There’s probably only one thing that’s as good as travelling, and that’s planning to travel. Dreaming. Researching. Strategising. Booking. The anticipation of a holiday is something to savour, particularly when it’s been so long for many of us since that last big trip.
And so, here is your first step. Here is a planner for the coming 12 months, a list of all of the big events in Australia and across the world – the festivals, the cultural markers, the natural occurrences – around which to schedule a travel experience in 2022 (or even in 2023 in respect of some of the featured annual events).
Whether you’re stuck for ideas or are desperate to check something important off the bucket-list, this collection is sure to inspire, and to kick-start the planning process for that first big trip.
All going (ahem) well, catch the FIFA World Cup in Doha; attend the Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia; see wildflowers bloom and whale sharks swim in Western Australia. Celebrate summer solstice in Iceland, see billions of fish migrating off South Africa, or join in a national celebration in France.
Whatever takes your fancy, from food to sport to music to nature, there is an event for you, somewhere in Australia or around the world, in the next 12 months. All you have to do is plan, dream, and book, though do take it easy out there.
HERE The window for travel in January is already closing; however, there are events you can get to. The most controversial-ever Australian Open (ausopen.com) tennis tournament will be lighting up Melbourne for two weeks beginning January 17; and up in Queensland, turtle hatching season starts, with opportunities to witness this event at Mon Repos near Bundaberg, Heron Island off Gladstone, Lady Musgrave Island nearby, and Green Island near Cairns (queensland.com).
THERE There’s plenty happening around the world, disrupted as it still is. In Dubai, the World Expo (expo2020dubai.com) continues until the end of March. Elsewhere, the Indian city of Uttarayan hosts its annual International Kite Festival, a joyous display of colour and acrobats, on this weekend (January 14) so book ahead for 2023 (incredibleindia.org). Likewise, in Switzerland, this weekend sees the running of the Lauberhorn downhill ski race (lauberhorn.ch). In northern Spain, January 20 marks Tamborrada, the 24-hour festival of drumming and drinking that takes over San Sebastian (sansebastianturismoa.eus).
BEST MONTH FOR… Portugal. This amazing country is becoming increasingly popular, but January is low season, a perfect time to experience it while the weather is still pleasant but the streets quiet (visitportugal.com).
WORST MONTH FOR… Pretty much anywhere tropical in the southern hemisphere; it’s monsoon, and it’s stinking hot.
Venice Carnival is on from Februrary 12. Photo: Getty Images
HERE Set your sights on South Australia: it’s time for the Adelaide Fringe Festival (adelaidefringe.com.au), the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, from February 18 through to March, with performances and installations by more than 6000 artists across more than 300 venues. In Victoria, the St Kilda Festival (stkildafestival.com.au) will bring live music to that famous beachside suburb. And for something a little different, February is prime time for an amazing sight in WA: an orca feeding frenzy, as huge numbers gather off the coast of Bremer Bay (westernaustralia.com).
THERE It doesn’t matter where you are, from Shanghai to San Francisco, Singapore to Saigon, Chinese New Year is a big deal. The Year of the Tiger on February 1 will be celebrated within whatever restrictions apply. Also this month, the contentious Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing (olympics.com), the Super Bowl (nfl.com) will take place in LA on February 13, and in Italy, the Venice Carnival (carnevale.venezia.it) will be on from February 12 with winter a much more civilised and rewarding time to visit La Serenissima compared to the over-touristed warmer months.
BEST MONTH FOR… The US, particularly if you like to ski, as snow conditions are dependable, and tourist numbers are low (visittheusa.com.au).
WORST MONTH FOR… Worth giving Mongolia a miss – average temperatures range from highs of -10 degrees, to lows of -26 Celsius. Brrr.
HERE All things going well, WA should be open to tourists now, which is great timing for the beginning of whale shark season on Ningaloo Reef (westernaustralia.com). This month also marks Sydney’s annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (March 5, mardigras.org.au), and Victoria will host the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (melbournefoodandwine.com.au). In Adelaide, don’t miss Womadelaide (womadelaide.com.au), a four-day celebration of live performance, visual art and food, beginning on the 11th.
THERE If you’re in the Catalan region of Spain, this month is your last chance to experience a “calcotada”, a lunchtime feast built around the consumption of char-grilled onions, best done around the town of Valls (catalunya.com). Across the border in France, Paris Fashion Week (fhcm.paris) runs until March 8. Music fans, meanwhile, should plan to be in Austin, Texas for South by Southwest (sxsw.com), which features a huge program of concerts and conferences from March 11 to 20. In India, Delhi hosts the colourful Holi festival on the 18th (incredibleindia.org).
BEST MONTH FOR… Spain. In March you’ve got calcotades in Catalonia, the week-long Las Fallas fire festival in Valencia, and cider season – when cider houses open their doors for long lunches – in the Basque Country and Asturias (spain.info).
WORST MONTH FOR… It’s Spring Break in early March in the US, which means the likes of Cancun and the Caribbean islands will be strewn with boozy college kids.
April is cherry blossom season in several parts of the world, including Washington DC. Photo: Alamy
HERE The weather is coming good in the NT, and what better way to celebrate than with Parrtjima (parrtjimaaustralia.com.au), the festival of light that blends Indigenous art with contemporary technique, in Alice Springs from April 8 to 17. In Victoria, charge your glass for the Grampians Grape Escape (grampiansgrapeescape.com.au), a fantastic wine and food festival, from April 30 to May 1, while revheads can attend the Australian Grand Prix on April 10 (grandprix.com.au). Sydney hosts the Royal Easter Show this month, from April 8 to 18 (eastershow.com.au).
THERE T’is the season for “Hanami”, or cherry blossom viewing in Japan (japan.travel); however, there are also blooms to admire in Seoul, Washington DC, New York City, Vancouver, and even Dublin. Speaking of flowers, this month marks the beginning of Floriade (floriade.com), the 10-yearly horticultural festival in the Netherlands; April is also King’s Day, the huge Dutch national holiday (holland.com). Golfers, meanwhile, plan a trip to Augusta, Georgia, for the US Masters, beginning April 4 (masters.com).
BEST MONTH FOR… Japan. If you’ve always wanted to see cherry blossoms from Kyoto to Kanagawa to Hirosaki, this is the month to do it (japan.travel).
WORST MONTH FOR… Japan. If you’re not interested in flora, this month is a nightmare, with huge crowds, accommodation booked out and prices sky high.
Vivid Sydney is set to return this year. Photo: Alamy
HERE It’s been a rough few years for Sydney’s Vivid Festival (vividsydney.com), with two events in a row cancelled thanks to COVID-19. All things going well, however, this three-week festival of light, sound and ideas will return to the harbourfront on May 27. Up north, jellyfish season has finally ended on the Great Barrier Reef, which makes this an excellent time for swimming, diving and snorkelling (queensland.com).
THERE There’s an incredible natural phenomenon taking place off South Africa this month: the “sardine run”, when billions of sardines spawn and move up the country’s east coast, creating a feeding frenzy – and, for divers and snorkellers, an amazing viewing experience (southafrica.net). In Europe, meanwhile, Munich hosts Fruhlingfest, a more relaxed alternative to Oktoberfest (muenchen.de), and St Petersburg hosts the UEFA Champions League final on May 28 (visit-petersburg.ru).
BEST MONTH FOR… Peru. May is perfect for hiking in Peru, be it the Inca Trail or one of its myriad alternatives, with pleasant temperatures and low rainfall (peru.travel).
WORST MONTH FOR… Northern Thailand is baking hot and rainy in May – look elsewhere.
HERE Winter is here, and with that comes seasonal celebrations. In the NT, the Barunga Festival (barungafestival.com.au) runs from June 10 to 12, and features a huge program of Indigenous music, sport, traditional arts and cultural activities. In Tasmania it’s time for Dark Mofo (darkmofo.net.au), a mid-winter festival combining ancient rituals with modern art, music and a naked swim (from June 15). Weather gods permitting, June should also see the opening of the ski season across NSW and Victorian resorts.
THERE It’s all happening in the UK: the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II will be celebrated from June 2 to 5 (visitbritain.com); the Glastonbury music festival (glastonburyfestivals.co.uk) kicks off on June 22; and the Wimbledon tennis tournament (wimbledon.com) begins on June 27. Also this month, Florence celebrates the Feast Day of St John the Baptist (destinationflorence.com), in honour of its patron saint, on the 24th, Iceland sees the midnight sun on summer solstice, June 21 (visiticeland.com), Lisbon grills sardines for Santo Antonio festival on June 12 and 13 (visitlisboa.com), and New Zealand will have its inaugural national public holiday for Matariki, the Maori New Year, on the 24th (newzealand.com).
BEST MONTH FOR… This is a great time to be in the UK, for all of the aforementioned events, as well as pleasant weather (visitbritain.com).
WORST MONTH FOR… India. It’s far too hot and rainy this time of year in the sub-continent though you will score some amazing bargains at the leading hotels and resorts.
HERE Plenty of festivals going on around Australia this month: the Bathurst Winter Festival (bathurstwinterfestival.com.au) from the 2nd to the 17th; in Queensland, the Scenic Rim Winter Harvest Festival (eatlocalweek.com.au) on the 2nd; and in Tasmania, the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival (huonvalleymidwinterfest.com.au) on the 15th and 16th. This is also a great month to head north, when it’s humidity-free in Darwin, perfect beach weather in Broome or Cairns, and a perfect time for whale watching off Hervey Bay (queensland.com).
THERE Europe is jumping in July: this year marks the inaugural Tour de France Femmes race, beginning on the 24th in Paris (the same day the men’s race finishes – letourfemmes.fr). For football fans, the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 (uefa.com) will be hosted by England from the 6th to the 21st. July is also the time for the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona (from the 6th; visitnavarra.es), Bastille Day in France (14th; france.fr), and the Palio Siena horse race in Italy (July 2; aboutsiena.com). In Canada, the Calgary Stampede is on from July 8 to 17 (calgarystampede.com).
BEST MONTH FOR… The Arctic. Jump aboard a cruise through the seas of the far north for an unforgettable experience (hurtigruten.com).
WORST MONTH FOR… Patagonia in South America. Short days, freezing temperatures, most hotels closed? Don’t bother.
August is the best month to visit Fiji. Photo: Alamy
HERE As if you needed a good excuse to head up to the Whitsundays this winter, in August there’s the Hamilton Island Race Week (hamiltonisland.com.au): the white-shoe brigade hits the water from the 20th to the 28th. In South Australia, there’s reason to celebrate with A Little More Barossa (barossa.com), a month-long food and wine festival, while in the Top End, the Darwin Festival (darwinfestival.org.au) runs from August 4 to 21, with a huge range of live music and performance art.
THERE For wildlife fans, this is the perfect month to view the annual wildebeest migration in Tanzania’s Serengeti (tanzaniatourism.go.tz), when the animals are likely to be making that famous crossing of the Mara River. Elsewhere, Burning Man festival (burningman.org) begins in the Nevada desert on August 29. Birmingham, UK, is hosting the Commonwealth Games from July 28 to August 8 (birmingham2022.com), and on August 31 the UK will observe a sad anniversary: 25 years since Princess Diana’s untimely passing.
BEST MONTH FOR… Fiji. Escape the cold and enjoy clear skies and warm waters (fiji.travel).
WORST MONTH FOR… Southern European cities. Everyone goes on holidays in the likes of Rome, Paris and Barcelona – including a lot of restaurant owners.
The Birdsville Races in outback Queensland. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland
HERE Nature lovers, make your way to WA, where the Outback explodes with colour as wildflower season begins (westernaustralia.com). A little further east, Desert Mob (northernterritory.com), a huge marketplace for Indigenous art, runs in Alice Springs, while the population of Birdsville, in far western Queensland, will swell dramatically for horse races on September 2 and 3 (birdsvilleraces.com). In Melbourne, meanwhile, the AFL Grand Final (afl.com.au) returns to its rightful home.
THERE A small, quiet gathering called Oktoberfest kicks off in Munich this month (oktoberfest.de), on the 17th – the first one in three years. In Lima, meanwhile, foodies will gather on September 11 for the Dia de la Cocina y Gastronomia Peruana – the Day of Peruvian Cuisine and Gastronomy (limaeasy.com). And if you can make it to the far western reaches of Mongolia (visitmongolia.com), you can attend the incredible Golden Eagle Festival on the 17th and 18th.
BEST MONTH FOR… Mongolia (visitmongolia.com). The Golden Eagle Festival is bucket-list stuff, and this month is a perfect time, weather-wise, to be in the country.
WORST MONTH FOR… Morocco. Though it’s starting to cool down, in the likes of Marrakech in September it can still be stiflingly hot and uncomfortable.
HERE Catch the end of “Kakadu Bird Week”, which runs until October 5 and features specialised tours designed to spot rare and wonderful avian life (northernterritory.com). Over in the east, October is the beginning of whale-watching season in Jervis Bay (visitnsw.com), Grafton is awash with colour during jacaranda season, and this is an excellent time to explore Freycinet National Park in Tasmania (discovertasmania.com.au).
THERE You’ve heard of cherry blossom season in Japan, but here’s an equally impressive alternative: autumn, when the trees change and Japan is a riot of colour (japan.travel). There’s autumn foliage in New England, in the US, and Nova Scotia in Canada too. Elsewhere, South Korea hosts the beautiful Jinju Lantern Festival (visitkorea.or.kr), while in India, October 24 is the beginning of Diwali, the country-wide festival of light (incredibleindia.org).
BEST MONTH FOR… Canada (destinationcanada.com). Not only is this prime viewing season for autumn colours, but it’s also a great time to see polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba
WORST MONTH FOR… Florida. It’s hurricane season in the US south, and travel disruptions are a possibility.
Mexico’s Day of the Dead is an incredible event to see. Photo: Alamy
HERE It’s an amazing time to be on the Great Barrier Reef this month, if you time it right, as the annual mass coral spawning event is due to take place (queensland.com). Also happening this November: the Tasmania Sparkling Wine Festival (discovertasmania.com.au) in Launceston from November 11 to 13; the nation pauses for a horse race in Melbourne (vrc.com.au); and the W Hotel Sydney, one of Australia’s most exciting new venues, is due to open (w-hotels.marriott.com).
THERE Football fans, book a flight to Doha, because this month, from November 21, Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup (fifa.com) – with or without Australian representation. For those interested in higher culture, Mexico hosts its annual Day of the Dead celebrations on November 2, with the best of the action centred around the city of Oaxaca (visitmexico.com).
BEST MONTH FOR… Mexico (visitmexico.com). The Day of the Dead is an incredible thing to witness.
WORST MONTH FOR… November can be miserable in northern Europe: a pre-Christmas lull before the snow and celebrations begin.
A Chirstmas market in Bremen, Germany. Photo: Alamy
HERE A few noteworthy natural occurrences in Australia: on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia (southaustralia.com), this is prime time to see emu chicks bustling about the place; on Christmas Island, meanwhile, the annual red crab migration usually happens, and it’s an amazing thing to see (christmas.net.au). Of course, this month we also have the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
THERE There’s nothing quite like a European Christmas market to get you in the Yuletide mood – visit one in Germany, Switzerland, France or Austria. After Christmas, head over to Scotland for Hogmanay (visitscotland.com), the country’s raucous new year celebration. In South America, this is the beginning of the hiking season in Torres del Paine (chile.travel), and the first Antarctic expeditions will be setting sail.
BEST MONTH FOR… Germany (germany.travel). The country’s Christmas markets are arguably Europe’s best, and Berlin for New Year’s Eve is a memorable experience
WORST MONTH FOR… Hawaii. It’s peak season thanks to the North Americans escaping the cold – save this trip for another time, such as sometime between March to September (gohawaii.com).
GIVE IT A MISS: FIVE DATES BEST AVOIDED AROUND THE WORLD
AUGUST 15 IN ITALY
August 15 in Italy is Ferragosto – originating from the Festival of Emperor Augustus – a celebration which presents the perfect opportunity for everyone to shut up shop and head to either the mountains or the coast. That means many restaurants and other businesses will be closed, and it will also be stinking hot.
DECEMBER 25 IN NEW YORK CITY
The lead-up to Christmas in New York City is spectacular: you can ice-skate at the Rockefeller Center, stroll Central Park, go toy shopping at FAO Schwarz, see light displays across the city. Come the actual day, however, accommodation is extremely expensive, and everywhere is crowded.
APRIL 29 TO MAY 5 IN JAPAN
Japan has a glut of public holidays at the end of April – from Showa Day on April 29 to Children’s Day on May 5 – a period known as “Golden Week” which is hugely popular for domestic travel. Visitors to the country can find that hotels, restaurants and even trains are booked out well in advance.
MARCH 3 IN BALI
Be aware that if you’re in Bali for Nyepi – the day before Balinese new year, which usually falls in March (it’s March 3 in 2022 and March 22 in 2023) – you’re in for a quiet one. This is traditionally a day of silence, fasting and meditation for locals, and the entire island effectively shuts down for 24 hours.
APRIL 15 TO 19 IN AUSTRALIA
We all do it because we have to, but Easter (which falls on the above dates in 2022) is a nightmare for travel in Australia, when the highways are clogged with traffic and the campsites are crammed with holidaymakers. Plus, on Good Friday, half the country shuts down, including purveyors of your favourite beverages.
LONG-TERM PLANNING: FIVE EVENTS HAPPENING IN 2023
Sydney’s annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras will be even bigger than usual in 2023, as it coincides with the city’s hosting of WorldPride, a global Pride celebration that takes place in a different city every few years. Expect plenty of big events, beginning February 17.
FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
Arguably the biggest sporting event of the year in 2023 will be held right here in Australia: the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Catch Sam Kerr and Co taking on the world across Australia and New Zealand, with the final scheduled to be held in Sydney on August 20.
RUGBY WORLD CUP
If, however, rugby is more your thing, and you fancy a trip to foreign shores, the Rugby World Cup will take place in France in 2023, from September 8 to October 21. The final – hopefully featuring the Wallabies – will be played at Stade de France in Paris.
CRICKET WORLD CUP
Yes, it’s a year of world cups – even cricket is having a go. The big show for lovers of the 50-over game will take place in India in 2023, where it’s certain to be a massive spectacle well worth experiencing. The final will be played at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on November 26.
Plenty happening for those keen on gazing skywards in 2023: a hybrid solar eclipse visible in Australia, PNG and Indonesia on April 20; an annular solar eclipse visible in the US, Central America and Colombia on October 14; and a partial lunar eclipse in Europe and most of Africa on October 28.