Some universities give a whole month off for Christmas. No point wasting that on family politics, sherry with Grandma and watching the Queen’s Speech on the Big Day – especially not when it’s the perfect time to go travelling.
You might not get the usual festive feast you’re used to on Christmas Day, but instead you could be eating shrimps on a barbie or skiing in Scandinavia (or Canada!). Either way this is your year to make your winter university break one to remember with some super cool travel plans. Bring on the next instalment of the student loan!
Get festive in Finland
Embrace the cold, dig out the snow boots and fly to the North Pole. You may be too old to believe in Santa, but his fabled home and reindeer pals are very real and you can capture a bit of the festive magic for yourself with a trip to Lapland.
Visit the northern village of Saariselkä in Finland where you can opt to stay in a cosy log cabin or keep it cool in an igloo. From there, there’s an endless list of winter activities: hit the nearby slopes, do a bit of dog-sledding or even try your hand at ice fishing.
At this time of year the daylight hours are at an all time low and thermal suits are essential – especially for those late nights looking for the elusive Northern Lights.
See in the New Year in New England
A trip to Boston, the capital of Massachusetts, is perfect for those who love all things festive and want to add a touch more tradition to their holiday break. With cobbled alleys, cast iron street lamps and colonial buildings, Boston throws you back to Christmases of olde.
You can explore the city’s museums to get your culture fix and follow the Freedom Trail for the area’s revolutionary history. Then, add a touch more movie magic to your trip with a skate along Boston Common’s Frog Pond before cosying up to an open fire in a pub like Post 390 or the Legal Harborside.
As if the ribboned windows and garland decorations weren’t enough to bring you holiday cheer, stick around for the Mayor’s Holiday Special and you’ll get discounts and vouchers for some of the city’s best events.
New Year, New Zealand
If you want to swap the turtlenecks for trunks and replace the Corrie Christmas special with a Lord of the Rings experience, make your way to New Zealand. Here you can gift yourself a bucket full of adventure.
With the Kiwi Experience bus pass, you can easily spend a few weeks touring the two islands of the country. See the waterfalls of Milford Sound, bungee in Queenstown or swim with dolphins in Christchurch. Wherever you hop on and off on your NZ tour, you’ll be snowed under with fun activities and stunning summer views.
Snap away in Slovenia
Remote, peaceful and extremely Instagrammable, Slovenia’s Lake Bled is a great winter getaway. You’ll find the lakeside town in the Julian Alps in the northwest of the country and, although beautiful all year round, the winter frost adds a fairy-tale touch.
To make it even more Narnia-esq, Lake Bled has a medieval castle, snow-capped mountains, the Postojna caves and a random island home to nothing but a lonely church. As if it could get more romantic, the locals will even tell you legends of love and of mystical gods that are said to exist in the lake.
Tying it all up nicely, you can travel by horse and cart back to your accommodation, where even most of the budget of hotels have thermal pools for you to take a dip in.
Mountain exploration in Montreal
Pretty all year round, Montreal really transforms into an icy adventure land in the colder months. Base yourself in the city centre and you’ll have easy access to the Bota Bota outdoor spa and the Basilique Notre-Dame, but you won’t be too far away from the likes of Mont Olympia and Mont Royal where you can ski, tube and sleigh.
Wait to visit until January and Montreal hosts the fete des neiges each weekend where you can sculpt some ice, listen to local bands and skate along the Saint-Lawrence River.
Igloofest also rides in around the same time bringing electro music fans the best acts to shake their snowsuits too.