2016 Travel Agenda - Where to go when in 2016
As 2015 draws rapidly to a close, it’s time to start planning for a 2016 getaway.
From quirky festivals such as the Kodiak Crab Festival in Alaska or the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival to the Summer Olympics in Rio, Chinese New Year in China or Diwali in India, there are plenty of great reasons to travel in 2016.
Below is our 2016 travel agenda, compiled with the help of our travel clients from around the world.
Join in with the celebrations at Palma’s Fiesta de Sant Sebastià
One of Mallorca’s biggest festivals, the Fiesta de Sant Sebastià is a unique winter festival taking place each January in Palma de Mallorca. Traditionally celebrated to honour the city’s patron saint, Sant Sebastià, the fiestas see locals and visitors alike shake off the winter blues and indulge in huge outdoor barbecues, spectacular firework and light displays and lashings of cultural tradition.
For 2016, the festival will take place between 10 and 25 January. Visitors can enjoy a vibrant spectacle of light and fire and witness the “colles de dimonis” (gangs of devils) and the “bèsties de foc” (fire beasts) during the spectacular Correfoc procession from the Rambla, down Calle Unió to Plaza Joan Carles I. Keep an eye on www.SeeMallorca.com for details and events listings.
Celebrate Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is one of the biggest festivals in the world and there is no better place to experience it then in the great cities of China. In 2016, Chinese New Year will take place on 8 February and will celebrate the year of the monkey. Those born in the year of the monkey are, according to the Chinese Zodiac, characterised as being witty and intelligent with a magnetic personality.
In China, Chinese New Year is a vibrant time of year offering fireworks, temple fairs, lantern festivals and parades. In Hong Kong, the Tsim Sha Tsui Night Parade offers a truly astonishing variety of colourful floats, live music and dance music whilst in Xian, the Lantern Festival which takes place on the magnificent ancient walls offers a spectacular riot of colour. In Beijing, the Ditan Temple Fair, celebrating the Spring Festival showcases local folk customs and performance and is a great place to sample traditional snacks.
China specialist operator Wendy Wu Tours has a dedicated ten day tour designed to immerse visitors into the cultural traditions of this unique time of year. www.wendywutours.co.uk/china/tours/chinese-new-year-2017.htm
Enjoy the ceremonial opening of “The Last Great Race” in Alaska
Dog mushing, Alaska’s official state sport has proven a reliable form of transportation for Alaskans for hundreds of years. This was highlighted during the 1925 ‘Serum Run’ where heroic dogs and mushers became life savers in an incredible race against time. This legendary journey started just south of Fairbanks and ended 674 miles later in Nome which was facing an outbreak of diphtheria. The epic run was accomplished in just five days when Gunnar Kaasen and his lead dog Balto arrived in Nome on 2 February 1925.
Inspired by this courageous journey, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race first ran to Nome in 1973. Today, the Iditarod, a race of approximately 1,000 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain mother nature has to offer throws jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast at the mushers and their dog teams. iditarod.com/
Experience Semana Santa in Central America
In the run up to Easter, Central America is cast under a violet coloured veil as locals celebrate Semana Santa, a week dedicated to the remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Attendees don’t have to be religious to be mesmerised by the elaborately handmade carpets, float processions and intricately dressed residents who take part in the festivities.
The ancient colonial city of Antigua Guatemala nestled in the shadow of the Pacaya volcano and famous for its historical significance and vibrant culture is the best place to experience the festivities in Central America. A UNESCO heritage site, the ancient city offers the perfect scenery and atmosphere to truly experience the thousand year old Semana Santa celebration.
The cobbled stone paths of Antigua Guatemala come alive with street vendors selling traditional food, indigenous women weaving colourful carpets with flowers to be carried in the processions along with the thousands of people dressed in the traditional purple robes for the celebrations.
Semana Santa takes place the week before Easter and lasts until Good Friday. In 2016 the religious festivity will take place from Sunday 20 March to Sunday 26 March. www.visitcentroamerica.com
Pay homage to the Channel Islands’ maritime heritage
In 2016, Guernsey will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Victor Hugo publication ‘Toilers of the Sea’, with the Victor Hugo in Guernsey Festival taking place from 2 –10 April. The world-famous novel was inspired and set in Guernsey where Hugo spent 15 years in exile from 1855.The festival will explore some of the historic events that influenced the book and celebrate Victor Hugo’s life and works. With several fun activities including exhibitions, paintings, talks, walks, films, performances, photographs and a one-day seminar from four of the world’s authorities on Hugo, his life and works, the event is a must-see for Victor Hugo enthusiasts. www.visitguernsey.com/event/victor-hugo-guernsey-festival
Enjoy exclusive access to the palaces of Genoa
The historic city of Genoa offers visitors exclusive access to its incredible palaces with three new dates announced for 2016. The 42 historical palaces in Genoa’s centre, known as the ‘Palazzi dei Rolli’, were granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2006 and will open their doors to the public and to visitors just three times in 2016.Built between the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries for aristocratic families as their private residences and meant to host illustrious guests on behalf of the Republic of Genoa the palaces boast stunning interiors and art collections that are seldom seen.
Starting in April 2016, the Rolli Days’ will be 2 – 3 April, 28 – 29 May and 15-16 October. For the April openings, the new garden path between Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Tursi will be launched. www.turismoinliguria.it
Observe the flame lighting ceremony of the Olympic torch
In 2016, the Olympic flame lighting ceremony will take place at Ancient Olympia in the Peloponnese in Greece on 21 April. Priestesses - all dressed in ancient-style clothing – will gather round the Altar of Hera. The High Priestess will then invoke the god Apollo and light the torch using a concave mirror. The torch relay will then pass through Greece over the following seven days and will be handed over to the Rio 2016 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Rio on 27 April, in order for it to continue its journey though Brazil.
The lighting ceremony has its origins in the ancient Olympic Games as a fire was kept burning throughout the celebrations and the tradition was resurrected for the modern Olympic Games. Tickets for the lighting ceremony will be made available from mid-February on the website http://hoc.gr/.
Celebrate Greek Orthodox Easter
In 2016, the Greek Orthodox Easter is just over a month after the UK Easter – on 1 May. This is a perfect time to visit Greece as the weather is beginning to warm, the spring flowers are still in bloom and even the drier islands are still green from winter rains.
Faithful Christians all over Greece give themselves over to spectacular rituals and processions. Good Friday sees processions through the streets and crowds chanting funeral psalms followed by resurrection feasts being prepared on Easter Saturday. Shortly before midnight on Easter Saturday people gather in churches and the Resurrection of Christ is celebrated at midnight sharp with drum beats and fireworks. On Easter Sunday the 40-day period of fasting truly ends and everyone eats and drinks late into the night.
Different Greek islands and regions have slightly different traditions. In Corfu for example, Easter bands take to the streets and there is a tradition of throwing clay pots off balconies. In Leonidio in the Peloponnese, children from the village release colourful hand-crafted lanterns at midnight on Easter Saturday amidst fireworks and cries of ‘Chirstos Anesti’ (Christ is risen). In Vrontados, Chios, ship owners’ mansions and peaceful ports are dramatically transformed after the Resurrection mass on Easter Saturday as rocket war breaks out, turning the village into a battlefield. Improvised rockets are made from coal, sulphur and nitrate, and are aimed at targets of neighbouring parishes. www.visitgreece.gr
Indulge in Alaskan king crab at Kodiak Crab Festival
First held in 1958 to celebrate the end of the crabbing season and the promise of sunshine and warmer weather, today the week-long event which takes place in Kodiak, Alaska, features parades, kayak races and fishing contests. Food is the main attraction and the festival is a celebration of the bounty of the sea, bringing ample supplies of king crab. Visitors can also enjoy some of the festivals quirks including the town’s moustache competition and arm wrestling contests which take place in the main square.
On a more serious note, a moving Fisherman’s Memorial Service honours those lost at sea during the past year and the blessing of the fleet sends the current fleet off with prayers for a safe return.
The festival tradition takes place before and during the Memorial Day weekend (30 May 2016). www.kodiakchamber.org/chamber_events
Dance the night away at Ibiza’s opening parties
The iconic opening parties in Ibiza have become a reference for music lovers and party-goers with venues each trying to outdo each other with world class DJs, dazzling pyrotechnics and spectacular performance. In Ibiza, the season typically starts with the International Music Summit (IMS) which for 2016 will take place from 25 to 27 May at Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza, located at Playa d’en Bossa. The ultimate electronic music experience, IMS is a comprehensive three-day event featuring live seminars and debates amongst the leaders of the international music community. www.internationalmusicsummit.com/
Two other opening events not to be missed in Ibiza include Pacha (www.pacha.com) and Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel; the island’s most popular outdoor venue (www.ushuaiaibiza.com/). Keep an eye on their sites for opening dates and details.
Take part in Mongolia’s Naadam Festival
Mongolia’s national festival, known as Naadam meaning the ‘three manly games’ dates back to the times of Genghis Khan and is known as the world’s second-oldest Olympics. Celebrating what defined civilization some eight centuries ago: archery, wrestling and horse-riding, Naadam showcases outstanding equestrian skills as well a wealth of pageantry and ceremony.
Wendy Wu Tours has a 23 day ‘Mongolia and the Naadam Festival’ tour journeying from Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar through the Gobi Desert and Mongolia’s great plains offering immeasurable natural beauty before experiencing the unique Naadam Festival. www.wendywutours.co.uk
Enjoy open-air theatre at Athens and Epidavrus Festival - June to September
The Athens and Epidavrus Festival has been running for 57 years and is a collection of open-air theatre, opera, classical music and dance events held in venues across Athens. These include modern venues and the ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus, at the base of Acropolis Hill. The famous, ancient, open-air theatre of Epidavrus in the Peloponnese is also a key venue. This theatre, despite being 2,000 years old, has an audience capacity of 13,000 and has such good acoustics that actors can speak without microphones and still be heard by the people in the back row. Many of the ancient Greek performances are in Greek but have English subtitles. The 2016 programme is still to be announced and tickets will be available through www.greekfestival.gr/en/.
Admire world-class cycling in Andorra during the Tour de France
All eyes will be on Andorra in 2016 when the Tour de France spends three days in the country, from 10 to 12 July. The world’s most famous cycling race comes to ‘the Country of the Pyrenees’ for the first time in seven years in a move that is set to showcase Andorra as a world-class cycling and activity destination more so than ever before, as well as highlight the beauty and diversity of the country’s mountainous landscape. Sports Tours International, an official tour operator to the Tour de France, offers a variety of trips to the 2016 edition, including the stages in Andorra. For more information please visit www.sportstoursinternational.co.uk) / 0161 703 8161 or www.visitandorra.com.
Celebrate the start of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro
Celebrating South America’s first ever Olympic Games, Rio will play host to the 2016 Summer Olympics from 5 to 21 August 2016.
Copacabana Beach, Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain... it’s easy to understand why Rio is known as Cidade Maravilhosa – the Marvellous City and in 2016 athletes and spectators will flock to the famous beachside city to enjoy one of the world’s greatest sporting events.
Don’t miss the opening party on 5 August 2016 which will take place in Rio’s famous Maracanã Stadium, promising a show-stopping artistic spectacle, showcasing Brazil’s colourful culture. Closer to home, a range of celebrations and events will take place around the country. For more information on travel to Rio and South America, please visit www.lata.org.
Enjoy local cuisine at the Cycladic Gastronomy Festival
Every year, at the beginning of September, the island of Sifnos hosts the child-friendly "Nikolaos Tselementes" Cycladic Gastronomy Festival. It’s a three-day event, which has become an institution. Nikolaos Tselementes – a Greek chef of the early 20th century is the Greek equivalent to the British Mrs Beeton - and is considered to be one of the most influential cookery writers of modern Greece.
Representatives from the Cyclades islands meet in Sifnos to present their unique gastronomic and cultural traditions. Every island has its own stall at the central square of Artemonas, where amateur and professional cooks and chefs prepare and present recipes from their islands. Visitors are invited to taste! Cooking games and contests are also held for children between 6 and 12 years of age. sifnos.e-sifnos.com/sifnos-information/cooking-festival-in-sifnos.html
Get some winter sun at the new Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife
Set to be one of 2016’s most anticipated hotel openings, Europe’s second Hard Rock Hotel will open in Tenerife in autumn 2016 in time for winter sun holidays, following the successful launch of Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza in May 2014. The five-star beachfront Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife will sit on the Canary Island’s sunny southern coast near Adeje and will feature two striking towers totalling 624 rooms and 266 suites. As well as the signature brand-wide facilities featured in all Hard Rock hotels, such as a Rock Spa®, Body Rock® workout facility and a Rock Shop®, the new Tenerife addition will boast three pools, a saltwater lagoon, six dining establishments and plenty of venues to host world-class entertainment and musical events. www.palladiumhotelgroup.com.
Honour those who have departed during the Day of the Dead, Mexico
The Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is celebrated annually on 1 and 2 November as a reunion of dead relatives with their families. For Mexicans, it’s a colourful and lively celebration with activities including the decoration of graves, burning incense, prayers and chants for the dead and parades through the streets.
For more information about travel to and around Mexico, please visit www.lata,org
Enjoy a colourful skyline at the kite festival, Fuerteventura
The International Kite Festival is held in Fuerteventura at the Dunes of Corralejo Natural Park in early November. The festival was started in 1987 by a group of amateur kite flyers and is now enjoyed by regional and international kite flyers who gather from around the world to the beaches of Fuerteventura to partake in the kite flying festivities creating a spectacular skyline.
The five star Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real is located close to Corralejo Natural Park so is an ideal place to stay to observe the Kite Festival. www.hellocanaryislands.com/Fuerteventura or www.atlantisbahiareal.com/en/
Enjoy a free festive boat ride to Herm
During the month of December, visitors to Guernsey can enjoy a free trip to the beautiful island of Herm to enjoy the annual “Christmas Shopping” days. This yearly tradition of free Christmas sailings to Herm is available for both Guernsey islanders and visitors and offers the chance to walk around the dramatic coastline, enjoy the warm local hospitality in the Mermaid Tavern or purchase some local Guernsey gifts. www.visitguernsey.com
Images from left to right:
1. Abriendo Mentes, Costa Rica, Copyright KateHood.com
2. Nuevas Esperanzas, Nicaragua
3. Vidarte Space, Brazil