Does Christmas cheer just give you festive fear? Have your doubts over Brussels sprouts? For all the Ebeneezers out there, flee the festivities in one of these five Christmassy-sounding Christmas-free locations. Bah humbug!
1. Christmas Island
Oh the irony! Get far, far away from the traditional trappings of the big day by spending it in a place called Christmas. The only thing Christmassy about Christmas Island is that it is so named because a British naval captain sailed past it on Christmas Day in 1643. A dot in the Indian Ocean south of Java, the island belongs to Australia but there’ll be no Christmas Day barbecues on the beach here. Get even further away from it all by going diving – it’s one of the best places in the world for it. The sound of sleigh bells ringing and Cliff Richard singing will be a world away when you're deep in an underwater cavern eyeballing sharks.
The Belgian capital is perhaps not where you'd think of getting away from the season to be jolly. It's got a lovely Christmas market, it'll probably be all cold and atmospheric and they'll be an overwhelming temptation to indulge in festive frivolities like mugs of mulled wine and hot chocolate. But Belgium is better known for the brilliance of its beers than its love of Morecombe and Wise, and in Brussels you'll be well placed to seek seasonal escape through an ale or two. Get the beers in at Delirium (pictured) or sink a few 11% proof Optimo Brunos at atmospheric alehouse A La Mort Subite (Sudden Death) and you'll be powerless to resist making jokes about sprouts.
Of course, you’d be nuts to want to go anywhere else but your dear Auntie Elsie’s for Christmas. But if you’d rather be on the other side of the world than stuffing yourself with mince pies, do it like a great train robber and flee to Rio. A word of warning, however – they do celebrate Christmas here. You’ll need to avoid the world's largest floating Christmas tree, which spectacularly decorates the city’s Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon. A better idea would be to venture deep into the Amazon where it is certain that some indigenous tribes have not heard of neither Shakin’ Stevens nor Wham!
Cue jokes. If you can only think of ‘poultry’ excuses to flee from sherry-quaffing in-laws and annual re-runs of war films, perform your own great escape and book a holiday. Turkey is one of the closest countries to Britain where Christmas is not traditionally celebrated. Although you may be unlucky enough to stumble upon an inflatable snowman in an expat bar in Bodrum, Istanbul is a safe bet for escaping the man with the white beard. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and souks of Istanbul or soak up the snowy scenery in the reindeer-free mountains of eastern Anatolia.
5. Rudolf Island
No, this remote Russian island wasn't named after the reindeer with the very shiny nose, although that would have been a nice story. This Rudolf was the Archduke Rudolf (1858–1889), Crown Prince of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia. Going to the very northermost point in Europe in winter would be a sure-fire solution for getting away from traditional festivities. In fact, you might just be crackers to go there. This wild, barren and extremely remote place is almost entirely glaciated and completely unpopulated - which might be preferable to seconds of Christmas pudding. Sadly, there are no cheap flights (or flights of any kind) to Rudolf.