Because not everyone is too attracted to the idea of spending a white Christmas and we can choose a temperate destination to enjoy a few days of vacation, we propose three nearby and temperate islands to spend Christmas.
From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, these destinations welcome the traveler with warm Christmas spirit and diverse options to enjoy these next holidays. They are not the Caribbean and we may need shelter when the sun goes down, but at this time it is more affordable to travel to them and hopefully, the day will leave us a few hours of sun.
Christmas in Malta
Christmas is lived in a very special way in Malta, I remember a New Year so sunny that the photos of those days look like it’s summer. That, if it were not because the unmistakable taste of Christmas also sneaks into the images: the streets are filled with ornaments, lights and colors and the shops and private houses put effort into the Christmas ornament.
The temperatures at Christmas do not usually fall below 12 degrees and during the day they can reach 20 as it was in our case. Strolling through the streets of Valletta, enjoying its viewpoints, its churches and monuments, its cuisine (including Christmas sweets) … will leave an unforgettable memory.
Most churches prepare and assemble their births and we see the figures of the nativity scene. The tradition of artisan nativity scenes is deeply rooted in Malta and there are exhibitions in different places, especially for the enjoyment of the little ones. In the Hostel of Italy in Valletta, we find nativity scenes from exhibitions throughout the island.
Another Maltese tradition at Christmas is the midnight mass of December 24, the Mass of the Rooster, also popular in Spain. Malta’s custom is for the sermon to be delivered by children under ten years old. Once the mass is over, friends or family gather in an establishment to have a typical English breakfast, at one o’clock in the morning. The most active continue the party in the Paceville area.
Another typical Maltese custom at Christmas is that on December 25, once Santa Claus has already brought the gifts to the children, a morning procession of children is celebrated in honor of the Child Jesus. On this tour, the children disguise themselves as different biblical characters and walk towards the church.
If you like classical music, be sure to check the programming of the Valletta theater, where high-level concerts, the Philharmonic of Malta (of high international prestige) or guest orchestras from other countries are organized every year.
By the end of the year, different Maltese cities such as Valletta and Floriana prepare celebrations in their historic centers. The iconic St. George’s Square hosts the celebrations of the capital, and St. Anne’s Street those of Floriana. Dance, music, and party in different pubs for those who want to receive the new year in a big way.
After the new year, there are no longer major celebrations, but the lighting and the nativity scenes are still a week, so the Christmas spirit continues in the streets of Malta for the enjoyment of the traveler.
If you travel to the neighboring island of Gozo, until January 6, 2019, the Ta ‘Passi (Ta’ Passi) village becomes a living nativity scene, in which all local residents of all ages participate.
Travel to Gran Canaria at Christmas
We pass to a warmer Christmas (even warm) in Gran Canaria. With an enviable climate all year round, at Christmas we expect about 22 degrees on average and eight hours of sunshine a day, which makes more than one dare to take a bath to receive the new year.
The cities are adorned with trees and Christmas lighting and there are many celebrations on outdoor terraces, Christmas concerts, Christmas markets with craft stalls like the traditional San Telmo market … Maybe we can try the typical sweets of these dates, like sweet potato trout and angel hair?
In the famous Playa de las Canteras we find an attraction not to be missed at Christmas: the Sand Bethlehem. We change the snowmen for the careful sculptures of this particular nativity scene, which already has 13 years of tradition.
With more than 170,000 visitors last year, the sand crib of Las Canteras will remain open to the public until January 6, the feast of the Magi. On this occasion, there have been eight sculptors from all over the world who have modeled, in just nine days, the Christmas scenes.
In addition, this Christmas temperate on the island of Gran Canaria we can see traditional nativity scenes, New Year’s Eve fires or the Three Kings Parade, essential if you travel with your family.
This Three Kings Cavalcade has a particularity, and its Majesties arrive by boat, disembarking at the Santa Catalina pier, and a journey that continues from the Castillo de la Luz to the Santa Catalina park for the little ones to enjoy the magic. At night, the party continues for the oldest in Triana and Vegueta.
Among the nativity scenes that we cannot miss, we can highlight the Birth of San Telmo Park, made with natural materials, that of Las Casas Consistoriales in the former headquarters of the Town Hall, or the one located in the Juan Rodríguez Palace, in Victorian style.
The music will not be missing either in these dates so marked and in the Christmas program, three calls already consolidated stand out: the Christmas concert of Los Gofiones in the Plaza de Santa Ana, which this edition turns 31, the XIII Christmas concert of the formation La Trova in the Atlantic Gardens, next to the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium, and the Non Trubada group that will liven up the Night of Kings in the park of San Telmo …
There is also children’s programming at the Palace Palace Rodríguez Quegles in Las Palmas and we cannot miss the end of the year party with music and fireworks on the Paseo de Las Canteras. And if you want to end the year in a healthy and fun way, sign up for the solidarity, participatory and festive race HPS San Silvestre in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Christmas in Cyprus
We finish with Christmas in Cyprus, the Mediterranean island where winter temperatures can reach up to 20ºC, attracting lovers of the sea, sun and beach and hiking, since in the winter months it is when it looks splendid.
Traveling to this island of Christian, Byzantine and Muslim roots is more affordable at this time and the proposals to perform very varied, given the extent of the island (the third largest in the Mediterranean): from knowing the archaeological remains, the sacred mountains and Do winter sports indoors to dive in the waters.
Cyprus is a country of orthodox Christian religious majority, followed by a notable minority of Muslims. Christmas is the most important holiday of the year celebrated by Christians, which fill streets and homes with typical Christmas decorations, trees, and nativity scenes.
On December 25, some houses will arrive loaded with Santa Claus gifts. Children go around the houses singing ‘Kalanda’, Byzantine songs, sometimes they are given money but above all they receive sweets. The family meets after the mass of 25 to taste typical sweets.
By the end of the year, “vasilopita” is typical, a cake with a coin inside. As in Spain, it happens with the Roscón de Reyes, whoever gets it will be lucky during the year (or is it who pays the roscón?).
New Year’s Eve is a party, not only because of the fireworks but also because it is the night in which Ayios Vasilis (San Basilio) brings the children their Christmas gifts.
Called “tear of Aphrodite”, or “the cradle of Aphrodite” because the Greek goddess of love and beauty was born on the beaches of Paphos, both in this city on the south of the island and in Larnaca, Kakopetria, Lefkosia … you can enjoy a mild climate and a quiet tradition.
No need to go to the Caribbean. We hope you have a great holiday, colder or warmer, maybe in one of these three nearby and temperate islands to enjoy Christmas.