For some of us, Christmas is an awesome time of year; for others of us it’s just a bit, well… meh. Many a Christmas has been wasted feeling ill after too much Christmas pudding or mince pies, unwrapping yet more pants from a great auntie you’ve never met before and falling asleep in front of the TV while watching the worst Hollywood kids’ movie ever.
It’s becoming increasingly popular to refrain from buying presents at this time of year and saving the money to go somewhere alternative with your family or friends. Whether it’s somewhere within the UK or further afield, and whatever your budget, here are a few outlandish suggestions.
A Cuban Christmas in Havana
If you’re sick of the capitalist Christmas celebrations in countries like the UK and USA, head for Cuba where Christmas was officially banned by Fidel Castro in 1969 until Pope John Paul II reinstated it in 1997. Christmas is a low-key affair in the Cuban capital of Havana, so spend it knocking back mojitos and smoking cigars on the beach. You can also hire a 1950s Cadillac, getting the driver to show you the sites, and if you’re lucky you may stumble upon a firework display or concert of traditional Cuban music. As they say in Spanish, Feliz Navidad!
A Beach Bum’s Christmas in Croyde
It’s becoming something of a tradition among surfers to wax up a plank and hit the waves on Christmas Day. I can certainly think of no better way to burn off those festive calories than by surfing in the brisk Atlantic Ocean in Devon and Cornwall. One of the best places to visit is Croyde Bay, a picturesque North Devon village with some of the best waves in the entire country. In winter, the tourists all but disappear and you can have the place more or less to yourself. Ruda Holiday Park offers lodges and caravans, along with a seaside disco where you can dance the night away to 90s classics.
A Yogi Christmas in Goa
Instead of sitting around in an arm chair and watching EastEnders (which could give you a bad back) you might want to head to the golden beaches of Goa on a yoga retreat.
An Ashtanga detox may be just what you need to relax your mind and body after a hectic year and to recharge your batteries for 2013. Goa at Christmas can be a rather hectic place of partying, but Purple Valley is a peaceful yoga retreat off the beaten track where you can get away from it all. Look out for yoga sessions in the morning and afternoon with fresh vegetarian food and world-class yoga teachers.
A Country Christmas in Nashville
If you just can’t escape Christmas, why not do the opposite and head for the most Christmassy place you can think of. This place might just be ‘A Country Christmas’, the annual festive extravaganza at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Every December, this town-sized holiday resort is lit up by nearly two million Christmas lights, attracting tourists from far and wide. Horse-drawn carriages, ice sculptures and giant Shrek characters round off the experience in what has been dubbed ‘the most Christmassy hotel in the world.’
An Outlandish Christmas on Branson’s Private Island
If fortune has been kind to you and you have money to burn, why not splash out £24,000 per night to stay on British billionaire Richard Branson’s exclusive Necker Island? This gives you and up to 28 other guests exclusive access to the Caribbean island with just 31 staff and a range of exotic animals for company. Activities include a full programme of water sports and lounging around in a hammock all day. Its snow white sand certainly trumps the UK’s half-hearted smattering of snow any day of the week.
Author Bio: Matt is a London-based travel blogger currently working with HotelClub UK. When he isn’t being a Grinch and complaining about Christmas, you can find him exploring London or playing the guitar.