December: time to put away your passport and reach for the mince pies? Not necessarily. There’s still time to squeeze another adventure out of 2016 – all while enjoying the spirit of the season.
With its plunging pine-clad valleys and distant mountain views, Dalhousie is another of those cool hill retreats left behind by the British. The picturesque town looks magnificent in December with its snow flake covered Deodar forests. However, if you love to play in the snow, then winters is the ideal time to visit.
Since 1993, festival lovers have been flocking to the small seaside town of Lorne for the annual Falls Music and Arts Festival, which kicks off at the end of December and carries on into the new year. Lorne comes alive in December, with endless sunshine, a thriving arts scene and ample opportunity for fish and chips by the ocean. A short drive past Apollo Bay will have you surrounded by wild koalas asleep in the trees.
Edinburgh boasts long days and arty festivities in summer. But it’s also a city of snug pubs, atmospheric wynds (alleys) and dark tales: this is the place that raised the creators of Sherlock Holmes and Jekyll and Hyde. That makes December a fine time to visit Scotland’s capital, when you’ll also find sights like Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Yacht Britannia far quieter than they are in high season.
There are celebrations through the month – an open-air ice rink in Princes Street Gardens means you can pirouette (or wobble) under the shadow of the castle, and nearby Christmas markets and a fairground entertain all visitors. But things really get going in the run-up to New Year. The Hogmanay street party turns Princes Street into a vast, pulsing throng of booze and bonhomie on 31 December.
Travellers are spoilt for choice during Dubai’s cooler season, with sport events, concerts, parties and celebrations keeping everyone busy. The month kicks off with some patriotic celebrations on 2 December, as the UAE celebrates its 45th National Day. Expect fireworks, parades and plenty of enthusiastic flag-waving during the public holiday.
Throughout the rest of the month, it’s one glamorous event after another. Rub shoulders with Dubai’s high society while watching the horses at the Meydan Races – a real glimpse into the lifestyles of the UAE’s fabulously wealthy; see a movie at the Dubai International Film Festival; get into the sporting spirit for the three-day Rugby Sevens tournament; and to wrap up the month, splash some cash at the Dubai Shopping Festival. After all that excitement, anyone in serious need of a holiday can flop down on the beach for a few days.
After all, ‘cooler’ season in Dubai still means warm weather and glorious sunshine.
Croatia’s capital Zagreb comes into its own in winter, offering a hamper of seasonal treats, from Christmas markets to ski slopes. The city will be brimming over with festive spirit between 26 November 2016 and 8 January 2017. Several central squares are filled with illuminated market stalls – the perfect place to sup mulled wine, nibble on gingerbread hearts and shop for glittering Christmas decorations and gifts.