In Australia, most of us only ever dream of a white Christmas. Sure, we have some lovely beaches, and cherries and stone fruits are in season. There's an abundance of seafood and the iconic Christmas prawns, great for BBQs and outdoor living. But if your dream is to get away from the heat and busy shops, why not stop dreaming and experience a real white Christmas?
There are plenty of travel destinations where you can be sure of snow at Christmas. Holiday travel can be busy, so be sure to search Aunt Betty for cheap fares to your chosen White Christmas destination. Here are just a few suggestions to stir your imagination.
1. Lapland, Finland
Lapland is in the Arctic circle, so snow is guaranteed. The village of Rovaniemi in Lapland is said to be the home of St. Nick and is also known as Santa's Village. There are numerous hotels in Lapland offering warm and comfortable surroundings and spectacular views of the Arctic sky and Northern Lights. Rovaniemi is home to the iconic Snow Hotel, much of which is built from snow and ice. Glass roofed igloo accommodation at the Snow Hotel offers excellent opportunities for viewing the Northern Lights. You can also go for a reindeer-drawn sleigh ride, or skiing at Levi, the largest ski-resort in Lapland. For more sights and adventures in Lapland, check out this guide.
2. St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg is near the coast, so it does not experience the extremes of weather found in some parts of Russia. This means that the temperature seldom drops below minus 10, but snow during December is guaranteed. Just what you need for a white Christmas.
In Russia, Christmas is not celebrated until January 6th, so businesses are generally open on Christmas Day. In St. Petersburg, the canals which surround the city freeze over during winter and the streets are covered with snow. There are several Christmas markets to be enjoyed set against the stunning backdrop of St. Petersburg's historic buildings with their brightly coloured minarets.
Ice-skating is popular around the city, and if you choose to go to Krestovsky Island to enjoy ice-skating, you can also visit the reindeer farm which is located nearby. You can also enjoy a ride around one of the city's parks on a troika (a traditional Russian vehicle drawn by three horses). For more adventures exploring this historic city, check out this guide.
3. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen, in the Rocky Mountains, has an impeccable 100% record for snow at Christmas. If you enjoy skiing, it's an ideal location to spend your Christmas, with four ski areas catering for skill levels from beginner to advanced. A range of other outdoor pursuits is also available for non-skiers. These include ice-skating, snow-shoe tours, snow-mobile tours and tours on a horse-drawn carriage as well as shopping or browsing in the mall.
Aspen really kicks off its shoes over the Christmas season with the annual 12 days of Aspen celebration which commences on the 20th December each year. This celebration includes community activities suited to all ages, including art activities and hot cocoa for the kids. For more ideas on what Christmas in Aspen has to offer, check out this guide.
4. Banff, Canada
If your dream is to get away from it all and enjoy some quiet moments in nature with your chosen companions, Banff is the answer. Snowfall starts in Banff in November, so there is sure to be plenty around by Christmas. Banff itself offers all the necessities, comforts and luxuries to make your stay enjoyable.
Close by is Banff National Park and Lake Louise village and ski resort. While Christmas is celebrated with activities over a six-week period, there are plenty of opportunities for peace and quiet times. There are quiet walks alongside Lake Minnewanka, hot springs to warm up, and the option of a sleigh ride or dog-sledding adventure. You may catch sight of the Northern Lights in the evening. For the more adventurous and athletic, there is the option of hiring ice-skates, snowshoes or skis to skate, explore or soar down the snow-covered slopes.
5. Swiss Alps, Switzerland
The snow-capped Swiss Alps are ideal for a white Christmas. There are several locations to choose between, including Zermatt, St. Moritz and Davos/Klosters. Each of these is a ski resort, high in the Alps and perfect for combining Christmas with a skiing holiday. You can enjoy skiing during the day, with warm and comfortable accommodation at night, and a range of apres-ski activities. If you do not intend to ski, you may prefer to book accommodation nearby and travel by train into the Alps for visits during the day. Either way, you are sure to enjoy a white Christmas.