Let’s face it, the expression ‘guaranteed white Christmas’ just doesn’t describe the UK. The Bing Crosby dream is just that – a dream.
Maybe we harbour romanticised notions of flake-filled Christmases because of the past. In the ‘Little Ice Age’ between 1550 and 1850, seasonal snow was not uncommon, and this lingers in card designs and classic literature.
But, in modern times, a snowy Yule happens somewhere in Britain on average every six years.
Between 1950 and 2006, in London, the percentage of years that saw a white Christmas was 6%, in Birmingham 15%, and Belfast 22%. The figures for Glasgow and Aberdeen are 35% and 53% respectively, so heading north of the border clearly improves your chances of snow-filled festivities. If you can get to the Shetland capital Lerwick, the odds soar to 75%.
To officially classify as the genuine article, there must be white stuff on the ground at 9am on 25 December. Records began at the Met Office’s weather stations in 1957, and between then and 2009, there has been Christmas snow on 30 occasions.
But if we get snowflakes at all, it’s generally in January or February.
So, realistically, to be sure that your family is chucking snowballs and sledging on Christmas morning, you need to go on an overseas Christmas break.
Kashmir, Antarctica, Mount Everest and the North Pole will guarantee the white stuff, but these may not be realistic destinations.
Instead, in Innsbruck in Austria, for example, white-topped surrounding mountain peaks are combined with dramatic Gothic and Baroque architecture. Take in sights like the Old Town’s Golden Roof, the Ambras Castle and the breathtaking Imperial Palace. You couldn’t ask for a more stunning seasonal backdrop.
You’ll also be ideally placed for snow-based activities from skiing and boarding to sleigh riding.
Alternatively, combine a city visit somewhere like Salzburg or Vienna, where snow may not be 100% guaranteed, but with some time at a ski resort on higher ground (above 1,000 metres is ideal) you’ll be sure to have a flakier experience.
Seefeld in the Austrian Tirol has activities for non-skiers, and a small Christmas market to heighten the festive atmosphere. Or Mittenwald in German Bavaria, in the northern foothills of the Alps on the road to Innsbruck, is another gorgeous spot.
The Mont Blanc region of France is another sure bet for snow on snow come Christmas Day. Don’t fancy the 4810m climb up Europe’s highest mountain? No, nor do most of us! So consider Val Thorens in neighbouring Three Valleys, France’s highest ski area. In fact, many French ski towns are a given for 25 December flakes.
Lapland is, of course, Santa’s global manufacturing HQ, and good children can meet him here in person, as well as enjoy the wonderful winter landscape.
So there are plenty of ways of making the white Christmas fantasy a reality this year.