Let's all have the Best Christmas EVER
If grim tidings on the front pages of the paper are threatening to turn some of your family members into Scrooges this Christmas don't worry there's no need to despair, for World Reviewer has donned a red hat, stuffed a pillow up the front of a baggy fur lined jacket and is perched on your virtual roof ready to slide down the attached chimney with some seasonal cheer...
...in the form of some of the best ways to get you and yours high on the Christmas Spirit.
Have yourself a traditional little Christmas
Of course we all know that Santa's coming anyway – but there's no harm in giving him a little reminder by going to visit him at home which, it turns out, really is in Lapland. In fact, he lives there with his wife, elves, reindeer and goodness knows how many extra staff. He and his subordinate Clauses run all kinds of grottoes and Christmas villages in Finnish and old Swedish Lapland to ensure that almost everyone's idea of his magical toy factory and snug house is effectively realised, so as you can imagine, no-one quite knows which is the real one.
Rovaniemi, on the Arctic Circle, is the region's capital and is dubbed the 'Christmas City'. It's here that you'll find Santa Claus Village - one of Santa's biggest and most picturesque homes - located just outside the city in a cluster of quaint, pointy-roofed wooden buildings surrounded by a snow-covered forest of Christmas trees. Here you can visit his post office, pet his reindeer, enjoy live music and folk dance performances, eat in his restaurant and generally feel the power of his PR. He will be more than happy to meet your kids (and can speak fifteen languages) – and if they can't wait until Christmas morning for their gifts, you can buy toys and trinkets, from traditional to designer, in his gift shop.
Other, more traditional, ways to celebrate Christmas include visiting St. Pauls, or your local church for some caroling or attending the Mistletoe Festival and mistletoe auctions held annually in Tenbury, Worcestershire.
Depending on your opinion of shopping it's either one of Christmases necessary evils or a wonderful opportunity to lavish gifts on the ones you love. Which ever it is for you the most Christmassy way to do your Christmas shopping is at a European Christmas Market.
Berlin Christmas Market is huge and varied, selling art, toys and sophisticated gifts as well as the usual Christmas market trinkets, decorations and treats, Zürich boasts the world's largest indoor Christmas market, Brussels has a Christmas market chalet village and Cologne has several Christmas market options, but besides offering christmas goodies galore, these cities also have fabulous arrays of department stores and designer shops.
Lincoln is one of the UK's most traditionally Germanic with the gluhwein and gingerbread. Edinburgh, Bath and Portsmouth also have crackers.
Fight turkey belly: Active Christmas Events
Ice skating is hardly exercise is it? It's far more like fun. Especially when you add the coloured lights and maybe the opportunity for a cup of something warming afterwards (watching is a good way to avoid the holiday blues as well...). Some of London's landmarks set up rinks for the season: the Natural History Museum, the Tower of London and Hampton Court are some of the most scenic, but not as classic as the ice rink in Central Park. The Rockerfeller Centre and Bryant Park is are other popular NYC skating destinations – Bryant Park is also free, and has its own Christmas markets, European style.
Santa isn't generally thought of as an athlete – he's more of a jolly bloke than a jogger – so it might be a surprise to see a running Santa pass you in the park. But when another and another follow until there's a sea of bobbing red bobble hats and bellies then you could be excused for starting to wonder if this isn't how Santa's been doing it all these years – there isn't just one of him there are many – and he can run fast... Charming as this idea may sound it's not the solution to the Santa Claus conundrum instead you're probably just witnessing one of the UK's Santa Runs. There are several places you can come to be a Santa spectator and support the Claus, Covent Garden, Middlesbrough, Aberdeen, Norwich, Greenwich, Eastbourne – and most of the runs are organised with a cause in mind: the Norwich event is for a children's cancer charity, the Aberdeen event is for WildHearts and the Greenwich event is for the MS Trust. BYOB – Meaning beard...but in most cases racers are rewarded with a mince pie at the end of it.
For more active Santa action attend the Santa Claus World Championship in Switzerland. Watching and cheering 32 Santa Claus' as they climb chimneys and race on Santa scooters in the annual Santa Championship in Samnaun, will prove that you’re never too old to believe in Santa. Join the November games and fun as you watch the jury grade the teams on their creativity, skill, charm, athletics, and speed. Watch the Santa parade as the Santa teams present themselves in 30 seconds while the jury votes on the uniqueness of the team. Go Santa.
Christmas in a Castle
Lauriston Castle hasn't been changed since 1926 and is a museum to the Edwardian country house way of life – which is especially nice at Christmas when it's dressed up in its festive garb and celebrated in a more traditional way. The storytelling sessions are some of the most popular – see, kids can survive without TV!
Boxy looking Hever Castle has been celebrating Christmas in a big way since the Boleyn family moved in mid way though the 15th Century, and in the 21st they're keeping up the tradition but with a modern twist: they have an ice maze, a grotto for Santa, elves of all sorts wandering around and one thing that probably hasn't changed: storytelling in the Long Gallery – see a pattern Mums and Dads?
Edinburgh Castle is touched by the spirit of Christmas as well when a host of Christmas themed historic characters leads a tour over the castle, aiming to remind everyone where Christmas traditions come from – in this specific case it's from annual pagan winter celebrations to Robbie Burns via the Middle Ages. Nice to know what we're al celebrating.
Somerset House doesn't quite qualify as a castle but it definitely deserves to be on a list of the best Christmas-time treats: every winter its courtyard it transformed into something far more lovely, when the ice rink is installed, complete with fairytale lighting, a huge Christmas tree, a winter-warming cafe/ bar and giant blue Tiffanys boxes – not much more sparkly than ice and diamonds under acres of Christmas lights!
If you're more of a Scrooge than a merry elf pack in all the rush and bother and head off on a cruise? Or check out some more cheerful Christmas ideas:
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