Epiphany Cathedral, Irkutsk (Sundowners Overland)
List Words : Team Wanderlust | 14 October 2019

12 incredible Christmas and New Year breaks for 2019

Not sure where to go this Christmas or New Year? Fly out to one of our off-beat winter destinations and experience the festive season like never before...

Forget the turkey, keep the Christmas tree in the loft and leave those party poppers firmly unpopped – your festive season could be spent exploring, instead.

But we’re not just talking your typical snowy escapes or watching the New Year’s fireworks over Sydney Harbour. These 12 trips prove you can experience the season’s joys a million different ways on your travels…

1. Take the festive season slowly in India

Alternative Christmas in India tour (Wild Frontiers)

Alternative Christmas in India tour (Wild Frontiers)

Avoid the usual rush of visitors to India with Wild Frontiers’ Alternative Christmas in India tour. Spy the icons of Old Delhi before relaxing at the charming Castle Bijaipur heritage hotel among the rolling Aravalli Hills.

Explore this charming slice of rural India by bicycle or horse, then end your magical trip by wandering the Taj Mahal and the Mughal heritage of Kachhpura, with the chilly streets of home a long-distant memory.

Trip: Alternative Christmas In India

Who: Wild Frontiers

Type: Small group

When: Dec

How long: 12 days

How much: From £2,095 (exc. flights)

2. Get a Central American Christmas high in Guatemala

Volcano in Guatemala (KE Adventure Travel)

Volcano in Guatemala (KE Adventure Travel)

Climb Central America’s highest mountain on KE Adventure Travel’s Guatemala’s Magnificent Seven trip.

Summit Tajumulco (4,220m) on Christmas Day, soaking up panoramic altiplano views, then flank your ascent by topping other volcanic peaks along the way, including Pacaya (2,552m) and San Pedro (3,040m), as well as wandering colonial Antigua and the ancient Maya town of Quetzaltenango.

Finish by relaxing on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Bliss.

Trip: Guatemala's Magnificent Seven

Who: KE Adventure Travel 

Type: Small group

When: Dec

How long: 15 days

How much: From £2,455 (incl flights)

3. Celebrate in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, Copacabana style

Rio's famous beach, Brazil (Oasis Overland)

Rio's famous beach, Brazil (Oasis Overland)

Travel from Santiago to Rio Coast to Coast via Patagonia on Oasis Overland’s epic adventure. See the mighty Iguazú Falls, trek past peaks and glaciers in Patagonia and learn to tango in Buenos Aires.

At the trip’s tail end, ring in the festive season in Brazilian style, spending Christmas at a farm lodge in the Pantanal wetlands and New Year’s Eve on Copacabana beach in party capital Rio de Janeiro.

Trip: Santiago to Rio Coast to Coast via Patagonia

Who: Oasis Overland

Trip: Overland

When: Nov & Dec

How long: 51 days

How much: From £1,950 (plus $1,060 local payment; exc. flights)

4. Experience a biblical journey through Jordan and Israel

Tucan Travel's Best of Jordan and Israel trip (Shutterstock)

Tucan Travel's Best of Jordan and Israel trip (Shutterstock)

Head through the Middle East’s Holy Lands on Tucan Travel’s Best of Jordan & Israel trip.

In Jordan, spy the Greco-Roman ruins of Umm Qais and glimpse the wonder of Petra, then hop over to Israel and climb biblical icon the Mount of Olives, before wandering Jerusalem and Nazareth.

What could be more festive?

Trip: Best of Jordan & Israel

Who: Tucan Travel

Type: Small group

When: Selected dates Oct to Mar

How long: 11 days

How much: From £1,490 (plus $200 local payment; exc. flights)

5. See in the New Year - twice - in Finland and Norway

The New Year Twice trip (Artisan Travel)

The New Year Twice trip (Artisan Travel)

Make the most of north Scandinavia’s cross-border time difference on Artisan Travel’s Utsjoki: New Year Twice trip. Be pulled by huskies through pristine alpine forest and hunt for the aurora by night.

And come New Year’s Eve, mark the occasion in Finland before crossing into Norway – an hour behind – to count down the New Year again.

Trip: Utsjoki: New Year Twice

Who: Artisan Travel

Type: Small group

When: Dec

How long: Seven nights

How much: From £2,425 (inc. flights)

6. Go off-grid in Cape Verde

Undiscovered Cape Verde (Ramblers Walking Holidays)

Undiscovered Cape Verde (Ramblers Walking Holidays)

Join Ramblers Walking Holidays on its Undiscovered Cape Verde trip to explore a unique blend of African and Portuguese styles.

Visit Santiago island and the UNESCO listed colonial outpost of Cidade Velha, before hopping over to the isle of São Vicente for volcanic peaks and gorges as far removed from home as it gets.

Trip: Undiscovered Cape Verde

Who: Ramblers Walking Holidays

Type: Small group

When: Dec

How long: 14 nights

How much: From £2,575 (exc. flights)

7. Light up your New Year in Iceland

Reykjavik's firework display (Discover the World)

Reykjavik's firework display (Discover the World)

Mark 2019 in style on Discover the World’s Northern Lights New Year Special tour.

Enjoy the classic Golden Circle trip – waterfalls, geysers and Thingvellir NP – and nights under the stars at a hotel with its own observatory.

Then, see in the New Year in the glow of Kópavogur’s bonfire and Reykjavik’s brilliant firework display.

Trip: Northern Lights New Year Special

Who: Discover the World

When: Dec

How long: Three nights

How much: From £933 (exc. flights)

8. Spend Yuletide on Lake Baikal, Russia

Christmas in Russia (Sundowners Overland)

Christmas in Russia (Sundowners Overland)

Spend the festive season in Siberian Snowscapes with Sundowners Overland as you ride the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Chug the Buddhist outpost of Ulan Ude, snow-strewn taiga forest and historic Irkutsk, then mark Christmas Day on the banks of frozen Lake Baikal with husky sled trips.

Finish in Moscow’s Red Square on New Year’s Eve under a shower of fireworks.

Trip: Winter Trans-Siberian Adventure

Who: Intrepid

Type: Small group

When: Dec

How long: 15 days

How much: From £1,770 (exc. flights)

9. Guarantee a white Christmas in Antarctica

Half Moon Island, Antarctica (Wildfoot)

Half Moon Island, Antarctica (Wildfoot)

‘Tis the season… to join Exodus on its Christmas In Antarctica tour.

Take advantage of 24-hour daylight and spy albatrosses over Drake Passage, see chinstrap penguin colonies on Deception and Half Moon islands and soak up the icy vistas from Neko Harbour.

Cruise between sea ice, complete with snoozing leopard seals, and go ashore to either day hike or kayak the White Continent. Back on the ship, pick up some handy photo tips with resident experts for your expedition.

Trip: Christmas In Antarctica

Who: Exodus

Type: Expedition Cruise

When: Dec

How long: 11 days

How much: From £10,320 (exc. flights)

10. Glide down the Nile in Egypt

Explore Egypt's ancient pyramids and ruins (Abercrombie & Kent)

Explore Egypt's ancient pyramids and ruins (Abercrombie & Kent)

Hop on Abercrombie & Kent’s Egypt & The Nile Escorted Tour and see ancient Egypt unravel from your cabin.

Enjoy the cooler conditions winter brings, exploring the Pyramids of Giza, before flying to Luxor and wandering the Temple of Karnak.

Glimpse the Valley of the Kings before spying other temples – including Abu Simbel – as you ford the Nile and end with a couple of days taking in Cairo’s sights.

Trip: Egypt & The Nile Escorted Tour

Who: Abercrombie & Kent

Type: Small group

When: Dec

How long: Eight nights

How much: From £3,995 (exc. flights)

11. Enjoy a festive frozen adventure in Russia

The Kremlin in Moscow (Regent Holidays)

The Kremlin in Moscow (Regent Holidays)

Begin in Moscow and see its icons thickly wigged with snow before chugging to the lavish architecture of St Petersburg.

Then, pitstop at the 16th century Karelian town of Petrozavodsk before trundling above the Arctic Circle to Murmansk, where you’ll ride a dog sled, keep an eye out for the northern lights and pay a visit to Ded Moroz – Russia’s answer to Father Christmas.

Trip: New Year’s Eve In The Russian Far North, Aboard The Imperial Train

Who: Regent Holidays

Type: Tailor-made

When: Dec

How long: 10 days

How much: From £4,060 (exc. flights)

12. Witness Christmas in USA's wild west

Monument Valley (Grand American Adventures)

Monument Valley (Grand American Adventures)

Be treated to a greatest hits of some of USA’s natural wonders on Grand American Adventures’ Western Explorer tour.

Hunt for bears and deer in Yosemite NP, spy the rust-coloured valleys and hills of Death Valley, spot the oasis-pooled cliffs of Zion NP and gasp at the unique rocks of Bryce Canyon NP.

Spend Christmas Day eating a native Navajo meal among the epic sandstone monoliths of Monument Valley before concluding with a true American icon – the Grand Canyon.

Trip: Western Explorer

Who: Grand American Adventures

Type: Small group

When: Dec

How long: 13 days

How much: From £2,348 (exc. flights)

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