Make this Christmas a warm one with our sizzling winter destinations. As well as soaring temperatures, tan-topping, and one too many cocktails – you can delve into different cultures and celebrate the festive season in a whole new way.
Our list of Christmas destinations will have you partying on the beach at the end of a long year, or putting your feet up as you catch up on that much needed rest and relaxation.
Swap the cold wintery UK weather for exotic stretches of beaches and unforgettable experiences with these amazing Christmas destinations.
With year round warm weather of just above 20°C, many choose to visit the Canary Islands in winter, and there are plenty of reasons to stop by at Christmas too.
The Canarians celebrate Christmas in a similar way to us, so you’ll see decorations in most towns, as well as creative nativity scenes showcased in parks, shopping centres and outside people’s houses. In Gran Canaria there’s even a scene crafted out of the sand on Las Palmas’ Canteras beach.
Over in Tenerife, the number of British restaurants and bars means you’ll easily be able to find a Turkey dinner. Meanwhile the locals are spending a family meal together on Christmas Eve, before heading onto Christmas Mass.
Whilst you’re soaking up some rays on the beach, look out for the snow on the peaks of Mount Teide.
One of the hottest places and most popular to visit in India is Goa. Its 27°C December heat, plus low rainfall make it more comfortable than other months.
Goa is mainly a Christian state, so it’s perhaps the place on our list that is most like home at Christmas. Expect tinsel-trimmed markets, carols on Christmas Eve and a day of celebrating on the 25th. It’s worth making a trip to the Immaculate Conception Church in Panaji to see its grand series of steps lit up and the large nativity scene at the bottom.
North Goa is a bit of a party zone, and along with New Year’s Eve bashes and fireworks at Calangute and Baga Beach, there’s a big music festival at the end of December. After a chilled out Goan Christmas by the beach you can party at Asia’s largest music festival, Sunburn, between 27th and 29th December.
Although Thailand is a Buddhist country, the Thai concept of sanuk means they get well and truly into the Christmas spirit. You’ll often see bar staff wearing Santa hats, and shops decked with all the trimmings. Winter is a prime time for tourism in Thailand, meaning many hotels hold special Christmas events to ensure you feel at home.
The island of Phuket is a top place to enjoy Christmas in Thailand. As well as having incredible beaches from the calm to the luxe, nightlife spots like Patong and temple tours to see the sights, the number of Western tourists means Christmas cheer is encouraged here. And to top it off, the temperature in December and January averages 27°C with low rainfall.
Mexico combines sizzling temperatures with warm Christmas welcomes, including lots of quirky traditions. Although one of the country’s coolest months, it’s still sees highs of 24°C on Mexico’s Caribbean coast in December.
Christmas celebrations kick off on 16th December, when children perform their first posada nativity processions, running until Christmas Eve. Huge nativity scenes, called nacimiento, are also a local favourite, with figures often being life size or bigger!
Houses are decorated with evergreens, paper lanterns and the poinsettia flower, and markets expand across December, selling gifts, decorations and nativity scenes. Whether you stay in lively Cancun, or further south in lazier Riviera Maya, many All Inclusive hotels add Christmas activities to their programme and have an in-house Santa for kids to visit. Otherwise, it’ll be dozing away Christmas Day on the beach with a cocktail in hand.
Christmas is one of the most important occasions for people in the Dominican Republic and is celebrated with parties and masses of fireworks that’ll get you in the mood.
Staying in the likes of Bavaro on the east coast, means you’ll be welcomed by temperatures of 26°C in December. Expect to see Christmas trees at your hotel and whilst you’re out on a shopping spree. Locals cook a massive Christmas Eve meal, then things are quiet on Christmas Day – leaving plenty of time for tan-topping.
Over in St Lucia, at 27°C, the annual festival of lights and renewal on 13th December marks the start of the festive season. It’s held in honour of the saint of light after whom the island was named, and sees colourful lanterns made, as well as Christmas lights being turned on. The capital, Castries, holds a lantern parade and is a great place to soak up the atmosphere.
Although Christmas falls during Egypt’s high season, the cooler temperatures of around 20°C in December make this time of year perfect for sightseeing. The Red Sea coast resort of Hurghada, is the place to make your base for amazing white beaches and Red Sea diving – sea temperatures remain at a warm 24°C.
As a popular tourist area, lots of hotels put up Christmas decorations and hold celebrations like gala dinners and buffets on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Another option for your Egyptian Christmas break is exploring desert landscapes and history from Luxor, including the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Karnak. Seeing all the camels here will make you think of the three wise men travelling across the desert.
The Canary Islands’ southern cousin, Cape Verde is all about warm days on the beach, at 24°C and above. With weather like Cape Verde’s you can see why the Christmas gala dinners tend to happen outdoors on the beach, followed by Cape Verdean music leading into the night. And at New Year there’ll be fireworks and more partying on the Blue Flag sands.
Made up of 10 islands, the most popular among holidaymakers are Boa Vista and Sal. Sal is perhaps the best place to join in with the Christmas festivities, but if you want something a bit more low-key, instead opt for Boa Vista and its 55 kilometres of powder white beach, from which you can head out to spot turtles and humpback whales.
Now you’re all set, make this Christmas unforgettable with one of our sun-drenched destinations.