Where to go in January
Written by larapiegeler
January in the Europe seems to be a carefully-designed anti-climax: it's cold, the festivities are over, we're making grim resolutions and attempting to detox. However, there are those of us in the Northern Hemisphere who take a rather more realistic approach.
In Sweden, for example, there's the Kiruna Snow Festival – a gloriously chilly, sparkly celebration of snow sculpting, ice skating, skiing, husky sled and reindeer racing, and of course traditional Swedish food and Glögg.
Although January's Burns Night has been borrowed by the rest of the world, nothing compares to spending it in Scotland, where you can enjoy a Burns Supper ritual in such a festive, cosy atmosphere that you'd be forgiven for thinking Christmas had come back again.
On the other side of the Atlantic, January in Colorado means it's time for the Ullr Fest – a party in honour of the Norse god of snow – which includes the International Snow Sculpture Championships - a perfect way to embrace the January cold. Canada is another glorious place to make the most of the January cold; see polar bears and the Northern Lights, and experience proper snow, covering endless, eerily quiet landscapes. You might also visit Quebec Winter Carnival or the Ice Wine Festival at Niagara (where you can also stop by the waterfalls, ).
For serious icy scenery, try Antarctica; January is Summertime, so you can expect a very reasonable 0°C – but the whales, seals and penguins (including the fluffy, grey babies, since it's breeding season) and those unbelievably sculptural, swimming-pool-blue icebergs make it more than worth contending with the chill.
The ski season in Europe is at its busiest in January, but at least there's a fantastic holiday vibe. Try La Grave if you're a relatively experienced skier; it doesn't open until January and offers great variety and plenty of challenges.
If nobody can persuade you to embrace the January chill, there are all kinds of other options. For those who wish to make a brand new start and re-set body and mind, invest in a rejuvenating spa break. The Canyon Ranch Spa in Tucson will help you focus on becoming fit, healthy and de-stressed, and Arizona's mountains enjoy sunny, clear and breezy January weather, as it is in Mexico, home of the famous Grand Velas Hotel and Spa. Add a spiritual dimension and try a yoga retreat such as Purple Valley in Goa; the seas are calm and the weather is dry and temperate there in January.
Thailand has glorious diving and snorkelling now, and Cuba is dry and warm in January; visit Havana for cigars, Ernest Hemingway's house, the Club Tropicana and a daiquiri at the Floridita – or travel into the countryside and tour a coffee plantation.
If you haven't quite moved on from Christmas, there's always stunning and unvisited Ethiopia. They celebrate on 7th January, and with a wholly different set of rituals and traditions. You can also experience a different African culture in Mali in January at the Festival of the Desert – and the temperature in this part of the world is about as bearable as it's going to get all year.
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