‘Tis the season for hot chocolate, Christmas markets and New Year resolutions. There is no better way to take in the holiday spirit than by traveling during the month of December which can be one of the most magical and enchanting experiences. These festivals are the perfect addition to your travel itinerary.
Klausjagen, Küssnacht am Rigi, Switzerland, Dec. 5th
Klaus procession is one of the most impressive St. Nicholas traditions in Europe. On the Eve of St. Nicholas Day in Küssnacht am Rigi, Switzerland, locals celebrate a mix of ancient pagan rites of chasing away evil spirits and blessing the arrival of the season of St Nicholas. A procession with around 200 Iffele (illuminated ornaments), followed by St. Nicholas and archaic noise from over 1,000 chasers is watched every year by up to 20,000 spectators. The streets echo with the ringing of heavy bells, the sound of horns and above all by strange triad rhythms of the brass music. This is definitely not your average Christmas celebration.
The Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, Dec. 12th
Staged on the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Winterfest is best known for it’s one of a kind Boat Parade. Private boats, giant showboats and corporate megayachts adorned with hundreds of thousands of lights, music, entertainment, decorations, celebrities, musical groups, beauty queens and other exciting entries are viewed by over one million spectators. Not only is the parade the largest, one-day, live audience of any event in Florida, but also the seventh largest one-day spectator event in the country! Other Winterfest events include the Black Tie Ball, Grand Marshall Experience and White Party.
Burning the Clocks, Brighton, England, Dec. 21st
Burning the Clocks is a unique festival of light and art that brings the city of Brighton, England together to mark the Winter Solstice. The festival was created in 1994 by the award-winning community arts charity, Same Sky, as a way to celebrate the holiday spirit regardless of people’s religious beliefs. Leading up to the event, people are encouraged to create their own unique lanterns made from willow canes or bamboo and white tissue paper. After carrying them through the city in a lantern parade, they pass them into the fire on Brighton beach, as a token of the year’s end. A dazzling fire show is set in motion, in which a massive fire sculpture is ignited, live music plays and fireworks light up the sky!
Hogmanay, Edinburgh, Scotland, Dec 30th – Jan 1st
Hogmanay is the biggest street party in all of Scotland. Highlighted as one of the ‘Top 100 things to do before you die’ and recently the only festival to appear in the ‘Discovery Channel – Top 25 World Travel Experiences,’ Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party is one of the world’s greatest New Year celebrations. Festivities begin with the Torchlight Procession where participants carrying flaming torches in Viking attire, head along the Royal Mile and onto Calton Hill, where a replica Viking longship is set alight. Following the next day with the Street Party, The Old Town Ceilidh, live music at the Concert in the Gardens, and Candlelit Concert at St. Giles’ Cathedral all leading up to Midnight Moment. Consisting of four fireworks displays every hour starting at 9 p.m., these displays light up the skies above the capital from Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill.
The Scots don’t end there! The next day, thousands of people take part in the breathtaking Stoats Loony Dook at South Queensferry – the annual dip in the freezing River Forth which lies in the shadow of the world-famous Forth Bridges. The three-day event ends with “The Final Fling.” This closing event includes music, dancing and Ceilidh Callers from Edinburgh’s top ceilidh outfit, the Portobello Ceilidh Band.