Let 2019 be the year you dodge a battery of squishy tomatoes, dress head to toe in orange and perfect your pig squealing skills.
For every unusual tradition, there’s an unusual event to celebrate it.
In Europe, that means multiple opportunities to spend time with the locals tossing vino tinto on your neighbour, steering clear of rampaging bulls and rolling cheese.
“From January to December, Europe finds an excuse to celebrate the seasons, the living, the dead, religion, food and a number of pretty peculiar rituals – it certainly is a case of any excuse to have a party,” says Teresa Richardson, The Travel Corporation South Africa Managing Director.
For 2019 travel, Richardson shares her 7 top anniversaries to inspire your Europe holiday:
27 Jan – 13 Feb
Nowhere does Carnival better than Venice, with its Venetian masks, candle-lit parades and street performances. The festival is said to have its origins in the 12th century in anticipation of Lent, but there’s nothing inhibited about this colourful event. “Most of our trips to Italy run from April to October, but we do offer several trips during off-peak periods in Autumn, Winter and Spring which coincide with events like Carneval,” says Teresa.
St Patrick’s Day, Ireland
An obvious choice but for good reason, St Patrick’s Day in Ireland sees the world come together to celebrate Irish heritage. Spend the day enjoying the craic in Dublin with a pint or two of the Black Stuff, an Irish stew and a flash of green something to brighten up your day. “For South Africans, a trip to the Republic of Ireland means no visas, making the destination even more affordable and popular,” says Teresa.
Semana Santa, Seville
Travelling to Spain in April? Don’t miss an opportunity to visit Seville over the Easter week. Even if you’re not religious, the festivities and processions are certainly fascinating to watch. Locals line the streets, settling in with chairs and snacks as processions featuring the statues of patron saints pass by for hours on end. Seville is home to the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral, the flamenco and the Seville orange – all of which should be celebrated during a visit to this sizzling Spanish city. “A favourite highlight for Trafalgar guests visiting Seville is an opportunity to meet a local family on their olive farm where they learn how olive oil is made and enjoy a homemade meal including olive oil ice cream,” says Teresa.
Anzac Day, Turkey
A very important day of remembrance in the annual calendar for Australia, New Zealand and Turkey, Anzac Day is held to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War One. The event holds wilder appeal as visitors can participate in a poignant dawn service and visit the Lone Pine Cemetery and battlefields of Anzac Cove and Chunuk Bair. Combine the Anzac experience with a visit to Turkey’s highlights, including the Cotton Castle springs at Pamukkale, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and Virgin Mary’s House at Ephesus, among others. “Turkey has been a best seller for Trafalgar among South African travellers in 2018 and we anticipate the trend to continue well into 2018 as the destination offers extreme value for money,” says Teresa.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London
You don’t need green fingers to enjoy a visit to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, held in Chelsea London since the early 20th century. Renowned as one of the world’s most famous flower and landscape garden shows, the event attracts visitors from all over the world as well as members of the British Royal Family. “Coincide a visit to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with an eight-day stay in London with Trafalgar’s London Explorer trip, which includes a visit to Kensington Palace with a delicious English cream tea in The Orangery, dinner at a historic pub in Greenwich and a trip to Britain’s most renowned food market – Borough Market,” suggests Teresa.
Long summer days, bonfires and pagan rituals mark the longest days of the year in Scandinavia. Denmark, Sweden and Norway all commemorate the summer solstice in different ways, but no matter where you find yourself in the region, you can be assured of a memorable party filled with folk songs, traditional dishes and a good dose of schnapps. “People are fascinated with the Scandinavian life philosophies of hygge, friluftsliv and lagom. For nature lovers and culture buffs, the region is an interesting alternative destination on the radar of South Africans for 2019 travel,” says Teresa.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
‘The Fringe’ is the world’s largest arts festival, featuring over 3,500 shows, including stand-up, dance, theatre, art, opera and circus performances for three weeks every August. Anyone may participate with any type of performance in this Edinburgh-based festival, which means an opportunity to watch thousands of performers on hundreds of stages across the city. “You’ll be hard-pressed not to find something that suits your tastes,” says Teresa. “In addition to The Fringe, this is also when travellers can see the Edinburgh Tattoo, for which Trafalgar guests get free tickets if they’re in Edinburgh on these dates.”