Christmas with a twist

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Marrakesh is a shoppers paradise
Christmas with a twist

Not all of us love yuletide and season’s greetings, but you don’t have to go into hibernation to avoid the same five songs repeated on the radio, roads blocked with holiday traffic and of course, the inevitable bad cracker jokes.

Don’t be left out in the cold this Christmas. Bin the Brussels sprouts and trash the tacky tinsel; here are a few of our seasonal escapes that are really worth celebrating. Take a look to see how you can enjoy Christmas with a twist this year…

Get the Gifts

Marrakesh is a shoppers paradise

Marrakesh is a shoppers paradise

Souks are not only cheaper, but an authentic Moroccan gift is really something you can present with pride. Forget the unforgiveable talcum powder cop-out and replace with a real beauty treatment, Argan oil, or any number the handicrafts to be found here; it’s the perfect place to find a keepsake after a thrilling week cycling through this varied Muslim kingdom.

Suggested trip

Jebel Sahro Ride & Marrakech

Put up the Decorations

Indian women at Sacred tank, Pushkar

Indian women at Sacred tank, Pushkar

English Christmas comes with a uniform; gold, green and scarlet. For a kaleidoscope of vibrant swirling saris and shimmering rainbow streets, head for Rajasthan in Northern India, where vibrancy and beauty are part of everyday life. No seasonal restrictions here; just a riot of celebratory colour every day.

Suggested trip 

Colours of Rajasthan

Time with the Relatives

Gorilla - AYU

Fitting in time with your folks is pretty standard, but why not widen the visiting to your extended family? Coming face to face with an endangered Mountain gorilla is a Christmas encounter you will never forget, as a huge silverback stumbles out of the bamboo forest – better than any present you could find under the Christmas tree.

Suggested trip 

Gorillas & Masai Mara

Listen to the Carol Singers

Locals playing musical instruments, Cuba

Locals playing musical instruments, Cuba

No Silent Nights here! The Cuban music scene is no secret; from tavernas spilling light out onto the street with a chorus of hallelujah to guitarists striking up a tune amidst the crumbling charm of Havana, the tropical island echoes with song, so you can leave the hymn books at home and still be serenaded – just in the sunshine.

Suggested trip 

Cuba: La Isla Grande

Go to the Theatre

Trekkers silhouetted against Annapurna Sanctuary

Trekkers silhouetted against Annapurna Sanctuary

Keep the drama of the stage without the pantomime slapstick and spend Christmas enjoying nature’s show-stopping theatrical number: the Annapurna Circuit natural amphitheatre. This alpine performance needs no introduction or special effects to enhance it; the lighting is all natural and you’re guaranteed a front row seat.

Suggested trip 

Annapurna Sanctuary

Enter a Real Winter Wonderland

Oulanka National Park

Oulanka National Park

For a winter with credibility, Finland’s winter wilderness is the white Christmas you dreamed of as a child. Frolic on snowshoes, build your own igloo and spot grazing reindeer as an bounding team of huskies whisk you across a frozen, snow-draped land. Bliss.

Suggested trip 

Finnish Wilderness Week

Christmas Dinner with a Difference

Sri Lankan curry

Sri Lankan curry

Roast turkey can go get stuffed this year. Sri Lankan fare exemplifies the old adage that variety is the spice of life, with everyone from highflying chefs to your average family cook embracing the rich variety of flavours to hand. Spicy curries are soothed with sweet coconut cream and juicy dessert platters piled high with luxurious heaps of delicious fresh fruit picked straight off the tree.

Suggested trip

Sri Lankan Highlights

The Guilty Boxing Day Outing

Cooped up indoors all day eating too much has the same effect year on year; the guilt-ridden Boxing Day outing in an attempt to shift the sluggishness. Why not avoid it completely with a guilt-free bike ride? Cycle away the clichés on an adrenaline adventure across Nepal. Weaving around the foothills of the highest mountains on Earth is nothing short of pedalling perfection.

Suggested trip 

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