HAMILTON, BERMUDA - The best Christmas gift you can give yourself is a trip to Bermuda. This is one place that knows how to wrap you with a warm feeling from the time you arrive until you leave, and that’s especially true at Christmas.
Forget that old concern about missing a snow-covered Christmas – Bermuda’s sandy beaches are snow white and you can walk barefoot in them on Dec. 25 without fear of frost bite.
You think you’ll miss the colors associated with Christmas? Well, in Bermuda, every day is colorful, thanks to the turquoise sea, the brightly painted cottages and the flora that blooms all year.
And just like the rest of North America, Bermudians like to celebrate Christmas but in their own unique way. For instance, instead of decorating fur trees with lights, Bermudians string twinkling bulbs around palm trees - and the affect is quite beautiful.
And don’t worry about missing your turkey dinner with all the trimmings – you get that here on Christmas day but it’s usually served outdoors on a balcony overlooking an azure sea. You might even like the local additions Bermudians have added to the Christmas table – like sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows and brown sugar and a fish chowder spiked with sherry pepper and black rum.
Above: The best gift for the children of Bermuda is the country’s annual parade on water.
Still not convinced that Bermuda is a very special place at Christmas? Well, then, you may change your mind when you see the annual Santa Claus Parade – where the floats really float.
That’s right, Bermuda’s annual parade for jolly St. Nick is held in the harbor in Hamilton, the capital, and it’s the highlight of the festive season.
Over 25,000 people – half the country’s population – cram the small harbor area with visitors on the second Saturday in December each year to watch a flotilla of decorated boats light up the black water to the amazement of those assembled.
The parade route stretches from the Fairmont Hamilton Princess along the shoreline and the length of Front St., the capital’s main drag.
On average, well over 40 boat/floats take part in the event, which leaves the island’s children, not to mention many adults, wide-eyed with amazement.
It takes days to decorate the boat/floats, with many being designed in the shape of fish, complete with moving parts like tails and flippers. While the boats slowly drift past the reviewing stands, island music spices the air while local dancers, known as Gombeys, entertain the assembled throng.
The best vantage point for the parade is in front of the famed Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel, which holds an annual terrace party, complete with food and drink, and is the place from where many of the floats - including the one holding Santa - set sail. The whole event finsihes with a spectacular fireworks display.The only thing missing at Bermuda’s annual parade is the snow - but no one seemed to miss it.