Awe-Inspiring April

Get ready to “ooh” and “aah,” April’s about to unfold with awe-inspiring wonders. From free national park days to the Final Four, this is one month that will leave you nothing short of awed.

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Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby

On your mark, get set … it’s off to Louisville for the granddaddy of all horse races. In time-honored tradition, the 140th annual Kentucky Derby -- the first leg of the Triple Crown -- kicks off the first Saturday in May. Settle into your seat at Churchill Downs racetrack on Central Avenue, sip a mint julep and enjoy the "Most Exciting 2 Minutes in Sports." 960 1280

Getty Images  

Mother’s Day Tea at The Plaza

Mother’s Day Tea at The Plaza

Mom is always fussing over you, now’s your chance to turn the tables -- in style. Treat Mom to afternoon tea at The Plaza’s Tea Room. A tradition since the hotel opened in 1907, tea at this NYC landmark has inspired scenes in popular films and novels, including Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Mom can enjoy a selection of sandwiches and savories from the Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages and The New Yorker menus. 960 1280

The Plaza  

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival

La lumière, la caméra, l'action! Slip on some shades, and head to the French Riviera for the largest annual showcase of cinema in the world. Don’t have a ticket to events inside the Palais des Festivals et des Congres building where the festival is held? Pas de probleme! Enjoy open-air shows at the Cinema de la Plage, and for celebrity sightings show up extra-early outside the Palais. You may just spot Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman or Steven Spielberg on this year’s red carpet. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis 500

Rev up for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Part of the Triple Crown of Motorsports (with the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans right behind) this annual race is quite possibly the largest single-day sporting event in the entire world, attracting roughly 400,000 spectators. Head to Indianapolis the last weekend in May, and prepare for a high-speed show around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval circuit. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Brighton Festival, England

Brighton Festival, England

Enjoy a 3-week celebration of music, theater, dance, art and film at the 47th annual Brighton Festival. Held each May in the southeastern English city of Brighton and Hove, the gathering is the largest multi-art form festival in all of England: More than 370 performances from artists such as Sinead O’Connor and 3-time Grammy winner Lucinda Williams, are slated for 2013. 960 1280

Brighton Festival  

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Take in the small-town charm of Winchester, VA, in this 6-day celebration of spring. First held in 1924, the annual festival packs a wallop of more than 30 events into its lineup: band competitions, dances, parades, carnival, a 10K race, the coronation of Queen Shenandoah and so much more, attracting crowds in excess of 250,000. 960 1280

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival   

Whale Watching, Stellwagen Bank

Whale Watching, Stellwagen Bank

Did winter come and go without you getting a chance to see whales? There’s still time: Between May and September, more than 400 orcas swim in the waters around Canada’s Vancouver Island. Or head to the Azores, the Portuguese archipelago about 1,000 miles from Lisbon, where sperm whales gather from May to October. Closer to home, Stellwagen Bank, a submerged sandbank between Cape Cod and Cape Ann in Massachusetts, attracts the endangered North Atlantic right whale to its waters. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

When chef Mark Abernathy of Arkansas restaurants Red Door and Loca Luna kicks the bucket, he wants to skip heaven and head straight for this food extravaganza. Such is the praise heaped on this annual fest by critically acclaimed chefs. Now in its third year, the gathering celebrates the best of Southern cuisine’s past and future, with cooking and cocktail demos, tasting tents and seminars on everything from the history of the Southern cocktail to Southern beer culture. 960 1280

AFWF/Raftermen  

National Bike Month

National Bike Month

Dust off that old bike, or buy a new one: It’s National Bike Month. Cities nationwide, including Austin, Boston, Santa Barbara, and Portland (pictured), are among the cities actively participating in the event. In San Francisco, you’ll find “energizer stations” this month, with food, drinks, red blinky lights and reflective leg bands available for bikers participating in the month-long public awareness campaign. Sounds like a great way to get free stuff -- and get in shape! 960 1280

Portland  

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo (meaning "fifth of May" in Spanish) right here in the United States. Nationwide, there are more than 120 official US celebrations, spanning 21 states, in cities such as Cleveland, Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta. The holiday stretches back to the first few years of the American Civil War, when Mexican-American communities sought to commemorate the causes of freedom and democracy. Head to downtown Denver for one such celebration: Here, members of a Mexican folkloric dance academy perform at the city’s Civic Center Park. 
960 1280

Getty Images  

Vesak (Buddha Day)

Vesak (Buddha Day)

Seeking enlightenment? Celebrate Buddha’s birthday this May. Or take in the festivities as Buddhist devotees mark the occasion in Southeast Asian countries from Nepal to the Indonesian island of Java (pictured). Here, Buddhist monks pray at Borobudur, a 9th-century temple (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) that is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction. 960 1280

Getty Images   

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Head to this amphitheater at Carlsbad Caverns National Park for a grand show: Each May Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from a large, rocky passage within Carlsbad Cavern in search of a tasty mix of insects for dinner. In case you’ve happened on this wondrous sight in southeastern New Mexico with your family (and your kids have questions), a park ranger gives an informative talk as visitors wait for the bats to come out. 960 1280

carlfbagge, flickr  

May’s Must-Dos  12 Photos

Scarborough Renaissance Festival
Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Travel back to the 16th century at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival. This annual fest in Waxahachie, TX, kicks off the first weekend in April, drawing crowds upwards of 200,000 to view some 200 performances, like this round of jousting and horsemanship. See more ideas for where to travel in April. 960 1280

Scarborough Renaissance Festival   

The Final Four Championship

The Final Four Championship

See the best in college basketball face-off on the court at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. Hundreds of spectators will converge on the stadium to watch the Final Four Championship. Who will be crowned 2015’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Champs? 960 1280

Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service/Getty Images  

Earth Day at Yosemite

Earth Day at Yosemite

Celebrate Earth Day in one of America’s most treasured national parks. Timed in conjunction with National Park Week, Yosemite celebrates the planet’s big day with bike rides, junior ranger day walks, and even an Earth Day cake and lemonade, yum! 960 1280

Thinkstock  

King’s Day in Amsterdam

King’s Day in Amsterdam

Enjoy a ride along Amsterdam’s canals, and don your brightest orange, for the Netherlands’ annual King’s Day. The national holiday celebrates the Dutch royal house (and current King Willem-Alexander) with plenty of “orange madness,” in keeping with the Dutch national colors. 960 1280

passer-by, flickr  

Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon

Show your Boston pride, and find something for everyone to enjoy. The annual Boston Marathon kicks off with a fitness expo featuring more than 200 exhibitors, followed by a 5K set to draw an estimated 10,000 participants as well as a relay challenge -- all topped by the grand celebration of city spirit on Patriot’s Day. 960 1280

Reuters  

Masters Golf Tournament

Masters Golf Tournament

Tee up for the granddaddy of all golf tournaments. The 78th Masters Tournament kicks off the first of 4 major championships, with plenty of betting odds. Will Tiger Woods beat out Rory McIlroy for the green jacket? Head to Augusta, GA the first week in April to find out! 960 1280

Getty Images   

Coachella

Coachella

Get your music fill at the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The annual 2-weekend, 3-day fest kicks off in Indio, CA, with more than 150 performances set for 2014. OutKast, Muse and Arcade Fire headline this year’s show. 960 1280

Reuters  

Alaska's Arctic Man

Alaska's Arctic Man

Go fast, or go home! Prepare for the ultimate adrenaline rush at Alaska’s Arctic Man -- one of the world's toughest downhill ski races, and an exciting snowmobile race, all in one. Skiers begin at a summit elevation of 5,800 feet and drop 1,700 feet to the bottom of a narrow canyon where they’re met by their snowmobiling partner. 960 1280

  

Annular Solar Eclipse

Annular Solar Eclipse

Get out some cool solar shades, and head to the Land Down Under for an unforgettable show: In late April, the Moon passes between the Earth and the sun, creating a sight you don’t see every day. View the solar eclipse across Australia, in between checking out these equally exceptional Australia world heritage sites. 960 1280

Getty Images   

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Love jazz? Join fellow music lovers at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Held every year since 1970, the annual Jazz Fest, as it’s called, showcases nearly every music genre, from blues to R&B, and everything else in between. It’s all performed across 12 stages during the last weekend in April. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Redneck Yacht Club

Redneck Yacht Club

Wanna channel your inner redneck? Head to Daytona, FL, for the Redneck Yacht Club’s downhome, rowdy roundup of fun: The Daytona Tune-Up Jeep and ATV Weekend features obstacle courses, mud holes and winding trails and hills, and, for the kids, an ATV challenge track, across hundreds of acres of trails. 960 1280

  

Photos

12 Photos
Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby

On your mark, get set … it’s off to Louisville for the granddaddy of all horse races. In time-honored tradition, the 140th annual Kentucky Derby -- the first leg of the Triple Crown -- kicks off the first Saturday in May. Settle into your seat at Churchill Downs racetrack on Central Avenue, sip a mint julep and enjoy the "Most Exciting 2 Minutes in Sports." 960 1280

Getty Images  

Mother’s Day Tea at The Plaza

Mother’s Day Tea at The Plaza

Mom is always fussing over you, now’s your chance to turn the tables -- in style. Treat Mom to afternoon tea at The Plaza’s Tea Room. A tradition since the hotel opened in 1907, tea at this NYC landmark has inspired scenes in popular films and novels, including Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Mom can enjoy a selection of sandwiches and savories from the Fitzgerald Tea for the Ages and The New Yorker menus. 960 1280

The Plaza  

Cannes Film Festival

Cannes Film Festival

La lumière, la caméra, l'action! Slip on some shades, and head to the French Riviera for the largest annual showcase of cinema in the world. Don’t have a ticket to events inside the Palais des Festivals et des Congres building where the festival is held? Pas de probleme! Enjoy open-air shows at the Cinema de la Plage, and for celebrity sightings show up extra-early outside the Palais. You may just spot Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman or Steven Spielberg on this year’s red carpet. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis 500

Rev up for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Part of the Triple Crown of Motorsports (with the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans right behind) this annual race is quite possibly the largest single-day sporting event in the entire world, attracting roughly 400,000 spectators. Head to Indianapolis the last weekend in May, and prepare for a high-speed show around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval circuit. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Brighton Festival, England

Brighton Festival, England

Enjoy a 3-week celebration of music, theater, dance, art and film at the 47th annual Brighton Festival. Held each May in the southeastern English city of Brighton and Hove, the gathering is the largest multi-art form festival in all of England: More than 370 performances from artists such as Sinead O’Connor and 3-time Grammy winner Lucinda Williams, are slated for 2013. 960 1280

Brighton Festival  

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Take in the small-town charm of Winchester, VA, in this 6-day celebration of spring. First held in 1924, the annual festival packs a wallop of more than 30 events into its lineup: band competitions, dances, parades, carnival, a 10K race, the coronation of Queen Shenandoah and so much more, attracting crowds in excess of 250,000. 960 1280

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival   

Whale Watching, Stellwagen Bank

Whale Watching, Stellwagen Bank

Did winter come and go without you getting a chance to see whales? There’s still time: Between May and September, more than 400 orcas swim in the waters around Canada’s Vancouver Island. Or head to the Azores, the Portuguese archipelago about 1,000 miles from Lisbon, where sperm whales gather from May to October. Closer to home, Stellwagen Bank, a submerged sandbank between Cape Cod and Cape Ann in Massachusetts, attracts the endangered North Atlantic right whale to its waters. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

When chef Mark Abernathy of Arkansas restaurants Red Door and Loca Luna kicks the bucket, he wants to skip heaven and head straight for this food extravaganza. Such is the praise heaped on this annual fest by critically acclaimed chefs. Now in its third year, the gathering celebrates the best of Southern cuisine’s past and future, with cooking and cocktail demos, tasting tents and seminars on everything from the history of the Southern cocktail to Southern beer culture. 960 1280

AFWF/Raftermen  

National Bike Month

National Bike Month

Dust off that old bike, or buy a new one: It’s National Bike Month. Cities nationwide, including Austin, Boston, Santa Barbara, and Portland (pictured), are among the cities actively participating in the event. In San Francisco, you’ll find “energizer stations” this month, with food, drinks, red blinky lights and reflective leg bands available for bikers participating in the month-long public awareness campaign. Sounds like a great way to get free stuff -- and get in shape! 960 1280

Portland  

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo (meaning "fifth of May" in Spanish) right here in the United States. Nationwide, there are more than 120 official US celebrations, spanning 21 states, in cities such as Cleveland, Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta. The holiday stretches back to the first few years of the American Civil War, when Mexican-American communities sought to commemorate the causes of freedom and democracy. Head to downtown Denver for one such celebration: Here, members of a Mexican folkloric dance academy perform at the city’s Civic Center Park. 
960 1280

Getty Images  

Vesak (Buddha Day)

Vesak (Buddha Day)

Seeking enlightenment? Celebrate Buddha’s birthday this May. Or take in the festivities as Buddhist devotees mark the occasion in Southeast Asian countries from Nepal to the Indonesian island of Java (pictured). Here, Buddhist monks pray at Borobudur, a 9th-century temple (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) that is Indonesia’s single most visited tourist attraction. 960 1280

Getty Images   

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Head to this amphitheater at Carlsbad Caverns National Park for a grand show: Each May Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from a large, rocky passage within Carlsbad Cavern in search of a tasty mix of insects for dinner. In case you’ve happened on this wondrous sight in southeastern New Mexico with your family (and your kids have questions), a park ranger gives an informative talk as visitors wait for the bats to come out. 960 1280

carlfbagge, flickr  

National Cherry Blossom Festival

National Cherry Blossom Festival

The nation’s capital comes abloom every spring with the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. See the famed cherry blossom trees, lining the Tidal Basin, while strolling past sites like the Jefferson and Martin Luther King memorials. See more ideas for where to travel in March. 960 1280

iStock   

Holi (India)

Holi (India)

Celebrate spring with a dash of color. The annual Holi festival in India inspires revelers to hit the streets, playfully throwing powdered colors on each other. Once your clothes are doused with all sorts of hues, you’ll understand why this is called a festival of colors. 960 1280

Reuters   

Daytona Bike Week

Daytona Bike Week

Rev up for a week of diesel and fun at Daytona Bike Week. The annual motorcycle rally attracts some of the fiercest bikers, clad in leather (and sometimes little else) to celebrate the freedom of the open road. 960 1280

DonRichards, flickr   

MLB Opening Season

MLB Opening Season

Calling all baseball fans! Grab a hot dog, popcorn and peanuts to enjoy one of America's favorite pastimes. Travel to watch the opening game to kick off the Major League Baseball season.   960 1280

Getty Images   

Las Fallas (Valencia, Spain)

Las Fallas (Valencia, Spain)

Enjoy a high-spirited fiesta in Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city. The annual bash, held in commemoration of Saint Joseph, sees neighborhoods transformed into lively parties over a boisterous 5-day period. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Spring Equinox: Stonehenge

Spring Equinox: Stonehenge

Mark the beginning of spring with a celebratory gathering at Stonehenge. Join the crowds who gather at the mysterious stone structures in Wiltshire, England, to see the sun rise, ushering in the spring equinox. 960 1280

Getty Images  

St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day

Don your friendliest green for St. Patrick’s Day. Boston is the place to be, with the city’s official St. Patrick’s Day Parade drawing anywhere from 600,000 to 1 million people every year. 960 1280

Getty Images  

March Madness

March Madness

Get out your ballots, it’s time for March Madness. The annual college basketball showdown begins March 18. Stay glued to the tube and watch every game live or hit the road and check out our list of the best college basketball towns. 960 1280

Getty Images   

Spring Break (Panama City Beach)

Spring Break (Panama City Beach)

Slap on your sunscreen and grab your shades for a laid-back spring break on Panama City Beach. This sunny haven on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico beckons with its tagline, “World’s Most Beautiful Beaches.” You’ll see why once you sink your toes into its unique sugar-white sand. 960 1280

iStock   

South by Southwest

South by Southwest

Pull up a seat at the leading film, interactive and music festival showcase in America. Every year, since 1987, South by Southwest has put the spotlight on Austin, TX, and cutting-edge communication trends; see what’s in store this year, with speakers like Chelsea Clinton and actress Mindy Kaling. 960 1280

Jason Kempin   

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Travel back to the 16th century at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival. This annual fest in Waxahachie, TX, kicks off the first weekend in April, drawing crowds upwards of 200,000 to view some 200 performances, like this round of jousting and horsemanship. See more ideas for where to travel in April. 960 1280

Scarborough Renaissance Festival   

The Final Four Championship

The Final Four Championship

See the best in college basketball face-off on the court at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. Hundreds of spectators will converge on the stadium to watch the Final Four Championship. Who will be crowned 2015’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Champs? 960 1280

Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service/Getty Images  

Earth Day at Yosemite

Earth Day at Yosemite

Celebrate Earth Day in one of America’s most treasured national parks. Timed in conjunction with National Park Week, Yosemite celebrates the planet’s big day with bike rides, junior ranger day walks, and even an Earth Day cake and lemonade, yum! 960 1280

Thinkstock  

King’s Day in Amsterdam

King’s Day in Amsterdam

Enjoy a ride along Amsterdam’s canals, and don your brightest orange, for the Netherlands’ annual King’s Day. The national holiday celebrates the Dutch royal house (and current King Willem-Alexander) with plenty of “orange madness,” in keeping with the Dutch national colors. 960 1280

passer-by, flickr  

Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon

Show your Boston pride, and find something for everyone to enjoy. The annual Boston Marathon kicks off with a fitness expo featuring more than 200 exhibitors, followed by a 5K set to draw an estimated 10,000 participants as well as a relay challenge -- all topped by the grand celebration of city spirit on Patriot’s Day. 960 1280

Reuters  

Masters Golf Tournament

Masters Golf Tournament

Tee up for the granddaddy of all golf tournaments. The 78th Masters Tournament kicks off the first of 4 major championships, with plenty of betting odds. Will Tiger Woods beat out Rory McIlroy for the green jacket? Head to Augusta, GA the first week in April to find out! 960 1280

Getty Images   

Coachella

Coachella

Get your music fill at the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. The annual 2-weekend, 3-day fest kicks off in Indio, CA, with more than 150 performances set for 2014. OutKast, Muse and Arcade Fire headline this year’s show. 960 1280

Reuters  

Alaska's Arctic Man

Alaska's Arctic Man

Go fast, or go home! Prepare for the ultimate adrenaline rush at Alaska’s Arctic Man -- one of the world's toughest downhill ski races, and an exciting snowmobile race, all in one. Skiers begin at a summit elevation of 5,800 feet and drop 1,700 feet to the bottom of a narrow canyon where they’re met by their snowmobiling partner. 960 1280

  

Annular Solar Eclipse

Annular Solar Eclipse

Get out some cool solar shades, and head to the Land Down Under for an unforgettable show: In late April, the Moon passes between the Earth and the sun, creating a sight you don’t see every day. View the solar eclipse across Australia, in between checking out these equally exceptional Australia world heritage sites. 960 1280

Getty Images   

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Love jazz? Join fellow music lovers at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Held every year since 1970, the annual Jazz Fest, as it’s called, showcases nearly every music genre, from blues to R&B, and everything else in between. It’s all performed across 12 stages during the last weekend in April. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Redneck Yacht Club

Redneck Yacht Club

Wanna channel your inner redneck? Head to Daytona, FL, for the Redneck Yacht Club’s downhome, rowdy roundup of fun: The Daytona Tune-Up Jeep and ATV Weekend features obstacle courses, mud holes and winding trails and hills, and, for the kids, an ATV challenge track, across hundreds of acres of trails. 960 1280