With its bevy of holidays and cultural events, December is among the most vacationed months of the year. Don’t let that stop you from finding a warm, tropical climate in the Caribbean or Southeast Asia, though, for one of the best places to travel in December.
Gift yourself a vacation to Hawaii to see a 50-foot Christmas tree at Honolulu City Lights on Oahu. More of an art buff than one for a luxurious vacation? Check out the relatively affordable Miami when you attend Art Basel, an art festival that occurs only in Basel (Switzerland), Hong Kong (China) and Miami. Celebrate the coming of the new year with a dance party on a beach in Thailand. Try Trinidad for one of the liveliest Christmas celebrations in the Caribbean.
Whatever your preference, there’s bound to be plenty of holiday cheer no matter where you decide to vacation in December.
No way you’ll freeze your feet off while taking in the Electric Light Parade, a 50-foot Christmas tree and larger-than-life decorations at Honolulu City Lights. In fact, Santa and Mrs. Claus can be seen cooling off their bare tootsies in the fountain at City Hall.
The festivities for the 2019 Honolulu City Lights begin on Dec. 7.
On St. Kitts, Carnival happens all of November and December. Events like Sugar Mas combine Boxing Day with Carnival street parades. Music-lovers will appreciate the Calypso Semi-Finals and Soca Monarch Festivals.
2019 Carnival begins on Nov. 1 and doesn’t conclude until Dec. 31.
St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Set your alarm for 4 a.m. The only-in-SVG Nine Mornings Festival starts before the sun rises, with street concerts, Christmas-light competitions, and offbeat events like banana-eating contests. Be sure to try the homemade ginger beer, sorrel, and other seasonal specialties.
The 2019 Nine Mornings Festival begins on Dec. 16 and concludes Dec. 24.
The crème de la crème of Italy and Hollywood gather every December for the Capri Film Festival to screen everything from big-time blockbusters to independent films.
If you’re a film buff, make your way to Capri from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2 for the 2019 Capri Film Festival.
British Virgin Islands
It’s the height of peak season, but for good reason: Foxy’s New Year’s Eve Party on the island of Jost Van Dyke is one of the world’s biggest fetes; start making arrangements in July, if possible. This month is also the height of dry season, as well as when the trade winds blow steadily, ushering in leagues of southbound yachts.
Originating in Basel, Switzerland, the art festival Art Basel now also takes place annually in Hong Kong and Miami Beach. Miami’s four-day festival showcases creative works from international galleries and world-renown artists, as well as local emerging stars. The main event takes place at the Miami Beach Convention Center but there are more than 25 satellite art fairs nearby. Visit the modern and contemporary shows to view (and purchase) paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations and photographs.
The 2019 Art Basel in Miami will take place from Dec. 5 to Dec. 8.
Caroling gets a new twist at the Carriacou Parang Festival. Backed by mandolins, guitars, and shak-shaks (maracas), groups compete with both traditional songs and ones that call out politicians’ wrongdoings and the misbehavior of ordinary citizens. No wonder they’re called melees.
The 2019 Carriacou Parang Festival goes from Dec. 20 to Dec. 22.
The cultural festival Junkanoo takes place on both Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. The main event is a “rush out,” a huge parade (usually from 2 a.m to 10 a.m.) along Bay Street, where groups don elaborate costumes and play goatskin drums, horns and cowbells. Can’t make it to the Bahamas over the holidays? Due to popular demand, there are now several Junkanoo celebrations throughout the year.
In the Gulf of Thailand, the island of Koh Phangan is one of the best places to ring in the New Year with all-night dancing on the beach. The king’s birthday is December 5, so expect gaudy displays of flags and buildings decorations, plus firework shows. This month belongs to the cooler season throughout all of Thailand, and thus the travel peak.
Carnival in February is Trinidad‘s biggest excuse to celebrate, but Christmas is a close second, and the Trinis are well into the swing of it by month’s start. Foodies get to try December-only specialties such as pastelles, black cake and ponche de crème — a high-test eggnog made with overproof rum. And even Scrooges capitulate to carols played on steel pan and you-gotta-dance Christmas parang, with maracas, cuatros and a fast Latin beat.