Considering how many songs have been wistfully written about having a “white Christmas” I feel lucky to live in a country where they’re relatively easy to encounter. In most regions of Canada, we can expect plenty of decorative flakes to flutter effortlessly into our yards by December 25, and if not, we rarely need to drive far to find them. While carols like “Frosty the Snowman” and “Jingle Bells” coax us into the holiday spirit, we wander out to roll balls of snow, ice-skate on ponds, and zip down hills on our toboggans.
However, one thing to be said for Canadians…if we’re booking a vacation to take place during the winter, it’s probably to somewhere warm and sans snowflakes! Interestingly, while we are heading south to our sunny escapes, crowds of sun-weary tourists flock north to Canada, Europe, and other winter wonderlands to experience the frosty magic of the season they’ve been missing.
The travesty is that many Canadians never experience half of the wonders that visitors to our country experience. So this Christmas let’s explore some of the snowy escapes we may be missing! And for those who want to head further afield in search of the ultimate foreign white Christmas, we’ve searched out some tempting options to consider.
Here are some snowy holiday ideas to get you started:
One of the most magical sights of the holiday season can be the spectacular hoar frost. Like the ugly duckling turning into an elegant swan, every exposed tree and plant—including those noxious weeds that we curse all summer long—become coated in fine, white, icy frost. If you’d like to seek it out, the best places to find it are near unfrozen lakes and streams on particularly cold days.
Dogsledding in the Rockies:
If you ever wondered what it would be like to be pulled along in a sleigh by eight reindeer, consider trying a dogsledding experience! Sure they can’t really fly, but sometimes when you race along the snow and go over bumps, you’ll find yourself airborne for a fraction of a second. There are plenty of amazing places to try this in Canada, but you can’t beat the Rocky Mountains for incredible scenery and plenty of snow. And you’ll likely see lots of deer while you’re there too!
Northern Lights throughout northern Canada:
One thing we associate with Christmas festivities is often brightly coloured lights and decorations. Take your family up north and treat them to Mother Nature’s winter carnival of colour high up in the sky! Head up as far north as you can, and check out websites like Aurora Watch for details about when you can expect the next breathtaking displays.
Polar bears in Churchill:
If you’re seeking out the northern lights, you might want to consider an excursion to Churchill, Manitoba to watch some polar bears at the same time! There are so many of these mighty animals to see that tour companies specialising solely with safely taking tourists out to experience them in the wild are thriving in this tiny northern town.
Mild weather and pretty decorations make Victoria, BC, a special Christmas holiday destination. The world-renowned Butchart Gardens is adorned with tens of thousands of colourful lights, a 12 Days of Christmas display, and provides an outdoor rink to allow visitors a chance to skate while enjoying the ambiance. Picturesque harbour views, along with a range of festivities throughout the city make this a winter holiday your family would never forget.
Rideau Canal, Ottawa:
When frozen, the Rideau Canal is the ultimate place to enjoy the holiday season. With the backdrop of a beautiful city decorated with snow and lights, the canal provides the world’s longest skating rink. It is common to see people zipping along with their briefcases on the way to work. Most skaters though, are happy to simply glide around, fall, giggle, and joyfully race the seemingly endless rink with family and friends.
Famous for its Winter Carnival each January, this city is also a special place to visit in December. Stunning decorations adorn the many quaint buildings within this old walled city, giving an ambiance you’d normally need to travel to Europe to experience. Carols, pastries, craft markets and of course, plenty of snow, make this a delightful place to experience a white Christmas.
If you want to save up for a special overseas Christmas holiday, here are a few worth considering!
Austria, Germany and Czech Republic:
These three countries, although quite different from each other, have two things in common: truly gorgeous Christmas markets and ornately decorated churches. The spirit of Christmas comes alive in the evenings as you walk the streets—snowy without being very cold—and browse the brightly lit Christmas markets. Hand-crafted marionettes are a specialty of the Czech markets, cuckoo clocks and wooden Christmas ornaments are widespread throughout the German and Austrian markets. If you visit Prague, don’t forget to take the kids to see the Nutcracker performed by some of the best ballet dancers in the world.
The ultimate expedition for adventurers in search of snow, ice, and penguins! Although it can be a costly and lengthy trip, many people put Antarctica on their bucket lists. The easiest way for Canadians to get there is via Chile, where you can catch one of several ships to this unique and special southern destination. Note: Despite what soda pop manufacturers might have you believe, you will never see polar bears and penguins celebrating Christmas together! Polar bears live strictly in the northern hemisphere; penguins in the southern hemisphere.
And for those who want a white Christmas without the cold…
If you’re not convinced that travelling to experience more snow is how you want to spend your vacation dollars, consider the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean! Dreaming of a white Christmas is lovely while lazing on a beach…