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Although December is synonymous with Christmas, the Globe Guide team discover that there’s much more to this month than Santa Claus, roast turkey and midnight mass. Mexico is an ethnically diverse country bound by its Roman Catholicism; Justine Shapiro braves the crush in Mexico City for the Virgin de Guadeloupe Festival, celebrating the beloved national patron saint. Here she mingles with the millions of devotees and visits the Basilica de Guadeloupe where masses are performed around the clock in her honour. Like so many of the Christmas traditions, the Klausjagen Festival in Kusstnacht, Switzerland, evolved from pagan roots. Justine arrives there on 5 December – when the usually sedate town erupts in a riot of noise and colour after dark as St. Nicholas is led through the streets by people cracking whips and 150 men carrying giant, ornate ‘iffele’ (bishop hat) lanterns and followed by a brass band and thousands of men ringing giant cow bells – and leaves a little deafened. For a winter getaway, Asia offers some of the finest beach bumming in the world. Shilpa Mehta takes a boat to the tiny Philippine island of Boracay, one of 7,000 islands the country has to offer. Ian Wright escapes the humidity of Cambodia’s mainland for the beautiful island of Ko Rom and Justine Shapiro checks out the Klausjagen, Switzerland Parenthin Islands on the east coast of Malaysia all of which are great spots for scuba diving. For something a bit different, Justine joins self-confessed eco-warrior John Gray for sea kayaking through the caves of Au Nong, near Krabi in Thailand. He shows her beautiful secret lagoons only accessible through the caves and stop overnight on a secluded beach. After all that chilling out, there’s only one thing left to do – climb a mountain! Megan McCormick takes a guided trip up the eerie slopes of Mount Kenya to one of its six peaks past giant plants and volcanic rock formations. After three days of strenuous hiking she makes it to over 16,000 feet and is blown away by the African vistas, truly on top of the world!
Runtime: 50 minutes per show
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