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Escape the heat: 4 winter vacations for this December

Celebrating Christmas in Singapore makes the Grinch seem like he’s having an incredible time in comparison. With the non-existent snow and seeking shelter from one air-conditioned mall to the next in 30-degree weather, one would kill for sweater weather in the midst of December.

If you’re bored of having not-so-snowy celebrations, we have four places for you to fly to – and maybe celebrate Christmas at. With a wide range of activities you otherwise wouldn’t get to enjoy in Singapore, these winter places will definitely be worth your time. From skiing to marvelling at the Northern Lights, check these places out for your next winter vacation.

Light illuminations in Japan

Image credit: CNN

You don’t even have to leave Asia. Japan is one of the Asian countries to experience a cooler climate every year, with snow in many places around the country during winter – which goes on from January to February. While we Singaporeans look at the Japanese in envy, there is no denying that we scramble to book flights to Hokkaido at the end of the year to escape Singapore’s extreme humidity.

Boasting beautiful natural landscapes, winter in Japan means stunning glittering white vistas with freshly piled snow. Visit Japan’s famed mountains and lakes surrounded by snow-covered pine trees. Everywhere you turn, picture-perfect sceneries greet you.

Image credit: CNN

What is Christmas without breathtaking light displays? While you’re in Japan, enjoy the Winter Light Festival – a dazzling display of illuminations to embrace Christmas and New year. A popular attraction in cities across Japan, including Tokyo, Saitama, Tochigi, and Gunma, these beautiful LED landscapes will leave you mesmerised.

Skiing in the mountains of Colorado, United States 

Image credit: Forbes

Whether you’re a skiing enthusiast or a novice, Colorado is a brilliant place for skiing. This frosty paradise is known for its mountains and world-famous ski towns, where skiers from all over the world flock to during winter.

Image credit: Forbes

Vail, with its jagged peaks and miles of slopes, is one of the most beloved cold-winter places in the country for skiing. It is home to several notable ski areas – including the North America’s most popular ski resort. With the most luxury hotels, restaurants and spas located in four neighbourhoods at the base of Vail, it is definitely a destination to travel to this December.

Colorado Skiing
Photo: Aspen Skiing Company

Aspen, a scenic mountain town, is where movie stars and Olympic athletes go for leisure. Hip and stylish at the same time, it is home to four mountains in the Aspen Snowmass area – Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. Different mountains offer something different for skiers and riders of all abilities. If you’re looking to enrol in skiing courses, the award-winning Ski & Snowboard Schools of Aspen Snowmass offer a variety of lessons.

Travelling the Trans-Siberian in Siberia, Russia

Image credit: Of Journeys and Dreams

If a Trans-Siberian rail trip is on your bucket list, winter may just be the perfect time to make the trip. As beautiful as Russia is, much of it looks even better under a pure white blanket of snow. There’s no better time to enjoy Russia’s two famous cities – St Petersburg and Moscow.

Image credit: Ex Linguo

In St Petersburg, be enchanted by Dutch-style canals, spanned by charming bridges and palaces with grand fountains, along with streets lined with grand 18th-century houses. Take a look at one of the most extensive art collections in the world at The State Hermitage Museum. Housed in The Winter Palace, built by Peter the Great, the museum is magnificently located on the bank of the Neva River.

Image credit: Friendly Local Guides

Moscow, on the other hand, offers picturesque landscapes of buildings with golden domes glinting in the sunlight, beautifully contrasting with the old tenant buildings made famous by dissident writers of the Stalin era. As Moscow is famed for its world-class ballet and opera, watch the performances at The Bolshoi Theatre. The building itself is the second biggest opera house in Europe and one of Moscow’s most symbolic sites, a truly impressive example of Russian Classical architecture.

While you’re there, take part in the Russian Winter Festival – a festival of arts and a time of holiday partying. Enjoy circuses, performances of Russian fables, and other special theatrical presentations as well as traditional outdoor parties with troika (sled) rides and folk games.

Watch the Northern Lights in Finland

Experience the real winter wonderland that is Finland. The snowy scenery offers breathtaking sights that are not nearly as beautiful other times of the year. With the Aurora Borealis making an appearance in the night sky with swirls of greens and reds, Finland in winter is quite a sight to behold. As the Aurora season lasts from late August until the end of April, December would be an opportune time to travel to Finland.

Image credit: Kakslauttanen

For best views of the Aurora Borealis, stay in Kakslauttanen’s domed igloos made of thermal glass. Located in the Saariselkä Fell region of Finnish Lapland and surrounded by nothing but nature, the thermal glass igloos feature a bedroom with luxury beds and perfect views of the enchanting polar lights. Forget about a one-horse open sleigh, the resort offers snowmobiling and dog sledding through snow-covered Lapland, which is all sorts of magical.

Image credit: Thomas Leppä
Image credit: Thomas Leppä

Helsinki, the capital of Finland is a vibrant seaside city. Come winter, the place transforms into a Christmas nirvana. Fairy lights illuminate Aleksanterinkatu, the city’s main street, while St Thomas’ Market is bustling with shoppers basking in the holiday spirit. A Helsinki Christmas is more accessible now, too, with Finnair recently launching its flight from Singapore to Helsinki.

If you’re up for an ice cold challenge, try out ice swimming. A popular winter activity in Finland (it is reported that over 100,000 Finns do this at least once a week in winter), it is said to lower stress and improve your blood circulation and metabolism. Today, Finland has several new, stylish places where ice swimming is offered alongside other spa and bathing options – which makes jumping into ice water slightly more comforting.

Maybe you might miss Singapore’s heat, after all.

Dewi Nurjuwita
Senior Writer
Dewi Nurjuwita is a travel and design writer who can be found exploring the streets of foreign cities with passport in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.