According to research from Deloitte, Brits spend 42% more over the Christmas period than the European average. The majority of that money goes on gifts and food and drink – but what if you saved up your hard-earned cash for a magical winter break instead?

Summer might be the season most of us wait for to get away, but the colder months have plenty to offer too. From the Northern Lights to the world’s biggest ice and snow sculpture festival, here are five winter holidays worth putting on your wish list.

Watching the Northern Lights in Iceland

The beautiful Aurora Borealis is one of the most spell-binding natural phenomena in the world. While there are multiple locations across Scandinavia and beyond from which to watch these swirling emerald lights, Iceland is as good a choice as any.

That’s partly because there’s so much more to see. You could tick off the geo-thermal waters of the Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle’s erupting geysers while you’re there – and that’s just the start.

Cross-country skiing in Norway

Much of Norway is traversable by skis come wintertime, with pre-groomed trails making skimming across the snow a genuine joy.

You’ll feel on top of the world as you pass spectacular gorges and look out over jagged mountain ranges – and because you’ll be on a plateau, you can do so as a complete beginner. There’s no queueing up for ski-lifts, and much less chance of injury too.

The Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China

The Chinese city of Harbin is transformed into a world-class sculpture gallery for one month every winter. Constructed from ice blocks pulled from the nearby Songhua River, this fairy-tale world of ice, snow and lights features over 100 incredible installations, including life-size castles, fierce dragons and exhilarating ice slides.

You won’t need to worry about freezing over yourself, however – there’s plenty of heated restaurants around to warm your belly.

Dog sledding in Lapland

Lapland is every kid’s dream – and no trip to Santa’s official place of residence is complete without having a go at dog sledding.

Whether passing roaming reindeer or the Sami people going about their daily routines, driving your own team of huskies through the pristine arctic wilderness is an experience you’re unlikely to forget any time soon.

A snowshoe safari in Yellowstone National Park

America’s Yellowstone National Park is calm and crowd-free come wintertime, but its wildlife is very much still thriving.

You’ll need to don your finest pair of snowshoes as you tiptoe past hardy bison and weather-worn elk. If you’re lucky, you might just pick out a pack of wolves against a snow-tipped mountainous backdrop along the way.

Do you fancy a winter holiday this year? Give one of these five ideas a go and enjoy the trip of a lifetime.