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The Canaries – a perfect place for Christmas

Instead of turkey and tinsel with the family, millions of Brits head off to sunnier climes for the festive season. Big favourites include far flung Caribbean sunspots, but according to the Association of British Travel Agents, for sun-seekers, the destination at the top of the list lies closer to home: the Canary Islands.

Over four million Brits prefer to celebrate Christmas abroad. Some of them choose snowy ski resorts in the Alps and Pyrenees, but many are looking to add a little sunshine to the last week of the year. And one of the favourite options is the Canary Islands. With its year round spring climate and spectacular beaches along a total of over 1,500 kilometres of coastline, this volcanic archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa has long been popular as a holiday destination. For visitors to the Canary Islands, sun and sand are pretty much a given, but there's more to do than just laze on the beach: whitewashed churches, lighthouses, sports and adventure activities, unusual rock formations, unique flora, and Spain's highest mountain are just some of the attractions.

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Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
There are seven main islands in the archipelago - which owes its name to the Latin word for dogs, not canaries - as well as other little islets like Lobos, off the northeastern tip of Fuerteventura and accessible by ferry from Corralejo 

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
The clear turquoise waters around Fuerteventura offer great conditions for surfing and windsurfing - or you can go diving and explore the wonders of the underwater world 

Sheraton, Gran Canaria
With one of the best golf course in Spain and the fine Aloe Spa, the Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort and Spa on Gran Canaria is the perfect place to relax 

Gomera, Canary Islands
Tecina Golf Resort on the southern coast of La Gomera enjoys magnificent views out over the ocean and across to the neighbouring island of Tenerife 

Gomera, Canary Islands
La Gomera's greatest treasure is the National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Garajonay where many species flourish that are extinct elsewhere 

Maspalomas, Gran Canaria
The vast white beach at Maspalomas on Gran Canaria, the second largest island in the archipelago; the island is also home to the capital city, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 

Lanzarote, Canary Islands
The Cesar Manrique Cactus Garden on Lanzarote owes its name to the local artist whose commitment to sustainability left an indelible mark on the island 

Lanzarote, Canary Islands
The Mirador del Rio, a viewpoint created by Manrique in the Seventies, offers a spectacular view across to La Graciosa, one of the smaller islets; the Mirador was used as a location for a Doctor Who adventure in 1984, with Peter Davison in character as the Doctor 

Playa de Famara, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
On the northern coast, Famara is just one of Lanzarote's many beaches; the winds and currents here combine to provide good surfing conditions, but can be treacherous for inexperienced swimmers 

Timanfaya, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Underground temperatures at the Timanfaya National Park, home to the Mountains of Fire, are so high that water poured on the ground is instantly transformed into an incredible geyser of steam 

Tenerife, Canary Islands
On the southern tip of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands and home to the highest peak in Spain, the district of Arona boasts the purpose-built holiday resort of Playa de las Americas featuring nightclubs, bars, and plenty of beach fun 

La Palma, Canary Islands
On the island of La Palma, also known as la isla bonita - 'the pretty island' - the volcano Teneguia is still active; it erupted as recently as 1971, but is now a popular spot for tourism