Party like it’s 1299
Forget Mardi Gras in Rio; head to Kalibo in the Philippines on January 10-19, 2014, and you’ll experience an explosion of music and colour. The Ati-Atihan festival honouring Santo Niño (the infant Jesus) has its roots in pagan traditions that celebrate the coming together of the Malay and local Ati people in the 13th century. For the week-long festivities, participants paint their faces, wear colourful costumes, carry weapons and torches, and perform tribal dances.
While there Take a walk through the mangroves at Bakhawan Eco-Park or a boat ride to the white beaches of Boracay island.
Get there Cebu Pacific Airlines (www.cebupacificair.com) flies to Kalibo from 2,600RMB return.
Jaipur Literature Festival
On January 17-21 next year, India’s iconic ‘pink city’ will once again be festooned with bright
banners as it welcomes 60,000 people for one of world’s biggest literary events. This carnival-like event invites over 250 musicians, artists, philosophers, journalists and writers to give free talks to the public. Howard Jacobson (The Finkler Question
), Sebastian Faulks (Birdsong
) and Zoë Heller (Notes on a Scandal
) all spoke last year.
While there Take an elephant, camel or hot air balloon ride into the majestic Rajasthan desert.
Get there See ‘Nov: Diwali’ for flights to New Delhi. One-hour flights to Jaipur with Air India (www.airindia.com) start at 600RMB return
Sapporo Snow Festival
Having a (snow) ball
Life-sized dinosaurs, the Taj Mahal, Egyptian sphinxes – Sapporo Snow Festival is a chance for you to see the wonders of world all made of snow. Harbin has the flashy lights and larger sculptures, but Sapporo (open February 5-11 next year) wins out on precision and artistry. The 400 artworks here are mostly made of pure white snow (in contrast to ice at Harbin) and visitors can keep warm in the onsen baths or by slurping miso noodle soup and hot sake. Oh, and it is also a good 15°C warmer than Harbin in February.
While there Niseko, one of Asia’s best ski resorts, is a two-hour bus ride away. Get there
Japan Airlines (www.jal.com) flies via Tokyo to Sapporo from 4,400 RMB return.
Khajuraho Festival of Dances
Tradition and temples
The swirl of elaborate saris and ornate jewellery, the precise flick of a hand – traditional Indian dance, when done well, is mesmerising for both its artistic skill and storytelling prowess. And no event does it better than the Khajuraho Dance Festival where, for a week every February (dates for 2014 haven’t been set yet), the country’s best classical dancers perform against a backdrop of the town’s Unesco-listed medieval temples.
While there The performances all take place at night, so use the days to get a closer look at the temples – in particular the erotic carvings depicting couples interlocked in tantric positions.
Get there See ‘November: Diwali’ for flights to New Delhi. From there the two-and-a-half-hour flight to Khajuraho on Air India (www.airindia.com) costs from 650RMB return.
Lose yourself in colour.
If you want something more raucous than classical dances and snow festivals, why not join in the carnage at Holi, the Hindu spring festival where celebrants light bonfires and throw vibrantly coloured powder and scented water at each other? It’s literally an assault on the senses, but plenty of fun to take part in. Predominantly celebrated among the Hindu population of India and Nepal, this festival falls on March 17 next year. In New Delhi, the political and cultural capital of India, it’s celebrated with particular enthusiasm. If you dare, head to the central Paharganj neighbourhood, where the powder war gets particularly wild. Just don’t go wearing your best clothes.
New Delhi has plenty colourful architecture. Be sure to check out the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and the Akshardham temple.
Hong Kong Rugby Sevens
The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, held March 28-30 in 2014, brings together some of the finest sportsmen from 28 nations to compete in the world’s most prestigious rugby sevens event. But everyone knows the real draw is the party atmosphere that takes over the island. Spectators, both inside and outside the skyscraper-surrounded stadium, dress as bananas and beer bottles, or in full body paint – many consuming their body weight in alcohol over the weekend.
While there Spend a night betting on the races at Happy Valley Racecourse.
Get there China Southern Airlines (www.csair.com) flies to Hong Kong from 2,200RMB return