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Make it Antigua & Barbuda for the holidays

MISANI Special to the AmNews | 1/11/2012, 12:20 p.m.

Happy Holidays! Caribbean Lingo would like to suggest that you make it Antigua and Barbuda for the holiday season. Ready? Here's the latest buzz about not one but two of the most idyllic destinations in the Caribbean-the best gift you can give or receive for Christmas.

Here's the first present: Getting there is so easy. American Airlines, which has been providing 30 years of "reliable daily service to Antigua and Barbuda," has a very special surprise for everyone. Now there's new nonstop service from JFK! It was strategically launched on Nov. 17 to accommodate the many Antiguan and Barbudian nationals and other Caribbean friends from the tristate area returning home for Christmas, as well as the many returning American guests and new visitors to the islands. Get ready for the best levels of service and value.

And remember, Antigua and Barbuda continue to be the best options for a Caribbean experience offering visitors world-class accommodations that fit every budget.

And wait until you see the wonderland that awaits you. Instead of the cold and snow, Antigua and Barbuda offers sunny, sparkling skies, a luxurious "whitewash" of beaches and calm rejuvenating blue waters, ideal for swimming, diving, water-skiing and sailing.

Whether you are in the mood for fine or casual dining, it's no problem. There are over 100 local restaurants, all offering sumptuous cuisine. It's your choice, as are a variety of dreamy adventures on not one but two enchanting islands.

And what priceless gifts from nature. Mornings greet you with a spectacular sunrise and evenings with a stunning sunset. Soft pink sand caresses your feet as you stroll hand-in-hand with that special someone or as you and your children have fun playing on Antigua's surreal, pinkalicious fantasy beach.

Shrouded in history, Antigua and Barbuda's historical sights include forts and intriguing landmarks like Shirley Heights from which to see them. And for all you shoppers, you'll find some really unique gifts on the islands. And here's the 411: Christmas shopping is duty-free at the Heritage and Redcliffe Quays.

Christmas and New Year's Eve in Antigua and Barbuda are truly special experiences. The streets of St. John's, the capital of Antigua, are brightly lit and many yuletide traditions are observed. Yet there is a uniqueness about the celebrations, which is reflected in the local customs, cuisine and music of the optimistic, calm Antiguans and Barbudians as they celebrate the unique spirit of the season. The custom of Father Christmas (Santa Claus) and his donkey-drawn cart are all part of the wonderful folklore of the nation that young and old visitors will adore.

These are a few of the wondrous traditions that will come alive for you and your family this year as you exchange gifts under swaying palm trees, sing time-honored carols to the accompaniment of steel drums, listen to lively kaisos with Calypso King Obstinate and ring in 2012 under the magical, moonlit heavens of Antigua and Barbuda.

And who knows? You just might be fortunate enough to bump into the fabulous talent of screen and stage, Anna Maria Horsford, Antigua and Barbuda's tourism ambassador. Happy Holidays.

The Caribbean Lingo series pays tribute to the art forms of the Caribbean and to Caribbean artists of the highest caliber.