Santa Lives! (In Greenland)
As our editor-at-large Justin Ocean has previously reported, Scandinavia is a unique and interesting destination for LGBT travelers during the holiday season. A last-minute flight to Copenhagen promises days of fun, cheer, and open arms to the gay community -- the city even hosts an internationally renowned "same sex dance party" (see below for more info).
However, if you're in love with the idea of dancing with the Danes but also really adventurous, get a connecting flight to Denmark's (and the world's!) biggest island, Greenland.
Your Nordic adventure here would include journeys by dog sled, snow mobile, or gorgeous skiing in virtually untouched Arctic landscapes. Traditional Advent celebrations includes decorating the Christmas trees (the Scandinavians invented the concept!) with heather and driftwood, Church services with lots of traditional singing, and the post-service coffee party, which is not to be missed. Greenlandic coffee is one-of-a kind, strong than Irish coffee: made with whisky, Kahlúa, coffee, and whipped cream, it's also topped off with enflamed Grand Marnier -- a performance art that will warm your whole body.
Greenlanders also insist that Santa Claus lives in their country and rides on a dog sled pulled by 12 hounds, and who are we to dispute that? His secret castle is on a mountain in Uummannaq, a northern city that is even more fun to say than it is to spell. You can even visit his special mailbox, purportedly the largest in the world, in capital city Nuuk (where you can also spectacular displays of the Northern Lights). Children around the world write to "Santa Claus, North Pole, Greenland," and the letters actually end up here.
Back in Copenhagen, Christmas and New Years is full of excitement. Between the two holidays is an annual five day fireworks festival, held in the famous Tivoli pleasure gardens, accompanied by a live music performance. Much more beautiful than Times Square, New Years Eve itself is celebrated by locals and visitors at Amalienborg, Demark's Royal Palace. More fireworks and some sexy Royal Guard members parade through in snazzy uniforms.
You can stay at the Radisson SAS Royal Hotel, as it has a great Christmas package, traditional yet chic Danish restaurants, live musicians, and the Casino Copenhagen, all under one roof. Other activities include visiting Strøget, the shopping street of Copenhagen, the intricate Royal Copenhagen Christmas Tables, which are designed by members of Denmark's traditional noblesse, or enjoy a performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Royal Danish Ballet.
However the best part of visiting Copenhagen for the New Year is probably the PAN Dance, a well known international LGBT party. Both locals and jet setting queers will gather in the former PAN club (now known as K3, but still one of the biggest gay party destinations in Europe) for an energetic and friendly evening.
For more information about any of these destinations, check out visitcopenhagen.com, visitdenmark.com, and greenland.com