5 cities that celebrate a sunny Christmas

The world’s largest floating Christmas tree in the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon

How about you skip the bone-chilling cold, swap the snow with sand and have a sunny sunny Christmas instead? Before you think otherwise, celebrating this festival in a warm place does not mean you have to deny yourself the traditional stuff that makes Christmas so special. Our list of five cities is all about keeping up with the festive spirit and beating the chill.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil’s party city knows how to live it up to any festival and they make no exception during Christmas. On 1 December they unveiled the world’s largest floating Christmas tree over the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. This humongous tree (279 feet) is illuminated by about 3.1 million lights. Besides this, there are extended shopping hours and every corner of the city is decked up to keep up the festive spirit. You can have a look at Christmas Crib Festival at Jardim de Alah. And while you are here stay on till New Year’s Eve and bid farewell to 2014 by attending the year’s biggest party at Copacabana Beach. At midnight there is a 15-20 minute fireworks display.

Dubai, UAE

A North Pole train ride, snowfall, gingerbread houses, a chocolate river and of course exquisitely decorated Christmas trees – this is how Dubai celebrates Christmas. There are plenty of activities and events taking place across the city. If you go with kids don’t skip the Winterland Festive Village at Atlantis, The Palm Dubai. It’s got everything kids will love, from a chocolate river, a variety of Christmas goodies, gifts and also an underwater Santa. If that’s not enough they can wish for something at Santa’s Grotto at WAFI Mall where there will be elves to entertain them. The Souk Festive Market at Madinat Jumeirah is something that will appeal to all ages. Besides usual Christmas activities they have live cooking stations, an ice-skating rink and a huge snow globe. They organise a lovely brunch on Christmas. Most hotels, malls, restaurants have special themes and open for extended hours during these days.


Orchard Road, Singapore dressed in a million lights


Take a walk down Orchard Road and chances are that you may not be able to recognise it, for it is illuminated with a million lights as each hotel and mall on that road competes for the Best Dressed Building Award. Moreover, there are street performances, fairy-tale castles, reindeer decorations etc. And how can we forget the shopping promotions. We suggest that you stay on till New Year’s Eve for it won’t get bigger or better than this. Marina Bay will host a huge sound and sight show against a backdrop of 25,000 spheres afloat on water. Even Universal Studios has several events lined up for the festive season.

Cape Town, South Africa

From lovely Christmas markets, picnics on beaches, Santa Claus at street corners to a recycled Christmas tree, sunny Cape Town is as festive as they come. Edgemead Christmas market is one of the biggest ones in the city and has gorgeous crafts, curios and gifts that you can pick up. Other popular Christmas markets are the All Star Market with more than 100 local crafters, Root 44 Christmas Market and many others. Don’t forget to visit Christmas Wonderland, a Christmas village where you can find anything and everything related to the festival. The entire place transforms into a white land with parades, trees, themed food stalls, Santa’s workshop and much more. If that’s not enough the annual Cape Town Summer Market at Company’s Garden has a recycled Christmas Tree made from old enamel plates and mugs. Most restaurants in the city have special menus so go ahead and spoil yourself silly.

The light and sound show at St Mary’s cathedral in Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

Every nook and corner of this swanky Australian city is decorated with lights, Christmas trees, wreaths, mistletoes and of course there’s Santa Claus at popular public places and malls. Shopping centres in CBD, Parramatta, Bondi Junction, Penrith and Liverpool are going to be open for 24 hours. There are many events in Sydney including Christmas walks that takes you past the interactive Christmas tree in Martin Place. There’s a lovely light and sound show at St Mary’s cathedral where the facade of the cathedral is illuminated. Don’t miss the LEGO tree outside Westfield Sydney in Pitt Street Mall.

AUTHOR'S BIO: Pallavi Pasricha is a traveller and foodie by heart. She has travelled to several places, but that never seems to be enough and she’s always planning a new trip. She combines her obsession of travel with photography and is currently working as a Commissioning Editor with Lonely Planet India.