Christmas becomes all the more magical with the brisk fresh mountain air and snow-capped peaks, presenting the perfect backdrop to the rustic alpine villages. Combined with the smell of cinnamony-orange mulled wine wafting through the air, the joy of being away for Christmas is spending the day skiing, being welcomed home to an open log fire and a Christmas supper in a traditional log chalet. Everything you’ve ever dreamed of?
Les Gets is the family friendly little sibling to Morzine and Avoriaz. This quiet village has a very festive ambiance, with twinkling Christmas lights brightening the charming streets, originally the streets of an alpine farming village. The locals run a stall where you can enjoy a Merveille tasting hand in hand with either a chocolat chaud or vin chaud. In the run up to Christmas, you can visit Papa Noël’s cabin in the heart of the enchanted forest, watch an ice sculpting spectacle or build snowmen. The festivities spark off on Christmas Eve, with a firework display followed by the arrival of Father Christmas. Cosy up around the open log fires in the charming rustic La Pela restaurant and taste the local Savoyarde cuisine, notably a cheese fondue or raclette.
Megève, the super chic 13th century village is the French favourite, with a glimmering Swarovski Christmas tree as the centrepiece. The cobbled streets are not short of glittery boutique shops, that really add to the festivity during the cold winter evenings. You won’t struggle to find good restaurants, with an including a crème de la crème of French chefs. Spend Christmas afternoon celebrating with floods of champagne at the Folie, which overlooks Mont Blanc, while Boxing Day can be spent easing your hangover at the spa.
Saalbach – Flying into Salzburg, you really must make a detour via the Christkindtmarkt. The medieval streets are lined with local produce, handmade crafts and Austrian Christmas delicacies, roasted chestnuts are the locals favourite. The market lies in the square in front of the cathedral, where the sounds of carols drift around the romantic Baroque town. Once in Salzburg, you can relax in the Felsebtherme Gastein spa, skate around the ice rink and enjoy the Christmas Eve concert in the church, which will not disappoint as this area really lives up to its ‘Sound of Music’ fame.
Mürren – Popular with the likes of James Bond and great for cross-country skiing, this sweet, car-free, Swiss village jingles with the sounds of cowbells and horse drawn sleighs. The inhabitants flock together to sing carols at midnight mass in the local church, after which they enjoy hot chocolate, glüwhein and ringli (Swiss donuts) together. The Jungfrau ski area is also linked with the popular and glitzy Wengen, so you will not be short of mountain lodges to dine in.
If you’re keeping the dream of Santa alive, then Lapland would be your perfect holiday destination. With visits to find the man himself, you really can’t avoid the spirit of Christmas, with elves there to cater for your every need. You can also visit their hand made igloos, or enjoy a sleigh ride led by reindeers around Finnish Lapland, as long as they’re not too tired from their errands with Mr. Claus. If you’re extremely lucky, the starry sky will magically light up with swirls of blue, green and turquoise in the form of the aurora borealis.