Around the world in a year

Ever wondered where you should go at a certain time of year? It’s universally agreed upon that there are just some places that are must-sees at particular points in the year – whether for a taste of that nation’s culture, the chance to see rare wildlife, a jolt of adrenaline or just because you have to at least once in your life. SARAH BEYER has your year planned.



Vienna’s traditional ball season

Start the year off with some old traditions – by joining in Vienna’s traditional ball season. Although the season kicks off officially on 11 November, the vast majority of balls are held between New Year’s Eve and Shrove Tuesday (in February).

The ability to ballroom dance (or not), shouldn’t dissuade you from attending a Viennese ball, with the events a glimpse of the culture of Austria. Some balls are held in notable buildings, giving lovers of architecture the chance to experience these grand buildings in another way, while music buffs will enjoy the live performances, from classical music to disco tunes.

Held at the Vienna State Opera, the Opera Ball gives architecture buffs a new way of appreciating this beautiful building ©Austrian National Tourist Office / Andreas Tischler

There are traditional balls such as the Wiener Philharmonikerball and the Vienna Opera Ball, with long frocks for ladies and tuxedos or tails for men required, masked or themed balls, balls with gala dinners, folkloric balls which celebrate particular Austrian regions, local balls in the neighbourhoods and contemporary balls embracing different cultures (such as the Chinese New Year Ball).

Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago

Although Brazil is arguably the host of the most famous Carnival, it’s not the only country to celebrate. Most Caribbean nations hold their own Carnivals, but the oldest and biggest is that held in Trinidad.

The celebration is held on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, when the Lenten period (the 40 days before Easter) begins. Because of its tie with Easter, Carnival can either fall in February or March, but in 2023 it will be a two-day celebration on Monday 20 February and Tuesday 21 February.

Costumes for Carnival can range from skimpy to more conservative

Carnival is characterised by dressing in masquerade, music and dancing, with partygoers wearing elaborate feathered costumes called mas. Travellers will be able to enjoy different styles of Caribbean music including soca and steelpan bands and can even participate in the parade by joining a mas band and dressing up in their costumes which range from skimpy to more conservative.

Holi Festival in India and Nepal

Known as the Festival of Colours, the Festival of Spring and the Festival of Love, Holi is one of the most popular celebrations in the Hindu calendar. Travellers can venture to India or Nepal to experience the riotous colours of the festival, as people splash vibrantly coloured dyes on each other. Traditionally the colours have come from natural dyes made from flowers and herbs but today they are more often synthetic.

Dyes for Holi Festival

As well as getting covered in colourful powders, Holi celebrations include bonfires, consuming sweets and dancing to traditional music as participants remember the victory of good over evil and the arrival of spring. The biggest events happen in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and are held on the last full moon day of the lunar month of (Phalguna), which is generally around the end of March.


Sakura season in Japan

We couldn’t write a list of the best places to travel each month and not mention heading to Japan for the sakura (cherry blossom) season. The Japanese have turned the sakura season into an artform, with the first bloom hotly anticipated across the nation.
The first blossoms tend to appear in the south on the Okinawan islands around February, before spreading northward, reaching cities like Toyko, Kyoto and Hiroshima around March or April, with daily news reports keeping everyone updated on the blossoms’ progress.
Join locals in hanami (parties under the blossom) in parks and sample special hanami bento boxes, with seasonal produce, pink-tinged dumplings and veggies cut into blossom shapes. In 2023, peak bloom is predicted by meteorologists to be at the very end of March in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima, so early April will be the perfect time to visit and take in the soft pink wave blanketing these cities.

The sakura blooms reach cities like Tokyo around late March and April.

Iceberg Alley, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

There’s no need to head to the Arctic or Antarctic if you want to spot icebergs, with Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador coast providing plenty of viewing opportunities in an area nicknamed Iceberg Alley.

Coastline, Twillingate, New World Islands, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

During spring and summer around 400 to 800 medium and large glacial giants are visible from many points along the northern and eastern coasts, particularly on clear sunny days. Around 90% of the icebergs have calved from western Greenland, with the remainder heading down from the Canadian Arctic, and come in a range of colours from snow white to deep aquamarine.
Popular spotting locations in the region include St. Lewis, Battle Harbour, Red Bay, Point Amour, Twillingate, Change Islands and Bonavista. Late May and early June are the best months for viewing, with the icebergs around but usually stuck in sea ice in April. You can watch them slowly float by, or else get close on a boat or kayak tour.

Safari in Zambia

June is the perfect time to see a range of wildlife in close quarters around the world, but probably one of the best places to head to is on a walking safari in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. Known as the birthplace of the walking safari, the difference between this and a more traditional safari is (of course) the fact that you are on foot, rather than in a vehicle, meaning animals are more likely to recognise you as another creature, rather than simply ignoring you (resulting in exhilarating encounters). Being on foot also gives you so many more chances to interact with the natural environment.

The start of the dry season in South Luangwa National Park means plenty of chances to see giraffes, elephants, birdlife, lions and wild dogs.

June is the start of the dry season in South Luangwa, giving you good weather but also meaning there’s more vegetation around still. Hopefully you’ll be able to spot giraffes, elephants, plenty of birdlife and even lions or wild dogs.

Comic-Con in San Diego, US

Choosing the best place to visit in July is like choosing a favourite child, with the high season in much of the world bringing with it memorable sporting tournaments (Wimbledon in the UK), unique cultural festivals (the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain) and stunning wildlife spotting opportunities (think polar bears in the Arctic).
In amongst this feast of options to choose from is one for people watchers, movie buffs and pop culture enthusiasts alike – the San Diego Comic-Con in USA.

Comic-Con’s exhibit floor can get packed, with over 200,000 attendees.

Held over four days, the event is full of exhibits, panels with major television networks and movie studios, celebrities, parties, people dressed as their favourite comic book/gaming/television series/movie characters and much more, with up to 200,000 people attending the event. Unfortunately next year’s event is already sold out, but that gives you plenty of time to work on your costume for 2024.

Swimming with humpbacks, Tonga

If you’ve ever wanted to get up close with some of the gentle giants of the sea, head to the island kingdom of Tonga in August, where you will be able to swim with humpback whales.

From June to October humpbacks migrate from the Antarctic to the South Pacific Ocean to mate and calve. Visiting Tonga in August is the peak time to spend with the world’s largest mammals and gives you the chance to swim with them in tropical waters (much more appealing than the freezing Antarctic waters).

Travellers need to book a tour with a licensed operator in order to get in the water with the whales and need to be confident swimmers as the encounters take place in open water. Four island groups in Tonga offer whale swimming, with capped numbers of operators to ensure the waters aren’t too crowded and whale swimming remains as ethical as possible.

Travellers need to join a tour with a licensed operator in order to swim with humpbacks ©Humpback Swims / Nadia Aly

Opening of lobster season in Sweden

Crustacean connoisseurs will be in heaven if they head to the west Bohuslän Coast of Sweden at the end of September. Unlike in other nations around the world, lobsters can only be caught in Sweden from the first Monday after 20 September through to 30 November each year. This makes the start of the season hotly anticipated.

Swedish lobster is said to taste sweet and delicate due to its slow maturation in cold water ©Fredrik Broman/

The first lobsters caught in the season can sell for staggeringly high prices (think around A$1,000 per kilo), earning the species the nickname Black Gold. The delicacy is said to be some of the best lobster in the world due to its slow maturation in cold water, resulting in a delicate, sweet taste.

Travellers can join a lobster safari, venturing out to sea to help pull up lobster pots before being able to pick a crustacean and take it back to your hotel for a chef to prepare for you. The Bohuslän Coast is famed for its seafood so even if lobsters are out of your price range, it’s worth a visit to hop between small fishing villages and sample fresh prawns and oysters.

Visit Petra and Dana in Jordan

After a stinking hot summer, cooler weather and rains can make October the perfect time to visit Jordan, with the wetter weather making the countryside bloom with wildflowers. Temperatures tend to sit around 270C and it’s also the shoulder season, meaning that you won’t have to worry about as many crowds when visiting the ancient city of Petra.

Carved and built into the cliff faces, Petra’s most iconic sight is the Treasury, but the city (as the name suggests) encompasses many more attractions including Theatre, giant Royal Tombs, Colonnaded Street and the Monastery, carved from a mountain summit.

The view from Dana across the valley below and the Dana Biosphere Reserve ©Walk My World

After soaking in Petra, follow in the footsteps of the Bedouin to Dana, a 15th century village dangling on a precipice with views of the valley below. The valley is actually part of the Dana Biosphere Reserve, the largest in Jordan, with over 600 species of plant and more than 25 species of mammals including ibex, mountain gazelles, wolves and sand cats. Take a hike, try and spot some local wildlife and soak in the slower village pace of life.

White-water rafting in Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Tasmania

There’s plenty in Australia that can get your heart racing, from stunning vistas to deadly wildlife, but for those looking for an adrenaline-induced adventure, rafting the Franklin River in Tasmania’s Huon Valley will satisfy that itch. The Franklin is one of the world’s last untamed rivers, isolated and pristine, a complex system with breathtaking scenery, powerful energy and tranquil moments, located in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, about two hours from Hobart.

Your white-water rafting adventure begins in still gorges and quiet waters before ramping up with exhilarating rapids and river drops. No experience is required on a rafting trip which range in length from five to 10 days, and include camping overnight and enjoying freshly cooked meals by experienced rafting guides.

Travellers can experience the river on a overnight rafting adventure ranging in length from five to 10 days ©Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman


Visit Santa in Finnish Lapland

Officially the home of Santa all year, December is still a perfect time to visit Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland if you really want to get in the festive spirit.

Right on the Arctic Circle, a visit to the Santa Claus Village is a must, with the Santa Claus Main Post Office which operates as a real post office, Elf School where you can learn to be one of Santa’s helpers, shops, restaurants and cafes, husky and reindeer rides and of course the big man himself.

You can’t possibly go to Finnish Lapland without visiting Santa himself at the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi ©Santatelevision

If seeing Santa doesn’t tickle your fancy, Rovaniemi offers plenty of winter experiences. Travellers can strap on snow shoes and hike in the Arctic Circle, try their hand at ice fishing, go snow biking, take a snowmobile safari, visit a reindeer farm or take a sleigh ride, or try their hand at dog sledding. And of course a visit to Finland wouldn’t be complete without unwinding in a sauna after dunking yourself in ice cold water by ice swimming (or you can give the dip a miss and just head to the sauna to unwind).


Featured image: Island hop around the small towns of the west coast of Sweden, like Smogen, and enjoy the region’s seafood bounty ©Asaf Kliger/


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