Following our recent posts on Christmas markets and ice rinks, we have selected five wintry and festive things to do from the 11 Winter 2014 city guides. The guides cover December, January and February and are completely free to download.
London – Claridge’s Bar
It’s Christmas Eve. You’re ready for a treat. Consider a visit to Denis Broci and co in Claridge’s Bar. Not only will you get a world-class cocktail and supreme complimentary snacks, but you also get to swish past the Dolce & Gabbana Christmas tree and soak up the art deco glamour of the lobby. The loos are pretty cool, too. Favourite drink: the Bonnie Coll, made with Dalmore 18 whisky, barolo chinato, cloves, five spice and Broci’s home-made port and hazelnut soda (‘coll’ is Scottish Gaelic for ‘hazel tree’).
Barcelona – Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar
The people’s cathedral, as it is popularly known, is a dazzling feat of engineering with its slender, biscuit-coloured columns reaching heavenwards to support an impossibly high vaulted ceiling. The acoustics are sensational and throughout December numerous concerts ranging from Handel’s Messiah to choral carols draw a crowd. Perfect for getting in the festive mood.
Berlin – Hartmanns
This low-key restaurant is tucked away on a tree-lined residential street in Kreuzberg. Set across two understated but elegant rooms, the real draw is the food. Espousing a ‘New German Cuisine’ that mixes in Mediterranean influences, there are dishes like monkfish with artichoke on the à la carte menu, though the three- to seven-course tasting menus are the best options. Favourite table: the tables around the fireplace are perfect for intimate winter dining.
Moscow – Patriarshiye Prudi
The Patriarch’s Ponds are notorious for being the key scene in Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita and the lake here is overrun with skaters from the first freeze. Lose yourself in the upmarket boutiques and pastel-fronted town houses before lunching right on the lake at Pavilion if you’re feeling flush. Otherwise, warm up with thick hot chocolate and the decadent eponymous house cake at longstanding favourite Donna Klara.
Tokyo – Christmas illuminations
For a country with only a passing acquaintance with Christianity, Japan sure likes to celebrate Christmas. You’ll see illuminations throughout the city from mid-November. Some come down on Christmas morning, others stay up until February. The best displays can be found in the Shiodome, Roppongi Hills or Tokyo Midtown shopping complexes, or in Ebisu Garden Place. From mid-November until February.