Your Scottish Airport to the World
The best Christmas and New Year holidays from Glasgow Airport
02 October 2017
We've put together some of the best places to visit for Christmas and New Year, whether you want to sun yourself on the beaches of Sydney or Cape Verde, experience a full-on advent extravaganza in the Christmas markets of Berlin, or see some truly spectacular Christmas lights in the skies over Iceland; you can do it all flying from Glasgow Airport.
1. Cape Verde
With average December temperatures of 25°C, Cape Verde is an ideal place to escape Britain’s grey skies at Christmas. It’s not too far away, either: this archipelago of 10 islands lies just off the coast of West Africa, around 6 hours’ flying time from the UK. Cape Verde is becoming increasingly popular with British travellers thanks to its stunning beaches, and the island of Sal has some of the best. The white sands of Santa Maria beach remain relatively unspoilt despite its increasing popularity, and the aptly named Kite Beach is packed with kite surfers between November and June, all hoping to catch some powerful Atlantic gusts. Grab a board from Surf Zone Cabo Verde and join in the wave-leaping fun. But away from the beach, Sal has an awe-inspiring Martian interior and some pretty crazy salt lakes.
Direct flights from Glasgow Airport to Cape Verde are available every Thursday with TUI Travel and can be booked now at thomson.co.uk.
2. New York, United States
New York is a city that’s known for its excess, and it goes all out at Christmas. Go ice skating on the Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park, a snip at $3, and marvel at the skyscrapers looming behind you, or gawp at the astonishing Christmas window displays in stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany’s. Make sure to take a look at the enormous Christmas tree in Rockefeller Square, which last year was nearly 29 metres tall and lit with around 50,000 lights. And if you can get tickets, check out the glitzy Radio City Christmas Spectacular, featuring the dancing Rockettes and a flying Santa. If you’re planning to visit at New Year, it may be tempting to head to Times Square to join around 1 million revellers watching the famous ball descend to signal the New Year. But you’ll have to get there in the afternoon to bag a good spot, and you’ll have to cross your legs, too – there are no toilets. Perhaps it’s just as well that public drinking is banned as well. A far better bet is to head to Prospect Park in Brooklyn to watch the spectacular New Year fireworks – and it’s free, to boot.
Flights from Glasgow Airport to New York are available daily from just £358 return with Aer Lingus, British Airways, and Icelandair and can be booked now through Air Glasgow.
3. Bangkok, Thailand
Despite December being the coolest month of the year in Bangkok, the city still sees an average temperature of 26°C – more than hot enough to break out the crop tops and surf shorts on Christmas Day. It’s the perfect destination if you really want to get away from all things Christmassy – 95% of the population is Buddhist, and Christmas is not widely celebrated, although you might see the odd Christmas tree in the commercial districts. If you’re looking for a luxury festive treat, try heading for a fancy cocktail in the Moon Bar atop one of Bangkok’s tallest buildings (cocktails start at around £13*). And if you’re visiting Bangkok for New Year, you’re in for a great time – Bangkok is famed for its nightlife, and hotspots like GLOW and Maggie Choo’s hold legendary NYE parties. Or you could join the thousands of Thais who flock to see the fireworks at Central World Square – and last year, the crowds were treated to specially arranged bouts of Muay Thai (Thai boxing) as well, which is certainly a memorable way to ring in the New Year.
Flights from Glasgow Airport to Bangkok are available daily from just £464 return with Emirates and can be booked now through Air Glasgow.
4. Berlin, Germany
Berlin has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, so it’s an ideal place to go to soak up the season. The Berliner Weinachtszeit behind Alexanderplatz is one of the biggest, and it runs right through the festivities, starting on 27th November and ending on 29th December – in fact, it’s even open on Christmas Day. Set against the backdrop of Berlin’s 50-metre-high ferris wheel, the market boasts its own (free) ice rink – you can hire skates for €4 – and it’s packed with stalls selling traditional arts and crafts and mulled wine, all to the soundtrack of barrel organ music. But if you’re planning to stay over New Year, know that Berlin is one of Europe’s greatest party destinations. Around 1 million people descend on the ‘Party Mile’ between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column for a free pop-up street party packed with bars, stages and party tents. At midnight, the fireworks ignite, but the party doesn’t stop there – in fact, it’s just getting started. As the event’s website so succinctly puts it: “There is no official closing time.”
Direct flights from Glasgow Airport to Berlin are available twice daily from just £18 return with easyJet and Ryanair and can be booked now through Air Glasgow.
5. The Canary Islands
If you’re looking for a Christmas beach holiday, the Canary Islands boast plenty of beautiful coastline along with average December temperatures of around 19°C. Christmas is widely celebrated throughout these Spanish islands, although with the odd tropical twist – head to Las Canteras beach in the city of Las Palmas on Gran Canaria to see the annual display of Christmas-themed sand sculptures. While we’re on the subject of beaches, the tall cliffs and black sands of nearby Playa de Puerto Naos make it an ideal sun trap for some winter sunbathing. But if you really want to get some peace, head to Playa de Guigui, a remote beach that’s only reachable by water taxi or by a two-hour walk from the nearest road. Meanwhile, Playa de las Teresitas in Santa Cruz on Tenerife offers golden sands courtesy of the Sahara Desert: the entirety of this man-made beach was imported from the African mainland. On New Year’s Eve, towns across the islands hold street parties, such as the annual gathering in Corralejo town square on Fuerteventura. If you’re planning to attend, make sure to bring a bottle of cava and 12 green grapes to eat on the stroke of midnight. And speaking of Spanish traditions, don’t forget to wear red underwear on NYE to make sure you’re lucky in love for the year to come.
Direct flights from Glasgow Airport to Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife are available daily from just £30 return with Jet2, Ryanair, Thomas Cook and TUI Travel and can be booked now through Air Glasgow.
6. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Amsterdam Light Festival runs from 1st December to 22nd January, and transforms the Dutch city into a glittering mass of Christmas lights and displays. The famous canals are lit up by stunning light displays from 5pm to 11pm – they’re best viewed on a canal cruise, and boat trips can be booked through the Light Festival website. Alternatively, there’s the Illuminade walking route (15th December until 8th January, 5pm to 10pm), which you can explore yourself on foot – or you can hire a ‘Guide of Light’, complete with lit-up costume, to take you through the exhibits. At New Year, you’ll find street parties in public places right across the city, with fireworks popping up from every direction at midnight – the Oosterdock has some of the best displays. Then it’s time to hit Amsterdam’s famous club scene and dance ‘til dawn – Awakenings at the Gashouder boasts one of the biggest parties around.
Direct flights from Glasgow Airport to Amsterdam are available daily from just £77 return with easyJet and KLM and can be booked now through Air Glasgow.
7. Sydney, Australia
If you want to get away from dreary winter weather, you can’t get much further than Sydney. The city sees average December temperatures of 22°C, and the sea is a balmy 21°C – head to Bondi Beach, hire a surfboard (AU$30 for a board and wetsuit for two hours from Let’s Go Surfing) and enjoy some Yuletide breakers. There’s all the Christmas markets you’d expect of a big city, too: the Very Merry Christmas Rocks Market runs from 2nd December, providing hand-made gifts and delicious food, from barbecued salmon to lamb kebabs. And Sydney is one of the most exciting places to be for New Year – for a start, it’s the first big city in the world to see the clocks strike midnight, being 10 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, so you can be ringing in the New Year in your shorts and T-shirt whilst your friends back home are still deliberating on which winter gear to don for the cold night ahead. The city also has one of the biggest firework displays in the world to celebrate New Year. In fact, there are two displays – one at 9pm and one at midnight – which light up the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
Flights from Glasgow Airport to Sydney are available daily from just £614 return with Emirates and can be booked now through Air Glasgow.
8. Reykjavik, Iceland
When it comes to Christmas lights, they don’t come much more spectacular than the Aurora Borealis. Reykjavik Excursions offers daily, three-hour guided tours in search of the famous Northern Lights – and if you don’t spot them, you can go again, free of charge. The tour will set you back 6,900 Icelandic kroner, or about £51. Make sure to try smoked lamb while you’re in Reykjavik – it’s a popular choice for Christmas dinner, and a deservedly famous Icelandic dish. The animals are left free to roam all summer, grazing on various herbs and plants that give their meat a complex flavour. Dill Restaurant is an excellent place to try traditional Icelandic lamb, along with various other local dishes, such as Skyr – a type of soft cheese made with sugar and blueberries. At New Year, expect to see locals gathered around bonfires, singing, playing music and dancing, while fireworks whoosh into the sky at regular intervals. And as the hangover kicks in on New Year’s Day, you could always soothe your aching body with a trip to a natural hot spring – the famous Blue Lagoon is just by Reykjavik on the Reykjanes peninsula.
Direct flights from Glasgow Airport to Reykjavik are available daily from just £118 return with Icelandair and can be booked now through Air Glasgow.