By Mariah Qaiser
Celebrate the holidays with a special retreat; if you’re looking to spruce up your holiday break or bring in the New Year with a bang, your vacation awaits in one of these incredible and unique destinations.
Plan your holiday break with an international excursion to the tropical paradise of Cancun, Mexico, a blue seas, blue skies haven of some of the world’s finest beaches. Cancun is home to some of the most festive Christmas celebrations with their slew of fun events available for all to participate in. One particular event that stands out is the Sunset Boat Parade, a new Mexican holiday tradition that explores the warm climate and rippling waters. Hosted by the Sunset Worlds Resorts in Cancun, the new local tradition adds a fun kick-off to the Christmas holiday, featuring beautifully decorated boats and yachts that sail through the Laguna Nichupte from the Sunset Admiral Yacht Club & Marina to Malecon Tajamar for a public viewing. A contest to select the three best decorated boats will be held, marking the end of the parade at the same Sunset Admiral Yacht Club & Marina hosting festivities of live music, dancing and scrumptious foods. Further Sunset Boat Parade celebrations are also held in the Cancun Hotel Zone’s Isla Shopping Village. A fun way to celebrate the Christmas season, the Sunset Boat Parade event in Cancun is a must on your to-do list of holiday events. With the lively input of culture as well as a boost to the Christmas spirit, Cancun will have you coming back for more holiday cheer and merriment. VisitMexico.com
European River Cruise
Enjoy a relaxing festive season with no rush and experience Christmas traditions in some of the lands where they originated. Viking River Cruises, takes passengers to the famous Christmas markets in Germany, where you can celebrate the holidays with mulled wine, nutcrackers, gingerbread and German beer. Cities and villages along the Danube River light up with brilliant displays and outdoor markets. Whichever Christmas markets you visit, you’ll enjoy a wonderful feast of tasty treats and inspiring handcrafted gifts. Viking’s river vessels are intimate, accommodating up to a few hundred guests at most, and are purpose-built to navigate the rivers they sail. On many ships there are visits by Santa, special holiday meals and parties, religious services, carolers, lighted trees and extravagant decorations. Don’t worry about dinner, Viking’s onboard culinary offerings are designed to provide guests with regional specialties as well as American favorites. VikingRiverCruises.com
When considering a holiday trip getaway, Milwaukee, Wisconsin would probably not be the first place that comes to your mind. A dazzlingly unique location, Milwaukee provides a joyful surprise of incredible holiday fun and events for all. The real spirit of the year emanates from the crisp air of Downtown Milwaukee, the venue for one of the biggest holiday events of the year, the Holiday Lights Festival. Picture the sweet seasonal joy of a wintry setting ablaze with the celebratory delight of the holidays, with people strewn across the streets dancing to live music, entertainers parading through downtown dressed up as our favorite holiday mascots, and the gracious complementary gifts of delicious cookies and hot cocoa to warm you up in the midst of the chilly fest; the Holiday Lights Festival is a fun event for the whole family, bringing the convivial spirit of the holiday in Downtown Milwaukee. Enjoy the Jingle Bus, a fun, forty minute tour of the light paved landscapes and landmarks of downtown along with a visit from Santa Claus as well as Santa’s Mailbox, a mailing service specialty of radio station 99.1 the Mix that guarantees your wish list’s fast delivery to the North Pole.
Such festivities go even further with the delicious array of restaurants Milwaukee has to offer, such as Kopp’s Frozen Custard and their delicious assortment of American cuisine and seafood trays, along with their namesake specialty, scrumptious frozen custard to go. The Odd Duck is another food destination that further augments the magic of Milwaukee, with a unique melange of South Asian, Indian, Japanese, Mediterranean, and French flavor. The chromatic international origins of the food make the restaurant a number one on food stops to visit. A lively celebration topped off with delicious food excursions makes a holiday in Milwaukee an unforgettable event. With such hearty provisions and festivities welcoming people and the seasonal spirit itself, Milwaukee serves to be an unlikely, but premium holiday getaway destination. VisitMilwaukee.org
If you’re looking for a memorable holiday weekend that’s a drivable distance, Birmingham, Alabama is your unexpected, but marvelous stop. Not only is Birmingham a historical gem, but it serves to be a place of eclectic holiday fun. The largest city in Alabama, Birmingham offers a slew of attractions and restaurants that will make your vacation a truly unforgettable experience, along with the largest and most festive seasonal event in the south, the Christmas Village Festival. Beginning in the early 1990s, the Christmas Village Festival began as a small show of 88 exhibitors. Today, the Christmas Village Festival offers a fun-filled week of holiday gift festivities for the whole family. With exhibitors coming from all over the nation, an enormous and joyful shopping event is bound, unique and beautiful arts and crafts and other gifts are showcased and brought around.
After a pleasant day of shopping, you are in for the major treat of Birmingham restaurants and interesting attractions. Experience the explosive and delectable flavors of the most famous restaurant in Birmingham, the Highlands Bar & Grill, where an evening of the finest dining and services are promised as well as the delicious palate of French gourmet cuisine. Owned by the same proprietors as the Highlands Bar & Grill, Chez Fon Fon and Bottega Restaurant offer similar experiences and scrumptious food selections for the night. If you want a faster paced eating setting, Saw’s BBQ is just the place, with their famous hot wings and American dishes of large, delectable burgers served with crispy fries. With a wide assortment of wonderful food stops, a Birmingham visit is topped off with memorable attractions. A prime display of their historical prowess in the United States, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute offers an enlightening look in and experience into the plight filled past of the American civil rights movements in the 1960s. If you’re looking for a more city-cultured, relaxing experience, then a visit to Moonlight on the Mountain is a must, a listening venue where you can sit leisurely and watch locals put on live music shows. A fun and relaxing experience that is much desired, Birmingham is an exceptional vacation spot perfectly fit for a fun holiday getaway. BirminghamAL.org
St. Augustine, Florida
Ring in the New Year in the USA’s oldest active settlement. St. Augustine is one of Florida’s most beautiful destinations, offering a breathtaking experience of beach fun as well as an enlightening look into the deep and triumphant history of America. One of the biggest New Year celebrations in Florida takes place in this ancient city, the exciting and fun St. Augustine Beach, Beach Blast Off. The festivities kick off the New Year celebration with their Chili Cook-Off, the regional qualifier for World Chili Cook-off Championships as well as a fire dancing show. The Fire and Ice event hosts an interesting show of ice sculpting for all to watch and enjoy. With more than thirty food vendors and beer and wine distribution, the festivities are augmented with dancing, comfort zones, and a dunk tank. Live music makes for constant and enjoyable entertainment and there are also fun attractions for the kids, with ten inflatables, face painting, and human hamster balls. The cherry on top of this fantastic event is the welcoming of the New Year with a magnificent display of fireworks. If you’re looking to spice up your New Year with an exciting event for the whole family, the St. Augustine Beach Beach Blast Off is your prime destination. A magical and fun experience and a great way to kick off the New Year, St. Augustine promises the getaway of a lifetime. OldCity.com