6 Getaways for Winter Sun in the Southern Hemisphere
As the northern half of the planet settles down for some winter hibernation, the Southern Hemisphere is gearing up for fun in the summer sun, all just a (direct) flight away from many US cities. So forget short days, polar vortexes and post-New Year slumps, and get booking a trip to the other side of the equator to shake off those winter blues.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
If one destination positively shouts sun-filled celebration it’s Rio de Janeiro. If you time it right (Feb 21-26 in 2020), there’s no bigger party on earth than the city’s carnival, but at any time of year it’s easy to see why cariocas (the locals) love the cidade maravilhosa (marvelous city). Iconic beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana are where you can top up your vitamin D levels before scaling the heights of Rio’s many hills – don’t miss Sugarloaf Mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeemer, both offering sublime views across the city. Finally, it would be rude not to indulge in some samba while you’re here, and the Lapa neighborhood is the country’s capital for some all-night, hip-swaying dancing.
Getting there: non-stop Houston to Rio from $1100 (also direct flights from New York, Miami and Atlanta).
Cape Town, South Africa
Previously only accessible with at least one stop en route, Cape Town can now be reached direct from New York (on United Airlines). It’s a vibrant seaside city, dominated by the natural beauty of its setting – not least impressive is Table Mountain, climbing which is a top experience on any visit. Next stroll multi-colored Bo-Kaap, the city’s oldest neighborhood, followed by a boat trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, or head to Boulders Beach where you can observe some 3000 African penguins. Further afield are the big draws of the Winelands and one of the world’s classic drives, the Garden Route.
Getting there: non-stop New York to Cape Town $800.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
An elegant European-like city dropped in the middle of Latin America, Buenos Aires is a unique destination with an infectious buzz to it. A cemetery might not seem an obvious place to begin your visit, but the beautiful and fascinating Cementerio de la Recoleta is a top sight here, its avenues lined with impressive tombs and statues including that of Eva Perón, better known as Evita. Next fill up on some Argentinian steak, washed down with some local wine, and then find a milonga (dance salon) to indulge in the city’s sensual contribution to the world of dance, the tango.
Getting there: non-stop Miami to Buenos Aires from $900 (also direct flights from New York, Houston, Dallas and Atlanta).
Say g’day to Australia’s largest city where famous architecture brushes up against glamorous beaches next to innovative restaurants. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge before wandering through the Rocks (the original 18th-century settlement) to the Opera House, its roof billowing like sails along the waterfront, and the beautiful Royal Botanic Garden. Bondi Beach gets all the attention but for quieter spots follow the 4-mile coast path south of it, dotted with smaller stretches of sand. Or take a ferry over to Manly and spread your towel on sheltered Shelly Beach. It’s hard to eat badly anywhere in Sydney, but one of the city’s best areas for dining is Surry Hills, home to top restaurants and bars.
Getting there: non-stop Los Angeles to Sydney from $900 (also direct flights from San Francisco and Dallas).
A jumping off point for trips to places like spectacular Machu Picchu, the Peruvian capital is a worthy destination in its own right, an enticing melting pot of indigenous and external cultures. Start with the Plaza de Armas and the 16th-century cathedral in the oldest part of Spanish Lima, then explore further back in time at the Museo Larco and Museo de la Nación with their extensive collections of pre-Columbian art (the former has an erotica section that is a guaranteed eyebrow raiser). If all that history has made you hungry, you’re in the right place – Lima has a food scene that, true to its character, is a tasty mix of traditional and modern, local and foreign, with ceviche (raw fish marinated in citrus juice) the most famous.
Getting there: non-stop Miami to Lima $500 (also direct flights from New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Fort Lauderdale).
Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand’s main entry point and largest city has a stunning setting, great museums and restaurants and an abundance of excellent day (or longer) trips on its doorstep. To understand more about local geology (clue: volcanoes feature a lot) and Māori culture, head to the Auckland Museum, then hike up Mount Eden, the city’s highest (and luckily extinct) volcano for views that take in the built-up area and the two harbors beyond. For a day at the beach, venture west to undeveloped, black-sand Karakare or east across the water to Waiheke Island, almost as famous for its wineries as for its beaches. Back in the city, Ponsonby has a tempting array of food and drink options, along with independent shops and art galleries.
Getting there: non-stop Los Angeles to Auckland from $1100 (also direct flights from San Francisco, Chicago and Houston).
The 8 Best Whiskey Bars in The US
Once upon a time, whiskey was the currency of cowboys and grandfathers. Then the story changed. Over the past two decades, Scotch, bourbon and Irish whiskey have become some of the fastest growing spirits in the world. In the United States, it has become increasingly easy to find bars specializing in uisce beatha. (That’s Gaelic for “water of life” and the source of the word “whiskey”). Most feature bartenders who work in a sommelier-like capacity to answer questions and offer suggestions that best suit your preferences. Here are some of the best spots to slake your whiskey thirst. And curiosity. Brandy Library: New York, New York There’s a casual elegance that pervades the Brandy Library, which opened in 2004, earning it the badge of first whiskey bar in New York. (As legend has it, owner Flavien Desoblin christened it “Brandy Library” instead of “Whiskey Library” because when he opened the place, whiskey wasn’t a fraction as cool as it is now and he worried it might turn people away.) Brandy Library, in the posh Tribeca neighborhood, is a full-immersion experience. Shelves line several walls in the sepia-toned, living-room-like bar. Add to that copper lighting fixtures inspired by liquor stills and a gorgeous leather-bound menu arranged by region, and you have a Mecca-level destination worth a pilgrimage. The Silver Dollar is located in the heart of Bourbon Country © Liza Weisstuch Silver Dollar: Louisville, Kentucky There are many reasons to visit the Silver Dollar. Architecture junkies will be intrigued by how this 1890 fire house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was transformed into one of Louisville’s hippest hangouts. (Yes, the fire pole is still standing.) Music-lovers will appreciate how it stands as a tribute the Bakersfield Sound, the classic country music style credited to Buck Owens, who, in the 1950s, infused Nashville’s popular swinging country with the strumming Mexican conjunto music he discovered in his local California bars. The fact that bartenders play country music on vinyl only elevates the vintage vibe. Similarly, the southern regional cuisine on the menu has a spicy Mexican accent. And then, of course, there is the American whiskey, which is in no shortage here in the bourbon capital of the world. Inside the Jack Rose © Greg Powers Jack Rose Dining Saloon: Washington, DC The Jack Rose is less whisky bar and more whisky kingdom, of sorts, offering a range of environments for imbibing in Washington, DC’s, vibrant Adam’s Morgan neighborhood. The main bar and dining room is a handsome dark-wood-and-leather affair lightened with soaring ceilings, tall windows, and a marble bar. Those high ceilings are necessary to house the nearly 2700 brands of whiskey, many of which are accessible to the bartenders only by ladder. Not sure what you like? No pressure, you can buy anything as a half-ounce pour here so go on and experiment. Upstairs is a seasonal tiki bar as well as an open-air terrace with a bar of its own featuring a barbecue pit area equipped with heat lamps so you can chill out in the winter. Speaking of barbecue, food here leans southern and hearty, with fried green tomatoes and cornmeal fried oysters playing leading roles on the menu. Julep Cocktail Club: Kansas City, Missouri Art Deco glamour meets mid-century modern simplicity at this classy yet laid-back whiskey bar in Kansas City’s increasingly hip Westport neighborhood. Outside of Chicago, Julep Cocktail Club has the biggest whiskey selection in the region, clocking in at about 500 bottles. The drink list skews American, but Scotch, Irish, Japanese and Canadian are all accounted for, too. Bartenders are knowledgeable and ready to reply to any of your brown-water questions. Flights, which change regularly to showcase a region or a theme, are a popular choice here, as are their outstanding mint juleps, which come in three varieties: vintage, traditional and modern. The food menu is an appealing assortment of pub grub elevated with an Asian twist. The hunting-lodge stylings of Seven Grand in LA © Liza Weisstuch Seven Grand: Los Angeles, California If there’s one thing you should know about Seven Grand, it’s that its whiskey menu is 44 pages long. Yes, 44 pages. You could say that this antique-y, dimly lit hunting-lodge-chic bar, which opened in 2007, is the antithesis of Los Angeles, where so many bars and restaurants are airy and light. Or you could argue that Seven Grand is quintessentially LA, what with its transportive movie-set-like ambiance, complete with details like mounted deer heads and vintage furniture. Regardless, it claims the biggest whiskey collection in the West, making it an attraction for aficionados and the whisky-curious. The whiskey list does soar to super-premium heights, but the vibe here is very down-to-earth. (See: pool tables, live music.) And for those in-the-know, there’s Jackelope, an intimate Japanese-style whiskey bar tucked away in the back. Fiori D’Italia: Anchorage, Alaska When an earthquake struck Anchorage, Alaska, in 2018, many of whiskey bottles from the collection of more than 400 at Fiori d’Italia hit the ground and shattered. Building the collection had been an ongoing pursuit for the young bar manager Ylli Ferati, whose family owns and runs the discreetly tucked-away Italian restaurant. But thanks to his perseverance and vast industry connections, he was able to rebuild the biggest whiskey selection in Alaska. The restaurant, which is owned and run by Ylli’s parents, immigrants from Macedonia, is decidedly old-school Italian, and while they do indeed have a wine list, Ylli encourages exploring whiskey pairings with the food, a fine way to understand the spirit’s universal appeal. The massive collection in the Multnomah Whiskey Library lines the shelves on the wall © Dina AvilaMultnomah Whiskey Library: Portland, Oregon There is a good chance that you’ll stop in your tracks the first time you walk into the Multnomah Whiskey Library in downtown Portland, Oregon, and behold its grandeur. True to its name, it’s set up as like a library reading room, complete with long tables and desktop-style lamps. But don’t expect quiet contemplation here. After all, its shelves are not packed with books, but with about 2,000 bottles of whiskey, plus a healthy assortment of rum, tequila and cognac. If cocktails are your preference, you’re in for a treat: the service here involves a dedicated bartender who takes the order at your table and makes the cocktail tableside. While not a speakeasy, its entrance is a tad discreet, so stay on the lookout for the “Whisky Library” sign. And pro tip: It’s a spacious place and very popular, so arrive early to get your name on the list. Delilah’s: Chicago, Illinois For many years, the term “whiskey bar” conjured up images of high-end fusty affairs. The recent bourbon boom has made brown water a more democratic drink, but before bourbon became a hipster spirit, there was Delilah’s, which stood out – and continues to gather fans – for the way it uniquely captures whiskey’s freewheeling, rock’n’roll soul. This Chicago hangout has a dive-y vibe, complete with weathered banquettes, Christmas lights, and live rock bands. You’ll find as much pretension here as you might in your local CVS. Yet the global whiskey selection is world-class and the bartenders can each provide a thorough whiskey education.
The Budget Travel guide to Brooklyn
Once known primarily as the hometown of Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z and Barbara Streisand, Brooklyn has come into its own over the last two decades. Now synonymous with the whatever is cool, Brooklyn brings together the cutting edge of music, literature, art, fashion and food, melding its diverse cultures and ethnicities with the wave of hipsters and yuppies begging to pay sky-high prices to live within its stylish limits. If you’re planning a visit to Brooklyn, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of neighborhoods to explore and the many things to do. But fear not, we’ve made a list of what to see, explore, eat and drink in this, the most populous borough of New York City. Take a Water Taxi to Red Hook The small peninsula of Red Hook was once one of the busiest ports in the world. Now, surrounded by water and without access to a nearby subway line, it has established itself as a quiet, quaint urban oasis, housing an eclectic host of artists, artisans, boutiques, restaurants and bars. Grab a water taxi to Fairway, a huge waterfront supermarket with a waterfront park, grill and restaurant, and eat lunch while enjoying the borough’s best views of the Statue of Liberty. Don’t fill up on their famous lobster rolls because just down the block is the newly opened Ample Hills Red Hook Factory, the largest ice cream production facility in the city. Next, take a stroll down Van Brunt St., which yields boutiques, vintage finds, and bars like Fort Defiance, then head towards Valentino Pier to let the kids run around and visit Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie for a take home treat. For a night out, consider joining the line at Hometown BBQ for smoked meats by the pound or a enjoy a more dignified dinner and cocktails at the Red Hook Tavern. And don’t forget a nightcap at Sunny’s Bar, a kitschy local hangout with a wide-ranging list of musical guests, including the intermittent surprise performance from the hood’s own Norah Jones. Get Pizza at Roberta’s This now-established pizza joint with working garden was established in Bushwick over 10 years ago as a small communal oasis for those in the know—and brave enough to make the schlep to this not-yet gentrified area of Brooklyn. As the first of the hipster, trend-setting businesses in the neighborhood, Roberta’s Pizza is now a global sensation, with locations in Manhattan and Los Angeles, but the wood-fired ovens still push out chewy, charred crusts piled with creative toppings—like the Bee-Sting Pizza with sopressata, chili and honey or the Beastmaster with sausage, onions, capers and jalapeno. Rotating pastas are also worth the trip and the Duck Prosciutto starter can be ordered with home-made bread and butter. If you need some green, the Romaine Salad is studded with sweet, crunchy walnuts and a sprinkling of pecorino cheese. 261 Moore St., Brooklyn, NY 11206 Play at a Waterside Park Over the last decade, the city has poured huge amounts of cash into making waterfront Brooklyn livable. So, it’s worth taking the time to explore one of the beautifully located parks hugging the East River. Brooklyn Bridge Park and Empire Fulton Ferry are a duo of parks which span the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), and include three fully functional piers housing playgrounds, sports fields, basketball courts, a roller rink, bike trails, a hotel, a carousel and some of the most stunning views of downtown Manhattan you’ll ever see. You’ll also find the Time Out Market food hall, with 21different dining options to choose from, as well as Forninos, a sunset-friendly rooftop pizza restaurant. Move further north and you’ll hit Williamsburg’s Domino Park, a six-acre oasis transformed from the remnants of the former Domino Sugar Refinery. Kids will love the playground centered around a mini, climbable sugar refinery, but there’s also a dog run, bocce courts, beach volleyball and waterfront esplanade to explore. Grab a bite at Tacacina, an upscale taco shack and cocktail bar with plenty of outdoor seating. Visit Industry City Located in Sunset Park, a neighborhood formerly known for its transformative tacos, Latin American culture and thriving Chinatown, this towering complex of enormous repurposed warehouses merges business, makers, entertainment, dining, art, leisure and shopping in a space of over two million square feet. Shoppers might want to browse the Brooklyn outpost of ABC Carpet & Home, haggle for bargains in the Design Within Reach outlet or ogle the hand-screened, custom wallpaper at Flavor Paper, then wander over to one of the food kiosks like Avocaderia, Burger Joint or Kotti Berliner Doner Kebab. If you’re a fan of the Land of the Rising Sun, you’ll want to check out the new Japan Village, which encompasses a full food hall, Japanese supermarket and marketplace. Stringing the warehouses together are communal courtyards, letting you stumble on things like The Frying Pan bar decked out with ping pong tables and nine-hole mini golf course, sunset yoga classes, open-air concerts, art installations, and expanses of turf for the little ones to run around. A $5 Game Room will keep the kids busy for a few hours if you feel like doing some exploring or spending a little more time in the art gallery featuring rotating series of exhibitions. Oh, and did we mention Industry City is also the home of the New York Net’s training facility? You can check out a list of activities and events here. Spend the Day at Coney Island This historic amusement area has been hosting excitement seekers from near and far for over a century. And no matter when you’re visiting, there’s always something to see or do. Set up camp on the beach and ride the waves, then wander over to the rides and attractions to build your perfect itinerary of fun. The big rollercoasters are not included in the all-you-can-ride wristband option for the Luna Park amusement area, so you’ll have to buy individual tickets if you want to ride the legendary Cyclone or the newer Thunderbolt. Younger kids can also enjoy the more accessible rides at Dino’s Wonder Wheel and the New York Aquarium is also just a brief walk down the boardwalk. But don’t say goodbye without a stop at the original location of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, and don’t forget the cheese fries. Drink Up at a Local Distillery Brooklyners can make them as well as they can drink them, so taking a tour of the borough’s distilleries is a great way to enjoy locally crafted spirits. You can’t go wrong with a name like Brooklyn Brewery, and this Williamsburg mainstay has been making and distributing craft beer since the 80s. If you feel like trying the different brews, you can visit the Tasting Room, or book a Small Batch Tour or attend one of the public events. The New York Distilling Company is also based in WIliamsburg and puts out spirits like Dorothy Parker New York Gin and Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin—but make the trip and you can sit at the full service bar for cocktails or join a free tour or a VIP tour which includes a flask of house-made rye. Red Hook’s Widow Jane does double duty, producing local whiskey and sharing space with the Cacoa Prieto chocolate factory. Stop by to taste the whisky, bourbon rye at the distillery’s bar, Botanica, or join a walk-in tour. Private tours can also be arranged and include tastings of both booze and sweets. All tours take place on the weekends.
6 Things to Do in NYC During the Winter Holidays
Come the merry season, New York City is a hive of holiday activity. And whether you’re planning your own personal adventures or thrive on bulleted itineraries, there’s no right way to enjoy this festive time of year. We know the city never sleeps, but we’re fairly certain you do. So, before you pull out your planner and lace up your walking shoes, here are our picks for six things you just can’t miss in NYC this December. Hit Rockefeller Center Come for the tree, stay for the ice skating, shopping, restaurants, sightseeing, and entertainment – it's hard to think of the holidays in New York without Christmas at Rockerfeller Center. The iconic Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place on December 4 this year, but you can see it beautifully lit and decorated any time of the day or night until early 2020. And once you’ve gawked at your leisure, you may want to strap on ice skates and join the legions of revelers overlooked by a watchful Prometheus on The Rink or purchase tickets, preferably beforehand, to head to the Top of the Rock for stunning views of the five boroughs. Of course, if you’d rather relax on terra firma, there is a diverse shopping concourse, including restaurants and cafes—many rinkside—for meals and snacks, as well as the 12 sparkling angels lining the serene Channel Gardens. Kids will appreciate a quick (or not so quick) visit to the Lego Store and Nintendo NY, and the whole family will enjoy the NBC Studios and Behind-the Scenes tours at 30 Rock. Looking for a special adult-only moment? Consider reserving time for hand-crafted cocktails at the Rainbow Room’s elevated Bar SixtyFive. Chinese Food on Christmas Eve If you’re in the city without a home base, finding the right place for a special holiday dinner can seem daunting. Though many restaurants are closed on Christmas eve, allowing owners and staff spend time with their own families, you can follow the footsteps of throngs of Jewish New Yorkers and make a reservation at one of the city’s many Chinese restaurants. Chinatown is the most obvious choice to dine, and you can choose from favorites like the more contemporary Chinese Tuxedo, the group-friendly, dim sum palace Golden Unicorn, or the BYOB cult darling Peking Duck House. If, however, you’re feeling a little more adventurous, hop on the subway or grab a carshare to Flushing, Queens, where you’ll find a plentitude of street food, three indoor centers full of hawker stands and of course, many full-service restaurants. Dumpling Galaxy, housed in a shiny mall on Main St., is a must for dumpling lovers, with 100 different varieties sharing space on the long form menu, while Canton Gourmet serves up golden friend rice and specializes in beautifully served fresh seafood. Visit a Themed Pop Up Bar Nothing says holiday like a festive cocktail, and many bars in the city take advantage of this mirth by setting up a fun and fanciful winter-themed pop-up. Miracle and Sippin Santa, which started six years ago in the East Village and has ballooned to over 100 locations worldwide, will start on November 25 and last until December 31st, letting visitors enjoy signature cocktails like the Snowball Old-Fashioned and Ginger Bread Flip at the three Miracle locations, and tiki cocktails like Kris Kringle Colada and Jingle Bowl at the Sippin Santa downtown pop-up at Boilermaker. Vintage holiday decorations, classic, themed barware and an eclectic soundtrack of holiday tunes will be on hand, along with Ugly Sweater contests and, of course, an abundance of yuletide cheer. If you’re looking for something a little less kitschy, the Snow Globe in the Sky at Ophelia NYC, teetering on the top of the Beekman Tower, will be enclosed in glass and decorated with sparkling crystals and snowflakes. Along with a stunning view and plush, decadent setting, you can gorge on desserts and sip cocktail like the Rising Star and Fireside. Visit Miracle at (649 East) 9th St. and (505 East) 12th St.; Sippin Santa at 13 First Ave.; and Ophelia NYC at 49th and 1st Ave. Don’t Forget the Window Dressing Don’t feel like joining all those shoppers inside the stores? Why not do a circuit of NYC’s famous holiday windows to while away the hours. From fantastical adventures to fashionable follies, nothing compares to these spectacularly creative displays. We suggest you start uptown and swing by Bergdorf Goodman to see a dazzling array of otherworldly colors and patterns, Barneys for a more modern display, and the renowned eight, elegant windows at Bloomingdales—then swing by luxury jewelers Tiffany and Cartier just a few blocks down to eyeball the jaw-dropping bling draped in lights, bows and ribbons. On to Saks Fifth Avenue, where though we don’t yet know the 2019 theme, the centrally located, 5th Avenue department store will be revealing its displays on November 25 with a starry performance by Frozen’s own Idina Menzel and a ten-story tall light show. Next, make your way to Macy’s Herald Square for the six family friendly Broadway windows which open November 21 and are titled Believe in Wonder starring the magical Santa Girl. Get Tickets to Peter & the Wolf The Rockettes surely have their charm and Broadway is always a boon, but if you want to catch something special this season, grab your tickets now to Isaac Mizrahi’s reimagined classic Peter & the Wolf. Along with narrating and directing the show, the famed designer was also in charge of costumes for the sprawling cast. Performed at the Peter B. Lewis Theater inside the renowned Guggenheim Museum, this special, 30-minute performance is perfect for kids of all ages. Hit a Holiday Market Filled with fun, food, kids’ activities and, of course, shopping, the holiday market experience is a much nicer way to fulfill your shopping needs in a city full of crowded stores. The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, opening October 31, features a skating rink, and pop-up restaurant and bar, as well as over 175 boutiques to peruse. The tree lighting happens December 5 and Santa’s Corner is open for the kids from December 14 to the 22nd. Other markets to visit include the European-style Urban Space Union Square Holiday Market and food vendors, and Deck the Stalls at the Fulton Market in the Seaport District—which also provides access to ice rink and warming hut at The Rooftop at Pier 17.
7 of Europe's Best Winter Celebrations and Festivals
Europe is one of the most enchanting places to visit during the winter and holiday season. With its winding streets filled with glimmering lights and decorations, friendly locals and endless tables of holiday treats and gifts for sale, who can resist? If you’re planning a festive break, here are some of the best Christmas markets, celebrations and festivals to look for across the pond. Just don’t forget to leave space in your suitcase for all the souvenirs and gifts you’re going to buy! London, England Running for more than a decade, London’s Winter Wonderland exudes Christmas spirit through the city during the winter. The attraction hosts Christmas-themed fun and activities, including an enormous ice skating rink, rollercoaster rides, street food stalls, a Ferris wheel, a Bavarian-themed beer hall with live music and a huge Christmas market. Looking for a hotel near the Winter Wonderland? The Crowne Plaza London is a 20-minute walk from the festivities and a five-minute taxi ride to the shops and restaurants in Mayfair and Knightsbridge. Amsterdam, Netherlands The Amsterdam Light Festival is known near and far as one of the best winter events in Europe. In December and January, around 250 light installations of all shapes and sizes are on display illuminating the town. This all happens in the city center along the waters of Amsterdam’s canals during the dark winter months. Preparations for the exhibit go on the entire year, so you can imagine how magnificent the displays are. Lights adorn everything from the bridges to the trees and beyond. Take a canal boat for a magical look at all of the light art in the evening. It will be a highlight of the season. Strasbourg, France Opening at the end of November, the festive Strasbourg market is a favorite for Christmas lovers with its four Advent converts and Living Nativity, along with authentic live music. Having first launched back in 1570, travelers come from around the world to visit this magical place! Experience all that it has to offer, from its famous Christmas tree and scenic wooden chalets to the delicious mulled wine. If you’re looking for lodging, consider the Holiday Inn Express Strasbourg, an adorable hotel in the city center and only a short stroll away from the Christmas market. San Sebastian, Spain Move over Christmas markets. San Sebastian’s Tamborrada de Donostia, aka festival of drums begins on January 19th at midnight when the flag of San Sebastian is raised and signifies the start of the celebration. Thousands of locals and tourists gather in the city center to sing, dance, play drums and march for the next 24 hours. The festival is free and open to anyone to attend, but as with any festival the area is extremely busy. Many locals go out for a seafood dinner to celebrate the city, so make your reservations for dining and lodging ahead of time. Munich, Germany Head down the cobblestone streets of Munich to witness the Christmas spirit at the famous holiday markets. Various markets pop up throughout the city, but Marienplatz is the legendary one everyone visits, right in the heart of the city. You can expect a massive Christmas tree decked out in holiday garb; stalls galore filled with handmade trinkets and you may even catch carolers singing. Well, let’s be honest – you’ll definitely see carolers in this jolly town. Bergen, Norway There’s a gingerbread town in Norway, tell all of your friends. But seriously, the world’s largest gingerbread town is constructed every year in Bergen. Students and volunteers put together a full town composed of houses, boats and cars. There’s even a Ferris wheel made of cookies and icing. When do we get to eat it? Visit the mini version of Bergen from mid-November through December for around $10. Plus, there are a variety of Christmas markets throughout the town, so you can combine your tour with a visit to shop until you drop. Warsaw, Poland The post-card perfect market within Warsaw’s Old Town walls is home to more than 60 traditional wooden huts. They’re nestled among the snow and sell traditional mulled wine, adorable figurines and basically everything you could ever want to remember this fascinating city by. And if you’re looking for a white Christmas, it’s almost guaranteed in Warsaw. There are a variety of markets throughout the city that are either traditional or modern, but you’re guaranteed to find what you’re looking for during the month of December. So, grab a few pierogies and maybe some vodka and get in the holiday spirit Polish style.