3 years, 10 months ago
If you know anyone who hasn’t thought about running away for Christmas, you should get in touch with Lapland right now and tell them where to find their missing Santa. Even the cheeriest of us, just a pair of stripy stockings away from a full-blown elf, isn’t immune to the festive escape fantasy. But is it possible to be the one that got away without also looking exactly like the Grinch – only without that heart-warming end bit? Why, of course. You just have to give plenty of notice and pick a destination so perfectly wonderful nobody can blame you. And, if all else fails, wait till you’re back and claim you completely forgot it was Christmas – trust us, almost nobody knows what to say to that!
Rich opulence, delicious spicy smells, pretty candlelit evenings and a hint of snow on the High Atlas Mountains, Marrakech is a naturally festive city all year round. But, it doesn’t traditionally celebrate Christmas so it’s total escapism too. The weather’s lovely in December with plenty of sun and high, blue skies. It’s business as usual on inimitable Jemaa El-Fnaa, where customs and culture are so precious they have World Heritage Status. From Majorelle’s creative personal garden to the intricate symbolic landscape of the Koutoubia Mosque, everything’s gorgeously lush and exotic. And there are the souks. Colourful, incredible and packed with exciting present possibilities guaranteed to soothe even the most savage relatives back home.
A stroll on Christmas Day is always nice. But who needs nice when there’s a rock face in the Teide National Park with your name written all over it? Tenerife isn’t just for overwintering retirees these days. It’s now one of the world’s top all-season rock climbing destinations. The surf in November, December and January is phenomenally good. There’s plenty of sun, it’s warm enough to play but not too hot. And if you want to simply take it easy and explore this beautiful island, you’ll find it uncrowded, easy going and not entirely Christmas-free – unless you want it to be.
December is one of the best months to be on idyllic Phuket. The weather’s warm and sunny with none of summer’s oppressive humidity and it’s calm for swimming and water sports. You can have energy and hectic activity in resorts like Patong or run away to peaceful dream beaches in the Sirinat National Park just as easily. It’s irresistibly romantic. Think, four-poster sun loungers, evening sailing, secret coves and wandering round pretty artisan markets. And if you’re packing everyone for Christmas this year, Phuket’s a fantastic adventure for kids, whether they still think sandcastles are magic or can’t live without theme parks.
Turning up on a Cape Town beach on Christmas Day with nothing more than a picnic, bikini and a Santa hat isn’t likely to get you a second glance. It’s almost a tradition in this sunny, beachy December city where they don’t avoid the festive season, they just do it differently. There are Carol Concerts and Christmas Markets and events planned all over from open air movies to wine tours, mountain festivals and firework parties. But everything’s outdoors instead of huddled and freezing. And for runaways who really mean it, the South African capital is a huge, astonishing, natural playground. So you’re never more than a pair of sturdy boots and a short walk away from absolute festive freedom if that’s what you’re after.
While most of Florida is piling on the cheesy traditions and getting good and gooey for Christmas, the state’s most southern ‘city’ is as laid back as ever. Of course there are twinkly lights and trees and parades and parties, but Key West isn’t relentless. And if you want to go diving or swimming or fishing or sailing instead of carol singing and present giving, that’s fine too. The weather’s about as good as it gets in December which means warm and sunny most of the time. Lush and tropical sums up the look of the place. And, since it’s long been a magnet for artists, writers and bohemian types looking to escape the norm, Key West is pretty used to letting you do exactly as you please, even if that’s giving festive a total miss.
If you’re mad for Christmas, clearly we’re not on the same page here and we wish you a merry old time of it. But if it’s not your favourite time of year and an escape plan is sounding more attractive by the minute, we’re with you on that too. Just remember, you only have to run away once for it be your ‘thing’. And there are worst ‘things’ to be known for at Christmas, as anyone who’s ever poured two fighting drunk uncles into a taxi at midnight on Boxing Day Morning will be happy to confirm.