Jenny Leonard / Shutterstock5 Awesome, Totally Unexpected Places to Spend the Holidays Hannah Winsten December 15, 2015 Adventure Travel, Arts & History, Beach Vacations, Caribbean, Europe, Family Travel, Food & Drink, Interests, International Travel, Photography, Trending Stories How stressed out are you this holiday season, folks? (We’ve got a handy quiz that can tell you!) It’s a hectic time of year, and we’re thinking you might need a vacation. And what better time to go away? Chances are good your office is already closed for a day or two, you’re in a festive, vacation-y mood, and the world is lit up with holiday lights. Perfect! Ready to jet set off to a totally unexpected, exotic destination for the holidays? Here are some of the coolest places to go! 1.) If You Love the Holidays, but Hate Winter Taras Vyshnya / Shutterstock Not dreaming of a white Christmas? We hear you. Cold weather is rough. If you’d rather finish out the year with some fun in the sun, head down under to Sydney, Australia! It’s summer in the outback, meaning you can ring in the December holidays with sun, sand, and warm weather sightseeing. Even without the snow, Sydney is still super festive this time of year. The whole city is lit up with bright, holiday lights, holiday markets and carolers roam the streets, and there’s even a Santa Fest featuring the Clauses themselves, along with a fireworks display. Even better, Australians celebrate Boxing Day, meaning the party lasts all the way through the 26th. It doesn’t get much better than that, mate! 2.) If You’re Santa’s Biggest Groupie vichie81 / Shutterstock Want to personally hand your wish list over to Santa Clause? And no, not one of his mall minions—we’re talking about the real thing. Head to Lapland, Santa’s alleged hometown (before he took up residence at the North Pole, we presume). Lapland is a region spread across Norway, Finland, and Sweden, so pack some seriously warm clothes. It’s cold up there! There are several Santa villages where you can meet the Clause, take a ride on his reindeer, and bake cookies with the missus. If you’re feeling especially wintery, spend a night in the latest Icehotel that just opened up in Lapland’s Swedish section. Brrr! 3.) If You Want to Keep Partying Straight Through the New Year Jose Ignacio Soto / Shutterstock Don’t want your holiday festivating to end in December? We don’t blame you! Head to Madrid, Spain, and you’ll be keeping the party alive all the way through the first week of 2016. Madrid is a high energy city to visit every time of year, with ridiculously good food and fun parties happening every night of the week. But come December, the city fills with popup skating rinks, a huge holiday market in the famed Plaza Mayor, and of course, lots of pretty lights. The festivities rage all the way through January 5th, which marks the exciting Three Kings Parade. Olé! 4.) If You Don’t Want to Pull Out Your Passport Sean Pavone / Shutterstock Want to stay a little closer to home without—you know—actually staying home? Puerto Rico is the perfect solution. This island paradise probably isn’t the first place you think of when you think about the holidays, but it totally should be. You can spend your getaway salsa dancing, sipping coconut rum, and lounging on the beach. No passport required! Even better? There are tons of direct flights available to Puerto Rico, and plenty of affordable resort options. #Treatyoself. 5.) If You Love Holiday Lights Like Whoa Jenny Leonard / Shutterstock If you really, really love holiday light displays, you HAVE to go to Medellin, Colombia. Perhaps the most unexpected spot on this list, Medellin is an unassuming town that’s generally off the beaten path when it comes to the tourist circuit. But! Come holiday time, it’s the place to be. This little Colombian city hosts a ridiculous holiday light show that includes pyrotechnics, rainbow water fountains, street parties, and over 16 million lights twinkling all over the city. The festivities last for a full month, so pack a pair of sunglasses and head south for the holidays! Will you be visiting any of these unique vacation spots over the holidays? Which ones did we miss? Let us know in the comments!