Darkness, drizzle and the most depressing day of the year – it can only be January. Luckily, you don’t have to go far to swap scraping frosty windscreens for sipping cocktails on the beach. Lanzarote is a four-hour flight away and regularly reaches highs of 22°C, even in January, while Morocco is just a three and a half hour trip away and peaks at the 20°C mark. If you’re after some serious sun, book Barbados where you might bump into Simon Cowell whizzing around on his jet ski at Sandy Lane, or head east to Dubai to soak up some rays on the seriously amazing beaches. Not only is January the ideal month for catching winter sun in the UAE, there’s also the Dubai Shopping Festival – an upmarket version of our January sales, where you can grab huge bargains on designer gear, electronics and jewellery.
While temperatures still linger around the minus mark at home, February is the best time to enjoy nice and sunny weather in the Caribbean and South-East Asia. If you’re hoping for a half term break with the kids, our Family Life Mai Khao Lak hotel in Thailand combines winter sun with family fun, boasting its own private caramel-coloured beach, three pools and activities to keep the whole clan happy. Temperatures in Thailand at this time of year peak in the high 20’s, and you’ve got nine hours of sunshine a day to make the most of, too. If you’ve got Jamaica on your radar, you can join the festivities of Bob Marley week in February, when there’s street carnivals and special music events. Or, check out the Habanos International Cigar Festival in Havana, where you can learn all about this Cuban tradition and even roll your own cigars.
As winter draws to a close in the UK, your vitamin D levels are probably seriously depleted, so what better excuse do you need to head where there’s year-round sun. Cape Verde makes a great getaway at this time of year, and you can choose between lively Sal or quiet Boa Vista. Or, book a holiday to Goa or Mauritius where Holi festival celebrations take centre stage all over the regions, and you can join in the colourful, powder-throwing fun. Cancun should be the resort of choice for party-goers in March, with Inception Music Festival lasting the whole month and, of course, Spring Break kicking off. Plus, you can get your Mexican foodie fix at the Cancun-Riviera Maya food festival, with samples of authentic Mexican cuisine and so many varieties of tequila to try. Finally, if you’re keen to catch some end-of-season action on the slopes, browse our last-minute skiing trips with our sister company Crystal Ski before the snow melts.
April is the month of chocolate, Easter egg hunts, playing pranks on each other and lots of rain. But, you can swap April showers for a massive water fight in the sun if you join Thailand’s New Year celebrations, known as Songkran, which takes place every year. Locals and tourists take to the streets armed with water pistols and water balloons for the playful event, and it’s the ultimate way to cool down in the heat. April also sees Kings Day in Aruba, the Caribbean island’s answer to the Dutch festival where everyone wears orange and throws street parties. And, Ibiza hosts its very own spring break so you can head there for a quick weekender before season properly starts. As the weather begins to get warmer across Europe, it’s the best time for some sightseeing in Rome, Lisbon and the Amalfi Coast before the crowds kick in.
May is the last month to soak up some Caribbean sunshine before the rainy season well and truly kicks in. Pick the tropical paradise of St Lucia to get that balance of beach time and adrenaline-fuelled activities like zip-lining and hiking the Piton Mountains to keep you busy. Plus, there’s festivities like the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival in mid-May, which is the second biggest jazz event in the Caribbean. As the summer holiday season in Europe begins, you’ve also got big opening parties in Ibiza, Marbella and Magaluf to bag tickets for – so head over there for a long weekend to get summer started. Cyprus and Crete are also warm enough for some early summer sunshine and quiet beach time without the heaving crowds.
Festival season hits the UK and the rest of the world, except you’re guaranteed a bit more sun if you head abroad. Swap the muddy fields of Glastonbury for Hideout festival in Croatia, where you can enjoy legendary boat and beach parties, plus around 150 acts including big names like Stormzy and Major Lazer Soundsystem. There’s also Sonar festival in Barcelona, the Governors Ball in New York, and Secret Solstice Festival in Reykjavik – where revelers enjoy midnight sun parties and glacier raves. If these sound far too mainstream for you, head to Meadows In The Mountains festival in Bulgaria, where live soul, funk and folk artists take to the stage and the hippy vibes are distinctly chilled-out.
The festival fun isn’t over with Reggae Sumfest kicking off in Jamaica – it’s the island’s biggest week-long party and conveniently held in Montego Bay near our brand new Breathless Montego Bay hotel. There’s also Sea Dance festival in Montenegro, which is the sister event to Exit festival, and a cheaper alternative. This under-the-radar hotspot makes an all-round ideal July getaway, rivalling the likes of Croatia for its crumbling old towns and stunning mountain scenery. Bulgaria is another great alternative summer destination, with attractions and hotels for everyone. Take the kids to our new Family Life Nevis Resort which makes its debut this year, or book a girls’ or boys’ holiday to Sunny Beach where you can make the most of those cheap cocktails.
School’s out for the summer, and it’s time to soak up that Mediterranean sun and bask in temperatures that rival the Caribbean. Round up the clan and book a villa holiday for the ultimate family retreat in some idyllic locations like Kefalonia and Paxos. Or, why not try one of our lesser known Spanish resorts like La Palma or La Gomera? If you’re keen to travel further afield, consider Cape Town, South Africa when the Namaqualand daisies and thousands of plants are in bloom which you can see from the top of Table Mountain. The weather is a bit chillier than usual, but if you’d love to explore the area when there’s less tourists – this is the time to visit.
As the kids head back to school, it’s the ideal month for a quiet, late-summer holiday. Santorini makes the perfect romantic escape, and you’ll have the pretty whitewashed towns and stunning sunsets for yourself once the crowds have dispersed, plus an amazing eleven hours of sunshine a day. September is also a good time to enjoy Costa Smeralda's beaches in Sardinia, and experience a traditional street festival like the Festa Sant Miquel in Alghero, where there’s fireworks, parades and general festivities to enjoy. And, if you want to finish summer with a big celebration, don’t miss the end-of-season massive closing parties in Ibiza, Magaluf and Marbella.
Before winter well and truly kicks in, you can grab some end of summer sun in Turkey, Cape Verde or Aruba and top up that tan before it’s gone for good. You’ll find some amazing Halloween festivities across the globe, too. There’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party at Walt Disney World and Universal’s Halloween Horror Maze if you’re Orlando-bound. Mexico hosts its famous Day of the Dead celebrations in Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. And, Jamaica’s spooky manor house Rose Hall puts on scary ghost tours and Halloween parties at Pier One Restaurant in Montego Bay.
November is a great month to book a holiday ahead of the Christmas festivities. There are so many options for a beach break with the end of hurricane season in the Caribbean, and the end of monsoon season over in India. You can still grab those last rays of summer sun closer to home in Tenerife, where it’s around 20°C, or Malta which is a comfortable 19°C. If eating and shopping is definitely your thing, don’t miss Black Friday and Thanksgiving in the US, which you can celebrate in Florida, Miami and New York, and Epcot’s International Food and Wine festival where you can sample delicacies from all over the world. And, if you happen to prefer the cold over the heat, head to Iceland where there’s real snow and you can catch the Northern Lights and tour the amazing Golden Circle.
Treat yourself to an early Christmas present, aka the holiday of a lifetime in December. Sri Lanka enjoys highs of 30°C in winter and you can see super-rare Blue Whales, and visit elephant sanctuaries and tea plantations. Over in Central America, December marks Costa Rica’s hot season, with highs reaching 31°C. It’s the best time to see the rainforest as the trees will still be lush and green, or stretch out on ‘Shell Beach’, also known as Playa Conchal, where you can take a dip in transparent waters, and sunbathe on pink-and-white sands. Of course, if you’d rather not escape the festive fun, crank it up to another level with a trip to Lapland. Here you’ll have the Christmas experience of your dreams – meeting reindeers, petting husky puppies, baking cookies with elves and shaking hands with the big man himself. You can even squeeze all of this into a day trip.
Sorted for the year?
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Author: Selina Akhtar
Brand new for 2017, the ultra-modern Breathless Montego Bay boasts the biggest rooftop pool in Jamaica and puts you right in the heart of Montego Bay.
Our new TUI FAMILY LIFE Nevis Resort hotel in Bulgaria has big family-sized suites, a splash zone for little ones and a spa for mum and dad.
The retro-themed Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort is just minutes away from Universal's theme parks.
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