Up north, the weather’s likely to be cold and wet (go high altitude or latitude to swap rain for more-fun snow)
But there's Christmas magic to temper the chill, as festive markets dot Europe, and some North American cities. Sun-seekers rejoice: the Caribbean emerges from hurricane season. The southern hemisphere is hot, hot, hot - head to Oz and NZ for sun and surf - while Asia's a dry delight.
Nicknamed the 'Nature Island', lush and rugged Dominica is ideal for couples wanting the Caribbean with an authentic edge. Free from mass development, the island has secluded - mainly black-sand - beaches and small, intimate hotels (try Silks, a 17th-century rum distillery-turned jungle hideaway; www.silkshotel.com). It's also home to the region's first long-distance trek: the 180km Waitukubuli Trail. The wet hurricane season's just finished, so forests and volcanic hillsides are in full bloom; rivers and waterfalls are gushing at full flow. Rent a car to drive between coastal villages and the wild interior. Don't miss the hike via sulphur springs to Boiling Lake (a huge steaming fumarole) or a romantic dip in Emerald Pool, an enchanted grotto deep in the rainforest.
Clear skies and warm breezes dominate November-April in 'God's Own Country'. Mix coconut-strewn palm beaches (where you'll find luxury lodges) with tranquil backwaters, best seen from a traditional rice barge. Also, take an elephant safari in Periyar Tiger Reserve and watch the sun set on the Chinese fishing nets at Cochin.
This honeymoon favourite - thanks to palm-swayed beaches, turquoise water, temples and tasty dishes - is mostly ideal November-February: the northern jungles of Chiang Mai are cool for elephant trekking; Bangkok's hot but not too humid; and the south-west coast - Phuket, Ko Phi Phi - is dry (though Samui might get rain).
Think crisp nights, sparkly lights and warming mulled wine, sipped as you meander a fairytale of stalls plying baked goodies. Christmas markets spring up all over Europe from late Nov: try Prague and Tallinn for cheaper treats; Stockholm and Copenhagen for Scandi style; and Bath and Edinburgh for UK breaks.
The dryverano (summer) - from December to March - is the best time to be in exciting Colombia, for weather and festival fun. The walled city of Cartagena is the jewel in the crown, and an excellent base for exploring the Caribbean coast.
Add more bling to proceedings in the capital of glitz. Winter temps can dip to 4°C - but the atmosphere is sizzling 24/7, especially with all those Christmas lights. Catch a show, win big in a casino or take in the nearby natural wonders with a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon.
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