Winter holidays: readers’ tips, recommendations and travel advice

October 7, 2013 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

Hang gliding in Interlaken, Switzerland is open all year round and because of
the unique climate, there are only ever a few days per year that they have
to cancel flights. Australian owned Hang Gliding Interlaken (hangglidinginterlaken.com)
will ask you if you want a smooth journey or one with twists and turns. The
only prerequisite is you have to take four-eight running steps alongside
your pilot on the take-off, that’s about all. Which means it is an activity
for all ages and you receive a certificate at the end of your flight.
Clare McCausland Laming, Belfast

Glass houses

One of my most special experiences for a ski-less holiday is staying in a
glass igloo. Deep in the arctic circle this is a wonderfully natural
experience allowing you to see the northern Lights and spend your nights
directly under the stars. From days with huskies/reindeer /snowmobiles
exploring the local forests/tracks and trekking to evenings in the cosy
glass igloos surrounded by snow-cloaked forests. It’s a must for sky gazing
and astronomy talks, wildlife exploring, campfire stories to local cultural
talks and exciting cuisine.
Lisa Clayton, East Yorkshire

Arctic life

As independent travellers we thoroughly enjoyed a wide variety of experiences
in Arctic Norway last March: exhilarating dog sledding through forests and
along frozen river courses near Kirkenes with Birk (birkhusky.no),
plus delicious reindeer stew. A day’s snowmobile safari to the sea at the
Russian border with Barents Safari with excellent machines and guide; visit
to Snow Hotel and reindeers (kirkenessnowhotel.com),
where we hired cross country skis; ascending a mountain near Tromso with
fantastic views.
Laurence Impey, Surrey

Icelandic memories

The most stunning memory of any holiday, winter or summer, was the experience
of standing on the Snaefells Glacier in western Iceland in November, bathed
in bright sunshine, standing on snow but looking down at the blue sea. Stay
on the edge of the world at hotelbudir.is,
take a snowcat ride up on to the glacier and then have fun on a snowmobile
(all equipment provided) with snjofell.is/glacier-tours/.
Be sure to warm up with fish soup, waffles and coffee at joruhusid.is on the
harbourside at Hellnar.

Staying at Hotel Budir comes with the added wonder of hopefully seeing the
Northern Lights and then waking up to the sight of the glacier, dyed pink by
the sunrise. Fly to Keflavik with icelandexpress.com
and hire a small 4×4, taking in the Blue Lagoon www.bluelagoon.com
en route to the Snaefellsnes peninsula.
Jane Colston, Herts

Festival fun

I would wrap up nice and warm and experience the Harbin Ice Festival In North
East China. Temperatures of -30C and hundreds of ice sculptures, which get
lit up at night – a truly amazing sight.
Ian Schofield, Herts

Cross-country

Non (downhill) skiers should try cross-country skiing. It can be done at a
leisurely pace on flat terrain and would be suitable for those who cannot or
don’t like downhill skiing. Otherwise ice-skating is great fun especially if
on a rink or a frozen lake or river. Make sure it has been tested for
thickness and safety first though.

Snow-shoeing is also great because you can get out into the wilderness and
experience total peace and quiet.
Felicity Bush, Dorset

Ice shapes

Visit Nuuk, capital of Greenland – an underrated and very beautiful country.
Each March the famous snow-sculpture festival takes place here.
International teams compete to fashion amazing shapes from blocks of snow
and the results are displayed in a floodlit park. Maybe you’ll be inspired
to create your own sculpture. Capture the intriguing shapes and shadows on
camera. Photograph some of the most memorable skies you’ll ever see, since
Nuuk enjoys some of the best sunsets in Greenland.


Nuuk in Greenland

Take amazing hikes – the famous landmark of Sermitsiaq to Lille Malene can be
done in a couple of hours. Or go from the Kapisillit settlement to Sandnaes,
past ancient Norse ruins.

Kayaking is popular in and around Nuuk’s impressive inlet system. Become at
one with the sea and the sky. Oh, and stay at the Margrethe Suite of the
Hans Egede Hotel – overlooking the fabulous Nuuk fjord, where Greenland
whales can be seen outside your window.
Sharon Kendrick, by email

Take the tube

If you’ve ever wanted to feel the wind in your hair as you rush down a snow
covered mountain but can’t be bothered to go through the rigmarole of
learning to ski then snow tubing is for you. Whilst careering down a
mountain on an inflatable inner tube that you can’t steer may seem foolish,
the reality is a ride that is both exhilarating and instant fun for the
whole family. Leysin toboganning Park in Switzerland (leysin.ch)
is one of the biggest and the best and includes a descent where you leave
the ground and land on a giant airbag. It’s an adrenalin rush that I’ve
never quite managed to replicate anywhere else.
Jenny Long, Essex

Snow strange

Feeling adventurous? The Winter Festival (winterfestival.co.nz)
offers some rather strange events. She’s standing in a white bikini, dancing
on a dock. Angel wings spread out behind her as she gyrates to a pumping,
techno beat and heads towards a set of pearly gates.

Clearly, she is bonkers. How else to explain this behaviour – and outfit – in
the freezing cold New Zealand winter? As if further evidence was needed, she
passes through the makeshift gates and leaps from the dock into the icy
waters of Lake Wakatipu.

A huge crowd roars approval. If you’re going to do something wacky, there’s no
better place to do it than Queenstown
Tanya Bedford, Devon

Picture book

Iceland is a fantastic winter destination whether you want a relaxing or
activity packed holiday. With an abundance of photographic highlights you
can see; glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls, fjords, geysers and black lava
beaches, as well as whales and seals, or even a crashed plane if you know
where to look. Tour guides are available to take you on hikes or walks on
glaciers, to the best skiing or white-water-rafting spots, discovering fresh
ice caves, or potentially around the beautiful architecture of Reykjavik.

Alternatively, I’d recommend taking a 4×4 and driving all the way around the
beautiful coastline, staying in the many conveniently located hostels before
finishing with a visit to the incredible Blue Lagoon (bluelagoon.com).

Daniel Press, Notts

Lake skating

Ice skate on a frozen lake in the middle of the forest. Not only is it
extremely pretty; you can also fully appreciate the impact and strength of
nature in winter when you realise that the ice on the lake is thick and
strong enough to hold dozens of people. No winter activity would be complete
without a visit to the sauna. It is then essential for the brave to run out
into the snow, and then quickly back into the sauna. To finish off the
evening, one should then eat Scandinavian sausage straight from the grill
with a beer and enjoy the wintry scene and the tranquillity it brings.
Nyasha Mtutu, Middlesex

Oh for Ottawa

Ottawa in Canada in winter is stunning. Coincide your visit with Ottawa’s
Winterlude festival and it is magical. There are several venues in this
compact capital with free city bus travel between the locations during the
festival. Walk and skate on the frozen Rideau Canal and Dow Lake, enjoying
beavertails and hot drinks while standing around braziers to keep warm and
listening to live music. Ice sculpting competitions result in amazing
displays. Carved ice slides keep children happy and glowing in the ice
adventure playground. Snowshoeing trails are available in nearby Gatineau
Park.
Patricia Smart, Lincs

Pool games

You don’t need to be an elite swimmer to participate in the world winter
swimming championships in Lapland next year. They are to be held in
Rovaniemi Finland in March 2014 (visitrovaniemi.fi/winterswimming2014).

If you enjoy a few strokes in an icy cold pool but are not the competitive
type you could enter in the untimed swims of only 25 or 50 metres. If you
are more of an adrenalin junkie you could go for the endurance race over 450
metres. Either guarantee an endorphin surge hard to beat.
Noelene Dasey, by email

Husky highs

I can 100 per cent recommend Levi in Finland as a brilliant holiday for people
who want to ski and those who don’t. Here you can go husky sledging, which
is much more exciting than a reindeer sledge ride as the huskies seem full
of energy and excitement, whereas the reindeers just seem reluctant and
bored. Or there is ice fishing; snowshoeing, a very good form of exercise
and skidooing, although I found it ruined the Narnia-like magic of it all a
little bit with the noise and diesel.
Emma Spiers, Bristol

Young at heart

In Austria hire a toboggan for £5, take the ski lift from Gampen to Nasserein
then leave the crowds of skiers to the slopes and head for the sign marked
Rodel. Jump on your sledge and descend for 2.5 miles on the lighted run
through breathtaking scenery – approximately 15 minutes. At the bottom is
the bus stop, the bus runs at 10 past the hour – free with your ski pass.
Head back into town to do the whole thing again. You have just enough time
for a hot chocolate – or something stronger before your next descent. So
much fun, very exciting but entirely safe for our small group of 60
something year olds.
Gillian Kenny, Gloucs

Unforgettable

For an ultimate winter-wonderland experience, Kiruna in northern Sweden gave
my group of eight an unforgettable three days. Booked through Campalta (campalta.net)
our group were met at the remote Kiruna airport by our transfer to a large
wooden cottage right next to the Altajarvi frozen lake where we stayed. The
isolation of being more than 6 miles outside of Kiruna added to the
experience as well as enabling a clear opportunity to spot the mesmerising
northern lights. Campalta run several activities and on this occasion we
spent an exhilarating day on snowmobiles combined with a tour of the
Jukkasjarvi Ice Hotel. Another day was spent on a sled tour drawn through
the forest by huskies. Each of us were given the chance to lead our own
sleds. Swedish sauna, ice-fishing, cross-country skiing and a tour of the
Kiruna mines were all right at our fingertips during this wonderful trip.
Peter Wright. Herefordshire

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