Plan your trips for the year ahead

We’ve selected the best travel destinations for the year ahead, whether you want to follow the action or take it easy. Plan your holidays with our travel calendar 2012.


Travel calendar 2012 - ChinaChinese New Year is the highlight of China’s calendar
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Follow the action: China

Chinese New Year is the highlight of China’s calendar, and it is celebrated with gusto throughout the country. In 2012, the Chinese New Year starts on 23 January, and many festivities kick off the night before with feasts, fireworks and dancing. Celebrations culminate on 6 February with an enchanting Lantern Festival. 

Take it easy: Goa, India

Sure-fire sun and low humidity make Goa in India a particularly alluring late-January break – not to mention its sugar-white sands and swaying green palms. A laid-back pace of life and temperatures that stick around the early- to mid-30s are the perfect accompaniments to a dazzling position beside the lapping Arabian Sea.  


Follow the action: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Join the most famous party on earth, as Rio Carnival takes control of this stunning coastal city from 18-21 February. Marvel at the flamboyant Samba Parade – a river of bright floats, infectious beats and racy costumes – and dance until dawn at hip-shaking street parties, glitzy balls and all-night raves. 

Travel calendar 2012 - BarbadosFor oodles of sea and sand, head to Barbados in February
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Take it easy: Barbados, Caribbean

For oodles of sea and sand bathed in pleasant late-20s warmth, head to Barbados in February. High-season sunshine offers a fabulous month across the Caribbean, and Barbados’ milky sands washed by searing turquoise waters, fresh leafy interior and history-rich capital Bridgetown make for a particularly beguiling backdrop. 


Follow the action: Hong Kong

Rugby enthusiasts flock to Hong Kong in March for the Hong Kong Sevens, featuring teams from the likes of South Africa, New Zealand and England. Outside the buzz of the stadium, Hong Kong teems with city diversions: find gourmet restaurants, intriguing street food and cosmopolitan shopping. 

Take it easy: Caribbean coast, Costa Rica

Kick back in the height of dry season on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. The eastern shore of this Central American beauty revels in a decidedly Caribbean vibe, with zingy flavours, calypso tunes and abundant greenery fringing far-reaching sands. Head to Tortuguero National Park for nesting sea turtles.


Follow the action: Seville, Spain 

Easter is a big deal in Spain, and no city celebrates it with as much fervour and commitment as Seville. During Easter week (Semana Santa), this Andalucían city is awash with elaborate religious processions overseen by vast crowds descending through its winding streets and pretty plazas.  

Travel calendar 2012 - VietnamVietnam is a frenetic, fascinating country
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Take it easy: Vietnam

The recent launch of direct flights from the UK means Vietnam’s delectable dishes, complex history and captivating natural beauty have never been easier to reach. When the frenetic hubbub of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City gets too much, seek soothing sanctuary amid sweeping emerald rice paddies and towering forest.


Follow the action: High Atlas mountains, Morocco

Join the groups of active types trekking Morocco’s otherworldly High Atlas mountain range in May for craggy vistas and explosions of lush greenery. Inhospitable winter has well and truly departed, but the intense heat of high summer is yet to come. Visit the Ait Bougmez valley for sweeping mountainsides studded with mud-brick architecture. 

Take it easy: Cyclades, Greece

Sail from Athens to this alluring cluster of Aegean Islands ahead of the summer rush. Wander sun-dappled fruit groves on verdant Naxos, dance until dawn in party-hard Mykonos, stretch out on a rustic hillside in Andros and take in twinkling ocean vistas from whitewashed terraces in Santorini.


Travel calendar 2012 - WarsawWarsaw is set to pleasantly surprise visitors this year
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Follow the action: Warsaw, Poland

Poland sits firmly on the world’s sporting agenda this year as it co-hosts the Euro 2012 football championships. In particular, the immaculate UNESCO-protected centre, eclectic architecture and thriving cultural scene of steadily developing capital Warsaw is set to pleasantly surprise international visitors. 

Take it easy: Amalfi Coast, Italy

Early June is a charming time on Italy’s picturesque Amalfi Coast. Summer crowds are just beginning to swell amid the undulating greenery, jagged plant-strewn cliffs and cerulean waters, while beaches remain largely tranquil and the famous coastal road is still relatively free from the high-season masses.


Follow the action: Helsinki, Finland

As the European Design Capital for 2012, Helsinki is brimming with cultural happenings, and July’s gentle sunshine offers the perfect companion to leisurely wandering between events. Peruse contemporary spaces, exhibitions, fashion shows, art nouveau architecture and take a turn around the city’s attractive harbour. 

Take it easy: Bali, Indonesia

Exotic Indonesia’s enticing Asian archipelago offers deliciously relaxed and simple beach life, a fun and frolicsome night scene, vibrant culture and dramatic island scenery. Opt for beautiful Bali for exquisite beaches, lush greenery studded with exotic blooms and the pure tranquillity of the rice terraces near Ubud.


Travel calendar 2012 - LondonAugust is the time to visit the bustling and booming UK capital
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Follow the action: London, England

London 2012: it’s been on everyone’s lips for literally years, and August sees it come to its eagerly anticipated fruition. Expect the typically bustling and booming UK capital to be literally bursting at the seams with Olympic-themed parties, exhibitions, cultural goings-on and more. And then, of course, there’s the sport… 

Take it easy: Stockholm Archipelago

Take advantage of north Europe’s gentle summer airs and indulge in some island hopping through the Stockholm Archipelago. Take a boat from the Swedish capital to explore the rugged beauty of these rocky isles. Find boat timetables and details of an Island Hopping Pass at


Follow the action: Galway, Ireland

Hop across to leafy Ireland to herald the start of oyster season at Galway’s International Oyster Festival. Cheer along the street parade, indulge in specially designed restaurant menus, and wash down piles of sea-fresh fare with a generous slug of Guinness.  

Take it easy: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Avoid super-expensive and busy August, and head to Croatia’s elegant walled city Dubrovnik in September. Watch the world go by from a lively café, wander Gothic, baroque and Renaissance churches and take in the delightful coastal setting of this UNESCO World Heritage site free from the peak-season masses.  


Follow the action: Munich, Germany

Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, is a beery celebration of epic proportions. This year’s event – 22 September to 7 October – features the usual raucous collage of beer tents, amusement attractions and tasty food. Tents fill up fast, especially at weekends, so reservations are wise.  

Travel calendar 2012 - ChitwanSpot Indian rhinos on the back of an elephant in Nepal
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Take it easy: Chitwan, Nepal

A memorable trip to Nepal doesn’t have to mean tackling mountain trails or delving into chaotic Kathmandu; head to the hazy flat sanctuary of Chitwan National Park for endless soft greenery, pretty park lodges, and foot and elephant-back safaris in search of the Indian rhino and Bengal tiger.


Follow the action: New York, USA

Experience a jubilant New York Thanksgiving – this year on 22 November – with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This colourful spectacle kicks off at 9am, with a host of inflatable cartoon characters, bright costumes and music filling street after street as it makes its way through the city. 

Take it easy: Cook Islands

Leave the increasingly dark evenings and chilly airs behind with an island escape to the Cook Islands. Spend simple days lounging across powdery sands on Rarotonga, marvel at a rainbow of marine life on snorkelling trips around Aitutaki and witness beautiful Polynesian traditions on Atiu. 


Follow the action: Whistler, Canada

Leap into ski season feet first with a December trip to the Canadian resort Whistler Blackcomb. This remains one of the most popular resorts in the world for very good reasons: liberal powder, slopes for all abilities, a wealth of other snowy activities and lively après-ski. 

Travel calendar 2012 - SeychellesSwap frantic Christmas crowds with sun-warmed waters
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Take it easy: Seychelles

For those who desire nothing more than to swap frantic Christmas crowds with heavenly beaches and sun-warmed waters, the Seychelles is a dream destination. Dabble in luxury on Praslin, dive into sparkling waters on Mahé and drink in exotic paradise on La Digue: each isle is textbook island paradise.

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.