For many of us at least, the antics of a certain Mr. Claus tend to dominate the month of December.
However, not all festivals at this time of year come with the sound of sleigh bells ringing and a 'ho-ho-ho' from the big man in boots. From hot air balloons in India and light installations in Amsterdam to DJs and snowboarding in California, December is as good a month as any for great festivals and events. Here are a few to whet your appetite – and maybe even inspire you to get out and find one close to where you live!
Green, deliciously lush jungles, impossibly picturesque coffee and spice fields, bright white beaches, and historical towns littered with ancient ruins. Welcome to the Indian region of Karnataka. Imagine all this scenery… from above. Or, actually, imagine feasting your eyes on this colorful tableau from above while flying in a hot air balloon. Can you picture it?
The Karnataka Hot Air Balloon Festival – a four-day event taking place at the end of December and start of January in the three main Karnatakan towns of Bidar, Mysore and Hampi – is the southwest Indian way of grabbing the old year by its tail and making a flying start to the new year. It’s a huge event, one that is likely to attract thousands of revelers from India and abroad, making for a really cool atmosphere.
(That cool atmosphere serves a purpose, by the way – put very simply, hot air balloons rise because warm air rises in cooler air. There’s some poetic beauty in physics, alright!)
Close your eyes and say: ‘Karnataka.’ Say it again: ‘Karnataka!’
Amsterdam Light Festival – Amsterdam, the Netherlands
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Amsterdam couldn't get any prettier, but you'd nevertheless be mistaken. That's because the annual Amsterdam Light Festival – running from December 1st, 2016 until January 22nd, 2017 – sees a diverse array of vibrant light installations popping up in the city's historic canals and one of its most vibrant neighborhoods.
Now in its sixth year, the Amsterdam Light Festival is a celebration of light art that brings together artists, designers and architects from all over the world. There are two themes or 'exhibitions' that residents and visitors to the city can explore this year: 'Water Colors' in the famous canal ring and 'Illuminade' in the Plantage neighborhood.
You don't have to pay anything to enjoy these installations, of course; you only need to set off for a night-time stroll along the canals or wander around the Plantage after dinner in one of the neighborhood's chic restaurants to see what's on display.
But for the best view and most enjoyable means of experiencing the festival, you should consider buying a ticket for a boat tour around 'Water Colors.' That’s because some of the installations are right there in the water, including 'Flower Strip' by design studio Aether & Hemera – which happens to be just across from the TRVL office on the Herengracht!
SnowGlobe Music Festival – South Lake Tahoe, California, USA
Things are about to get wild and electronic on South Lake Tahoe, where the SnowGlobe Music Festival will serve up an inventive music-fest-meets-snowboarding-frenzy on New Year's Eve as well as December 29th and December 30th.
A line-up of some 50 artists – including a couple of big-name DJs and covering an array of electropop, house and hip-hop genres – will provide the tunes, while next to the main stage, professional snowboarders will show off their jumps and tricks.
If you’re into winter sports, the chances are that you’ll be itching to hit the slopes yourself instead of merely watching others. That’s why SnowGlobe offers you lift tickets to go up to Heavenly Mountain – one of the region’s top ski/snowboard resorts – at a reduced price.
Owning the resort’s 4,800 acres of slopes by day, shaking your sore hips loose at night, grooving your way into the new year in a great setting: that does sound heavenly indeed.