The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
The most wonderful time of the year: how to spend the festive season around the globe
The countdown to Christmas is most definitely on. Fairy lights are aglow, corks are being popped, and all is tinged with that Christmassy sort of sparkle. Be sure to make the most of the holidays with our pick of the season’s best events.
Indulge in festive afternoon tea in London
Crank up the luxury this festive season with a visit to one the capital’s most renowned establishments. Surrounded by all the trappings of an Edwardian Christmas (think snow-dusted Christmas trees, twinkling lights and berry-strewn wreaths) take a table at The Ritz for afternoon tea with a particularly festive twist. Tuck into delicate finger sandwiches, delicious pastries, mouth-watering cakes and freshly made scones, while the dulcet tones of The Ritz choir singing Christmas carols sweep around you. Until 30 December, Theritzlondon.com.
Eat your way across Paris
With 150,000 festive lights adorning the famous Champs Elysees, Paris is a bewitching place to be at Christmas. It’s also a gourmand’s dream, as patisserie shelves groan with Christmassy delights and restaurants lay on a feast of oysters, foie gras, truffles, chestnuts and champagne. A small-group walking tour of the city is the best way to sample its festive fare. Starting at the renowned Christmas market on Place Saint-Sulpice, you’ll wend your way slowly through the neighbourhood of Saint-Germain, learning about the city’s foodie traditions, meeting local producers and sampling heartily as you go. Joyeux Noel.
See Moscow in the snow
Embrace the romance of Christmas-time by taking in Moscow’s soul-stirring sights under a soft blanket of snow. Explore the 400 dazzling light installations that illuminate the city for its annual light festival, before trawling the Christmas markets, filled with the scent of mulling wine, warm gingerbread and caviar-filled crepes. Those in the know take to the ice on rinks in Red Square, Gorky Park and Patriarch’s Pond, before gathering up the kids and letting them gawp at the ice sculpture competitions that take place in Sokolniki Park and Park Pobedy each December.
Sing along with the Philharmonic in New York
In need of a heavy dose of Christmas joy? The Big Apple should do the trick. From its central park ice skating rink, to the iconic Rockefeller centre tree, the city delivers festivity by the sled-load. But step away from the busy shopping streets and spend an intimate evening with the exquisite Philharmonic Orchestra, who will be live-scoring John William’s nostalgic Home Alone soundtrack, alongside a screening of the film. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus will also be in attendance to fill the hall with Christmassy choral cheer 19 and 20 December.
Get botanical in Edinburgh
Edinburgh has to be one of the world’s most picturesque cities at Christmas, from the traditional Scottish market that lines the streets of St Andrew Square, to the enduringly photogenic turrets of New Town’s The Dome clad in fairy lights and reams of ivy. Switch things up a bit this year with an after-hours trip to the Royal Botanical Gardens, where the awe-inspiring winter trail sees larger-than-life incandescent flowers leading you to illuminated tree sculptures and hidden light installations, all with a festive Christmassy twist (think marching reindeer and gingerbread men where you least expect it). Until 29 December.