TIMPI Top Picks for December
So, the time has come. Santa has awoken from his slumber and is hard at work visiting grottos, prepping the reindeers, and making presents. The rest of us, in the meantime, are drinking mulled wine, impersonating Bambi on ice, and heading home with a wet bottom. Well, it’s time to pick those bottoms back up, because we’ve found a whole host of other activities for you to do this Christmas – and, you’ll be pleased to hear, none of them involve an ice rink (ok, maybe just one).
Top event picks
Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland, London
Love it or hate it, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is becoming as traditional to Christmas as the humble mince pie. Incorporating Christmas markets, fairground rides, live music, shows and ice skating (we did warn you), it is a huge festive extravaganza you’ll want to see at least once. Open from 17th December – 1st January, we’d recommend going on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Menorah on Trafalgar Square
If fairground rides and ice kingdoms aren’t your thing, skip them and head to Trafalgar Square instead. From 12th – 20th December, the square will be home to a giant menorah, which will be lit each day to celebrate the Jewish festival of lights, Chanukah. Time it well, and you’ll also hear one of the many carol singing groups, as they gather beneath the iconic Christmas tree.
Nutcracker at London Coliseum
Following last year’s success, English National Ballet’s Nutcracker is back with its classic winter tale. To catch the magic, pirouette your way to London Coliseum between 13th December and 6th January.
Ice Music at Southbank Centre
Part of Nordic Matters, Norwegian percussion musician and composer, Terje Isungset, will be proving just that as he performs with ice instruments on 15th December at Southbank Centre. Yes, there’s even an ice horn. Get there quick, before it melts.
The Peter Pan Cup, London
Due to a tradition dating back to 1864, Serpentine Swimming Club members will spend their Christmas morning battling the freezing waters of the lake in a bid to win gold. We suggest you stick to your chocolate coins, but go watch the madness from the sidelines.
Wild Card Pick
Fiesta de Santo Tomás, Guatemala
Set high up in the mountains, the sleepy Guatemalan town, Chichicastenango, can, for most of the year, easily go unnoticed. Come 13th December, however, and the town comes alive with dance, parades and fireworks – all in aid of its patron saint, St Thomas. Seems like pretty typical celebrations, right? Not so much. On the 21st (St Thomas’ Day), things take a turn skywards, as costumed dancers climb 30m wooden poles, only to leap off them bungee-style with a mere rope for support. If you didn’t already have a reason to go to Guatemala, you do now.
Destinations to visit in December
Cologne & Berlin , Germany
Where, you ask? We’re no stranger to a German-themed Christmas market, here in the UK. We’ve got them popping up everywhere, from Bath to Edinburgh to London. So it’s easy to dismiss flying elsewhere to experience one. But, until you do, you’ll never know how good the real thing really is. So jump on a quick (and cheap) flight, grab yourself a Glühwein, and wander amid the many stalls sat on the cobbles. Whether you choose Cologne, Berlin or Dusseldorf, it doesn’t matter - they’ll all leave you feeling suitably festive and extremely full.
Cancun Riviera, Mexico
You definitely won’t need a Glühwein here – Mexico is sizzling at this time of year. With temperatures hitting 28 degrees, there is no better place to go than the Riviera Maya. It’s tempting to lie upon one of the many white beaches and remain there for your stay, but there is so much more to see. Enter the waters and you’ll find turtles and tropical fish aplenty, explore on land and you’ll discover the wonders of Chichen Itza and Tulum. Then, spend your evenings feasting on tacos, nachos and margaritas, and you’ll truly think you’ve found paradise.
This is the best time of year to visit the western islands of Thailand, basking in 32 degree heat with no sign of rain. Full of luxury, high end hotels, Phuket is the ideal place to base yourself. And, from here, you can island hop to Koh Hae (Coral Island), Koh Racha and, of course, Koh Phi Phi – the famed set of ‘The Beach’. After doing your best to impersonate Leonardo Dicaprio, make sure to stop off at Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market on the way home.
A holiday like no other, Iceland has so much to offer. Named the land of fire and ice, this is a country packed-full of natural wonders - volcanic landscapes, exploding geysers, and a chance to catch a sighting of the Northern Lights. What’s more, after exploring, you can unwind in a giant geothermal hot tub (the Blue Lagoon). We’ll say no more.