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The busiest travel day of the year isn't right after Thanksgiving as holiday travel folklore would have you believe, but it is tomorrow, December 19. Are you ready?
Airlines4America predicts that 45 million travelers will fly US airlines over a period of 19 days, the peak holiday span between December 17 and January 4.
Planes are projected to be 80 percent to 90 percent full over the winter holiday period, with the busiest travel day expected to be Friday, Dec. 19. The lightest travel days are expected to be Wednesday, Dec. 24; Thursday, Dec. 25; Wednesday, Dec. 31; and Thursday, Jan. 1.
It takes some serious time and effort to produce all those Christmas candies, and if you need a timeout from the holiday shopping and stress there’s a place where you can go right to the source. Over in Denver is Hammond’s Candies, and the folks there are still making plenty of stuff the old-fashioned way—including candy canes—and would love to show you around their place.
They have been making goodies and confections since like 1920, so we can only assume they know what they are doing at this point. There’s all kind of stuff to check out, and best of all the factory tours are totally free and open to the public.
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Screw the shopping and holiday responsibilities this weekend, and do something for yourself. Hit the course with these holiday runs, marathons, and 5Ks. Sure there’s a little bit of exercise involved, but since it’s Christmas time they are complete with music, candy canes, and plenty of Santa outfits:
Hot chocolate and donuts at the finish line?—sign us up! Take a break from shopping this weekend, and hit the course at the Donut 5K Holiday Run/Walk in Carmel, Indiana. Things start at 9am on December 20 at the Monon Community Center, and if you register early enough in advance—score a Santa hat and beard.
Burn off some of those holiday calories, and then put them right back on this weekend. The race begins at 3pm on December 21, and participants are welcome to run, walk, or just stroll along. All finishers will score a free beer at the finish line from Capitol Beer House, so that’s pretty darn wonderful.
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If your electronics and mobile doodads aren’t behaving this holiday season there’s a new way to get things repaired and fix while on the go. Best Buy is sending their Geek Squad unit into the airport, as the brave women and men will be stationed at Chicago-O’Hare for the next few weeks.
When your phone just isn’t keeping up its end of the bargain make your way over to Terminal 3 near the Concourse H food court. There you’ll find the Geek Squad, and that’s where they will be providing tech support for free through December 23.
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Everyone across the country is busy buying decor as the holiday season sets in, including wreaths, trees, and lights. Residents of Santa Fe are no different, except what they're buying brings a whole new meaning to the idea of heating up the holiday season.
At markets around town, you'll see signs for "Chili Ristas," arrangements of hanging, dried chiles. They are typically all red, but sometimes include green chiles for a Christmas contrast. Traditionally and today, ristas are used as a way to preserve the peppers. But during the holiday season especially, they serve as a decorative item representing New Mexican culture and its relationship with the chile pepper. As you drive around town, you will see them hung up outside homes.
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There are Christmas trees, festivals, markets, and even holiday kitsch; however, we’re suckers for some quality time behind the wheel where we can check out some dancing reindeer and a shimmering Santa—all illuminated for the season. Sure it might be a little tacky—or just a little much—but with a hot chocolate in the cup holder it can’t be beat. Here’s five places where we’d gladly shell out some holiday cash in exchange for some lights and a smile:
Offered up by the folks at Johns Hopkins and Howard County General Hospital, this annual event does its thing in and around Symphony Woods. Expect a nice 30-minute drive through all kinds of lighted creations. Organizers promise a “fantasy of color, design and animation,” but we’ll let you judge for yourself. Things run through January 4, and it’ll set you back $20 per car. Just note that it’s cash only, so swing by the ATM before making the journey.
Above: the huge Christmas tree at Navy Pier
'Tis the season for Christmas Festivals filled with lights, music, hot chocolate, and roasted chestnuts.
Here are three of this year's best holiday festivals and how you can get tickets to each:
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You thought the TSA was going to lighten up for the holidays. You read on Jaunted that the agency was letting passengers bring ice skates and even pies on board planes. Elsewhere you may have heard that top TSA officials were looking to loosen existing restrictions on some liquids for some travelers. Overall it seemed as if limitations on carry-on baggage were moving in the right direction.
How about instead of that, the TSA just goes ahead and bans all carry-on luggage over the holiday season? No exceptions. How would that suit you?
We don’t easily get choked up watching airline videos on YouTube, but once again WestJet has us reaching for a tissue to wipe away the tears this holiday season. The carrier from Canada is at it again, as this year they brought their own version of a Christmas miracle down to one community in the Dominican Republic.
The airline setup a little kiosk within the Puerto Plata community of Nuevo Renacer, and residents lined up one by one to share their wishes with a Santa on the screen. Well, sure enough Santa was able to grant each and every wish—from a washing machine to a horse.
The airport in Zurich, Switzerland is apparently so completely decked out and prepared for the holidays, that they’re eager to show off the decorations to everyone. That includes those who aren’t necessarily flying, as the airport is opening up to the public for holiday shopping.
The Airside Center of the airport is usually only available to those holding tickets for same-day flight; however, this season that’s going to change. Anyone is welcome over two weekends, and the second and final one is coming up on December 13 and 14 between 6am to 10pm—we missed the first one last weekend.
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Photo of a pie which successfully passed TSA inspection
Firecrackers? No. Entire roasted turkeys and baked pies? Yes and yes!
The TSA released their 2014 Holiday Travel Tips just ahead of Thanksgiving, but most of the notes best apply to the upcoming rush around Christmas.
For what seems like forever, we've always been told that wrapped gifts are not allowed in luggage because, inevitably, the TSA will have to open them to check their contents. Of course that made no sense considering the use of baggage scanners, but it seemed just one of many outdated security rules still idly enforced.
Cut to the 2014 tips, and the TSA clarifies this issue:
Like it or not December has finally arrived, and that means the holiday season is in full swing. Everyone gets in on the Christmas decorations this time of year, but there are a few that take the holiday kitsch to the next level. Here’s five of our picks for putting a smile on your face—or to just shake your head in decoration disgust:
If lights are what you’re after than this is where you need to be, as one dad just took the whole Clark W. Griswold thing to the next level. The new Guinness World Record title for the largest image made of LED lights now belongs to someone in Australia, as this guy has set up around 1.2 million lights. Obviously things are a little much for the neighborhood, so you’ll need to visit Canberra's CBD to check things out.
The mother of all Christmas stores does its thing in Frankenmuth, Michigan, and you can bet that they have holiday kitsch down to a science here. If you can’t visit in person there’s a virtual tour online, and they even have quite an online retail presence. So if you just need that 28.25-inch Lighted Plastic Penguin with Scarf—ordering it through their website is a breeze.