Embrace the winter in the north or escape to the south – the choice is yours
The northern hemisphere chills - great for mountain ski fun and Arctic adventures (if you can handle 24-hour darkness); New Year frivolity takes the edge off the gloom. The south is in high summer - NZ, Argentina and South Africa for example - while the Caribbean is warm and dry, the Pacific wet and humid, and Antarctica (right now reaching a balmy 2°C) on top form.
Visit Iceland's hauntingly beautiful capital in January and, if you're lucky, spot the celestial dance of the Northern Lights
Grab any chance to go aurora hunting with both hands. And when you're not busy gazing up at the sky at night, be sure to visit the 73m-high Hallgrimskirkja Church - Iceland's tallest place of worship - during the day, or spend a relaxing spa afternoon at the Blue Lagoon. Visitors can also observe the annual Reykjavik International Games, where athletes compete in various sports such as alpine skiing, cycling and gymnastics.
Follow a white winter wedding with a trip to the White Continent, the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime destination
Antarctica is only visitable November-March: while November offers spectacular ice formations, December and January are warmer (hovering around 0°C) and brighter, with 24-hour daylight. Now is when you'll see vast penguin colonies at their most raucous (the chicks hatch in the new year and demand to be fed) and seal pups on South Georgia - many cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula include this wild South Atlantic isle, a highly recommended detour. Whale sightings pick up later in the month, peaking February-March.
Most ships leave from Ushuaia, in the far south of Argentina. Vessels range from the very big, which are more stable in rough seas, to smaller 50-passenger boats, which will allow you to spend more time ashore. Cruises generally range from eight to 12 nights. Pick your trip based on the boat's itinerary (does it visit the best wildlife sites?) and facilities - some offer kayak excursions, art classes, trekking and even scuba diving.
It's dry season in this Central American wildlife wonderland, but everything remains lush from the recent rains, which end in November
You may still get damp in Costa Rica's jungles - but reserves such as Tortuguero and Corcovado (teeming with birds, monkeys and more) are worth a dousing. Dry off on the Nicoya Peninsula's secluded beaches and by rumbling Arenal volcano.
The austral summer means playtime in NZ
Average daily highs of 22-24°C make the outdoor adventures on offer (tramping, rafting, biking, diving, bungying...) even more fun. Plus, flowers are blooming in the southern Alps and sperm whales easily spottable off Kaikoura. Consider flying on/just after Christmas, for cheaper flights and to tag on Xmas leave so you can stay for a month.
Embrace the bracing winter and get cosy in your woollies on the beautiful Queen of the Hebrides
The Gulf Stream warms the air a touch, but if you're feeling parky after a day bird watching, quaff some of the finest whiskey on a distillery tour. With fire in your belly, fly via Glasgow to the Shetlands for Europe's largest fire festival - Up Helly Aa.
The Great Migration of wildebeest and other ungulates is a year-round affair, but Feb-March is calving season across the Serengeti's southern plains
The Great Migration of wildebeest and other ungulates is a year-round affair, but Feb-March is calving season across the Serengeti's southern plains: here, over 500,000 calves will be born. Base yourself near Ndutu to see the herds move between the Serengeti and the wildlife-profuse Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
January temperatures average 27°C in this cultured Caribbean paradise
Locals swarm the streets for funky music festivals, but if the sweaty jiving becomes too much, head to the misty Blue Mountains: atmospherically cloud-shrouded and distinctly cooler, these peaks offer forested trails and coffee plantations, so you can hike all morning and be on the beach by the afternoon.
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