Jubilant July Travel Ideas

Make it a jubilant July! Take in July 4th fireworks over NYC, celebrate Bastille Day in the Big Easy and kick up your boots at Canada’s largest rodeo -- July’s travel ideas have just begun.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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. 
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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

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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

Songkran Water Festival
Songkran Water Festival

Songkran Water Festival

Known as the Water Festival by visitors, this annual festival in Thailand falls shortly after the spring equinox. Songkran (based on a Sanskrit word for “astrological passage”) is celebrated in the country as the traditional New Year’s Day. Along with visiting elders and going to a Buddhist monastery, festivities include throwing of water – in this case, with a little help from an elephant! 960 1280

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White House Easter Egg Roll

White House Easter Egg Roll

President Obama gathers with schoolchildren on the White House lawn for the annual Easter Egg Roll. Held on Easter Monday, the yearly tradition is commonly believed to have started in 1814, organized by First Lady Dolley Madison. 960 1280

Reuters  

Semana Santa

Semana Santa

An important holiday in largely Catholic countries like Mexico and Spain, Semana Santa (Holy Week) showcases colorful parades, Masses, fireworks and elaborate ceremonies, like these celebrants in Roman garb placing crosses on a stone overlook. Semana Santa also coincides with spring break; you may see a sand sculpture of the Last Supper on a Mexican beach during this time! 960 1280

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Holi

Holi

Spring wouldn’t be the same in northern India without this annual festival. Celebrated by Hindus, who throw colored powder at each other, this vibrant festival of colors celebrates the season’s many hues, as well as events from Hindu mythology, such as when a devotee of Lord Vishnu was saved from death. 960 1280

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Nowruz

Nowruz

Widely referred to as the Persian New Year, this annual festival also marks the first day of spring -- which is celebrated on the day of the astronomical Northward equinox (usually around March 21). Nowruz is celebrated throughout Central Asia and here, in Kyrgyzstan’s capital city of Bishek. 960 1280

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Passover

Passover

One of the most widely observed Jewish holidays, Passover commemorates the story of the ancient Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt – items on this “seder plate” showcase symbolic foods related to the story. The weeklong holiday always falls during the spring season, based on a biblical commandment: “Guard the month of spring, and make then the Passover offering.”  960 1280

Daniel Gonzalez / iStock / Thinkstock  

Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake

Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake

Competitors race down a steep hill -- known as Cooper’s Hill, near Gloucester, England -- as they vie for the day’s ultimate prize: a round of Double Gloucester cheese. This centuries-old tradition is held on the UK’s Spring Bank Holiday, attracting not only locals from the nearby village of Brockworth but also people from all over the world. 960 1280

Emma Wood / Britain On View / Getty Images  

Holla Mohalla

Holla Mohalla

One day after the Hindu festival of Holi, another big spring celebration occurs: Holla Mohalla. During this 3-day Sikh festival, celebrants showcase their martial skills in mock fights (thus, the meaning of the holiday’s name) -- and the art of fire breathing, like here on a street in the northwest Indian state of Punjab. The spring festival is also a time when followers reaffirm their dedication to Khalsa Panth (the worldwide community of Sikhs). 960 1280

Reuters  

Cimburijada (Festival of Scrambled Eggs)

Cimburijada (Festival of Scrambled Eggs)

Eggs, eggs and more eggs -- every year, at the crack of dawn, people from the Bosnian town of Zenica gather by the Bosna River to celebrate the first day of spring. Known as Ciumburijada, or “Festival of Scrambled Eggs,” the event begins with the preparation of a traditional breakfast -- or in this case, a super-sized bowl of eggs for the masses. 960 1280

Reuters  

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night

Named after the English missionary Saint Walpurga, this traditional spring festival is celebrated across Central and Northern Europe -- exactly 6 months after All Hallows’ Eve. Among the places that hold celebrations (which include dancing and bonfires) is the open-air museum of Skansen in Stockholm, pictured here.  960 1280

Sven Nackstrand / AFP / Getty Images  

Las Fallas

Las Fallas

Whimsical characters, known as fallas, are a familiar sight during this annual 5-day celebration. The origin of one of Spain’s most rowdy holidays is uncertain; some say Las Fallas began in the Middle Ages, when artisans burned pieces of wood they’d saved during the winter in celebration of the spring equinox. Over time, under the Catholic Church’s influence, the holiday has developed into a celebration to commemorate Saint Joseph. 960 1280

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Spring Equinox in Teotihuacán

Spring Equinox in Teotihuacán

Every year, on the 20th or 21st of March, thousands of people gather at this enormous, pre-Hispanic archeological site, roughly 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, to celebrate the spring equinox. Between 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., many celebrants climb the 360 steps to the top of Pyramid of the Sun, the largest structure in the area, to get closer to portals of energy. 960 1280

REUTERS/Gerardo Garcia  

National Cherry Blossom Festival
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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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   

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