Everyone spends the start and tail end of their years talking about where they should go on their summer holidays … Maybe you’ve just returned from yours and are already started to plan next year’s big sun-kissed break. But what about winter? It doesn’t just have to be a season where you stay inside moaning about how cold it is outside, but could actually be the springboard for one of the best and most unique trips you have ever had – embracing the unique beauty of the season and giving yourself something to really remember 2012 by.

No need to worry about missing your chance this year either, as there is still time to book up and take yourself away this year, booking a last minute break to ensure a white Christmas and a walk through a real winter wonderland (rather than a glum British high-street with the rush for Christmas presents and to get away from the pouring rain). But where should you actually go? Take a stroll through the destinations below and see what enthuses you with the delights of winter!

Experience Christmas the Right Way with Lapland, Finland

Lapland, Finland

Photo: Tarja Ryhannen Mitrovic / Flickr

Reindeers, huskies pulling a sled through the thick snow and the world’s largest snow castle – not to mention the chance to meet Santa Claus himself! Lapland in Finland is the real winter wonderland, and a million miles away from anything you will see back home trying to replicate it. The certainty of snow coupled with the chance to try snowboarding and snow-mobile riding, or simply relax and look out across the crystallised landscape of Lapland will be more than enough to stave off the shivers of the minus-zero temperatures.

Everybody Loves New York

New York, USA

Photo: Loco Steve / Flickr

New York is one of the world’s “must-see” places to visit the whole year round, but when winter hits in and the Christmas lights are turned on, The Big Apple gets that little bit more special, with Times Square lighting up the dark early evening sky, the Statue of Liberty getting an extra big twinkle in her eye and everything being given a whole new injection of life and romance. There’s just something infectious about New York in the winter time – I mean how many movies have you seen that are based in New York at Christmas and leave you feeling warm inside but cold with the thought that you want to be right there yourself.

A sight to behold, New York gets a complete makeover every festive season, with decorations a plenty, giant trees with fairy lights twinkling in the moonlight and of course those world-famous ice-skating rinks.

The Real German Christmas Markets

Christmas Market, Germany

Photo: Loozrboy / Flickr

One of the main highlights of the winter when spending it at home will be taking a trip to the nearest German Christmas market to sample the Bratwurst, the beer and of course the mulled wine. But what if you could experience the real thing – a German Christmas Market in none other than Germany!

No matter how good the Christmas markets you visit at home may be, at the end of the day they are just mere imitations, and the real fun and yuletide excitement comes from the Christmas markets that started the trend centuries ago and still uphold the tradition today. The four Christmas markets dotted throughout Cologne and the huge one in Nuremberg are possibly the best ones to visit, however no matter where you go you will find that the sausages taste extra good and the feeling of taking a sip of some authentic mulled wine while looking up at the backdrop of a beautifully lit Gothic Cathedral spire against the deep night sky can be one of the greatest memories you will ever share with your loved ones. With short and simple breaks available for many of these markets; it can be a winter experience that won’t break the bank either!

Even though the sun seems to be clinging on for dear life after a summer filled with wet weather, it’s time to start thinking the seasons which are fast approaching and how you can make them better than they have ever been before. So exchange the swimming shorts and sunglasses for coats, scarfs and some Christmas cheer and get on your merry way!

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