Let it snow! Six places you can fly to from Manchester where you’re (almost) guaranteed a White Christmas
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, you’re not alone. From the wintry scenes described by Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol, to snowmen on cards, Christmas and snow go hand in hand.
And yet White Christmases in the UK are surprisingly rare. There were only six officially recorded in the whole of the 20th century – and the last time Britain saw widespread snow on Christmas Day was in 2010.
However, there are plenty of places you can fly to directly from Manchester Airport where you’re very likely to be greeted with a blanket of snow when you open your curtains on Christmas morning – and many of them are only a couple of hours’ flight away. The UK’s global gateway in the North serves around 200 destinations and many of these are best enjoyed during the winter months.
If a white Christmas is something you’ve always wanted to experience, you might want to consider one of these six destinations for a festive getaway.
Perhaps the most obvious choice in this list, Lapland straddles the north of three Nordic countries – Finland, Sweden and Norway – but it’s Finnish Lapland which has carved out a niche for itself as the home of Santa Claus. More than 40,000 people fly from Manchester to this part of the world every December, and airlines including TUI and easyJet operate services to no fewer than four Lapland airports.
The city of Rovaniemi is the centre of the action, and its Santa Claus village gives children and grown-ups alike the chance to meet the man himself.
The capital city of Latvia, on the coast of the Baltic Sea, is a fantastic place to get in the festive mood. Its Christmas Market is held in the pretty cobbled streets of its Old Town, where a coating of snow is a common sight in December. Visitors can enjoy all of the classic flavours of the season, from mulled wine and hot chocolate to roasted chestnuts and grilled sausages – as well as picking up some bargain souvenirs.
Ryanair flies to Riga from Manchester three times a week throughout December.
Visitors are drawn to Iceland at Christmas by unique festive traditions, guaranteed snow and the ideal conditions that the month of December offers for seeing one of nature’s most spectacular shows – the Northern Lights. The famous Blue Lagoon hotspring near Reykjavik is open throughout the month if you need to warm up, while the streets of the capital are adorned with a dazzling display of festive lights and its ‘Yule Town’ festival boasts an outdoor ice rink.
easyJet, Jet2.com, TUI and Icelandair all fly directly from Manchester to Reykjavik, and travellers can get some great deals in December.
The Alps is Europe’s biggest mountain range, spanning eight countries including France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria, and the altitude means parts are snow-capped all year round, never mind just at Christmas.
Many of the region’s world-famous ski slopes open in December, but if you’re not a winter sports enthusiast, you’ll find some outstanding Christmas markets in picturesque Alpine cities like Innsbruck, Bolsano and St Moritz. The latter is the starting point of Switzerland’s iconic Glacier Express, which takes in sweeping views of some of the Alps’ most dramatic wintry landscapes. The region’s cultural mix means you’ll come across festive culinary specialities from Italian panettone to German lebkuchen and French terrine.
There are multiple cities with direct flights to Manchester that are either nestled in the Alps or sat at the foot of the mountain range. These include Grenoble in France, Geneva and Zurich in Switzerland, Milan-Bergamo in Italy, Munich in Germany, and Innsbruck and Salzburg in Austria.
This mountain range forms a natural border between France and Spain and is also home to one of the world’s smallest countries, the tiny nation of Andorra. Its snow-topped peaks and valleys envelop countless quaint small towns and villages. Those staying here over Christmas can enjoy epic wintry views and indulge in festive favourites like Turrón nougat and polvorones, a type of sweet and crumbly almond cookie.
The city of Girona is the gateway to the Spanish Pyrenees, while the French side can be easily reached from Toulouse – and both cities benefit from direct links to Manchester.
If you want Christmas snow and you’re feeling adventurous, Toronto is an eight-hour direct hop across the Atlantic from Manchester with Air Canada or Airtransat. Canada’s largest city sees frequent snowfall between November and February, so you’ll have a strong chance of seeing some settled snow on a December trip. Toronto is also a gateway to the breathtaking Algonquin Provincial Park, which transforms into a winter wonderland at this time of year, with dog sled rides and wildlife spotting. If exploring the wilderness isn’t your thing, join the locals at the Distillery Winter Village, one of the oldest and most popular Christmas markets in North America.