12 Days of Festive Bleisure

freestocks-org-188096.jpgIf you’re travelling during December for business, there’s a myriad of joyful activities in almost every city worldwide during the festive period. To save you having to choose, Maiden Voyage editor, Anna Naylor, has hand-picked trendy and traditional Christmas activities in 12 major cities across the globe.

On the first day of Christmas, London gave to me, dinner in an igloo at Roof East.

Of course, Harrods looks beautiful all lit up- but don’t miss a trip to East London’s newest rooftop bar- Roof East.

Where:  45a Broadway, London E15 1XD

What: Curling lanes (think a wintery version of bowling),  street food,  neon retro-chic Ski Lodge Bar, igloo dining dens… What more could you want from a London rooftop?

When: Tuesday to Friday 5pm – 11pm and Saturday 12pm – 11pm

Business: Add some festive cheer to an informal business meeting with drinks in the Ski Lodge Bar.

Leisure: Blow off some steam with a curling session!

Roof East
Photo: Angela O’Connor

On the second day of Christmas, Boston gave to me, the magic of toy soldiers brought to life.

There are few things quite as nostalgic as reliving the traditional tale of The Nutcracker to the music of Tchaikovsky. Take an evening off to be swept away by the enchantment of ballet.

Where: Boston Opera House

What: Mikko Nissinen‘s The Nutcracker, performed by Boston’s Ballet and hailed as “elegant and theatrically striking” by The New York Times.

When: Nov 24–Dec 31, 2017

Business: Impress your clients with a trip to this cultural wonder- or make an evening of it with colleagues.

Leisure: Take the evening off and go see the ballet alone. You’ll experience it completely differently.

Patrick Yocum and Delia Wada-Gill in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker; photo by Liza Voll, courtesy Boston Ballet

On the third day of Christmas, New York gave to me, a wander through Bryant Park Winter Village.

5th Avenue is a sight to behold during the festive season but if it all gets too much,  make a swift exit behind the New York Public Library and take a wintery walk through Bryant Park Winter Village.

Where:  Located between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and between 40th and 42nd Streets in Midtown Manhattan

What: Ice skating, holiday shops, a street food feast, fire-pit on the porch, public fare, traditional carousel, and more.

When: 7am-12am Monday-Friday. 7am-11am Saturday-Sunday

Business: Grab some street food to enjoy with clients over a lunchtime meeting!

Leisure: Everyone has friends in New York. Insist that they go skating with you, or warm up by the firepit with mulled wine if you’re feeling less athletic.

Tree Day 01 - Photo by Colin Miller
Photo: Colin Miller. Courtesy Bryant Park

On the fourth day of Christmas, Tokyo gave to me, astounding winter illuminations

You haven’t seen Christmas lights until you’ve been to Japan.

Where:  Shiodome, Shinjuku, Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi Hills, Nakameguro Jewel Dome, Shibuyu Ao no Dokutsu, Ginza, Tokyo Dome City

What: Watch the city transform itself into a winter wonderland of glittering lights.

When: Most illuminations stay between November and February- but check for exceptions to avoid disappointment!

Business: Book a table for a client/business meeting in one of the locations overlooking the lights. There’ll be smiles all around with a view this spectacular!

Leisure: Mill around the illuminations with your iPhone for some Instagram-worthy shots

Photo: Wilasinee Thunyawisetsilp

On the fifth day of Christmas, Munich gave to me, the most authentic of Christmas markets

Let’s be honest- nobody does Christmas markets like Germany does.

Where: Marienplatz,, Munich

What: A typical Bavarian Christmas market in the heart of Munich, featuring traditional gifts, an alpine Christmas Market concert from the town hall’s balcony (5:30pm), and the most decadent Christmas tree you might ever see!

When: Nov 27th to Dec 24th, 2017, Monday to Saturday 10am-9pm; Sunday 10am-8pm

Business: Stock up on traditional treats to keep in your office

Leisure: Eat your way through the many stalls, warm up with Glühwein and enjoy the tunes!

Nr. 0475-Fritz Witzig - Christkindlmarkt auf dem Muenchner Marienplatz
Photo: Nr. 0475-Fritz Witzig – Christkindlmarkt auf dem Muenchner Marienplatz

On the sixth day of Christmas, San Francisco gave to me, 8000 Santas

You can amble down to Union Square if you’d like the unique experience of seeing 8,000 Santas joined together for Santa Con. Santas of all shape and size gather to celebrate the whimsical event!

Where: Union Square

What: If red isn’t your colour, go along anyway to be privy to the most festive (and ridiculous) Christmassy scene you might ever see! You can also bring a wrapped toy to donate to the Toys for Tots effort by the United States Marine Corps.

When: 9th December at noon

Business: This is almost purely leisure… although it would make for a wacky company photo op!

Leisure: This is a sight to see merely for the sake of it but if you have small children, they might be quite blown away by a Facetime call from the event!


On the seventh day of Christmas, Moscow gave to me a memorable journey to Christmas

Where: Various festival venues around Moscow

What:  Daily showings of the ice ballets (The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Cipollio, Snow White)  with a cast of over 50 professional figure skaters. The Ice Theatre also serves as a public rink, with free skate rentals. You can skate around or take lessons from professional instructors.  You can also see the International Christmas Light Festival with contributions from lighting designers from Russia, Italy and France will build various installations including light arches, fantastic shimmering tunnels and 2017 signs for the New Year.

When: 16 December to 15 January.

Business: Bring some dazzle into the work-day with a team lunch by the light displays

Leisure: Switch up your after-work workout for ice skating lessons!

On the eighth day of Christmas, Sydney gave to me a carol concert to remember

Australia’s largest annual Christmas concert- get in the festive mood despite the scorching weather!

Where: The Domain adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens

What: Woolworths Carols in the Domain- preshow entertainment, food ranging from traditional takeaway delights to Thai, Yum Cha and Turkish cuisine, and the concert itself. Bring a picnic rug and sunscreen!

When: 17th December, 12pm- opening. Concert- 7:45pm

Business: If appropriate, find out if prospective clients are attending and arrange to grab a bite with them in this festive atmosphere!

Leisure: There is so much to see- alone or with company

Photo: Jason Carroll

On the ninth day of Christmas, Vancouver gave to me, a magical trip to Grouse Mountain

If Christmas were a place, this would be it. You can even have corporate parties held here..one to surprise your employees/suggest to your boss?

Where: The Peak of Winter, Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver.

What: Take the cable car across to Vancouver’s North Pole and visit Santa’s Workshop, walk through the light tunnel, indulge your inner child with some sledging, enjoy a sleigh ride through the Winter Wonderland, or go skating beneath the stars.

When: 24th November- 7th January. 9am-10pm.

Business: The only shop talk that should happen here is between the elves. Unless of course, you host your work Christmas function here!

Leisure: This may be the closest you’ll ever get to visiting the North Pole- so go all out!

Photo: Thomas Hill Photography

On the tenth day of Christmas, Dubai gave to me, a ritzy afternoon tea

The weather in Dubai may not be very Christmassy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in festive activities!

Where: Ritz-Carlton, Dubai

What: Life-size gingerbread houses, freshly baked scones and holiday-inspired treats. All while listening to the Christmas choir!

When: 7-31 December I 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Business: Civilised enough for almost any business meeting, take your appointment here for some Christmas charm and elegance.

Leisure: Pop to the Ritz for an after-work treat with your favourite colleague or date!


The Ritz carlton
Photo: Courtesy of The Ritz Carlton, Dubai


On the eleventh day of Christmas, Cape Town gave to me, carols by candlelight

Regardless of whether you consider yourself religious, there is something serene about singing traditional Christmas carols in gardens lit only by the gentle glow of flickering candles.

Where: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens

What: The four-night concert series is the flagship project of the Rotary Club of Kirstenbosch and proceeds contribute to the organisation’s annual fundraising efforts. Each evening has pre-entertainment acts from 5:30pm, but the gates only open at 6pm for the carols. If you are a ticket-holder, you will be allowed to visit other sites in the gardens. The show’s main events are the Cape Town Concert Brass and Male Voice Choir, who will perform traditional Christmas carols from  7:45pm until 9:30pm.

When: Thursday, 14 to Sunday, 17 December 2017.

Business: Save this one for you- this event is for relaxing and reflecting.

Leisure: The perfect Christmassy way to wind down after a day of meetings or lull yourself to sleep when suffering from jet-lag (perhaps don’t fall asleep there and then though).

Photo courtesy of Rotary Club of Kirstenbosch

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Chicago gave to me, 6,600 Christmas lights a’twinkling

Where: The Walnut Room at Macy’s

What: The Walnut Room has been open since 1905 and is known for its sophistication and excellent food. The Christmas tree is a delight in itself- 45-foot-tall and featuring more than 2,000 ornaments and 6,600 sparkling lights.

When: Varying hours throughout the holiday period. See times here.

Business: An ideal spot for a festive business dinner or drink. Enjoy holiday specials such as Holiday Crab Cake and Cider-Glazed Slow-Roasted Turkey.

Leisure: Friday nights are for sipping Macy’s Kris Kringle Cocktail, eggnog or (and) poinsettia! All served with a limited edition 2017 Holiday mug.

Photo: Staci Lorz

There we have it! 12 days of Festive Bleisure around the world. We’d love to see your Christmassy antics in whichever city you’re in. Tweet us your favourite festive venue in your city or travel location.

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