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The World's Best Festivals

20th July 2015

Updated August 2017

Introducing the IGLU guide to the best and most interesting festivals and cultural celebrations from around the world. Perfectly organised with date and destination information to help you plan your travels, so that you can witness some of the most magnificent festivals the world has to offer. From Samba dancers in Rio, to dragons parading the streets of Hong Kong, this list has it all. Now is the time to experience life the way it should be lived.


Holi Festival 



When: March Where: India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Worldwide

Why you should go: Holi Festival, or The Festival of Colours, celebrates the end of winter and beginning of spring. It’s fun, safe, and free. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival that is celebrated with enthusiasm, singing, dancing, and a rainbow of colours. Groups carry drums and other musical instruments and go from place to place, while everyone plays, chases, and colours each other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water guns and coloured water-filled balloons.




Snow & Ice Festival 



When: Late December to February Where: Harbin, China

Why you should go: The Harbin festival is the largest snow and ice festival in the world, exhibiting the most exquisite ice and snow sculptures ever made. Experience the magnificent Ice and Snow World - with incredible carvings that tower an amazing 20 feet high. Not to mention the perfectly crafted full-size monuments, that are designed from gigantic blocks of ice and decorated with lights and lasers. This exhibition has a lot to offer, and is definitely worth a visit at least once.




Oktoberfest 



When: Mid September - Early October Where: Munich, Germany

Why you should go: The famous Oktoberfest is the largest Volksfest beer festival and travelling funfair in the world. Held annually in Munich, Germany, Oktoberfest began life as a wedding for the Bavarian crown prince Ludwig to Princess Therese on October 12, 1810. It has since grown into an extremely popular festival running from mid - late September to the first weekend in October - with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. The event is all about beer, beer, and only beer. Grab a stein and start the celebrations.




Lantern Festival 



When: Mid February to Early March Where: Taiwan

Why you should go: The Lantern Festival was originally celebrated to ward off evil and disease from the town. The Taipei Pingshi Sky Lanterns were released to let others know that the town was safe.

Witness thousands of sky lanterns light up during one of the world’s largest lantern festivals. If you’re looking for a little magic, there is nothing more surreal than a sky ablaze with thousands of floating lanterns. The lanterns are decorated with wishes and images relating to the owner before being released into the night at the same time, magically decorating transforming the sky into a sanctuary of lights. Don’t miss the great street festivals that take place during the day.




Rio Carnival 



When: February Where: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Why you should go: Rio carnival is simply electrifying; the combination of pulsating music, samba dancing, a nonstop party, with the special addition of Brazilian flair. The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a world famous 5-day festival held before Lent every year, and is considered to be the biggest carnival in the world - with over 2 million people on the streets of this vibrant city every day. The first festivals of Rio date back to 1823. The typical Rio carnival parade is filled with revellers, dancers, glittering costumes, giant parades, and adornments. This festival is a mind-blowing week of sequin-fuelled fun, in one of the world’s most beautiful destinations.




Chinese New Year Parade 



When: February Where: Hong Kong and Major Cities Worldwide

Why you should go: This ancient festival is an experience like no other; it marks China's New Year - an important traditional Chinese holiday celebrated at the turn of the Chinese calendar. With dragons, fireworks, symbolic clothing, flowers, lanterns, and celebration, China marks their most important and significant day of the year in style. In Hong Kong, the heart pounding action features a fabulous parade of floats, dragons, symbolic clothing, international and local performers, and a stunning fireworks show over the harbour.




Albuquerque International Balloon Festival 



When: October Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Why you should go: The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival hosts the largest gathering of hot air balloons in the world. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is a yearly festival of hot air balloons that takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. The Balloon Fiesta is a nine day event, and has around 750 balloons. Once the balloons are let off, watch as the Skies of Albuquerque become a rainbow of vibrant colours, creating a breath-taking spectacle. You can take part, climb aboard and take flight, or even get married way up in the clouds.




Mardi Gras Festival 



When: February - March Where: New Orleans, USA

Why you should go: In many ways Mardis Gras’ reputation precedes itself — if you want to party like there’s no tomorrow, New Orleans is where you belong. Mardi Gras, meaning “Fat Tuesday” in French, is a festival marked by an endless cyclone of feathers, costumes, beads, and booze that whips through city streets of New Orleans. It’s been called the wildest fete in the U.S and for good reason: Every year, droves of party-goers flock to New Orleans to take in the floats, the festivities, and the food, and to leave their mark on the Big Easy. Don’t miss the throwing of beads - it’s a staple of the festival.




Up Helly Aa Fire Festival 



When: The Last Tuesday in January Where: Lerwick, Scotland

Why you should go: This is Europe’s largest fire festival, complete with the burning of a full-scale Viking ship. Need we say more? This superb spectacle is a celebration of Shetland history, and a triumphant demonstration of the islanders' skills and spirit. Up Helly Aa day involves a Nordic themed series of marches and visitations, and the procession culminates in a torch-lit procession and the burning of a galley. This is followed by hours of performing acts and dancing in halls throughout Lerwick. This northern Mardi Gras lasts just one day (and night). But it takes several thousand people 364 days to organise. Much of the preparation is in strictest secrecy.

image credit: www.no-straight-lines.com


Carnevale di Venezia 



When: Late January to Early February Where: Venice, Italy

Why you should go: Carnevale, or “Carnival,” has been a Venice tradition dating back to the 13th century. The Carnival of Venice is an annual two-week festival that ends with the Christian celebration of Lent, forty days before Easter on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The carnival is well renowned with visitors flocking from around the world to admire and even participate in the masquerade masked celebrations, arguably making it one of the best and visually stunning shows on Earth.



Do any of these festivals sound intriguing to you? Why not plan your next trip so that you can attend. We can tailor-make your cruise holiday to add additional stays in destinations before or after your cruise. Call us to find out more. 


5 Cruises Dad Will Love

12th June 2015

Updated June 2017

Make father’s day remarkable this year and treat your Dad to a cruise holiday that he will never forget. With totally unique cruise packages now tying in with popular events, amazing experiences and bucket list destinations, you can make his dreams come true with a great gift and holiday in one.




F1 Grand Prix and Cruise

Tying in a Formula One racing event with a cruise holiday is a sure fire way to please any motorsport fans in the family. With the famous F1 Grand Prix now taking place in several appealing destinations worldwide, you can treat dad (and yourself) to an unforgettable F1 cruise and stay package. Choose your Grand Prix cruise holiday from a superb selection including Singapore, Barcelona, Abu Dhabi and more.

 

 

Terracotta Warriors

Few sites in the world leave an impression like that of the Terracotta Army in China. This magnificent display remains a defining discovery of the 20th Century and attracts thousands of visitors daily. Created to guard the tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang in Xi’an, some 7,000 life-size statues stand proudly unearthed in the mausoleum, now a UNESCO world heritage listed archaeological site. It is believed that many more statues remain undiscovered and so far around 600 sites make up the magnificent burial grounds. History fanatics and those wanting to know more of ancient civilisations will be enamoured with a cruise to South East Asia uncovering rich Chinese histories and more.

 

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express Rail & Sail

Treat dad to the trip of a lifetime with an ultra-luxurious rail and sail holiday. This excellent journey features a deluxe Mediterranean itinerary and combines a classic Cunard cruise with an overnight on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Featuring vintage carriages, fine wine, refined cuisine and breath-taking views; this is first class travel at its finest.

 

Calgary Stampede & Alaska

The rodeo world’s elite come together for the annual Calgary Stampede, prepare to be thrilled by death defying stunts and jaw dropping action. Hailed as the greatest outdoor show on earth, this gripping event is bursting with excitement and welcomes all to the wildness of the west. Visitors can enjoy entertainment from the main events to the music festival (one of the largest in Canada), First Nation cultural events, theme park rides and so much more. Experience the Calgary buzz and make this a once in a lifetime adventure with a combined Alaska cruise and Rocky Mountaineer journey through Canada.

 

 

South Africa Discovery

South Africa captivates like no other country can; with cultural diversity, buzzing districts, astounding natural landscapes, exotic wildlife and world class cuisine. It’s easy to see why a trip here is a bucket list moment for many. Fans of food and wine will be wowed by South Africa’s tantalising cuisine and the chance to taste a vast selection of exquisite wines in sensational surrounds. Awaken all senses with a stay in the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, before exploring South Africa's coastline on a cruise.

 

Find the perfect treat for dad! Browse our unique selection of Handcrafted Holidays or check out our Themed Cruises.


6 Grand Prix To See By Cruise

19th March 2015

Updated October 2017

Have you ever considered combining the glamour and relaxation of a cruise holiday, with the thrill and exhilaration of the Grand Prix?

The Formula One Grand Prix takes place in prestigious cities all around the world, and each circuit is unique to its city - making every race as thrilling and unpredictable as the next. As the season approaches, we take a look at the top 5 Grand Prix destinations that can be incorporated into a unique cruise adventure.

 

Spanish Grand Prix – Barcelona

During the month of May, Barcelona welcomes the F1 at the Circuit du Catalunya, in the town of Montmelo, 12 miles North East of the city centre. The circuit is 4.655km long and usually holds the first European race of the season. The crowds are vibrant and the city is electric during the lead up to the event.

Cruise lines that can take you here include Norwegian Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, and Royal Caribbean.
Mediterranean cruise itineraries can usually be combined with a Barcelona hotel stay before or after your cruise.

Take a look at this Barcelona Grand Prix Cruise

 

Singapore Grand Prix

The Singapore Grand Prix was the first Formula One street circuit in Asia. Taking place at night, the race is dramatic, fast-paced, and challenging. During this time, streets come alive with spectators.

A Singapore cruise will take you around Southeast Asia, or perhaps to or from the Middle East.

Take a look at this Singapore Grand Prix Cruise

 

United Arab Emirates Grand Prix – Abu Dhabi

 

 

A truly luxurious destination with a multi-million dollar custom-built Formula One track, Abu Dhabi has boasted the Yas Marina circuit since 2009. The track is 5.554km long, and holds very few overtaking opportunities - creating an extremely exciting race which takes place from dusk until dark.

Experience modern luxury with Celebrity Cruises during the Formula One season finale.

Take a look at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Cruise

 

United States Grand Prix – Austin, Texas

The only Formula One circuit in the States, the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas was established in 2012. It’s 5.513km long and has long straights and high speed sections, delivering a fast paced and exciting race. The circuit is still considered fairly new and so the races are somewhat unpredictable and exciting.

Cruise holidays can be tailor-made with hotel stays and rail transfers in order to make the most of your trip. Carnival Cruise Lines will take you here during the US races.

 

Monaco Grand Prix – Monaco

 

 

The most glamourous and well known, the Monaco Grand Prix is considered one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world - with its circuit being referred to as 'an exceptional location of glamour and prestige'. Established in 1929, the race is held on a narrow course through the streets of Monaco, and is one of the most demanding tracks in Formula One.

The race sees visitors gather from all over the world, including the rich and famous who spectate from their super yachts. 5* luxury all-inclusive cruise line, Azamara Club Cruises sail to Monaco during the F1 season. Read more about the Monaco Grand Prix Cruise.

Italian Grand Prix – Monza

Opened in 1922, The Autodromo Nazionale Monza has a rich and interesting history. It was controversially rebuilt in 1955 with banking of just less than 40 degrees - which equates to a gradient of around 80%. Many deem this aspect of the track to be unsafe, and it even led to British teams boycotting the race in 1960.

This fascinating circuit is fabulously located just north of Milan, close to Lake Como. This makes an F1 cruise to Italy a superb choice, as there are so many alternative options when it comes to how to spend your time either side of the race. Find out more about an Italian Grand Prix Cruise.

 

With so many destinations and itineraries to choose from, we recommend signing up for our F1 Grand Prix brochure, to learn more about how to combine your cruise holiday with the F1 racing schedule.

Find more information on our Grand Prix Cruise Packages, or view our Grand Prix Cruise Deals.


Celebrating St Patrick's Day

24th February 2015

Updated March 2018

 

The 17th March brings us the festival of St Patrick’s Day, a celebration of everything Irish; anything green and gold goes along with shamrocks, luck, Guinness, Trad music, and Irish food. The whole world celebrates with parades, song, and dance.

 

 

Welcome to the only day of the year when you won’t look out of place in a giant leprechaun hat.

 

Why do we celebrate?

Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is best known for driving all the snakes away from the island; and it is true that you will find no snakes there, but there probably never has been since it was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age.

Saint Patrick is also supposed to have brought Christianity to the island of Ireland and had used the shamrock, which has now become the national emblem, to explain the holy trinity.

 

 

Go Green

National monuments across the world go green in celebration. In Chicago, the city lights up green along with the Chicago River which is dyed a fluorescent green for the occasion.

Other monuments that go green include the London Eye, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Niagara Falls, the Burj al Arab in Dubai, South Africa’s Table Mountain and the Sydney Opera House.

 

 

Celebrating on a cruise

If you are on a cruise during the St Paddy’s festivities, you’re in luck; cruise line celebrations vary but most give a nod to the patron saint of Ireland. Here are our top picks of some of the best St Patrick’s Day parties at sea:

Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian will be throwing a St Patrick’s Day Party across the fleet where guests are able to celebrate with Irish themed music, entertainment, decorations, food and drink…including green beer!

Royal Caribbean: The Royal Caribbean fleets will see parties and onboard parades along with Irish themed music, karaoke and more.

Whether you are on a cruise that makes a special effort for the occasion or not, you can be certain that there will be guests celebrating onboard. Normally many guests dress in green on the day and continue the festivities late into the night - wherever you are in the world, you can guarantee St Patrick’s Day celebrations will follow you!

 

Cruising to Ireland

You can still experience the true spirit of the Irish on any other day of the year with a cruise to Ireland. Many British customers overlook the possibility of a cruise around Ireland and the British Isles - yet it is one of the most convenient ways to do so!

 

 

Several cruise lines are offer overnights in Dublin including Celebrity Eclipse, which is homeporting out of Dublin for summer 2018.


See all of our cruises to Ireland.


5 Things To Be Excited About In 2015

22nd December 2014

As the year comes to a close, it is not only a good time to look back on the events of the past 12 months, but also look at what’s to come in the new year. With 2014 being such a huge year for cruise, can 2015 match it?

Already shaping up to be another exciting one, cruise lines have started to make us feel like next year is going to be a phenomenal year for the cruise industry. 

Here are my top 5 cruise events to look forward to in 2015…

1. The launch of Britannia

It feels like we have been waiting for Britannia for ages and the excitement began back at the beginning of 2014 when P&O Cruises held a launch event to give us a sneak peek of the amenities we can expect on Britannia.

The largest ship ever built for the UK, she is set to be 'inspired by the past, but designed for the future'. Showcasing everything we love about P&O Cruises with a host of new twists, there is no doubt she will take the world by storm.

A foodies heaven, she will be home to five celebrity chefs working alongside each other including James Martin, Marco Pierre White, Eric Lanyard, Olly Smith and Atul Kochhar. There will also be the first cookery school at sea and a host of exquisite restaurants.

Her elegant staterooms, fascinating atrium and giant spa have been designed to amaze guests at every moment.

Launching in March, she will sail a range of Mediterranean and Fjord itineraries. See our Britannia Cruise Deals.

2. The arrival of Anthem of the Seas into Southampton

With the launch of Quantum of the Seas being one of the most significant cruise events in 2014, will her sister ship cause a similar stir? The second SMARTship to launch, she will have everything we loved about Quantum and more.

Ever since it was announced Anthem of the Seas will call Southampton home for the summer months, bookings for her maiden sailings have rocketed and the suspense for her arrival has been at high levels. Once again everyone is ready to see a ship that "changes everything".

With a skydiving simulator, bumper cars, robotic bar tenders and an elevating pod, Royal Caribbean once again push every industry boundary and stand ready to give guests a completely different view of cruising.

A strong emphasis on entertainment will be portrayed again with world-class Broadway musicals, the technology of 270 and a Music Hall where an array of show-stopping bands will perform.

Arriving into Southampton in April, her maiden voyages will include sailings to Paris and Bruges. See our Anthem of the Seas Cruise Deals.

3. World cruises

2015 will see an array of new destinations added to cruise itineraries and as the industry expands, so do the ports. You can cruise to almost every corner of the earth now and new ports for 2015 are starting to be announced.

As more people want to explore the world on a cruise, it made perfect sense for cruise lines to start introducing world cruises to their schedules.

New ship, Quantum of the Seas will sail a 53 night world voyage from New Jersey, USA to Hong Kong.

P&O Cruises will have ships sailing around the globe in 2015, from Asia, Australia and Dubai. Cunard will continue their unique cruises such as Hong Kong to Sydney, Cape Town to Southampton and Dubai to Sri Lanka.

2015 will see Fred Olsen Cruises explore exquisite locations such as Arctic and Antarctica.

4. Sailing from Southampton

There has been a huge rise in people wanting to cruise without flying and 2015 will see the largest choice of ships sailing from Southampton.

Two new ships Britannia and Anthem of the Seas will go head to head with summer sailings from Southampton. Making it a huge year for the port of Southampton, having two brand new ships here will see a significant increase in guests sailings from the UK next year.

Replacing the popular Independence of the Seas, Royal Caribbean is sending Explorer of the Seas to the UK for the first time. The voyager-class ship will complete a major refurbishment before arriving to Southampton and include new virtual balcony staterooms, a flowrider and revamped entertainment.

Voted best ship from Southampton in 2014, Celebrity Eclipse will return for the 2015 summer season and sail to Scandinavia, Russia, Iceland and the Fjords.

Cunard will continue to have a strong presence in Southampton and offer guests the opportunity to sail to long-haul destinations such as New York, Canada and New England without flying.

Princess Cruises, Fred Olsen and Azamara will also sail a range of new itineraries from the popular UK port.

5. Princess Cruises 50th Anniversary

Princess Cruises have an incredible story to tell as they have grown from one ship sailing to Mexico to becoming one of the best known names in cruising and have a fleet of 18 ships sailing all over the world. 2015 sees an extremely special year for them as they prepare to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Every ship in the fleet will host celebratory parties and events throughout the year and all guests are invited to join in these celebrations. There will also be commemorative merchandise and gifts onboard.

As well as the celebratory events, the line has launched their 'Golden Deals' campaign for guests to receive special discounts and onboard credit offers for sailings from December 26th 2014 – February 28th 2015.


By Sally Grimes


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