Holiday ideas: where to go on holiday in 2014

Expert travel advice to help you find your perfect holiday


 

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Family Holiday Ideas


Tenerife family holidays

Tenerife family holidays

The largest of the seven Canary Islands, Tenerife has long been a family favourite. The island may enjoy a burgeoning tourist trade, but its distinctive landscape is as unspoilt and beautiful as ever. Tenerife no longer houses active volcanoes, but their presence still looms large over the island, with Mount Teide the highest point in Spain at 3,718m above sea level. By Kai

Think outside the Amusement Park

Think outside the Amusement Park

Between Disney and Universal alone, there are no fewer than eight theme parks to visit in the Orlando area. It’s enough to fill not just one but several holidays to Florida. And that would be a shame, because, as any native Floridian—including this one—will tell you, there’s much more to the Sunshine State than roller coasters and water slides. No trip to Florida would be complete without an experience of both the state’s unique natural landscapes and the inventive people and places that gave the state its reputation for quirkiness that still thrives today. By Jennifer

Large villas to rent in Italy

Large villas to rent in Italy

Sitting around the table on the terrace as the sun sets; drinking deep, dark reds produced just miles away; watching the kids play in your orange grove – these aren’t just ideas dreamed up by travel writers (though admittedly I did just utter them – but bear with me). Italian holidays offer a slice of La Dolce Vita – and a few slices of pizza, besides – alongside treasures of natural, historical, gastronomical and cultural importance. And let’s face it – that’s a whole lot of importance. By Sophie

Family Fun on the Farm in the Cotswolds

Family Friendly Puglia

Puglia—or, more specifically, the Salento Peninsula that forms the heel of Italy’s “boot”—is a fantastic destination for families, both for the wide range of things to do and see packed into this relatively compact area, and for the laid-back, kid-friendly pace that characterizes much of southern Italy. By Rebecca

Family Fun on the Farm in the Cotswolds

Family Fun on the Farm in the Cotswolds

Searching for a unique way to entertain the entire family on your next holiday? Something that doesn’t involve a computer or television screen, perhaps? How about a day out on a farm, learning about the local wildlife, interacting with the animals and eating delicious organic food sourced from just up the lane? All of this and more is easy to come by during a visit to one of the many organic farms dotted around the beautiful Cotswolds’ countryside. So pull on your boots, grab the kids and get ready for an incredibly fun (and tasty!) day out with nature! By Kit

 Meet in the Middle on London Family Holidays

Meet in the Middle on London Family Holidays

Planning a family holiday involves trying to please everyone. But it’s not that simple. How do you choose a destination that’s kid-friendly yet full of culture? Action-packed but with scope to relax? If there’s one city that can be relied upon to entertain adults and littles ones alike, it’s London. The capital crams in enough shops, parks and restaurants to engross tourists of all ages, so you can have your cake and eat it too (and perhaps their share for afters!). By Kai

Eating out with kids in Barcelona

Eating out with kids in Barcelona

Barcelona is one of those cities that was almost built for family holidays. You see an exquisite Gaudi building, they see a 'spooky bone house'. You enjoy a stroll down the historical boulevard of Las Ramblas, they enjoy trying to 'gently persuade' you to buy a rabbit from one of the open-air pet stores. Everyone's a winner. But after a morning of sightseeing, where do you head to feed your tribe? By Lucy

Find the perfectly sized property for your break

Find the perfectly sized property for your break

There will be times when you need to find a four-bedroom farmhouse – pronto. Ok, so you might not have that many children to fill it, if any, but what if it’s your turn to organise an extended-family getaway or reunion; take the helm of a team-building weekend for work? Whatever the event, renting a large self-catering property in the UK can provide a great setting for breaks away: board games by the fire; dinners in the communal kitchen; days spent sunning yourselves in the garden – going large on a getaway has its benefits. By Sophie

Bahamas: experience the family holiday of a lifetime in the Bahamas

Bahamas: experience the family holiday of a lifetime in the Bahamas

Once a small island on the swampy banks of the River Lee, the Republic of Ireland’s second city, Cork, has since grown into a bustling metropolis. The city’s international character and status, as a thriving centre of culture and the arts, was underlined in 2005 with its being awarded the accolade of European Capital of Culture. By Helen

Sardinia: treat your loved ones to a Sardinian summer holiday

Sardinia: treat your loved ones to a Sardinian summer holiday

Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean, Sardinia is the kind of island paradise that so often takes form in the dreams of restless travellers. White sand beaches, raked by a glimmering turquoise sea, give way to a wild landscape of mountains and forests; caves, olive groves, springs and waterfalls spread out in all directions, just waiting to be explored. By Ronnie

Nice: head to the French Riviera for a special family vacation

Nice: head to the French Riviera for a special family vacation

Nice is something of an anomaly among French holiday destinations. Its proximity to the millionaire’s playground of Monaco and Monte Carlo, not to mention the movie star hangout of nearby Cannes, means that people all too often shoehorn it into the same category. The wonderful thing about Nice is that, whilst it does share some of the glitz and glamour of its neighbours, there is a far more relaxed atmosphere for holidaymakers amidst astonishingly breathtaking surroundings. By Helen

 


Theme Holiday Ideas


The cultural highlights of Le Marche

The cultural highlights of Le Marche

From left to right, the band of regions crossing central Italy begins in Tuscany—which hardly needs an introduction. Landlocked Umbria, “Italy's Green Heart”, is sprinkled with forests and olive groves and art towns that have been destinations for tourism and pilgrimage for centuries.By Donald

Insiders’ Paris: Rambling Around the Palais Royal

Insiders’ Paris: Rambling Around the Palais Royal

Short quiz: where in Paris can you admire the sun casting a warm glow on the opulent details of a 17th-century palace, browse quaint little boutiques, roam through elegant shopping arcades, and enjoy a glass of wine or gastronomic meal at a restaurant tucked away from the street? Just a block north of the Louvre Museum and its throngs of tourists lies an area that few visitors to Paris ever see: the Palais Royal and its quiet, arrestingly charming corners. Spend an afternoon exploring the area, and you’ll discover why locals prize it—and would prefer to keep it secret.By Courtney

Dog friendly beaches

Dog friendly beaches

It’s often surprising how many beaches disallow dogs – especially when you believe your pooch to be the best behaved of his ilk. My basset hound is, I’m sad to say, no such companion (begging, stealing, slobbering – yeah, she’s got bad behaviour pretty much covered), but she’s still this woman’s best friend, and I love my time at the shore with her. By Sophie

Gran Sasso National Park

Abruzzo's Gran Sasso National Park

If you tell any Italian that you are headed to the region of Abruzzo, the very first thing they will ask is, “Are you visiting Gran Sasso?”. Gran Sasso is shorthand for Abruzzo’s sprawling Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga (Gran Sasso and Laga Mountain National Park), one of Italy’s largest national parks—indeed, covering almost 350,000 acres, one of the largest protected areas in all of Europe. By Rebecca

Walking holidays in France

Walking holidays in France

I will be so bold as to say that it's been established, at this point, that France's beaches are among the crème de la crème of European holiday destinations. But France in fact caters for more than just the sun and sand set: from Provence's jaunty purple fields of spicy lavender, to the lush vineyards of the Loire valley, to the majesty of the Alps, France is a country of endless geographical variety. And as such, it offers a veritable cornucopia of walking trails, vistas, and points of interest both cultural and natural to the active vacationer. By Russ

Italy's craft beer revolution

Italy's craft beer revolution

The first week in March is a big one for Italian drinkers: the annual Settimana della Birra (“Beer Week”) sees breweries, bars, and bottle shops across the country run events for Italy's growing army of beer lovers. But, wait: “Italy” and “beer”? I must mean Peroni, right? Oh, no. In fact, the country now has over 600 artisan brewers, most of them small and a huge proportion less than five years old. There is a craft beer revolution in full swing. And whatever week of the year you visit, you'll find plenty to celebrate. By Natasha

Paris: A Contemporary Art Itinerary

Paris: A Contemporary Art Itinerary

Paris has always been a magnet for art and artists, with its world-class collections, lively gallery scene and constantly changing programme of exhibitions. The cultural season here runs from September to mid-July, so look for major openings in September, February, April and May, and a whole set of busy art fairs and salons in spring and autumn. International collectors flock into town for the FIAC international contemporary art fair at the Grand Palais in October (with a new offshoot in 2014 at the Cité de la Mode et du Design), and the Paris Photo salon in November. Private galleries are concentrated in Le Marais and St-Germain-des-Prés, along with a cluster of young art galleries up in Belleville. By Natasha

Five Best Pub Lunches in the Cotswolds

Five Best Pub Lunches in the Cotswolds

After a busy morning in the Cotswolds, exploring villages, visiting gardens or walking on footpaths, lunch in a village pub provides a welcome break. On warm summer days, sit outside and enjoy the beautiful countryside; on cold days, get a table by the open fire and warm up. Many pubs in the Cotswolds are in historic buildings with low ceilings and stone floors, and have been inns and pubs for hundreds of years. Most of them also offer real ales from local breweries – Hook Norton, Donnington, Uley, and Butcombe, to name a few. And that's not all – pubs pride themselves on their good food, made using locally sourced products, too. By Pauline

Santorini's Cultural Highlights

Santorini's Cultural Highlights

Anyone who believes that all Greek islands are the same simply hasn't visited enough of them. And there is no island in the world like Santorini. Also known as Thira – or Fira in the original Greek – it's a spectacular and beautiful island. You'll never forget your first sight of it whether you arrive by ferry, on a cruise ship or on one of the direct flights that operate from Athens in summer. If you like dramatic scenery, history, culture, fine food and wine, or simply relaxing on beaches of strangely coloured sand, you'll love Santorini. By Mike

Music Festival Holidays

Music Festival Holidays

What could possibly be better than combining music, partying and sightseeing? Well, that’s exactly what music festival holidays offer: a fantastic balance between seeing your favourite bands, discovering new ones, and enjoying the sights and sounds of another country. Whether you’re into Rock, Pop, Drum and Bass or Jazz, there are hundreds of fantastic music festivals around the world; all you need to do is decide whether to opt for a small, locally run event showing the very best in lesser-known artists, or go all-out by attending one of the world’s largest and best-known music experiences. By Sophie

Le Marche's hidden art

Le Marche's hidden art

Most visitors to Le Marche come for its beachside resort towns, which line the almost 200 kilometres of coastline lapped by the waves of the placid Adriatic sea – but this pretty (and largely unsung) central Italian region has much more to offer. The dramatic Sibilline mountains which border the region to the west boast some of Italy’s most breathtaking scenery, and the rolling hills which tumble eastward toward the sea are covered with tidy vineyards, pretty villages, and isolated castles. By Rebecca

Gastro Guide to Santorini

Gastro Guide to Santorini

Sitting in the southern Cyclades, Santorini is magical, romantic and perhaps the most quintessentially ‘Greek’ of all the Hellenic islands. It is also quite special in that is is home to a vast volcano; indeed the islands which make up Santorini form the ring of the caldera. Why is this important to food lovers? Well, all of that volcanic activity and ash has created a unique ecosystem with porous volcanic soil, which – combined with an almost perpetual state of drought – produces utterly distinctive flavours in all of the produce grown on the island. By Russell

Cultural Amsterdam

Cultural Amsterdam

Many know that there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam, but it's a lesser-known fact that there are more museums per capita in Amsterdam than any other city in the world. That's a whole lot of culture. Thanks to Amsterdam's compact size you can easily navigate your way through history and the canals from the Rijksmuseum and Rembrandthuis to the Anne Frank House on two wheels, on foot or by public transport. By Frankie Thompson

National Parks in Croatia

National Parks in Croatia

At one time, Croatia might not even have appeared on your shortlist of dream destinations. Nowadays, though, much of the country’s economy is founded on a booming tourist trade: backpackers continue to sample its chic cities and coastline, families bake in the sun-blessed oasis of Hvar, and adventurers flock to the Plitvice Lakes for a week of exploration in the mountains. So what’s stopping you? Go for the culture and festivals, the medieval settlements, the stone-built villages residing on the Adriatic coastline. The cuisine isn’t lacking, either, with everything from roasted lamb and suckling pig to Skrandinski rizot – a slow-cooked, meat-based risotto – on the menu. By Ronnie

Cottages with hot tubs

Cottages with hot tubs

What is it about hot tubs? Everyone wants one. According to one recent survey, more homeowners desire a hot tub in their garden than a greenhouse. While it should be noted that the two products perform slightly different roles (tomato plants don’t take too well in a hot tub), it’s telling that in recent years the hot tub has become so desirable once again. By Kai

Where to go on holiday in 2014

Where to go on holiday in 2014

What are your goals for 2014? To stop smoking? Eat healthier? Stick in at the gym? See the world? With most of these objectives you’re on your own, but in the case of the latter, we’ve got your back. If one of your 2014 resolutions is to travel more, we’ve got an array of great ideas to share. Ideas involving hot destinations, trendy destinations and must-see destinations. By Kai

UK National Parks: Meadows, moorlands and mountains...

UK National Parks: Meadows, moorlands and mountains...

Did you know there are no less than 15 National Parks in the United Kingdom? Think about it: in a country so small, that’s 15 officially recognised areas of outstanding natural beauty, each of them bustling with activities, adventure or relaxation opportunities, as you see fit. Although our country is blessed with such areas from coast to coast, the beauty of the National Parks is that they have been designated as protected areas in an effort to preserve them for future generations, ensuring that everyone can make the most of their visit. By Ronnie

The Italian Lakes, wine and wineries

The Italian Lakes, wine and wineries

When thinking of Italian wine, it is most often the central and southern regions of Italy that come to mind. The crowd-pleasing super-Tuscans, the bold Sicilian Nero d’Avola, and the mouth-tingling tannic Sagrantino from Umbria all seem to dominate the collective wine consciousness (and worldwide menus), encapsulating in their deep red hues the Italy of long, languishing afternoon meals warmed by the Mediterranean sun and serenaded by sweet sounds of mandolins. By Rebecca

 


Budget Holiday Ideas


Cheap Greek holidays: make the most of your Greek holiday – for less!

Cheap Greek holidays: make the most of your Greek holiday – for less!

Ever watched a film and experienced a mad urge to inhabit the characters’ world? Of course, reality has a habit of intervening – we can’t very well follow the path to Mordor because, well, Mordor is a fictitious place (and I wouldn't fancy taking that rocky road myself, anyway!). What we can do, however, is holiday in a film or a novel’s setting. By Russ

Short breaks in Bavaria

Travel Guide to cheap holiday accommodation

As one of the most expensive parts of any holiday is the accommodation, saving in this area can free up a lot of cash for the rest of the trip. But a budget holiday needn't call for a compromise of comfort; on the contrary. Whether you're planning your annual summer holiday, or just a few nights away, scouting for bargains offers an unexpected side benefit: a whole new range of holiday destinations you may not have previously thought about visiting. By Russ

Cheap holidays to Poland

Cheap holidays to Poland

Fancy a cheap holiday, but not so keen on the requisite inclusion of sun, sea and sand? One country that springs instantly to mind is Poland. This is the land where east meets west, an intriguing nation famous for its post-war, Gothic and Renaissance architecture, storied historical sites and street markets. By Ronnie

 


Travel Guides


Naples Travel Guide

Naples Travel Guide

The HomeAway City Guide to Naples features three itineraries by travel experts Donald StrachanAnita Iaconangelo and Barbara ZaragozaThe interactive map features itineraries of a cultural, gastronomic and espresso tour of the city. By  Donald, Anita and Barbara

Edinburgh Travel Guide

Edinburgh Travel Guide

The HomeAway City Guide to Edinburgh features three itineraries by travel experts Robin McKelvie, Heather Mc and Kirsten Alana. The interactive map features itineraries of a cultural guide, family guide and a nightlife itinerary.By Robin, Heather and Kirsten

Florence Travel Guide

Florence Travel Guide

The HomeAway City Guide to Florence features three itineraries by travel experts Alexandra Korey, Donald Strachan and Kaeli Conforti. The interactive map features itineraries of a cultural guide, family guide and suggestions to visit Florence on a budget. By Alexandra, Donald and Kaeli

Amsterdam Travel Guide

Amsterdam Travel Guide

The HomeAway City Guide to Amsterdam features three itineraries by travel experts Frankie Thompson, Vicky Hampton and Ronnie McCluskey. The interactive map features itineraries of a Cultural Itinerary, Gastro Itinerary and suggestions to visit Amsterdam on a budget. 

Sicily Travel Guide

Sicily Travel Guide

The HomeAway Travel Guide to Sicily features three itineraries by travel experts Jana Matyasova, Anita Iaconangelo and Giorgia Cavera. The interactive map features itineraries of a the Sicilian Islands, Walking Itinerary and suggestions on a Gastro Itinerary

 


Events & Festivals


The Cumberland Show 2014

The Cumberland Show 2014

The annual Cumberland Show, held by the Cumberland Agricultural Society, isn’t just some new-fangled event for lovers of the country; it’s been running for over 175 years. Taking place each year on a (usually) fine summer’s day, 2014 will see it held on June 14th, turning Carlisle Racecourse into a pop-up festival where agriculture, farming, food, tradition and fun are fused. By Sophie

International GT Open 2014

International GT Open 2014

We are only too familiar with the multi-million dollar industry that is Formula One, but away from the glitz and glamour of that particular organisation, motor sport purists enjoy an altogether less publicised calendar of events. You won’t find much in the way of celebrity drivers, pop star girlfriends or television clamour in the world of Grand Tourer, but the adrenaline-fuelled action is every bit as exhilarating as its big brother. And despite it still being in its relatively fledgling years, no other event in the sport exudes these thrills and spills quite so spectacularly as the International GT Open. By Ronnie

2014 Basketball World Cup

2014 Basketball World Cup

A mere mention of the term 'World Cup' this year will invoke, for the most part, feverish debate about the upcoming footballing fiesta in Brazil, from England’s chances to the genius of the host nation. However, when the curtain closes on the showpiece event in July, sporting fans the world over needn’t despair – it is but a short wait until basketball’s very own equivalent gets under way. Understandably, you won’t see quite as much anticipation, such is the sport’s general lack of prominence outside of the United States. But with an ever increasing global fan base, the event promises to be every bit as exhilarating. By Ronnie

Rogers Cup 2014

Rogers Cup 2014

The Rogers Cup is Canada’s premier tennis tournament, an annual hard-court event that brings together the world’s best from both the WTA and ATP – or, for non-tennis buffs, the women’s and men’s side of the draw. In Montreal and Toronto, this showpiece event presents players with an opportunity to sharpen their skills ahead of the year’s final Grand Slam, at Flushing Meadows in New York, which takes place the following month. The Rogers Cup has been going strong since 1881, making it one of the oldest tournaments in the tennis calendar; in fact, only the hallowed turf of Wimbledon, and the aforementioned US Open, have longer histories than the Canadian event. By Ronnie

Primavera Sound 2014

Primavera Sound 2014

From 29 - 31 May, thousands of double-denim-clad fans descend upon the Parc Del Forum in what promises to be a weekend of tunes old and new, from genres far and wide. That’s right, kids, it’s that time of year again: Primavera Sound 2014. Its location in the heart of Barcelona means that Primavera is the perfect musical destination for festival goers who like their days cultured and their nights loud. Don’t forget your sunglasses – nestled on the Costa Blanca, you’re guaranteed blue skies and non-stop sunshine for the whole weekend. By Ronnie

Lake District Events & Festivals

Lake District Events & Festivals

Although it rests at an entirely different end of the spectrum – and, geographically, the country – the Lake District is every bit as ingrained in British culture as the likes of London. You won’t find any sprawling concrete jungles and you won’t be involved in the tedium of a morning rush hour, but the area’s quintessential English charm is any Anglophile’s dream. Coupled with astonishing natural beauty to rival anywhere in the world, you really need no further excuse to pay a visit; but if your time there coincides with one of the district’s lauded annual events, it can only enhance your experience. By Ronnie

Holker Garden Festival 2014

Holker Garden Festival 2014

In 2014, Cark-in-Cartmel will set the stage once more for the Holker Garden Festival, now in its 22nd phase, and growing – quite literally – lovelier by the year. One of the best annual events in Cumbria’s calendar, it’ll transform the town into a haven for horticulture from Friday 30th May to Sunday 1st June, and see thousands of green-fingered visitors flock to its show-stopping displays (or marquees, if the clouds make an appearance…). It’ll offer the very best in botanical advice, as well as a roster of finger-licking local foods, crafts and arts, performance and good ol’ fashioned, family oriented fun. By Sophie

2014 Open Championship

2014 Open Championship

Whether or not you buy into the old “good walk ruined” adage or not, nobody can deny the game of golf has amassed a global appeal; one that surely surpasses the expectations of that first unnamed Scotsman to swing a club all those centuries ago. Today, professionals in the sport are each worth their individual fortunes in prize money and sponsorship deals, with millions across the world tuning in to watch them ply their trade. It may not pack the adrenaline-fuelled punch of other sporting pursuits, but on the big occasions the tension created can rival anything. By Ronnie

2014 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters

2014 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters

The time has come, once again, for Monte Carlo to host its annual tennis tournament: the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Monte Carlo, a city named after Charles III, Monaco's beloved early 19th-century prince, is home to an unending list of illustrious residents; namely actors and sportspersons such as Bono, Lewis Hamilton and Ringo Starr. The city, perched upon an escarpment at the base of the Maritime Alps along the French Riviera, is best known for its hard gambling, super-fast cars, towering, pearl-white yachts and other such displays of extravagance. To a pair of humbler eyes, this all may appear as a feast of indelicacy – but we mustn't forget that Monte Carlo is also a small and burgeoning business centre encouraged, no doubt, by its generous position on taxation. By Ronnie

Belgian Grand Prix 2014

Belgian Grand Prix 2014

There are several reasons to visit Belgium, a fact that may surprise many given its modest dimensions; it is regularly overlooked when restless travellers cast their eyes over a map of Europe. In reality, the country has much to offer the most conscientious caller: a wealth of museums, stunning architecture, vibrant nightlife and a tantalising gastronomic culture, to name but a few. It's well worthy of a trip at any time of the year, but for Formula One enthusiasts, August is easily the most appealing time to set off. By Russ

Amsterdam National Restaurant Week

Amsterdam National Restaurant Week

Historically a nation of traders, building their wealth by traversing the seven seas, the Dutch are as fond of their food as they are of their rich cultural heritage. Their seafaring golden age of the 17th century not only introduced Europe to a panoply of new spices, but led swathes of migrants to settle in cities like Amsterdam. Whether they were skilled craftsmen, persecuted refugees, or adventurers, all enriched the Dutch capital with their own culinary legacy. This diverse population makes Amsterdam one of Europe’s most varied cities to dine out. The choices on offer span the globe, and range from the traditional low-key eetcafes to renowned Michelin-starred eateries. By Ronnie

Amsterdam King’s Day

Amsterdam King’s Day

If there’s only one thing I could say about Amsterdam’s King’s Day, it’s that it is very, very orange. Thankfully, I’ve more than enough room to introduce you to this delightful Dutch event, formerly known as Queen’s Day because, well, they celebrated a Queen back then. Known as Koningsdag (formerly Koninginnedag) it’s essentially the capital’s main carnivalesque event, today held every April for one rip-roaring day, which sees around 1, 750, 0000 people attend. Yep, that's pretty crowded –made up of Amsterdam’s population, plus the one million or so visitors. But if you’re up for a party, come and join in the fun – the spring weather and joy-filled atmosphere mean it’s more than worth making the short one-hour flight across. By Sophie

Fowey Royal Regatta 2014

Fowey Royal Regatta 2014

If you’re a devotee of sailing, chances are you’re aware of the Fowey Royal Regatta – at least from hearsay if not first-hand experience. Each year, thousands flock to this tranquil port on the Cornish coast to sample a carnival atmosphere. Truthfully, the majestic sight of the yachts themselves is just one element of the festivities in this week-long event. Having risen in prominence to become one of the country’s greatest sailing shindigs, the regatta has transformed through the years into an occasion even those with no sea legs can relish. By Ronnie

Madrid Open 2014

Madrid Open 2014

There can certainly be no question that Spain is a nation of fine sporting pedigree. Take Barcelona and Real Madrid, arguably two of greatest football teams ever to step onto a pitch – not to mention the country’s dominance of the sport at international level. Even Formula One has its icon in the form of the once all-conquering Fernando Alonso. In May each year, however, Alonso, Iniesta, Ramos et al take a back seat in favour of another home-grown hero. When the Madrid Open sets up shop, Spaniards across the country only have eyes for the mighty Rafael Nadal. By Ronnie

Palio dei Normanni

Looe Music Festival 2014

You’ve bathed in rivers of mud at Glastonbury; head-banged until your neck ached at Donington; probably embraced your inner indie child among the feverish Scottish patriots at T in the Park. These are the events that dominate the annual festival calendar, and there’s no doubt such behemoths are well worthy of their place at music’s high table. However, with repetitive line-ups and soaring ticket prices, more and more music diehards are pitching their tents at as-yet, lesser-known events. Enter the nascent Looe Festival. Once you’ve figured out how to pronounce the name of the event, you can look forward to sampling the sounds. By Ronnie

Palio dei Normanni

Palio dei Normanni

Between the 13 and 14 August, you wouldn’t guess Piazza Armerina was a sleepy sort of place; one chiefly known for its Roman mosaics, which are – it must be said – incredible examples of Roman mosaics (more on that later). No, the Villa Romana del Casale, which houses these ancient artworks, is thrusted firmly from its pedestal as the most-loved attraction in the area, replaced – unabashedly – with a celebration centuries old. Recalling the capture of Piazza Armerina from the Saracens (Boo! Hiss!) by Conte Ruggero in the 11th century, costume-clad locals, parades and re-enactments of the victory’s most important moments come to the fore. By Sophie

Cornwall Food & Drinks Festival 2014

Cornwall Food & Drinks Festival 2014

It’s no secret that Cornwall is a county fond of its gastronomy. Fresh fish, award-winning meats, luxury ice creams and freshly-baked specialty bread; whatever tickles the taste bud is celebrated at the annual Cornwall Food & Drinks Festival. The 11th event, in 2014, takes place over the weekend beginning Friday September 26, culminating on Sunday 28. Visitors, as ever, can expect nothing less than the most varied selection of local food and drinks, as well as the typically buoyant community spirit the festival has become famous for. Held in Truro’s Lemon Quay, the trio of food-filled days will also feature cookery demonstrations from some of Britain’s top chefs, in addition to workshops for the little ones in the Funky Food Zone. By Ronnie

Sicily Flower Festival

Sicily Flower Festival

See what I just did there? Yeah, sorry about that. It has flowers, it’s a festival – it’s a festival of flowers. What more do you need to know? Ah, ok. Probably a bit more than that. Well, Sicily Flower Festival isn’t actually just one festival – towns across the whole of the island hold these events during May and June. But the most famous? L’infiorata di Noto, which roughly translates to, well, bedecking the town of Noto with flowers. It is, in short, one of the country’s most beautiful sights to behold – so it’s little wonder tourists from afar as the UK travel here just to witness it. By Sophie

Sicily Carnival

Sicily Carnival

Type ‘Sicily Carnival’ into a search engine and you’ll find websites about Acireale, a coastal town in Catania, which sits at the foot of Mount Etna. Why? Because when carnival season rolls round, it’s the island’s most famous destination – and not only for locals, but tourists around the world. While this northeastern town is usually known for its basilicas and cathedrals, art and paintings, it is regarded as host to Italy’s most amazing celebration in spring, complete with float-filled parades and costume-clad partygoers. And it’s been going since the 16th century. By Sophie

2014 ATP World Tour Finals

2014 ATP World Tour Finals

Several major tennis tournaments like to claim the title of “the fifth Grand Slam”, perhaps wishing to share the glow that sets in over centre courts in Paris, London, Melbourne and New York. Indian Wells in California is one such tournament, while the year’s final Masters event – also in Paris – certainly regards itself on a par with the big four. If one tournament lifts itself above the others, though, it’s the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, held annually in November at London’s 02 Arena. At times akin to a rock concert, the atmosphere at the 02 truly rocks for one week, as the world’s top eight players compete to grab the final major trophy of the year. By Ronnie

Paris Masters 2014

Paris Masters 2014

It may not be among tennis’s four hallowed Grand Slam events, but the Paris Masters is nonetheless one of the sport’s blue riband events. The ninth and final ATP Masters 1000 event in the annual calendar, it precedes the ATP World Tour Finals, held across the Channel in London, and offers the world’s best players a chance to claim silverware before the close of the year. Played indoors in the opulent Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, one of France’s premier sports stadia, the Parisian courts replicate the playing conditions of the World Tour Finals exactly, owing to changes made to the surface in 2012. By Ronnie

Madeira Carnival

Sicily events and festivals

Sicily is one of those unique holiday destinations that attracts travellers for no single reason; rather, its multitude of attractions lures a diverse range of tourists to bask in its sunshine. The island’s appeal then, is – quite literally – greater than the sum of its parts. Walkers and hikers, art lovers, beach bums, foodies, devotees of opera and theatre, religious pilgrims: all head for this charming island off the southern coast of Italy. And regardless of your interests, there is a busy calendar of annual events to keep you entertained when you land on Sicilian turf. By Ronnie

Madeira Carnival

Madeira Carnival

It’s a simple fact: the world loves a carnival. From the wonders of Mardis Gras in New Orleans to the explosion of colour that is the Rio Carnival, by way of various cities across the globe that attempt to recreate such occasions every year, few events inspire such laughter – few bring people so close together. Outside of “the big two”, as it were, not many places manage this dramatic effect quite so gratifyingly as Madeira. The Portuguese archipelago stages its very own jamboree every February, encapsulating all that is great about its worthy counterparts. By Ronnie

2014 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season

2014 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season

Do you love racing? Does the sound of powerful engines revving cause a frisson of excitement? While four-wheeled motor racing hogs the limelight, it’s by no means the only way to indulge your passion for high speeds – racing is just as intoxicating on two wheels. In fact motorcycle racing is faster, less predictable and arguably more dangerous than its F1 equivalent. By Kai

2014 Women's Rugby World Cup

2014 Women's Rugby World Cup

Rugby is a sport that calls for physical strength, tenacity and team spirit. It’s a gruelling game – one that elicits images of bodies slamming and tackles flying. While not the most obvious of women’s sports, rugby is fast attracting female converts. The Women’s Rugby World Cup may have a lower profile than its male equivalent, but there’s no disputing its growing appeal. By Kai

Sony Open 2014

Sony Open 2014

The Miami Masters is a glamorous tennis tournament held each year in Florida’s Key Biscayne. So why is it now being referred to as the Sony Open? That’ll be on account of the sponsors who, in fairness, are stumping up a large sum of money for the privilege. Money that, in turn, brings the world’s top players to this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. By Kai

Amsterdam Events & Festivals

Amsterdam Events & Festivals

As any of Amsterdam’s proud residents will tell you, their effortlessly cool city is a joy to spend time in. A vibrant hub of culture, not to mention one of Europe’s most picturesque capitals – replete with waterways, bridges and charming old buildings – the Dutch capital attracts a diverse selection of tourists, from festival-goers and sports fanatics to art lovers and beach bums. To ponder the merits of the city’s museums, and the depth of its nightlife, which rivals just about every other European party locale, is to realise one thing: that Amsterdam makes an extremely appealing holiday destination. By Ronnie

Madeira Flower Festival

Madeira Flower Festival

Madeira boasts a subtropical climate, thanks to its location just off the African coast. Throw in a history of trading with both Europe and Africa and you get a truly unique mix of flowers from across the world. Madeira’s climate produces a staggering array of flora throughout the year. When spring is in the air and flowers are at their fullest bloom, the Portuguese island celebrates this abundance of colour and natural perfume with the vibrant Madeira Flower Festival, centered around the Portuguese city of Funchal. The festival is one of the island's major celebrations and attractions, as tourists and locals alike join in with this enchanting event to honour the birth of spring By Russell

 Cornwall Events & Festivals

Cornwall Events & Festivals

It seems somewhat bewildering that a race titled Giro d’Italia – that’s 'Tour of Italy' to you and I – would cause such a furore in Ireland. But the eyes of the cycling world will be firmly focused on the Emerald Isle come May 9, when the prestigious event kicks off in Belfast. Much like its considerably more publicised bedfellow, the Tour de France, the Giro intermittently incorporates other countries into its epic three-week schedule, with Armagh and Dublin the other two Irish areas fortunate enough to be included in the route this time around. By Ronnie

2014 Giro d’Italia

2014 Giro d’Italia

It seems somewhat bewildering that a race titled Giro d’Italia – that’s 'Tour of Italy' to you and I – would cause such a furore in Ireland. But the eyes of the cycling world will be firmly focused on the Emerald Isle come May 9, when the prestigious event kicks off in Belfast. Much like its considerably more publicised bedfellow, the Tour de France, the Giro intermittently incorporates other countries into its epic three-week schedule, with Armagh and Dublin the other two Irish areas fortunate enough to be included in the route this time around. By Ronnie

Kensington Dolls’ House Festival 2014

Kensington Dolls’ House Festival 2014

I may be a travel writer, but I’ve a little hobby on the side – a very little hobby. Collecting and making dolls’ house miniatures can’t be described as social. It’s not the sort of thing you’ll get a clap on the back for at the pub. I’m more likely to be found crying into a minuscule glass of wine after those tiny green peas have rolled off my Willow-patterned plate. Again. But with a bit of time and an eye for fine detail (with the patience of an ultra-patient saint thrown in), it’s become one of the most rewarding and inspiring things I’ve ever done. By Sophie

Wimbledon 2014

Wimbledon 2014

Nothing says ‘British summer’ quite like the Wimbledon Championships. That’s not because we get to enjoy day after day of blazing heat, though. Instead, for two weeks, we are treated to a full spectrum of British weather, from bright, luteous sunshine to angry, torrential downpours. Thankfully, since the installation of a retractable roof over Centre Court in 2009, those with seats in the world’s most celebrated tennis arena needn’t miss a beat; the action will continue unhindered. If you do happen to have tickets for Court One, or one of the show courts, the occasional shower is unlikely to dampen your spirit too much; grab a glass of Pimms, defiantly dunk your strawberry in some cream and snap open an umbrella. The atmosphere at SW19 is sure to keep a smile on your face. By Ronnie

 

 


Spring Breaks


Where is hot in May?

Where is hot in May?

Booking a holiday shouldn't require any justification: if you can afford to go, go. If you need to conjure an excuse to book a May holiday however, here are a couple to get you started: May has two bank holidays, one falling early in the month and one falling towards the end. Put those days to good use rather than pottering about the house and streaming Netflix – you can do that any time. By Kai

 

Spring Ski Breaks

Spring Ski Breaks

It's funny to think that skiing – one of mankind's earliest forms of travel, first documented in Norwegian cave carvings dating to 5,000 BC – not only still exists, but is in fact more popular than ever. Ironically, what began as a necessary adaptation to travelling in snowy climes, has today become characterized as the recreation of choice for the super rich. Of course, the wealthy and titled aren't the only ones who can ski, and aren't the only ones who do – skiing's popularity is broad because it's primal. As one die-hard ski fan explained it to me, "It's the closest I've ever been to flying". Fair enough. By Russ

 

Spring breaks and family holidays in London

Spring breaks and family holidays in London

Spring has sprung in London, and it’s a great time of year to take a break with your family. With a surprising amount of parks and green spaces in the city, there are glimpses of spring around every corner, peeking out from among the traffic, shops and buildings. There are lots of opportunities to get out and about, stretch your legs and experience the capital in the clear spring air after the long and cold winter. Although let’s face it, the British weather may not have got the memo about the change of seasons – so spring in London is likely to be anything from warm and sunny, through to rainy with showers, and days where it will probably still be on the chilly side. By Sophie

 

Cottages for March

Cottages for March

If your ideal holiday is an active one; if you’re happiest when exploring, clambering, cycling and rowing; if you live for the outdoors, there’s never a bad time to book a break. March? Bring it on. The British weather’s starting to pick up at this time of year, and even if there is still a chill in the air, well, it’s not going to stop you, is it? By Kai

 

Spring Breaks in Italy

Spring Breaks in Italy

The spring months mark the perfect time for a getaway. Before the summer crowds have so much as stepped onto the airport tarmac, why not take the opportunity to enjoy your destination in all its tranquil splendour? Italy, of course, is a splendid place to visit at any time of the year, but a spring break in Italy is especially rewarding: wildflowers are in full bloom, the weather is balmy yet not oppressive, and charming spring festivals and processions are in abundance. Not to mention, of course, that you will benefit from the seasonal increase in daylight hours; although when darkness does descend, there’s no shortage of entertainment. By Ronnie

Spring breaks in Spain: travel to Spain for an unforgettable spring break

Spring breaks in Spain: travel to Spain for an unforgettable spring break

While there are no shortage of spring break holiday destinations, Spain’s proximity to the UK means it’s probably near the top of your shortlist. Unwind on sandy beaches, or explore the countryside of Andalusia and Galicia, learning new things about history and culture along the way. In Spain, you’re guaranteed to find amazing architecture – Iberian, Visigothic and Roman to name but a few strands – as well as plenty of world-class museums. The landscapes, meanwhile, are perfect for connecting with the natural world, whether you’re watching mules trip along country trails to ancient villages or surrounded by pines in the Picos de Europa National Park. By Ronnie

Spring breaks in Cornwall

Spring breaks in Cornwall

Boasting long, beautiful beaches, a green countryside, spectacular mountains, and plenty of spas, restaurants, and shopping, Cornwall is one of the most popular spring break destinations in England. There are, in fact, few better places to shake off the winter blues than in lovely and local Cornwall, where smiles greet you on the street, and fun and relaxation are to be had around every corner. While there, you can expect to enjoy everything from music festivals to food and craft fairs, as well as guided walks through the breathtaking and celebrated landscape. By Sophie

Spring Ski Breaks in Chamonix

Spring Ski Breaks in Chamonix

Sitting at the Alpine border between Italy, France and Switzerland is the Chamonix valley, and its extended family of villages and resorts centred on this eponymous town. Chamonix is renowned as a great skiing destination for the spring and summer, whilst the winter see’s many of its most picturesque routes closed the warmth of spring opens them up. By Russsell

 


Summer Holiday Ideas


Devon beach holidays

Devon beach holidays

Set within the south west of England, Devon is a beautiful county combining stunning coastline with the wild beauty of both Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks. Part of the coast is on the South West Coastal Path, so it is a perfect county for walking as well as relaxing by the beach, exploring, sightseeing or just shopping and enjoying the many restaurants and cafés on the beachfronts. By Tanya Oliver

Italian Riviera Seaside Towns

Italian Riviera Seaside Towns

One of Italy's prettiest and most popular stretches of coastline is the coast of the Liguria region in northwestern Italy, known as the Italian Riviera. Liguria starts at the Gulf of Poets, or the Bay of La Spezia, just beyond Tuscany, and continues to the border of France. By Martha Bakerjian

Santorini Beach Holidays

Santorini Beach Holidays

A paradise for honeymooners and lovers, a popular stop-over for cruise ships and, of course, the famous view of the caldera with its white and blue houses and churches perched atop the rock face, Santorini is one of—if not the—most famous of the Greek islands. There aren’t a plethora of beaches in Santorini, yet don’t let that put you off, nor be fooled. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what is on offer in this magical place. By Rebecca Hall

Seaside holidays in Llandudno

Seaside holidays in Llandudno

WLlandudno, North Wales: it’s a far cry from the bustle of the city, instead spoilt for shores, unchanged for a century, and filled with little cafés where you can while a morning, afternoon – heck you could spend a whole day just breathing in that tasty sea air. But know that this Victorian seaside town isn’t your standard ‘Victorian’ seaside town. The rock won’t break your teeth, the scenery really is that gorgeous, and there aren’t too many bare-chested British men (sorry guys). No, Llandudno’s architecture is pretty and its pastel-coloured houses even more so; its promenade and pier (the longest in the country, might I add) speak proudly of the period they come from. All in all, a beach holiday in Llandudno might be just what you need. By Sophie

Ibiza's best beaches

Ibiza's beach holidays

When you hear about Ibiza, the word "party" probably comes to mind – but Ibiza is much more than that. As a matter of fact, Ibiza is more than just one island; it is a small archipelago of three islands known as "Las Pitiusas", including Ibiza, Formentera and Espalmador, only 100km east off the coast of Alicante, in mainland Spain. About half of Spain's top ten shores are located on these idyllic islands. By Jose

Beach holidays in France

Beach holidays in France

There's something about the best French beaches that inevitably reminds me of the best French cuisine – varied, fresh and sensual; verging on without quite tipping into decadent. Exempli gratia: the long, soft, ice-creamy dunes of the Côte d'Argent, sprawling infinitely into the distance. Not surprisingly, this has made France an international holiday Mecca for – well, a very long time. Such a long time, in fact, that to suggest a beach holiday in France today seems almost old hat. By Russ

UK holiday cottages for June

UK holiday cottages for June

Ok, so you might not jump for joy when you wake to raindrops on the window, but let’s face it – June’s as good a month as any to book a break at home. The schools have broken up in Scotland (the holidays usually begin around 25 June), and the weather is, well, more pleasant than usual. It can get as high as 22°C in the furthest reaches of southern England, topping off in Scotland at a moderate 17°C. There’ll only be six hours of sunshine per day, but hey – you can’t expect anything too great from our wet and windy isles right? By Sophie

Seaside Towns of Puglia

Seaside Towns of Puglia

Puglia, or Apulia, is the southeastern region of Italy known as the heel of the boot. It's a long and narrow region with lots of coastline on both the Adriatic and Ionian seas, making it a great place for lovers of beaches, fresh seafood, and seaside towns. Puglia has a wealth of fascinating places to visit and is not yet overrun with tourists. It's the perfect place to have a relaxing vacation, eat well, and enjoy the slow-paced southern Italian life. By Martha

Summer Breaks in Scotland

Summer holidays in Scotland

Scotland, in summer, has so much more to offer than sunshine. While the clouds will often clear and the temperature can shoot into the 20s, visitors warm to the place not purely because of its climate. It's the country’s history, the beauty of its landscape and the welcoming disposition of its denizens that make Scotland an attractive summer holiday destination. By Ronnie

North Cornwall Beach Holidays: the obvious choice for surfing and sandcastles

North Cornwall beach holidays

Planning a beach holiday in North Cornwall? You should be – this is serious surfing country (though it’s safe to say sunbathers, scuba divers and watersports fans won’t go unsatisfied, either!). More rugged than South Cornwall, its sweeping bays of warm, golden sand stretch for 40 miles from Perranporth to Bude, offering great Atlantic rollers backed by fantastic cliff-sides – in truth, there’s possibly no better spot in Britain to hop upon your board and tackle those waves. Bright, turquoise seascapes and grassy cliff faces await those who’d rather enjoy coastal walks along the Camel Trail, or take day trips to sites like Tintagel Castle. By Sophie

Lake District Summer Holidays: For those who need beaches and lakes in equal measure!

Lake District beach holidays

The Lake District is easily among the United Kingdom’s most visually breathtaking areas. Awe-inspiring landscapes of mountainous fells, glistening waters and charming rural sensibilities abound at every turn, attracting droves of tourists all year round. Alluring as this area is, in the summertime the vast majority more often than not opt to travel further afield in search of the more traditional beach holiday. The beauty of the region, however, is that its gratifying location, within reach of the north west coast, means that the two don’t necessarily need to be mutually exclusive. By Ronnie

Tuscany summer holidays: find beauty and relaxation during a summer holiday in Tuscany

Tuscany summer holidays

Tuscany, known famously as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, is still renowned as one of the country’s most alluring hotspots. Visitors from around the world flock to Tuscany for its tranquillity, its divine landscape, and its friendly locals. If you’re a fan of wild nature, you’ll see plenty of it by the Ligurian Sea, with its rolling green hills and flourishing farms. By Sophie

 

 


Winter Breaks



Popular 2014 - 2015 Winter Holiday Ideas

Where is hot in April?

Ski Holidays

On the surface, it might seem illogical for travellers to shun sun-kissed Mediterranean getaways in favour of weeks on snow-laden slopes. After all, if you crave temperatures in which a Thinsulate jacket and woolly socks are required, you could rely on getting them through much of the year in Blighty. But a ski holiday is about more than just cold weather: as anyone who’s ever hit the pistes will attest, it’s the thrill of careening downhill, and convivial atmosphere associated with après-ski culture, that makes for an unforgettable trip. By Sophie

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

The wait for summer holidays can seem endless as the rain and cold of the miserable British winter drags on week after week. However, it doesn't have to be like this! Instead of enduring the bleak British weather, this year you could be sitting on a beach basking in glorious sunshine on a fantastic winter sun holiday. Truly indulgent and hugely enjoyable, winter sun breaks are the perfect way to beat the winter blues.

Where is hot in December

Where is hot in December

December in Britain: the only things going for it are Christmas and New Year! Yes, we all get excited at the prospect of snowmen and sledging, mulled wine and merriment, but by the time the climate cools and we’re well and truly into winter, the promise of some sunshine doesn’t go amiss. Some prefer skiing and enjoy short breaks in France and Switzerland, but most of us want to head off to warmer, sunnier climes! A well-deserved break in the sun may be just what you need when December rolls round, but where to go for the very best weather?

 
Snowboarding in Austria: five of the best Austrian resorts for boarders

Snowboarding in Austria

Ski passes in Austria don’t come cheap, but there’s a reason its resorts are full to the brim with boarders: Germans, Brits, Russians, the Dutch—this is a land of seriously great piste. But it’s also a country seemingly made for skitouring: many a boarder’s happy to hike up an untracked hill, bomb down, and hike up again! By Sophie

Cheap ski holidays: satisfy your snow lust for less

Cheap ski holidays

Let's face it: ski holidays can be very expensive. But with a little travel planning, exhilarating ski holidays don't have to end up devouring your summer holiday budget as well. The key to a cheap ski holiday is finding the right destination at right time of year.By Russ

 


Short Breaks



Popular Short Break Ideas

 

City Breaks

City Breaks

With some of the worlds most exciting cities just a couple of hours away, city breaks offer a fantastic option for a memorable holiday, whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, family holiday or last minute weekend break. With an abundance of cheap flights to great destinations across Europe and beyond, weekend city breaks have never been more accessible and affordable.

Peak District Short Breaks

England Short Breaks

Taking short breaks in England is becoming more popular every year. Travel just a few miles away from home, and you'll be surprised by the sheer wealth of amazing places to see. From the world-famous attractions of London, to the quaint countryside of the Cotswolds, you can enjoy fantastic holidays without jetting off on expensive flights.

Short breaks in Bavaria

Short breaks in Bavaria: outdoor activities and relaxation in Germany's mountainous south

The name 'Bavaria' conjures up all sorts of connotations, even to those who have never been there. For beer lovers, the infamous Oktoberfest is probably the first thing that springs to mind. Sports fans will most likely associate it with its rich footballing heritage in the shape of Bayern Munich. By Ronnie

UK Short Breaks

Short breaks in the UK: Cheap weekend getaways in Blighty

Let's face it: ski holidays can be very expensive. But with a little travel planning, exhilarating ski holidays don't have to end up devouring your summer holiday budget as well. The key to a cheap ski holiday is finding the right destination at right time of year. By Ronnie

 

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