The UK is cold and cosy in winter, but there’s one thing missing – snow. Snow means making snowballs, building snowmen and sledging down a hill. It means a sense of winter excitement that nothing else can match. It means a true white Christmas.
If you’ve been dreaming of a white Christmas – or a snow holiday in general – here are four destinations where you’ll be sure to get it. Winter is also the tourist off season, so you can explore undisturbed and get amazing deals. With weekly direct or easy one-stop flights from Birmingham Airport, you’ll be walking in a winter wonderland soon.
Winter is a magical time in the Danish capital. Gentle snow, cobblestone streets, a festive spirit and lots of culture – it’s a very inviting place to spend a chilly week. You’ll feel like you’ve escaped into a fairy-tale.
Enjoy the arts: Copenhagen’s arts calendar is packed in winter. CPH PIX, an international film festival, runs from late October to early November, with another documentary film festival in March. In February, two major music festivals – Frost and Vinterjazz – host concerts throughout the city. Also check out one of the area’s art museums, like the gorgeous Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
Wander around town: Copenhagen’s small scale makes it perfect for a winter stroll. Head to the leafy suburb of Frederiksberg or visit Christiania, a nonconformist enclave with lots of personality. If you’re feeling brave, join in the Scandinavian winter tradition of an ice cold dip in the ocean. If that sounds too arctic, board a heated boat tour through the canals and watch the city go by.
Soak up Christmas spirit: Christmas is a big deal in Copenhagen. The Tivoli Gardens amusement park is decorated in its winter theme, with fairy lights and garlands on every surface. In November and December, it hosts a magnificent Christmas Market. Drink a warm mug of gløgg (mulled wine) or julebryg, Carlsberg’s dark Christmas beer.
Toronto is a tourism underdog and its winters get a bad rap, but this bustling city caters to sports fans, foodies and families alike. Even though it gets less snow than Montreal or Ottawa, there’s still lots of wintry fun to be had.
Have fun in the snow: Toronto isn’t known for its skiing, but it’s a great place to skate and sledge. It has more free skating surfaces than any other city, with 50 public artificial outdoor rinks. If you’re not the best skater, try tobogganing down snowy slopes in parks like Trinity Bellwoods and Riverdale Park.
Catch hockey fever: Even if you’re not a fan, ice hockey is exhilarating to watch. If you can get tickets, watch Toronto’s professional team, the Maple Leafs, or catch a Ryerson university game. Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame – the world’s largest collection of hockey memorabilia – to learn more about Canada’s favourite game.
Feast on food: Toronto’s culinary culture reflects the diversity of its population. Sample the scene during Winterlicious, a two-week food festival at the end of January that offers prix fixe menus at over 200 restaurants. To get delicious food souvenirs, like pure maple syrup, stop by the historic St. Lawrence Market.
Iceland in winter is like another world – stunning landscapes blanketed in snow, with only a few hours of sunlight each day. Quainter and more compact than most capital cities, Reykjavík has lots of amenities to keep you occupied as well.
Be in awe of nature: Use Reykjavík as a base to explore Iceland’s famous natural phenomena. Clear, crisp winter nights offer the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Glaciers, caves, geysers and more will be yours to explore. You don’t have to settle for seeing the sights from a car window, either. You can ski, dog sleigh, hike, ride a snowmobile or take a helicopter tour.
Get festive: Icelanders love Christmas, so Reykjavík comes alive at this time of year. Decorations spring up across the city, Christmas markets sell traditional treats and cultural institutions like the Iceland Symphony Orchestra hold concerts. The fireworks on New Year’s Eve cap off the holiday season.
Pamper yourself: Reykjavík is famous for its geothermal heated pools. These natural hot springs are the perfect place to bliss out, even in winter. It’s surreal to be outside surrounded by snow, and be warm and cosy in the water. The minerals will leave your skin smooth and refreshed.
It’s true – Chicago is freezing in winter. But that’s the whole point – you can enjoy the snow for a while and then cosy up inside. The city is full of holiday spirit, cultural activities and yummy food.
Feel the holiday spirit: Chicagoans know how to do Christmas, so there are plenty of festivities. The German-style Christkindlmarket has crafts, food and entertainment. Go on rides and slides at the Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier. See the twinkling lights along Magnificent Mile or at Lincoln Park Zoo. Ice skate against the city’s backdrop in Millennium Park.
See a show: Chicago is a theatre town. You can see big-name Broadway musicals, as well as excellent plays at theatres like Steppenwolf and the Goodman. Check out a comedy show at The Second City, known for launching the careers of comedians like Tina Fey and Bill Murray. Also, don’t miss the acclaimed Joffrey Ballet performing The Nutcracker in December.
Try fine dining: Deep dish pizza isn’t the only food Chicago has to offer. Steaks and oysters at Bavette’s, modern American cuisine at Girl and the Goat, authentic Mexican food in Little Village – it’s all here. Chicago Restaurant Week at the end of January has great deals.