The end of July is almost upon us, drawing an end to all Christmas In July celebrations. But never mind that; the real question to answer is where you'll be spending that final week and a half of December. The world is full of spectacular Christmas destinations, but you'll need to head north for the chance of a beautiful white Christmas.
Despite what the name may suggest, there's more to a white Christmas than the inclusion of snow. You also need to consider what that snow will be falling on and around. The following are five Christmas destinations worth planning for:
Note: Due to the unpredictable nature of weather, the following destinations may not receive snow during Christmas. However, they have a far better chance of snowfall than a backyard in Wollongong.
Prague - Czech Republic
Prague features everything one expects from an iconic European city: a picturesque river, historic bridge, ancient monuments, exotic cuisine and an imposing castle. The festive season doesn't wait around in Prague, kicking off as early as October when you can see Christmas ornaments adorning shop windows.
Come the end of November, towering trees are erected and covered in colourful lights and decorations. The annual Christmas markets at Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square begin at this time as well, delivering a gala of delectable treats, eclectic crowds, rides and trinket stalls. Snowfall gives the city an ethereal beauty and the view of a snow-covered Prague Castle from Charles Bridge is spectacular.
Edinburgh - Scotland
The city of Edinburgh celebrates Christmas like few others in the world. Within the city's centre stands a spectacular Christmas market complete with Ferris wheel, ice skating rink, carnival games, and local stalls selling mulled wine and hot haggis. You can even get up close to actual reindeer!
A range of Christmas parties and spectacular shows are held throughout the season, encompassing live performances, late-night boogieing and family-friendly productions. Plan to be looking outside when the holiday light show begins, to see the night sky light up from impressive fireworks. If you stick around after Christmas, you can enter the new year in style at Edinburgh's Hogmanay festival.
Montreal - Canada
A white Christmas in Montreal delivers the magnificence of snow-covered 18th-Century French architecture with the big festivities of other North American cities. Mont-Royal Avenue glistens at night from the Christmas lights spread out along it and there's rarely a year that the locals aren't preparing for snow.
The city holds an annual Santa Claus Parade, which features 15 floats including the grand appearance of Santa. There's also the TELUS Fire on Ice, held at the Old Port, where you can take in spectacular fireworks between loops around the ice skating rink. Here's something you can't usually do: Montreal is home to some pick-your-own tree farms that allow you to buy and chop down the very best Christmas tree to take home.
Chicago - USA
Chicago goes through a remarkable transformation during the Christmas season and its high likelihood of snowfall has led to the city featuring in many American Christmas movies including Miracle on 54th Street and Home Alone. It's easy to feel like you're part of your own Christmas movie when you stroll down streets covered in fresh white snow.
There's a taste of the exotic in the city as well with the Christkindlmarket, a German-vendor market that has stalls selling Gluhwein to keep you warm. All around the city are moments that remind you just how magical this time of year is (not that you need it!), such as elaborately decorated bars, live concerts and regular performances of iconic Christmas tales including The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol.
Tromso - Norway
Picture Christmas Eve spent under the dazzling Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) amongst classic Norwegian wooden houses flaked in snow. Christmas in Tromso has the chance of being one of your most memorable for a variety of reasons. The city is known as one of the best places to witness the Northern Lights, which appear in the night sky like a real-time painting.
Tromso possesses a charming old-world atmosphere and a picturesque setting that could be easily mistaken for the imagined North Pole. You'll feel right at home snuggled around a crackling fire. Outside, you can spend your days exploring the city on foot or the nearby landscape via dog sled. Tromso practically shuts down between December 24 and 26, leaving nothing to distract you from quality time with family or friends.