Iceland is one of the best places to see nature’s famous light display and, luckily for you, a northern lights excursion is included in all of our three- and four-night Iceland holidays. September to mid-April is the ideal time to catch the impressive show, and until 2019, frequent activity and intense light displays are relatively common while we’re still in the Solar Maximum stage (just to get a bit science-y). After 2019, sightings will be fewer and further between, so 2018 is a great time to go. With all of our northern lights trips, you’ll get several chances to see the lights, as they can be unpredictable. Plus we also throw in a Golden Circle tour, so you can see the best of Iceland’s scenery, too. Perfect.
Brazil’s Rio di Janerio carnival might be the most famous of the street parties, but you’ll be pleased to hear there’s one much closer to home, in Tenerife. The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife happens to be the second biggest in the world, and it’s a much more convenient four-hour flight away from the UK. You can expect the event to be just as epic as Brazil’s carnival, as the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is actually twinned with Rio di Janerio. Street parties and parades are set to take place across the whole of the country, and the theme for 2018 is Fantasy, so we suspect there’ll be loads of glitter and sequins.
Jamaica is also tipped to take the carnival crown in 2018 with its line-up of reggae acts, street parties and colourful costumes. Celebrations will take place in Kingston, Montego Bay and Negril, and the carnival will also coincide with Bob Marley week from the 1st to the 6th of February, with even more reggae events in Montego Bay.
Whale watching is on just about everyone’s travel bucket list – and if it isn’t, it should be. You can see the majestic beauties all over the world, but one of the best places to spot the humpback whale is in Mexico. Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta is the place to be, and this hotspot is frequently visited by humpback whales, grey whales and Bryde’s whales - even super rare blue whales can be seen if you’re lucky. February to April is the best time to see them, so pick March to maximise your chances. Vallarta Adventures are the only tour company who use spotter planes to track the whales, giving you the best chance of seeing them, and the whale watching photo safari is their most popular trip.
If you want to experience a truly unique event, head to Thailand mid-April to take part in the biggest water fight in the world. Songkran – also known as Thai New Year – is the country’s biggest celebration, and takes place in most major towns and cities. The three-day extravaganza starts off with water being sprinkled over Buddha statues, and descends quickly into a huge water fight involving locals and tourists armed with hoses, buckets and water pistols... all in the name of good fun, of course. Stay in Phuket for the festivities, and you’ll be able to relax on the gorgeous white-sand beaches after all the excitement.
Everyone needs at least one hedonistic clubbing experience in their life – party animal or not – and where better than the White Isle, home of the world’s best clubs? May is the month of the opening parties in Ibiza, so you can expect amazing all-night raves and top line-ups to start the summer season. There’s a club for (almost) all music fans to keep everyone happy. Pick the Zoo Project if you love a bit of fancy dress in the form of animal onesies and glow-in-the-dark body paint. Or, choose Pacha if you’re after a glitz and glam party hotspot with popular acts like David Guetta, Snoop Dogg and Usher. DC-10 is all about house and techno for the more serious music fans. And you can also take your pick from boat parties, chilled-out bars and sundowners at Café Mambo – one of the best sunset spots in the world.
Festivals in the UK usually mean rain, wellies and muddy fields. If you didn’t get Glastonbury tickets, the good news is you can head abroad to enjoy festival season in the sunshine. Hideout Festival in Croatia, on the island of Pag, is where the legendary boat and beach parties are at, plus over 150 acts including big names like Stormzy. There’s also Sonar Festival in Barcelona, Secret Solstice Festival in Reykjavik, and the hippy Meadows In The Mountains in Bulgaria, which is all about live soul, folk and funk, if you’re after something a bit different.
Ok, so obviously we don’t know who’s going to win the World Cup quite yet (cue the usual whisperings of this being England’s year). But, we reckon that whoever gets their hands on the trophy will become the place to visit in July 2018. Portugal and Spain are two of the front-runners, so you can combine a sunshine holiday with some footie-centric celebrations. You’ve also got Croatia, Morocco and Costa Rica in the running to pull off a shock victory, if you’re a real optimist. Or, you could join the revellers in Reykjavik for what might just be a celebration of Iceland’s win (you never know). For those who’d rather pull on their boots than play the part of spectator, Holiday Villages hotels – with our sister company, First Choice – have Football Academies for young Messis in the making.
If you’re a rollercoaster fan, you just have to ride the biggest and best. And a rollercoaster that ticks off both of those credentials is Red Force in Port Aventura’s newly-built Ferrari Land. This terrifying coaster launches you 112 metres into the air at a super-speedy 110 mph, so it’s definitely one for the thrill-seekers. And, Port Aventura is conveniently located right next to the beach resort of Salou, so you can switch between sunbathing and getting your adrenalin fix at the theme park.
July and August are also packed full of events in the Costa Dorada region, so you can enjoy Spanish festivities such as the Fiesta of Sant Pere and the Golden Nights in Salou fiesta, which lines up open-air concerts and street performers.
For an experience you’ll never forget, head to Sri Lanka in September to see elephants migrating en masse to Minneriya National Park, in an event known as The Gathering. Hundreds of elephants make the Jungle Book-style journey to an ancient reservoir in the national park between May and October. So September is just about the perfect time to catch them bathing in the waters and enjoying an elephant-style pool party. You’ll also be able to see baby elephants being bottle-fed at the Elephant Transit Park in Udawalawe National Park. The best way to experience this is on a jeep tour, where you’ll explore the landscape with a knowledgeable guide, learning all about the endangered creatures along the way.
Got a head for heights? If you’re the adventurous type, sky diving is definitely one for the bucket list. And, of course, while you’re flying through the air, it would help to have some amazing views. Enter Mauritius - an under-the-radar adrenaline-junkies’ hotspot - where you can pair gorgeous turquoise waters and views of almost the whole island with a thrilling 10,000-metre jump. Head to Anse La Raie, which is a top sky diving hotspot, to do the daring jump, and then carry on the activities with a zip-lining course and a canyon swing if you’re feeling brave enough. Besides the adrenaline-fuelled activities on offer, October is the perfect time to visit Mauritius.
The biggest Thanksgiving event in the whole of the USA is the spectacular Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. Millions of Americans watch the event at home, but the best way to see it is in real life, or from the comfort of your hotel room. The event involves 60-foot-high pop culture-themed floats being paraded through the streets, and if you’re staying at a hotel along the parade route – like the Ritz Carlton New York in Central Park – you can watch the whole thing from your window. There are plenty of top restaurants in the city offering the full turkey-and-trimmings feast too, and you can make the most of the Black Friday sales the day after. New York’s famous Rockefeller tree and Christmas decorations go up a few days after Thanksgiving, so you can combine all three events in one holiday.
What better Christmas experience could there be than meeting Santa himself? Whatever age you are, this has to be on your bucket list. You can choose between a daytrip to Lapland – literally a flying visit to see the main man in his hometown – or a longer trip where you can spend a bit more time exploring the area, baking cookies with elves and enjoying snowmobile rides. Stay in Santa's Igloos Arctic Circle, in a glass-roofed igloo-style room, to make the experience even more magical. You might even catch a glimpse of the northern lights and tick off two once-in-a-lifetime experiences in one go.
The luxurious Ritz Carlton, Central Park puts you right next to Central Park and gives you front-row access to the Macy’s Day Parade.
Stay at the unique, glass-roofed Santa's Igloos Arctic Circle, and you’ll be able to see the night sky from the comfort of your bed.
The adults-focussed Riu Reggae comes with a beachfront location and boats swim-up bars.
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