Happy Holidays, Frohe Feiertage, Joyeuses fêtes, ¡Felices Fiestas!
|Hold on tight: Practice your mushing skills on an arctic dogsled ride in Norway (courtesy, Innovation Norway/Casper Tybjerg)|
Best Indoor Tour: Innsbruck, Austria
Disney-on-acid comes to mind in Kristallwelten (Crystal World), which is just outside of Innsbruck, a mesmerizing multimedia sensory adventure with exhibits that include the world's largest kaleidoscope, a poem sculpture that continually rewrites itself, and a perception-bending crystal dome. Here, all that glitters is crystal, and kids are captivated by the mystical presentations, to say nothing of the gift shop. Entry to Crystal World—and bus fare from the center of Innsbruck—is free with the Innsbruck Card. Shop Innsbruck's holiday market for Tyrolean handicrafts and intricately carved ornaments. www.innsbruck.info for the Innsbruck Card.
Longest Sledding Run in Europe: Grindelwald, Switzerland
Winter in Grindelwald means skiing and snowboarding, snow tubing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and excellent family programs. But the must-go reason for hearty outdoor types is the thrill of zipping down Europe's longest sledding trail—traveling nine miles, starting in Faulhorn and ending almost two miles from Grindelwald. Getting to Faulhorn requires a short bus ride to Restaurant Bussalp (one mile), then a two-and-a-half-hour walk on pristine groomed winter walking trails—worth every step. Not ready for the full run? Families with younger children can zip along the five-mile Bussalp to the Grindelwald portion. www.grindelwald.ch
Best Way to Set Sail with Santa: Norway
Hurtigruten's "Discover Winter Norway" (formerly Norwegian Coastal Voyages) shows families why cruising isn't just for warm weather. On six- to eight-day voyages departing from Bergen and Tromso, you'll not only celebrate Norwegian Yuletide with smorgasbord feasts and carols around a tree, you'll glide past a winter-wrapped coastline and storybook villages of compelling beauty. If conditions are right, you'll also witness nature's ethereal lightshow, the Aurora Borealis. Sure, Santa comes onboard, but for those wanting tradition with a twist, optional shore excursions include snowmobile safaris and dogsledding into the very heart of winter, the arctic landscape. "God Jul" to all. Best for ages 11 and up. www.hurtigruten.us
Best Place to Step into a Dickens Christmas: Rochester, Kent, UK
Each December, the world of Dickens comes to life on the streets of Rochester, 90 minutes from Heathrow, with the annual Dickensian Christmas Festival, complete with costumed Dickens characters, Victorian décor, street entertainment, readings, and parades. Visit Eastgate House, one of two Rochester homes where Dickens lived (it was the Seminary in The Pickwick Papers) and the house that inspired his Christmas story The Seven Poor Travellers. Stop in the Guildhall Museum to check out the Dickens Discovery Room, have tea, and shop for crafts throughout the weekend. Back in London, take a seat at the Chicken Shed Theatre Company for a kid-centric performance of A Christmas Carol with a cast of hundreds, original music, and dance. The show typically runs from early December through mid January. www.medway.gov.uk;www.chickenshed.org.uk
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication