Top destinations for a white Christmas

Prague's beauty is only intensified when December rolls around and the snow falls. Photo / Thinkstock
Prague's beauty is only intensified when December rolls around and the snow falls. Photo / Thinkstock

If you've ever dreamt of a white Christmas, "just like the ones I used to know, where the treetops glisten and children listen, to hear sleigh bells in the snow", then stop singing and book a flight to one of the following cities.

If you've already blown your December budget on Christmas cocktails then you might wish to consider these twinkling cities for next year.

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES

If you have a thick coat, hat and mittens, winter in the Big Apple is a magical time.

This city makes a big deal of the Christmas season, which starts with the lighting of "the tree" - a giant conifer at the Rockefeller Centre in Midtown which is adorned with more than 30,000 lights and crowned by a Swarovski crystal star.

After a visit to the tree you can glide, pirouette or wobble your way around the ice-rink and then take a stroll along Fifth Avenue to see the window displays in the large department stores.

What to buy: Tickets to see New York City Ballet's production of The Nutcracker.

Try: A seasonal cocktail at one of the city's bars. A winter warmer - a mix of hot cider, bourbon and vanilla-scented liqueur topped with whipped cream and nutmeg - is a good start.

For the children: See the gingerbread creations in Le Parker Meridien's annual Gingerbread Masterpieces display. It's free to look at the edible dream homes made by some of the city's top pastry chefs. Find it at 119W 56th St, between Sixth and Seventh aves.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

Not the most obvious Christmas destination, but Scotland's capital was recently voted the UK's very best festive destination (in a poll of 2500 people from around the UK).

Beneath the spectacular backdrop of Edinburgh Castle you can find a traditional German Christmas market, a Highland Village-style Christmas market, an ice-skating rink and a children's fair.

In the surrounding area there are plenty of wonderful restaurants and cafes. A Scottish Angus burger coupled with a glass of Gluhwein cannae be beat.

Buy: Hand-blown baubles and colourful wooden toys.

Try: Mulled wine served in ceramic mugs.

For the children: Take a spin on the city's big wheel - Edinburgh's own version of the London Eye.

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

The beauty of this city is only intensified when December rolls around and the snow falls on its gothic spires. In Prague's Old Town Square, where the fabled Astronomical Clock rings out in the chill air, the city's main Christmas tree sparkles with hundreds of colourful lights.

Buy: Fur hats and marionettes.

Try: Corn on the cob, Czech beers and pastries.

For the children: In the Old Town Square there is a stable where children can pat sheep, goats and a donkey.

PARIS, FRANCE

Forget Paris in the Spring and head to the City of Lights in the winter if you want to discover another side to the most visited city in the world and avoid the large summer crowds.

Over the festive season hundreds of trees throughout the city are covered with strings of lights, the windows of the big department stores, such as the Galeries Lafayette, dazzle with their displays and the giant Christmas tree near Notre Dame Cathedral twinkles with ethereal beauty.

Step inside the Cathedral and you can watch the nativity story projected onto a large screen.

Try: Warm crepes with Nutella, mulled wine and gingerbread.

Buy: Perfume.

For the children: There are many Christmas markets in Paris. The best one for kids is located at the Trocadero Gardens, across from the Eiffel Tower, where kids can skate to their hearts' content until early February.

BRUGES, BELGIUM

This medieval city is a winter wonderland in December, with snow covering its cobblestone streets and churches.

The biggest attractions in town over the Christmas period are the markets and the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival, which runs until mid-January. Artists from around the world create awe-inspiring sculptures out of frozen water.

After looking at the ice creations you can enjoy a mulled wine at the ice bar or in the nostalgic tent of mirrors.

Buy: Belgian chocolates and lace.

Try: Dark ales brewed especially for Christmas.

For the children: Clip-clop along cobblestone streets in a horse-drawn carriage.

- AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 25 Nov 2014 05:51:36 Processing Time: 673ms