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A holiday season in paradise

It’s that festive time of year, but the sun is shining. Powdery white sands surround you instead of snow. A refreshing breeze soothes your skin. As you stroll through town, you might hear reggae covers of popular Christmas songs.

Welcome to the festive season in the Cayman Islands, a time that is just as prominent here as it is in many places around the world. Here’s your guide to celebrating the holiday season in true Caymanian style.

Enjoy the local vibe at Cayman Cabana

Head to Cayman Cabana to catch the island’s cool winter breezes, some Caribbean-inspired cuisine, and a special guest appearance.

On Fridays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., the restaurant holds its Tacos and Tequila event, but on Dec. 28, it will be joined by DJ Walshy Fire from the American electronic dance group Major Lazer. Also present will be DJs Selecta Renegade, Skorch Bun It, Mat Banx, and more.

Try out a different sort of Christmas celebration at the restaurant’s Floatopia Float Parade. Held on Dec. 29 from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m., this special event will entertain guests with giant floaties and giant waterslides to go along.

Both events present an exciting opportunity to become immersed in the celebratory nature of the holiday season amidst a truly Caribbean atmosphere.

Discover endless festivities at Camana Bay

The festive spirit reigns in Camana Bay, with a stunning Christmas tree, beautiful lights, and, of course, several holiday-inspired events.

Tonight, Dec. 18, at 8 p.m., catch the final showing of the holiday Moonlight and Movies. Families can gather under the stars beside the Christmas tree for a screening of Home Alone. Children hoping to have their photo taken with Santa while the season is here have two options. Traditional Santa photos sessions are held on Thursday at Gardenia Courts, starting at 5 p.m. Caribbean Santa photos are Saturday on The Island in Camana Bay’s harbour, starting at 3 p.m. The cost for either session is $35.

This Friday, Dec. 21, visit the chic restaurant Abacus at 7 p.m., for the 11th annual Mistletoe Party, an evening of great eats and dancing. Tickets are $30 per person.

The weekly Farmers & Artisans Market has now adopted a holiday theme, so head to The Paseo each Wednesday starting at 12 p.m. for a dose of Christmas cheer.

Experience fine dining at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort

The Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort knows how to craft a Christmas celebration which is both memorable and delicious.

Visit the resort’s popular restaurant Anchor and Den on Dec. 23 or 30 between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. for the Festive Sunday Brunch, an atmospheric event boasting a series of international dishes. The cost is $75 per person. On Dec. 22 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., the restaurant also hosts its Christmas Mad Tea Party, featuring unique blends by Tea Time Cayman as well as a delicious cake table. Admission is $30 per person.

The celebrations culminate with the Christmas Eve Dinner at Veranda from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., followed by the Christmas Boulangerie Brunch held on Christmas Day from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Both events will feature a raw bar, a carving station with natural whole roasted turkey, a selection of charcuterie, tapas, and more. Admission to the Christmas Eve Dinner is $70 and admission to the Christmas Boulangerie Brunch is $95.

"The holidays are always a festive time for us at our Beach House!” says, Nicolas Franco, marketing manager at The Marriott. “We are excited to be hosting an array of fun events this year including our Christmas Market, Christmas Day brunch and popular New Year's Eve party. Our guests always tell us how much they enjoy our diverse and creative food and beverage offerings, lively vibe and attentive customer service. For many loyal clientele, attending one of our events is a tradition during the Christmas season."

Combine Italian and Caribbean dining with the holidays at The Lighthouse Restaurant

A landmark of Cayman’s eastern side, The Lighthouse Restaurant, located in Bodden Town, is known for its fabulous views and fine Italian cuisine – however, around the Christmas season, it’s also recognised for its fantastic Christmas offerings.

On Dec. 23 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. guests can usher in the holidays with a Caribbean-themed Christmas Sunday brunch. Main courses include portobello mushroom ravioli in a marinara sauce, grilled mahi-mahi with coconut-lime sauce, BBQ pork ribs, and more. Included will be a raw bar, a salad bar, and a carving station. The cost is $39 per person, with a 15 percent service charge.

Celebrate with a special dinner menu on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, from 5:30 p.m. onwards. Entrees include everything from lobster and shrimp, to a steak and seafood mixture, to a traditional Christmas dinner of turkey, ham, stuffing, and more.

Head to Tukka for a popular brunch on Cayman’s quieter side

A popular restaurant found in Cayman’s East End, Tukka offers famous Sunday brunches, but guests can also book a reservation for the Christmas Day brunch.

The location allows guests to escape from the activity of the island’s western side and enjoy a Christmas dinner within a peaceful area of the island, beside a stunning ocean view.

“Christmas brunch with family and friends is best celebrated by the ocean,” remarks chef Ron, and what better place to enjoy the holiday season than in East End by the sea?”

There are two seatings available; 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Food is $35, while guests can add a selection of bottomless bubbles for $22.

Revel in an enchanting celebration at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, is emphasising the grander side of Christmas.

Hotel guests will be able to enjoy complimentary activities like holiday s’mores on the beach, a festive macaron demonstration and holiday carols with mulled wine. Meanwhile, everyone is welcome to events like the Gingerbread House Workshop and Gingerbread Man Afternoon Tea.

And, of course, don’t miss out on the wide variety of outstanding culinary offerings including the Nutcracker Christmas Day Family Brunch and the Christmas Day Champagne Brunch.

It should also be mentioned that the backdrop of the hotel is extraordinary.

“From a life-size, 14-foot tall gingerbread house, featuring chocolate and fondant elves, to our extravagant New Year’s Eve Ball with a fireworks display to illuminate the sky, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman offers incredible festivities for all to enjoy,” remarks Marc Langevin, general manager. “It’s a unique experience to be in the Caribbean for the holidays, and we strive to make it nothing short of magical.”

Some events are held on repeat days in December. For the full schedule, check out the events calendar on The Ritz-Carlton website.

Burn off excess calories at Dashing Thru the Sand

Burn off some of those excess calories with Dashing Thru the Sand. This holiday-inspired run is expected to take place again this year on Dec. 26, 2018, stretching along Seven Mile Beach.

Just look around you!

Grand Cayman may enjoy year-round sunshine instead of snow, but at nightfall, fantastic displays of lights create the sense of a winter wonderland. Everything from homes to hotels to the centres of roundabouts are bedecked with luminous décor.

Visitors travel from all ends of the island to view the stunning Bodden sisters’ house on South Church Street, George Town, and the larger Crighton property on Shamrock Road, just west of Savannah. Both houses invite visitors to walk through immersive scenery incorporating animated figures and other décor.

The National Trust for the Cayman Islands offers its annual Christmas Lights Bus Tour on Dec. 21, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Starting at the National Trust Visitors Centre in South Sound, the tour costs $30 for adult non-members, $25 for adult members, and $15 for children ages 5 to 11.

For those who prefer motorcycles to buses, the Cayman Islands Motorcycle Riders Association hosts the CIMRA Christmas Lights Sleigh Ride Tour on Dec. 20. The event begins with food at Margaritaville from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., and is followed by the tour from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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