Looking to use up the last of your holiday allowance with a December break? Some holidaymakers want to go all-out festive at the world's best Christmas markets or snowy wonderlands. Others completely bypass the seasonal madness on a sunny retreat at the best winter sun destinations. Whichever type of break you prefer, we've got some great ideas for where to travel in December.
Vienna goes in for Christmas in a big way, so if you want to enter into the festive spirit in style, you couldn't do better than a December visit to the Austrian capital. The birthplace of Mozart, Freud et. al, this is a city with a rich and fascinating history that you can explore as you navigate the pretty, cobblestoned streets. The beautiful Baroque architecture provides the perfect backdrop to your pre-Christmas excursion, and you can't miss the Adventmarkt, which is Vienna's festive market.
This epic event pitches up outside the Rathaus, the imposing building that serves as Vienna's administrative centre, and you can buy all sorts of festive merchandise in its endless rows of stalls. Elsewhere on the city's streets you can enjoy all the fun of the fair, with ornate ferris wheels and other attractions lighting up the night sky.
What could be more magical in the depths of winter than a trip to the frozen North? Lapland lays claim to being the home of the original Father Christmas, so if you're travelling with children, the appeal of the Finnish wilderness is a no-brainer: book a family room at Santa Claus Village for an easy, fun-packed trip that your kids will never forget. But there are plenty of hibernal delights for adult visitors to appreciate, too, notably the Northern Lights, which you're in with a good chance of catching at this time of year.
Cosy log cabins are the preferred accommodation for visitors to Lapland, but there are plenty of quirky, themed hotels to check out if you're looking for something different. The Arctic Snow Hotel is a fabulous ice palace with all mod cons, while those who love to stargaze can enjoy the comforts of an Arctic glass igloo. Venture out into the vast, snowy plains to take in some of the freshest air you'll ever get to breathe, and you may well catch sight of some bona fide reindeer.
In Edinburgh, the city's New Year's celebrations are stretched out over three days - the perfect way to see in 2018. Hogmanay, as it's called in Scotland, is one of the best new year celebrations you're likely to ever experience. Brimming with concerts, fireworks, street parties and ceilidhs (Kay-lees), the entire city comes alive to celebrate this wonderful time of year together.
For more information, head to the official website, www.edinburghshogmanay.com for advice and tickets.
There are all kinds of compelling reasons to visit Sydney in December. The New South Wales capital holds tremendous travel appeal, whether or not you're able to stay on beyond the end of the month. If you are extending your visit into January, you'll get the chance to witness the wonders of New Year's Eve on the Harbour - with the legendary fireworks behind the Opera House that most of us see only from our screens. With temperatures comfortably in the mid-to-high 20s you'll be visiting right at the start of the Aussie summer, so this is a great opportunity to fully check out of winter for a few weeks and enjoy some genuine no-nonsense sunshine.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague's stunning old town comes to life at Christmas time, with massive fur trees, colourful festive lanterns and of course the annual Christmas Market, which is considered to be one of the best in Europe. Head to the city's historic Wenceslas Square (named after the Good King) to enjoy the delights of the market, which is a haven for foodies. Its stalls are crammed with traditional Czech cuisine, as well as warming mugs of mulled wine and local 'grog', all to the backdrop of glorious carol singers.
On a short city break to Prague you'll have plenty of time to take in the stunning architecture and works of art in its famous galleries, while enjoying the gentle harmonising of carol singers that congregate in the old town.
New York City, USA
There is nowhere quite like New York during the holiday season. The city twinkles with festive lights, Central Park opens up its iconic ice rink, and the storefronts turn into works of art. Not to mention present shopping opportunities that are second-to-none. While December in the Big Apple is certainly chilly, it's one of the best places on Earth to enjoy the build up to Christmas, and this is an experience that should be on your bucket list if you dream of snow, skates and Santa Claus at this time of year.
So grab your warmest parka and a beanie, and prepare to be enchanted.
If you want to look at holiday ideas further than December, check out our recommendations for where to travel in January.