Try an Alternative Winter Festival this Year
Sometimes, the things we love most about Christmas can become a bit of a bore. Turkey with all the trimmings, presents under the tree and Uncle Joe asleep on the couch in time for the Queen's speech - why not really get away from it all and celebrate with a different kind of winter festival this year?
Fête Des Neiges, Montreal
Montreal's Snow Festival (January 19th - February 3rd 2013) has to be seen to be believed. Set mainly in and around Parc Jean-Drapeau, two beautiful islands in the Saint Lawrence River, the annual event is a huge celebration of everything that's great about cold weather. Incredible ice sculptures, tube slides, ice hockey, skating and, of course, snowmen are all part of this amazing festival of the white stuff.
Sydney Festival, Sydney
If you really want a winter holiday with a difference, why not take it in the middle of summer? Anything's possible if you travel Down Under - and Sydney Festival (January 5th - 27th 2013) takes place during the country's hottest month. Comprising three weeks of music, theatre, dance and visual art, it's a wild and wonderful time to visit Australia's largest city, with more than 330 performances and 100 events to choose from.
Festival Paris Baroque, Paris
Launching for the first time this year, Festival Paris Baroque (November 23rd - December 9th 2012) is a must-visit for classical music aficionados - and should make for a romantic getaway for any lovebirds, too. Promising music from the 17th and 18th centuries at venues around the French capital, including some of its most stunning mediaeval churches, this series of concerts in the city of love looks set to be a major success.
Chinese New Year, Hong Kong
Chinese New Year (February 10th 2013) is probably the biggest celebration on the Chinese calendar, and nowhere does it better than Hong Kong. Be prepared for a parade of enormous, brightly-lit floats, fireworks, presents and delicacies. It's also a great time to pick up presents for friends and family back home, as shops in Hong Kong hold their biggest sales during the New Year season.