Pic: www.visitedplanet.comChristmas means one thing - holidays! And it's time to start planning them now. In this newsletter we give you options from around the world that could take you skiing in Canada, carol singing in old London town, sitting on a beach in Queensland, diving in Western Australia or hanging out in Auckland. There should be something for everyone here. And remember if you can't make it to these destinations over Christmas, they are great places to visit all year round in different seasons.

Auckland, NZ | London, UK | Mission Beach, QLD | Kelowna, Canada | Albany, WA


Pic: aucklandnz.comAuckland made the Lonely Planet's top 10 cities list this year and for good reason. It's funky, it's fun, there's good food, the climate is brilliant and there's plenty to do. While it's a great place to visit any time of the year, Christmas brings fabulous weather to the capital. Of course you can take in all the major sights such as the harbours, the off shore islands, Mt Victoria, North Head, Sky Tower, the museums, galleries or even travel to the Coromandel Peninsula, but there are also plenty of Christmas events such as Christmas in the Park at the Auckland Domain (14 December), the Christmas Parade (24 November), the Queen Street Christmas Lights, live performances in Aotea Square (7-21 December) and markets (14-16 December), Silo Park's Night Market (Fridays in December) followed by the outdoor cinema, and the Christmas Tree in Victoria Park.

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Pic: visitlondon.comIf you're in Europe old London Town is one of the best places to go over the holiday season that really feels like Christmas. So get out your stockings, rug up warm and join in the fun going on around town. Not only are all the stores decked out with lights and trees, but there are plenty of fun events and activites on as well to get you in the Christmas spirit. Some of these include:
* Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park (23 November to 5 January)
* Ice rinks where you can skate in key city locations such as at Somerset House, Natural History Museum, Winter Wonderland, Broadgate, Canary Wharf, Hampton Court, Tower of London, Westfield, London Eye and Chelsea.
* Christmas markets with beautiful stalls featuring food, drink and gifts to get you jolly. Some of these include markets at The Scoop, Natural History Museum, Hyde Park, Southbank, Olympia, Spitalfields, Kew and Belgravia.
* Christmas lights in full force on Regent Street and Canary Wharf.
* Numerous Christmas concerts take place around London in locations like the Royal Albert Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, St Pauls Cathedral and Keats House.
For details of all these events go to

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Pic: missionbeachtourism.comThis small beachside town along Queensland's north coast lies roughly half way between Townsville and Cairns and popular Dunk Island is just off shore. It has a pleasant, small town feel and the beach is flanked by mountains inland, while views out to sea take in the beautiful Family Islands. Trust us you'll probably spend a lot of time gazing at the view it's that perfect. There's also a reef just off shore. The nearby rainforest also means cassowaries and tropical rainforest birds can be seen. Our VIP Backpackers hostel in Mission Beach can help you arrange all kinds of activities at their tour desk such as white water rafting, sky diving, snorkeling, fishing, diving, rainforest walks and trips to fantastic Dunk Island.

Accommodation |Tours: Townsville, Cairns 

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Pic: Same Sun Backpackers LodgeIf you fancy a bit of white powder action over Christmas then this small town in Okanagan Valley in British Columbia is the place for you. It is actually a fantastic four season destination but it's particularly good in the winter thanks to its location near ski resorts like Silver Star Mountain where VIP Backpackers has another hostel and where you can enjoy light, dry powder snow that is just perfect for any skiing or snow boarding enthusiast! There are three other ski resorts within a short drive of the city including Big White, Crystal Mountain and Apex and all offer an array of skiing or snowboarding. There are also some great cross country skiing activities with plenty of clubs that maintain trails in the area. At night head out for great entertainment, warm clubs and pubs and plenty of Christmas spirit. If you can't make it here this winter consider it a location at other times of the year when biking, bird watching, horse back riding, hiking and wine tasting are other activities you can enjoy.

Accommodation: Silver Star Mountain Resort | Kelowna 

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Pic: you've never heard of this outpost 400km SE of Perth in Western Australia's Great Southern region it's time to get acquainted. Albany is a great destination from which to explore this part of the state and a great stop over if you're heading from Adelaide to Perth along the Nullarbor plain (one of Australia's great overland journeys). Albany is renowned for its natural beauties. It's a good wine producing district, has some excellent beaches, plenty of remnants from the convict era if you like a bit of history, plus there's whale watching, diving, fishing, wine tasting and other activities to enjoy close to town. The diving is particularly spectacular with the scuttling of a warship in 2001 creating an excellent artificial reef. But there are also fantastic natural reefs as well. Whales often pass by between July and October and there are plenty of paddle boats, kayaks and dinghies to rent if you fancy getting out on the waters. If not enjoy the local wines at Christmas, the superb climate and wonderful natural vistas.

Accommodation | Tours: Perth

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