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January 11, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Where will you spend next Christmas? (In the dark?)

It’s surprising how quickly days start getting longer once we get a couple weeks into January. Or maybe I’m just extra aware of it this year, considering that I was recently in Iceland — about one polar bear south of the Arctic Circle — for the year’s shortest day.

Dusk at mid-afternoon: The Hallgrímskirkja (church) towers over a Reykjavik street decorated for Christmas. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

The winter solstice in Reykjavik, when it got light around 11 a.m. and dark again by about 4, made me appreciate January in Seattle.

I’ve been collecting favorite places to spend the Christmas season, and charming Reykjavik, with its entertainingly weird legend of December visits by 13 mischievous “Yule lads” with names such as the Sausage Swiper and the Window Peeper, is now near the top of my list. (I’m not alone; CNN Travel in 2010 named Reykjavik the best place on earth to spend Christmas.)

I was especially intrigued by the odd concept of the Window Peeper. The scraggly-haired rascal, who made a personal appearance for a crowd of bouncing, fair-haired children at the national museum, reminded me a lot of Boris S. Wort (“second meanest man in the world”), J.P. Patches’ nemesis.

For Seattleites looking for a new place to drink egg nog (or brennivin, the powerful Icelandic schnapps affectionately known as Black Death), one vote in favor of Reykjavik is the direct, 7-hour flight from Sea-Tac on Icelandair.

Also high on my yule list is London, where you can ice skate in the Tower of London’s moat (below).

Skaters circle the holiday rink at the Tower of London. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)

And for a complete change of scenery — cue Bing Crosby singing “Mele Kalikimaka” — I’ve liked the twinkling lights among the palm trees of Kauai, and basking in the sun on Sydney’s Bondi Beach on Boxing Day.

Got a favorite travel destination to tell about for next December? Add something to the comments. And while you’re at it, take our poll:

Comments | More in Trip reports | Topics: Christmas, Iceland, London

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