Releasing paper lanterns in Chiang Mai

Your first resolution for the New Year – travel more, of course! Plan out where you want to go in 2014 with our handy travel calendar. Whether it's Brazil in June for some footie action or a relaxing break in Venice, here are the best places to see this year.


Follow the action: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam New YearsFireworks over the city
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Ring in the New Year in Europe’s most liberal city. Start the year off memorably with a visit to Amsterdam where you can taste the traditional oliebollen (an icing-covered doughnut-type treat), and join an impromptu street party. Long winter nights provide the perfect excuse to indulge in the city’s thriving nightlife.

Take it easy: New Zealand

Shake off the wintery northern hemisphere in favour of the summery southern one. New Zealand enjoys some of its best weather in January. Explore the beaches, relax in the gardens, and investigate bubbling mud pools (consequences of volcanic activity), in one of the world’s best countries for ecotourism.


Follow the action: London, England

London Fashion WeekPrepare to be papped during LFW
Creative Commons / Garry Knight
Shine up your most expensive shoes and don your quirkiest outfit because in London, February means fashion week. From the 14th till the 18th, designers, models and fashionistas will flock to London. Shop at pop-up stores, check out designer boutiques and try to get papped by a street fashion blogger.

Take it easy: St Lucia

Escape the trials of real life on a sandy beach in St Lucia. With the dry season nigh, you won’t have to worry about rainstorms keeping you off the beach, so your early tan will be the envy of your friends. Lush vegetation on one side and sparkling turquoise water on the other, this postcard-ready island is the perfect getaway.


Mardi Gras floatElaborate floats at Mardi Gras
Creative Commons / Phelan Riessen
Follow the action: New Orleans, Louisiana

Bring your beads because it’s Mardi Gras! In the huge celebration culminating on 4th March, New Orleans always does Mardi Gras in style. Watch a parade and try to catch “throws” from float riders or, for those looking for a risqué experience, head to the French Quarter for some debauchery. Before putting down chocolate for Lent, pick up a mask and hit the streets of New Orleans for “The Greatest Free Show on Earth”.

Take it easy: Venice, Italy

Always a popular destination, March is still off-peak season and the usually-packed streets will be less crowded with tourists. Take a peaceful stroll down the twisting alleyways or a romantic gondola ride through the canals to make the most of this floating city.


Follow the action: South Africa

In April, South Africa will be celebrating 20 years of inclusive elections; plan your visit to make the most of this historically important occasion. Township tours offer an insight into the inequalities of the past and how things might be for the future. If you have time, take a tour of Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, and add another element of history to your visit.

Bahamas archipelagoMany islands make up the Bahamas
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Take it easy: Bahamas

Make it to the Bahamas before the hurricane season approaches. With the onset of April meaning the end of the fresher months, visitors can breathe easy, enjoying balmy temperatures as well as fewer tourists. While the beaches are worthy of a whole vacation, you can also explore the interior of the islands if you’ve had too much time on the sand.


Brittany bagpipesBiniou koz in Brittany
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Follow the action: Brittany, France

Don’t miss the Festival of Brittany where old meets new in a celebration of culture. Come during May to get a close-up look at Breton life. On Saint Yves Day, there will be fest-nozes (all-night dances), concerts, exhibitions and biniou koz (traditional bagpipe playing).

Take it easy: Fiji

Wet season is over and cyclones are long gone, so May is the month to visit Fiji. Dive under sparkling water to explore soft coral reefs, visit a Fijian village or lie back on the rippling gold dunes of sand and let any stress slide away.


Follow the action: Brazil

Brazil this year means only one thing: the World Cup. If you’re a footie fan looking for action, look no further. Book a package tour through a company like Journey Latin America (they'll sort out the tickets), or alternatively, join locals to watch games in a bar. If football isn’t your sport, Brazil is resplendent with beaches, waterfalls and more than enough colourful culture to keep you occupied.

Yosemite FallsYosemite Falls
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Take it easy: Yosemite, California

Come June, the spring snows have melted and the trails should all be accessible in Yosemite. As the wildflowers bloom, set out to see the waterfalls (which will have transformed from trickles into thundering falls). Pitch a tent in one of hundreds of campsites, or rent a cabin for a few more creature comforts.


Bastille day, ParisBastille Day celebrations
Creative Commns / oissaly
Follow the action: Paris, France

Parisians flock to the streets to celebrate the storming of the Bastille in July. Join the revellers for a fantastic parade of military personnel in full regalia down the Champs Elysées and then grab a bottle of wine and see the sky light up with fireworks. The 14th of July truly makes Paris the City of Light.

Take it easy: Mauritius

For a low-key beach holiday without the crowds, head to Mauritius in July. While it’s winter, the temperature stays around 25°C (77°F) so the powdery white sand and the sparkling turquoise waters are still inviting. Not only is it the dry season, meaning low humidity and no cyclones, but it’s also the best season to surf, as winds create a killer swell.


Highland games dancersDancers at the Highland Games
Creative Commons / Jamie In Bytown
Follow the action: Scotland

The Highland Games are in full swing and the Commonwealth Games are just wrapping up in August. Sports fans will find constant entertainment from competitive sports to traditional hammer throwing. If you’re less inclined to athletic exertions, catch the highland dancing, and pipe and fiddle contests, while munching on haggis from a food cart.

Take it easy: St Olavsleden, Norway

Find inner peace while trekking along an ancient path that has reopened after 500 years of disuse in Norway. The 580km (360-mile) path winds through forests and mountains alongside clear waters that were used by pilgrims looking for spiritual rejuvenation. Book a tour or plan it yourself – there are few better ways to de-stress than reconnecting with nature.


Riga, Blackheads House and St Peters ChurchBlackheads House and St Peter's Church, Riga
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Follow the Action: Riga, Latvia

Chock-full of art nouveau architecture and a multicultural past, Riga is a European Capital of Culture for 2014. In September, visitors and locals alike can enjoy a series of concerts put on by Latvian artists, a rotating schedule of plays and The Survival Kit, an international contemporary art exhibit that explores social and economic situations in Europe.

Take it easy: Nice, France

By September, the crowds are gone but the weather is still hot and the pebbly beaches are still lovely in Nice. With a clear turquoise Mediterranean Sea beckoning, and a hot sun beating down, the south of France is the place to hide from other holidaymakers. Indulge in fresh seafood paired with a local Sauvignon Blanc and top up your summer tan.


NYC Halloween dandiesDandies on Halloween
Creative Commons / istolethetv
Follow the action: New York City, USA

No one does Halloween like the USA, so head to the Big Apple and take a bite of a caramel one. Not only will NYC be dazzling with trees awash with red, orange and gold leaves, but the spooks will be out and this month is the best time to spot them. Dress up for the Village’s Halloween Parade, or watch from the sidelines and see some of the most creative Halloween costumes.

Take it easy: Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

With sweltering temperatures of 35°C (95°F) in October, the watery thrills on offer in Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE are unbeatable. Swim, scuba or sail at the beaches or hit up the Emirates’ largest water park, Iceland, for some chlorinated fun. October also marks the start of camel racing season, held on weekends; this traditional heritage activity can be found in Digdaga and Hamraniya.


Follow the action: Berlin, Germany

Berlin will light up in November as locals and visitors gather to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A string of lit-up helium balloons will mark where the wall was, and balloons will be released to symbolise the fall. The official date is 9 November, but there will be events and exhibitions in the surrounding weeks, including an insightful guided cycling tour along the wall.

Chiang Mai Lanterns 200Lanterns in Chiang Mai
Creative Commns / mith17
Take it easy: Thailand

Northern Thailand is home to Chiang Mai, “the rose of the north”. Here you can relax on a dragon boat ride, visit butterflies at an orchard and butterfly farm, and practice haggling at the markets and night bazaar. Yi Peng (Festival of Lights) falls in November this year, so join the locals in releasing thousands of flower- and candle-laden banana leaves into the waterways and paper lanterns into the sky, for a spectacular sight.


Prague Christmas market ornamentsOrnaments at the Christmas markets
Thinkstock / iStockphoto
Follow the action: Prague, Czech Republic

Christmas spirit takes over Prague in December. Classic Christmas markets spring up in all the squares, with the biggest in the Old Town and Wenceslas Square. Wander the winding stalls selling everything from handmade ornaments to chunks of spit-roasted pig. For a sweet treat, try a trdelnik, a hot sugar-covered pastry, and sip on some mulled wine to keep the chill away, all while listening to the angelic choirs of school children.

Take it easy: Australia

Keen to escape winter? Take a lesson from the birds and migrate south. December marks the beginning of Australia’s summer, making it a perfect spot for sun-seekers. Stroll along the sandstone cliffs from Bondi Beach to Bronte or dive beneath the waves in Queensland to see the rainbows of coral making up the Great Barrier Reef. Winter's chill will be long forgotten.

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.