Bondi Beach, Australia
This beautiful beach in Sydney is home to one of the most popular Christmas day backpacker parties in the world. Thousands of ‘Christmas orphans’ flock here to spend a scorching Christmas away from home and the chilly Northern Hemisphere. Things have calmed down a bit recently, after the mayhem got out of control and the council had to ban alcohol consumption on the main beach. However, drinks are served in the ‘Pavilion’, which hosts Djs and bands, and a festive mood prevails with fairy lights and scantily clad elves.
This is India’s smallest state, but it is unlike anywhere else in the country at Christmas time. About a third of all Goans are Catholic, and the holiday is celebrated with gusto, including carol singing, concerts, feasting, colourful Indian style nativity scenes and tons of decoration. There are over 400 churches, and most hold a traditional midnight mass, which foreigners are welcome to attend, as long as they are dressed appropriately. Goa also has a legendary party scene, and Christmas and New Year are prime time. You can watch fireworks on the beach while dancing the night away at one of the many beach clubs, and it’s not only psy-trance anymore. Sunburn Festival, the largest electronic music festival in Asia, also takes place here every year between about the 27th and 31st.
This country, formed of more than 7,000 tropical islands and with a population which is 90% Catholic, wins the prize for the longest and most lavish Christmas celebrations in the world. Light displays and festivals pop up all over the country as early as September, but it’s not a marketing ploy here, the massively long holiday season is a time for family and attending an incredible amount of masses. Traditional lights of bamboo and paper, called parols, are hung all over towns and villages, to guide the paths of those heading to all the midnight and dawn ceremonies. In contrast to the serious side, this time of year also sees almost non stop parties, of which food and drink play an important part.
Around Christmas in Costa Rica, things get a tiny bit cooler, and by that we mean beautifully pleasant beach weather. December is also chock-a-block with festivals, all of which are celebrated with plenty of Latin American flavour and passion. The Fiesta de la Luz takes place in San Jose, and has basically morphed into one massive carnival, with floats, performers, fireworks and more than a million attendees. The Fiesta de Zapote is also very popular and is more like a giant fairground, with rides, portable bars, live music and bloodless bullfights called Toros a la Tica.
It’s easy to see why so many people imagine Hawaii as a tropical paradise, and that’s because it is. For such an isolated set of islands there is an amazing amount to do, and this is especially true at Christmas, when events and parties are in full swing, and the festive spirit of goodwill is contagious. You can see live concerts and parades in the centre of Honolulu, and in the same day go surfing or mountain climbing. The lack of traditional Christmas scenery is more than made up for with unique decorations, such as the 6 metre tall Shaka Santa dressed in red shorts and open shirt, seated next to his wife Tutu Mele, who is clad in a traditional Hawaiian dress.