martyrs. So that paired with seeing the Northern Lights (an occurrence I’ve read is much better to view during the cold, winter months) would be incredible I think.
Even though winter is still not for a couple of weeks, Pittsburgh has already had some bitter cold temperatures along with snow (yes, snow-one would think we’re in New England or far out west). Although Christmas is always paired with cold weather (open fires) and winter wonderlands, I can’t say that I wouldn’t mind experiencing Christmas one year in blissfully warm weather, complete with trips to outdoor pools and the beach. We’ll see.