Make sure you're in the right place at the right time this year with our budget or blow-out month-by-month holiday guide to 2009.


Budget After the excitement of Christmas and New Year has passed, spring seems a long time away. January is the best time to treat yourself to some winter sun, so head to the Canary Islands. Tenerife and Gran Canaria enjoy average January temperatures of 20°C (68°F). The islands are about a four-hour flight from the UK and plenty of tour operators and travel agents offer budget package holidays.

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At the other end of the financial and climactic scales is the ICEHOTEL. Located 200km (124 miles) within the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland, the ICEHOTEL is built from ice and snow to a unique design each year. Such a novelty doesn't come cheap, but for those willing to pay (around £900 for three to four nights), it's well worth it.


Budget Head to Eastern Europe for a budget skiing break. There's still plenty of snow around in February and resorts like Bansko in Bulgaria and Kranjska in Slovenia offer a good range of terrain for beginners at some of the cheapest prices in Europe. Check out our guide to Skiing on a budget for more top budget skiing ideas.

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Every February Ottawa holds Winterlude, a celebration of winter. There's skating along the Rideau Canal (apparently the world's longest skating rink), snow and ice sculpture competitions, live music and a massive snow park with slides, events and children's activities in Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau, just across the canal. Plus, there are all the other, year-round, charms of Canada's capital, including ornate gothic architecture with turrets and spires, galleries, museums and a fascinating heritage.


Budget Marrakech is now a firmly established branch of the no-frills network making it a cheap but exotic destination. In March the souks are emptier of tourists and the Atlas Mountains, visible as a protective arc around the city from every riad rooftop, are capped with snow. Check out Seven days in Marrakech for your guide to the ultimate Marrakechi break.

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Cruises are big news for 2009 as the supply of berths is set to outstrip demand meaning there are plenty of bargains to be found. March is your last chance to see Antarctica before it freezes over again for the austral winter. Icebergs, penguins, seals and whales await, but be prepared to pay - Antarctic cruises never come cheap.


Budget April is the best time to see the tulips growing in the Netherlands. 2009 happens to be the 60th anniversary of Keukenhof, the world's largest flower garden, which is celebrating with a USA, New Amsterdam/New York theme. On 25 April, the famous annual Flower Parade sets off on its 40-km (25-mile) route from Noordwijk to Haarlem.

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Continuing with the spring flower theme, Japan's cherry blossom trees reach full bloom in April and the Japanese go crazy with hanami (flower-viewing) parties. The peak blooming period depends on the weather but late March to mid April is the most reliable time to visit. Kyoto, Tokyo and Nagoya are the best places to view the blossoms.


Budget May is the best time to explore Scotland's west coast and Highlands; the midges aren't swarming yet (they start to get really irritating from early June) and the tourist season has yet to take off. May can bring weather every bit as good as high summer, but it's coupled with bouncing lambs, highland cows, great fishing (as the salmon head upstream) and off-peak prices.

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Iceland is home to one of the world's biggest puffin colonies and April to August is peak viewing season. A number of colonies are within easy reach of capital Reykjavik. Lundey, a tiny island just three minutes from Reykjavik, hosts a relatively small colony of around 30,000 puffins. Breiðafjörður, another colony, is also close but to be completely overwhelmed by squawking crowds of bright-billed puffins, go to Heimay, in the Vestmannaeyjar (Westmann) archipelago.


Budget Barcelona is a year-round favourite of the budget airlines but in June it throbs with festivals. The noisiest of these is Verbena de Sant Joan (Saint John's Day) on 24 June when the streets are filled with firecrackers and parties and the beach kicks off its summer season with all-night dancing. Corpus Christi (11 June in 2009) sees parades and l'ou com balla (the dancing egg). The Festival de Barcelona Grec and music festival Sonar also take place in June.

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The Great Sardine Migration starts every year in June when billions of shimmering sardines gather in the cool waters south of Africa before beginning the ‘run' northeast along South Africa's rugged Wild Coast towards Mozambique. What makes this event truly spectacular is the appearance of the ocean's predators, including dolphins, sharks and birds, who gather to feed on the fish. The run coincides with the annual migration of humpback whales whose breaches are a daily phenomenon easily viewed from the shore. Fishing is as easy as dipping a bucket into the seething waters, and it's possible to scuba-dive or snorkel too.


Budget July is one of the best times to holiday in the UK; the weather is at its best and not all the schools have broken up for summer. Wales has 885km (550 miles) of coastline, including 44 blue flag beaches, and 641 castles to explore. Base yourself in St Davids (Britain's smallest city) in Pembrokeshire and go for walks along sections of the gorgeous 300-km (186-mile) coastal trail.

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Mongolia holds Eriin Gurvan Naadam (Naadam Festival) every year in July. Locals compete in horse racing, wrestling and archery in this three-day long display of skill and sportsmanship - the highlight of the Mongolian calendar. There's also food, crafts, music and fantastic people watching. Stay in Ulaanbaatar for the festival and then take a tour of Mongolia's incredible interior, through the Gobi desert or to Khovsgol lake.


Budget Sadly good weather and crowds of sunseekers go hand-in-hand in the Mediterranean but it is possible to find a slice of the sun all to yourself. The Greek islands usually throng with holidaymakers in August but there are a few secret gems to be found. Try Kea (in the Cyclades), Evia (the second-largest Greek island after Crete), Kalymnos (less popular than its fellow Dodecanese neighbour, Kos, thanks to its black-sand beaches), Karpathos (Aegean Dodecanese Islands) or tiny Nisyros.

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One of the most spectacular natural events in the world, the annual wildebeest migration sees thousands of wildebeest and zebra migrate in a clockwise pattern from Tanzania's Serengeti plains to Kenya's Masai Mara in search of fresh grazing. With the prey come the predators and the appearance of large numbers of leopard, lion and hyena makes this one of the best times for wildlife watching.


Budget By September the crowds that plague France's Provence throughout the summer have disappeared, the prices slip back to off-peak level but the days are still long and balmy. Best of all it's time for the grape harvest. This means wine tastings and sales, and plenty of them, as cellars and shelves are cleared to make space for the new bottles.

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September in notoriously expensive Venice sees the crowds of summer start to wane. On the first Sunday of the month is the Regata Storica. It begins with a procession of historic boats and gondoliers along the Grand Canal and is followed by four races. Near midnight, spectacular fireworks are set off along the stretch of water between St Mark's and Giudecca Canal before the boats head for the Lido to wait for sunrise.


Budget October is the time to trek in Nepal - the weather is dry, relatively stable and clear, meaning the views are incredible. The temperature is just right too - cool but not freezing at night. The flight to Nepal will be your biggest outlay, but once you arrive the cost of living is very low. Arrange your trek through a local company when you get there, rather than through a UK-based specialist - the saving you'll make might even justify the cost of the flight.

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Everyone knows that when the leaves start to turn, the best place to be is New England so take a fly/drive holiday around New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island. Reckon on around £2,000 per person, including flights, accommodation and car hire. A number of companies can arrange the whole package for you.


Budget Istanbul goes off peak in November so flights and accommodation are much cheaper than during the stifling summer months. Fortunately the weather is still fairly temperate with average highs of 15°C (59°F) and lows of 9°C (48°F), meaning while you might have to wrap up for a boat trip along the Bosphorus you'll still be able to enjoy the mix of western and eastern attractions that make Istanbul so appealing.

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Famed for its incredibly beautiful beaches, India's tropical Kerala also boasts historic colonial towns, lush forests and tranquil hill stations. The best time to visit is from October to April when temperatures are moderate. The mild monsoon season of October/November is supposedly the best time to visit for Ayurvedic treatments - another thing Kerala is renowned for.


Budget Combine a weekend city break with some Christmas shopping and visit one of the UK's top Christmas markets. With over 300 stalls, Lincoln claims to have the UK's oldest and biggest German-style Christmas market. London's Hyde Park is transformed into a Winter Wonderland, complete with ice rink, fairground and Santa's Grotto. Bath, York and Edinburgh also host markets worth visiting for traditional crafts and mulled wine in beautiful locations.

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Head to Argentina's southern Andes and Patagonia to make the most of the long days and warmer weather. The Fitz Roy Range is great for hiking among glaciers, and the Perito Moreno Glacier is stunning. Buenos Aires and the Tierra del Fuego National Park are also unmissable.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.