The December Travel Guide

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For most of us, December is one of the chilliest and busiest months of the year. Towns and cities twinkle with Christmas lights and festive markets pop up decorated like gingerbread houses (and they tend to smell just as sweet too!). While families across the UK scramble to reunite by the 25th, elsewhere on the planet, other seasonal traditions might have already taken place… In Norway, where the main celebrations happen on Christmas Eve, families congregate on the 23rd for Little Christmas Eve; Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated in some European countries on the 6th, when children are left small gifts and sweets in shoes and stockings; and in China, the winter solstice means eating dumplings and tang yuan (rice flour balls), and visiting the graves of relatives. December doesn’t have to be all about Christmas though. Here’s what else is going on in the world in the last month of 2023…

Konya Whirling Dervishes Festival, 7-17 December

The Turkish city of Konya celebrates the life and work of the 13th-century poet and Islamic philosopher Rumi each December. Rumi believed that dance and music lead to higher consciousness, so performances are central to the festival. One of the most famous events, the Mevlevi Sema ceremony, is actually recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and involves a number of dancers whirling in white outfits, making for a mesmerising spectacle.

Dickens Festijn, Deventer, 16-17 December

This year, the 31st edition of the Dickens Festival will be celebrated in the city of Deventer in the Netherlands. Over the weekend, the city centre will be transformed into 19th-century London and well-known characters, from Oliver Twist to Scrooge, will wander the ancient streets. Food trucks sell festive treats including mulled wine and chestnuts, and a Christmas market takes place too. The festival was first started by a woman who owns a small Charles Dickens museum in the city, and it has become more and more popular over the years.

Festival of Lights, Lyon, 7-10 December

Lyon’s annual Festival of Lights stems all the way back to 1852 when the residents of the city placed candles at their windows in a show of solidarity after a year of unrest and volatile weather. The event has now evolved into a four-night affair that sees artists illuminate Renaissance facades and popular areas all over the city with dazzling light displays.

Burning the Clocks, Brighton, 21st December


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In Brighton, the winter solstice is celebrated each year with a parade and a bonfire. Partakers make their own paper and willow lanterns and walk with them through the city before adding them to the fire on Brighton Beach. The event marks the turning of the year, but is also said to represent new beginnings and fresh starts.

Where’s hot?

The mesmerising Moroccan city of Marrakech can be unbearably hot in the summer months, especially when wandering around exploring. In December however, temperatures drop to around 20°C, making it comfortable for walking around and sightseeing. Why not stay in a palatial riad for the ultimate experience? The tiled interior courtyards are often abundant with flora and sometimes feature a pool — you’d certainly be the envy of all those shivering at home!

Where to book now…


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Why not book a wintry staycation to look forward to? You could luxuriate in one of Bath’s dreamy spas or expand your palate with a foodie jaunt to one of our many Michelin-starred restaurants