Best Holidays for December 2017

It's the end of the year and everyone's feeling festive with Christmas celebrations

Where to go on holiday in December

As the year comes to a close now is the time to tick off any last minute travels on your bucket list before starting afresh in the New Year. There’s nothing quite like waking up on Christmas morning in the warm climates of Morocco and Egypt, unwinding on the beach in Sri Lanka or heading out on search of the Big 5 in Kenya and Tanzania. Alternatively, head to Lapland for a snowy pre-Christmas holiday or celebrate New Year's under an explosion of fireworks at Moscow’s Red Square. Those looking for a Christmas spent on the beach will find no shortage of options from the turquoise waters of Southeast Asia to the tropical Caribbean coast throughout Central America.

To help inspire you we've put together some of the top destinations and experiences worth seeking out in December 2017 as well as our guide to the best beach and wildlife destinations at this time of year.

Top Destinations and Experiences in December



Meet Santa Claus in Lapland - Finland - On The Go Tours
Jingle bells, jingle bells

Meet Santa Claus in Lapland

The cold and short days in Finland are perfect for a truly wintery December with snow guaranteed. Here you can meet Father Christmas and his merry elves, drive a herd of reindeer, try your hand at husky sledding, enjoy a thrill ride on a snowmobile and attempt to catch your lunch on an ice fishing trip. With a gorgeous Arctic landscape and a vast sky decorated with the Aurora Borealis for almost 200 nights of the year, Finland is a magical December destination.

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Dancing colours in the sky

Spotting the Northern Lights in Iceland

Often seen in the polar regions, the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis as they are scientifically known, are one of the world's most beautiful natural phenomena. As electrically charged particles from the sun hit the earth's atmosphere it creates sheets of dancing colour. December is in the heart of winter across Iceland with long, dark nights ideal for catching a glimpse of these impressive visual performances with a wintery backdrop of frozen rivers and snow-covered pines.

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Stargazing in the Sahara

Geminids Meteor Shower in Morocco

Each December planet Earth crosses the orbital path of an asteroid that gets close enough to the sun so that its rocky body begins to crumble, resulting in what is known as the Geminids Meteor Shower. The astral debris vaporizes on contact with the upper atmosphere and from terra firma it appears as streams of coloured light tracing a path across the sky. The Moroccan Sahara is one of the best places to witness this phenomenon with no light pollution and expansive vistas.

Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua - Guatemala - On The Go Tours
A tropical end to the year

Explore temples and jungles in Central America

If you'd rather spend the month of December somewhere tropical, you can't go wrong with Central America. The weather at this time of year is close to ideal as the dry season has started, bringing with it drier conditions and pleasant temperatures. Explore ancient Mayan cities, charming colonial towns, wildlife-rich jungles and idyllic Caribbean islands. If you're thinking of heading to Central America for Christmas, expect a riotous celebration with street parades and parties.

Where do you want to spend Christmas this year?

With our range of Christmas tours you can either embrace Christmas and head to a snowy winter wonderland in Scandinavia and Russia or celebrate the festive season with sun, sea and sand in a sizzling part of the world while enjoying an exotic cultural experience.

Best Festivals and Events in December

Christmas isn't the only festival taking place in December. If you're keen to sample other cultures during the month, consider these events.

Chichibu Yomatsuri in Tokyo - Japan - On The Go Tours

Chichibu Yomatsuri

Where? Chichibu, Japan
When? 2nd-3rd December

The Chichibu Yomatsuri is considered one of Japan's top three festivals to feature floats. The nighttime festival takes place each year at the Chichibu shrine and features ornately decorated floats that are paraded through the streets of Chichibu city west of Tokyo. There's also a large fireworks display with a plethora of food stalls to keep people happy with festival treats and sweet rice wine.

Mevlana Festival in Konya - Turkey - On The Go Tours

Mevlana Festival

Where? Konya, Turkey
When? 10th-17th December

The city of Konya in Turkey's Anatolia region was the adopted home of Sufic mystic Celaleddin Rumi and each year he is remembered with the 10-day Mevlana Festival. During the festival the famous Whirling Dervishes spin an elegant trance-like dance with religious fervour in whites robes and tall hats. It's a mesmerising spectacle that has been awarded UNESCO status and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Guadalupe Basilica Mexico City - Mexico - On The Go Tours

Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe

Where? Mexico City, Mexico
When? 12th December

One of Mexico's biggest Catholic events, the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe honours Virgin Mary with feasts, fiestas and pilgrimage to the old and new basilicas in the capital. As Mexico's patron saint, the day is a national holiday with a week of celebrations leading up to her big day. There's a large street fair with food, crafts and dancing for all to enjoy.

Harbin Ice Festival sculptures - China best time to visit - On The Go Tours

Harbin Ice Festival

Where? Harbin, China
When? 17th Dec 2017 - 5th Feb 2018

In late December the attractive city of Harbin comes alive with hundreds of incredible sculptures made from ice and lit with bright neon colours. Established in 1985 the festival attracts professional ice sculptors from across the globe looking to outdo one another with towering structures and creative designs. It's a time for wintery fun with ice-skating and sledding opportunities.

Best Beach Destinations in December

It's the start of peak holiday season across Southeast Asia with perfect beach weather - the monsoons have cleared to welcome in clear skies, plenty of sunshine and low humidity. It's a similar story along the west coast of India and the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Central America. Even the glittering coastline of South Africa's Cape Peninsula is ideal at this time of year so for that December beach holiday you're spoilt for choice.

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India

With Christmas just around the corner and brilliant beach weather across the country, India's coastline is a popular beach destination in December. Whether it's the old hippy hangouts or peaceful yoga retreats of Goa or the lush beaches backed by mangroves in Kerala, there's plenty of options. It's peak season with visitors making the most of the sunny days and warm temperatures so book early.

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Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka the southwest monsoon has finally passed so the coast between Negombo and Weligama is where visitors head for lazy days spent on sandy beaches backed by swaying palms. There may be the odd afternoon shower as weather conditions become ever more unpredictable but with dozens of resorts from quiet fishing villages to sprawling, glitzy hangouts, a bit of rain is not enough to dampen the appeal of Sri Lanka in December.

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Central America

From December onwards the Caribbean experiences near-perfect weather with blue skies, warm sunshine and calm waters. From Cancun in Mexico to Bocas del Toro in Panama, there's ample choice when it comes to beach destinations in Central America with miles and miles of Caribbean coast. Mexico and Costa Rica can be particularly busy at this time of year with vacationers from the Northern Hemisphere looking for some tropical winter sun.

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Thailand

The western coast of the peninsula and the coast around the Gulf of Thailand are fantastic beach destinations in December - temperatures are high, days are sunny and the rain is but a distant memory. This makes Phuket and Hua Hin the best options though by the end of the month the eastern coast of the peninsula is considerably drier which means you can pretty much choose your island freely.

Best Wildlife Destinations in December

The wet season is well and truly underway across southern Africa, which means verdant scenery but more challenging safari opportunities with wildlife hidden by the thick vegetation and more dispersed with the numerous water sources now available. However, East Africa is experiencing a second mini dry season so safari adventures are still possible here. Elsewhere, India's national parks are thriving with the regional dry season and Sri Lanka also benefits from lack of rains.

Serengeti Moody Sky - Africa Overland Safaris - Africa Lodge Safaris - Africa Tours - On The Go Tour

East Africa

Mid-December marks the beginning of a second dry season across Kenya and Tanzania after the month of November, historically known as the time of the 'short rains'. This means safari opportunities are good with plenty of wildlife about and still relatively green scenery. The cooler temperatures may account for the fact that this is low season, which means better availability, better prices and fewer safari vehicles clogging the tracks in the popular national parks.

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Uganda

Like neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda experiences a second mini dry season between mid-December to early February which means it's a good time to plan a trekking trip to see the famed mountain gorillas. The dry conditions make it easier to navigate the jungle trails with the sun's rays penetrating the dense foliage for better visibility of the gorillas between the trees. The dry season also means less mosquitoes which is always a plus.

Yala Leopard Lying Down

Sri Lanka

The Yala National Park in southern Sri Lanka is home to the world's largest concentration of leopards. The exquisite creatures can be sighted year-round, especially at dusk as they are nocturnal animals. What makes December such a good time to visit is the fact that the mating season has been and gone and many female leopards are now mothering small cubs - if you're lucky you may get to see a pair in the wild while the landscape is still relatively lush.

Whale spotting - New Zealand - On The Go Tours

Costa Rica

Whichever coast you visit in Costa Rica you'll find at least one species of turtle nesting eggs. In December Hawksbill turtles can be found on the Caribbean coast while Leatherback and green sea turtles frequent the Pacific coast. Off the shores of the Corcovado National Park in the very south of the country you can also see humpback and sperm whales as they migrate from the Northern and Southern hemispheres between now and January.

See more of our Travel Calendar

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January

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February

Holi festival hands and colour image

March

Cherry blossom and castle - Bucket List

April

St Petersburg during White Nights - On the Go Tours

May

Croatia Brac Beach-Croatia Tours-On The Go Tours

June

Turkey-Discovered-Itinerary-Main-Group-Tour-Turkey

July

Exclusive-Adventures-Jordan

August

Soujourn to Sapa

September

Hiking in Himalayas - Himalayas Tours - On The Go Tours

October

Yi-Peng-Lanterns-of-the-Night-Itineraries-Main-Thailand

November