LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Dec. 3, 2012) - If you're in search of sunnier, short-haul climes this Christmas, look no further than the Algarve capital of Faro. According to official figures, temperatures average around a balmy 16ºC in November and 14ºC in December. In comparison, icy conditions and heavy rainfall in the UK can drag the average December temperature down to 6ºC in London, one of the warmer regions of the UK.
One of the great attractions of Faro, and much of the rest of Portugal, is that Christmas is far less commercial than it is in Britain. Festivities are organised around the family, with plenty of public celebrations, meaning that the whole community can celebrate together. Decorations do not usually appear until late November, when sparkling lights are rigged up on palm trees and scented candles appear in shops, restaurants and cafes. In a warm climate, scented candles make a wonderful alternative to a roaring log fire, and are far lower maintenance.
Christmas dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve in Portugal, as it is in Spain, following midnight mass, which the whole family attends. Afterwards there is a great feast called Ceia de Natal, traditionally featuring the local speciality bacalhau, or salt cod, accompanied by boiled potatoes and cabbage.
This will usually be followed by a slice of Bolo Rei, literally the king's cake, a Portuguese festive dessert which is enjoyed throughout the Christmas period. A little like German stollen, it's a sweet bread made with nuts and crystallised fruit. You could try it toasted with butter for afternoon tea.
On New Year's Eve, Portuguese bars and clubs will stay open until the early hours for a proper celebration. Look out for spectacular firework displays as the locals take to the streets to welcome in the New Year - and there's no need to wrap up in hats, scarves and gloves: the warm weather will allow you to stay out all night without a hint of frostbite.
If you're looking to enjoy Faro's welcoming climate the Christmas, you can fly from all corners of the UK. Faro flights from Monarch depart from London Gatwick, London Luton, Manchester, Birmingham, East Midlands and Leeds/Bradford airports, with prices starting from as little as £34 per person. For further information contact Robert Foulkes at Robert.Foulkes@Monarch.co.uk, or on 01582 398122.