Lake Louise in Banff National Park, the heart of the Canadian Rockies

With much of the West covered in snow and the first signs of spring far on the horizon, February is the ideal month for an escape from reality – either by making the most of the snow, revelling in culture or by jetting off to sunshine.

For Avid Skiers.. Lake Louise, Canada

Bring out the cake and candles: Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday this year and to mark the occasion the country is offering free, unfettered access to all of their National Parks, Historic Sites and Marine Conservation Areas throughout 2017. Why not capitalise on this one-off deal and visit Banff National Park in Alberta? This UNESCO World Heritage Site is Canada's oldest national park, and along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains you'll find the Lake Louise Ski Resort, an idyllic hamlet set two hour’s drive from Calgary. The resort’s 274 runs, 24 lifts and three snow parks make it ideal for all ages and abilities. Lake Louise is also prime grizzly bear territory and while they're likely to be in hibernation until April you will have opportunity to spot elk, wild deer, horned sheep and the majestic Steller's jay bird, all from the comfort of your ski lift.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel in Alberta's Banff National ParkThe Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel in Alberta's Banff National Park
Hemera Technologies / Thinkstock

For City Slickers.. Hull, England

“You’re only here for the culture!” Fans of Kingston upon Hull and their great football team might like their chants with a dash of irony but be warned, Hull might not rank high in the league tables for size, significance or sunny weather, but locals are proud of their city’s heritage and rightfully so. Celebrating its year as European Capital of Culture, the birthplace of the boiled sweet, Lemsip and the LCD screen is peacocking its way through 2017 with light shows, street art and Turner Prize-nominated sculptures on display across the city. Culture vultures are expected to flock in their thousands to the banks of the Humber estuary for this year-long calendar of special events. In February, highlights include the Cyber Film Festival, stand up comedy from Mark Thomas and a concert performance from The Pigeon Detectives.

Join the crowds celebrating Hull UK City of Culture 2017Join the crowds celebrating Hull UK City of Culture 2017
Creative Commons / dom fellowes

For thrill seekers.. Kuelap, Peru

If you're still looking to make a new years resolution for 2017, why not be more intrepid? This month you could be one of the first explorers to experience the great historic ruins of Kuelap... via cable car. Yes, this pre-Inca citadel, recently labelled “the new Machu Picchu”, has a brand new cable car service that cuts the 9km hike time to the mountaintop fortress down to just 20 minutes. You might only need a day to experience Kuelap, located in Luya province, but every visitor should stay nearby and take in the true majesty of the Amazonas region. Its lakes, waterfalls, rare spectacled bears and sightings of the brilliantly orange Andean cock-of-the-rock bird sets this region apart as an almost unrivalled haven in South America for adventurers and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

Spotting the Andean cock-of-the-rock in Peru’s Amazonas region shouldn’t be hardSpotting the Andean cock-of-the-rock in Peru’s Amazonas region shouldn’t be hard
Mirko Rosenau / Thinkstock

For beach bums.. Lake McKenzie, Australia

Ok, it's not technically a beach but Lake McKenzie might boast Australia’s purest waters and finest sand. Situated in the midst of Fraser Island, Queensland, the shimmering freshwater of Lake McKenzie reveals lush, talc-like sand that massages and tickles the feet. With just a few basic amenities by the shoreline, the only real distraction here is the wild rainforests of the Great Sandy National Park that overlook the lake clearing, and the 56,000 hectare reserve that runs up to the lake is ripe for exploring. Looking for water with more than just a pinch of salt? Fraser Island's 75 Mile Beach is the world’s largest sand island, but the beach does have two key drawbacks: the waters are laced with tiger sharks and saltwater crocs, and the beach also acts as a landing strip for light aircraft. Back to Lake McKenzie it is then.

Lake McKenzie, Fraser IslandLake McKenzie, Fraser Island
bjuerges / Thinkstock

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