2012 Hottest Destinations

From sea to outer space, check out our picks for the hottest travel destinations in 2012.

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NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

Sixty-eight college basketball teams, 1 single-elimination tournament. Who will be this year’s champ? A season of hard work comes down to a single mad dash to the finish. Make sure to fill out your brackets! 960 1280

Joe Robbins/Getty Images  

Spring Break

Spring Break

Even if you’re years out of school, spring break can still be a a great excuse to get away. Just imagine lots of sun, sand and Absolut-ly good times with friends! Check out these spring break party spots to plan your warm-weather escape. 960 1280

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St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day

Everyone’s Irish on March 17th. In celebration of Ireland’s most famous patron saint, don your best shamrock green, and head to one of these St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world. 960 1280

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images  

Napa Valley Marathon

Napa Valley Marathon

Looking for an inspiring place to get active? Few locales can beat sunny, scenic Napa Valley. 2014 will mark the 36th anniversary of the annual Napa Valley Marathon -- a 26.2-mile course bordered by world-class vineyards. 960 1280

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Hanami

Hanami

Get ready for some “flower viewing.” From the end of March to early May, cherry blossoms (known as “sakura”) bloom all over Japan. The practice of hanami goes back centuries; today the tradition of flower viewing continues as thousands of people fill parks each year to hold feasts under the flowering trees or take boat rides nearby, like here in Tokyo’s Inokashira Park. 960 1280

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images   

Merrie Monarch Festival

Merrie Monarch Festival

Think “hula,” and you probably also think “Hawaii.” The person who helped ensure that long-standing association is Kalakua, the last reigning king of Hawaii, who revived the hula after it had been banned under Christian missionary influence in 1830. Celebrate the hula -- and the “Merrie Monarch” who fought for its preservation -- in this annual weeklong festival in Hilo, HI. 960 1280

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MSC Preziosa Cruise

MSC Preziosa Cruise

All aboard! March 2014 will mark the 1-year anniversary of this luxury cruise ship owned and operated by MSC Cruises. The maiden voyage starts from Saint-Nazaire (in western France) to Genoa, Italy. The ship will feature 1,751 cabins, as well as 21 bars, 4 principal restaurants and much more. 960 1280

Bernard BIGER STX France  

Holi

Holi

Paint the town red … and yellow … and whatever other colors you can get your hands on. This annual spring festival of colors, marked by Hindus worldwide, celebrates spring’s abundant colors. Participants throw colored powder at each other … and go wild. 960 1280

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Las Fallas

Las Fallas

One onlooker described this annual fiesta in Valencia, Spain, as “a cross between a bawdy Disneyland, Fourth of July and the end of the world.” Each year, the town oversees “Las Fallas” (which literally means “the fires” in Valencian), a 5-day celebration involving the creation and burning of ninots (“puppets” or “dolls”). Pyromaniacs welcome. 960 1280

JOSE JORDAN/AFP/Getty Images   

Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox

Ah, the first day of spring. On the equinox, night and day are exactly the same length (12 hours) all over the world. (The term “equinox” means “equal night” in Latin.) Celebrate the first day of spring at Mexico’s Kukulkan Pyramid (pictured), where locals and tourists come to recreate the parties that accompanied the equinox celebrations thousands of years ago (minus the cutting out of hearts!). 960 1280

Gerardo Garcia / Reuters  

SXSW

SXSW

Head to the largest music festival of its kind in the world! 2014’s South by Southwest festival in Austin features a conversation with Edward Snowden and a keynote address by actress Lena Dunham. 960 1280

Extreme Airshots (SXSW)  

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