What's In, What's Out for 2013

In: Northern lights. Out: City lights. The year ahead is filled with up-and-coming travel trends to watch. Find out Travel Channel's picks for what's hot (and what's not) in 2013.

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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  

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

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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

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. 
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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

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

Wrigley Field’s 100th
Wrigley Field’s 100th

Wrigley Field’s 100th

Before it was ever known as Wrigley Field, Chicago’s famed baseball venue went by 2 previous names. Built in 1914 for the Chicago Federal League baseball team, the stadium was first known as Weeghman Park, and later, as Cubs Park. In April 2014, Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday bash will showcase 10 decade-themed home stands as the stadium hosts the Arizona Diamondbacks. 960 1280

iStock  

St. Louis Turns 250

St. Louis Turns 250

The Gateway City marks its 250th anniversary this year. In 1764, French fur trader Pierre Laclede set out to construct a trading post near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Laclede eventually settled on a site 18 miles downriver. Today, St. Louis’s riverfront area is named Laclede’s Landing in his honor. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Berlin Wall’s Fall, 25 Years Later

Berlin Wall’s Fall, 25 Years Later

Germany marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November. The anniversary joins 2 other big events this year: 100 years since the outbreak of WWI and 75 years since the start of the second, earning 2014 the nickname in Germany of Super-Gedenkjahr, or the “super-year of commemoration.” 960 1280

Reuters   

WWI Turns 100

WWI Turns 100

In July 2014, the world marks the 100th anniversary of the Great War. In July 1914, Austro-Hungarian Empire formally declared war on Serbia, setting off World War I. Learn the story at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, MO. The 32,000-square-foot facility consists of 2 theaters, exhibitions of period artifacts and replica trenches. 960 1280

National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial   

50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang

50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang

On April 17, 1964, Ford Motor Company unveiled the Mustang, and the smooth, 2-door beaut quickly became a fixture of American muscle car culture. (Who could forget the 7-minute chase scene in 1968’s Bullitt, when a Ford Mustang GT 390 rips through the streets of San Francisco?) Grab your shades, and celebrate the Mustang’s 50th with a ride in a sixth-generation Mustang this year. 960 1280

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D-Day 70th Anniversary

D-Day 70th Anniversary

This year marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when the coast of Normandy, code-named Omaha Beach, saw the Allied invasion against German-occupied France. Commemorations will unfold everywhere from Bedford, VA, to the Norman coast, where Queen Elizabeth will be guest of honor. Meanwhile, Holland America is offering a 12-day D-Day tour, and a plethora of Normandy tours will recall the June 6 landings. 960 1280

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Japan’s Bullet Train (Shinkansen): 50th Anniversary

Japan’s Bullet Train (Shinkansen): 50th Anniversary

Japan’s high-speed railway turns 50 this year. In October 1964, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen opened between Tokyo and the Shin-Ōsaka Station 320 miles away, for a total trip time of 4 hours. Today, the journey takes about 3 hours. Spring 2014 will see test runs of the new Series E7 bullet train, with a top speed of 160 mph. 960 1280

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Sundance Film Festival's 30th

Sundance Film Festival's 30th

America’s top independent film festival sees its 30th anniversary this year. Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Film Festival has gone on to showcase such groundbreaking films as Little Miss Sunshine and Beasts of the Southern Wild. This year’s festival will be held in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance Resort. 960 1280

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The Beatles: 50th Anniversary of US Debut

The Beatles: 50th Anniversary of US Debut

In early 1964, the Beatles kicked off their first official US tour with an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Months later, with Beatlemania at its height, the Beatles performed at the Hollywood Bowl (pictured). Relive the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s US invasion with a Magical History Tour and a Beatles Walking Tour in NYC. 960 1280

david_hwang, flickr  

Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition: 100th Anniversary

Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition: 100th Anniversary

Just as WWI broke out, Sir Ernest Shackleton embarked on the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. Then his ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s heroic journey. Relive one of the greatest survival stories of all time on an Antarctica cruise, the last frontier for cruise travelers. 960 1280

Thinkstock   

South Africa: 20 Years of Freedom

South Africa: 20 Years of Freedom

This year South Africa celebrates 20 years of freedom and general elections. In 1994, on the heels of decades of struggle led by Nelson Mandela, South Africa transitioned from apartheid to a government of majority rule. Take a South Africa tour, and see where history was made. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Yosemite’s 150th Anniversary

Yosemite’s 150th Anniversary

This year marks Yosemite’s 150th anniversary. In June 1864, Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act, the first land grant in the nation to protect wild lands for the enjoyment of future generations. This year, more than 150 events are planned at Yosemite to mark the historic milestone. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

New Jersey Turns 350

New Jersey Turns 350

The Garden State celebrates its 350th birthday in 2014. In 1664 Charles II of England granted a chunk of land on the East Coast to his brother, James. James then gave 2 friends part of the land; it was soon named New Jersey. It’s all just one more reason to celebrate the land of bikinis and boardwalks. 960 1280

iStock   

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  

London

London

London, England
When the 2012 Summer Olympics get rolling in July, millions of visitors will descend on the British capital. The first event ticket application window has closed, but officials plan to release more during the winter. While you’re in London, don’t miss the Making of Harry Potter studio tour at Leavesden Studios, where all 8 Harry Potter films were shot. The tour officially opens in spring 2012.
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Necker Island

Necker Island

Necker Island
Sir Richard Branson’s exclusive island getaway in the British Virgin Islands suffered a devastating fire in summer 2011 that destroyed the resort’s Great House. Actress Kate Winslet famously helped save Branson’s 90-year-old mother from the inferno, carrying her down slippery stairs in the midst of hurricane-force rain and wind. The Great House is scheduled to be rebuilt by the end of 2012, and in the meantime, 7 luxurious Balinese homes dot the island and are currently open for business.
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Getty  

Titanic

Titanic

North Atlantic Sea
April, 15, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the maiden voyage and sinking of the Titanic. At least 2 companies are offering memorial cruises with itineraries that include key ports of call, as well as experts, family members’ descendants and memorial services at the wreck site. Two expedition ships will go a step further, offering guests the opportunity to dive to the wreck in submersible vehicles. Cost is approximately $66,000 per person for divers and $12,000 for non-divers. Visitors to the Titanic’s embarkation port of Southampton can tour the Sea City Museum, which is slated to open in 2012.
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Belize
According to legend, the world will end in 2012 because the ancient Maya calendar, which spans 5,000 years, mysteriously ends on Dec. 21. Belize will host several events on and around the predicted apocalypse. The ruins of Xunantunich will be the location of Belize’s main event on Dec. 21, where festivities will include a concert and light show on the ruins, plus a fire ceremony to usher in the next 5,125 years.
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New Zealand
2012 will usher in epic levels of fanboy drool in anticipation of the first installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit films, set for release in December. Why not celebrate with a jaunt to the island nation where it all began with the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy? Visitors can ride a jet boat or fly in a helicopter to tour the trilogy’s shooting locations. Then hop over to the town of Matamata on the north island where Jackson is currently filming in nearby Hobbiton.
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Guimarães, Portugal
This city in northern Portugal has been dubbed the European Capital of Culture in 2012. Building on an already robust arts scene, 2012 will see the city showcasing the work of creative artists from Portugal and across Europe. Don’t miss a tour of the medieval old city, a Unesco World Heritage Site, where you can wander a maze of red-roofed, colonnaded buildings, palaces and a central castle.
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Michael Runkel  

New York City
If you haven’t been to NYC lately, 2012 would be a good time to visit. The Conrad New York, slated to open in early 2012, is the city’s newest all-suite luxury hotel. Located in the heart of lower Manhattan's Battery Park City, the future hotel boasts views of the Hudson River, is adjacent to the Hudson River Park and is a great base from which to explore lower Manhattan neighborhoods like SoHo and TriBeCa, as well as the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
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Thinkstock  

Curacao
Celebrating its first year of independence since the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao is a cosmopolitan Caribbean island where flavors of both Europe and the West Indies mingle with white sand beaches, turquoise seas and vital coral reefs. Take a spin around the capital, Willemstad, where gabled colonial architecture is splashed with playful Caribbean color, then grab a snorkel and mask and take a dip in the Curacao Underwater Marine Park.
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Thinkstock  

Spaceport America
Travel to the middle of the New Mexico desert to tour Spaceport America, the world’s first commercial spaceport. Follow the Sun Tours offers exclusive public access to the site, with tours that include visits to the vertical launch area and vertical mission control building, as well as construction areas like the airfield, spaceport operations center, fuel storage complex and iconic terminal hangar facility. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic plans to begin flying paying customers into space from the facility before the end of 2012.
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Spaceport America  

Oman
We can’t ignore the fact that this little gem on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula and its capital city, Muscat, is on all sorts of 2012 must-see lists, including those from Lonely Planet and National Geographic. While neighboring oil-rich countries are erecting skyscrapers, Oman is adding an opera house and planting desert gardens amid the capital’s white stone buildings. We want to go to there.
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Bolt Bus and Amtrak

Bolt Bus and Amtrak

In: Amtrak
Out: Bolt Bus
Oh, Bolt Bus, how we wanted to love you. A one-way ticket from DC to NYC costs only $25. After an orderly boarding at Union Station, we were all aglow. But then we were forced to sit for 30 minutes at a time in several nasty Jersey Turnpike rest stops. We thought we could still be friends. But then we got to the embarkation point in NYC for the trip home. Holy nasty corner and crowds, Batman! After a street-side scuffle over luggage space, we were done. Dear Acela, please let us pay you $166 one way, we won’t leave you again.
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In: Pacific Northwest
Skiing Out: European Summer
Skiing The Farmers’ Almanac is forecasting “clime and punishment” for the winter of 2012, a season of unusually cold and stormy weather that will be strongly influenced by La Nina. Translation? Ski bonanza for the Pacific Northwest! At the same time, European ski resorts across the Alps are being forced to close summer ski areas due to the combined effects of global warming and glacial melting. In 2012, only 3 resorts in France are able to offer conditions suitable for summer skiing.
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In: Dirty Hotel Towels
Out: Stealing Hotel Towels

You, too, can help save the planet by simply reusing hotel room towels and linens. According to Green Suites, a hospitality service company, when guests participate in towel and linen reuse programs, an average 150-room hotel can save 6,000 gallons of water and 40 gallons of detergent monthly. And for those of us who sometimes find a towel in our luggage, FYI: Linen Technology Tracking has patented a washable chip for hotels to sew into towels, robes and bed sheets that triggers an alarm when tagged items leave the premises. Ouch.
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Eyecandy Images  

In: Stockholm
Out: Venice

Last year, around Christmas time, we had our Italy travel guides primed in anticipation of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie zooming around the canals of Venice in The Tourist. In 2012, we’re all about the dark side of Stockholm as the US version of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo brings us a menacing Daniel Craig and badass Rooney Mara. Here’s to a very Scandinavian 2012.
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In: Traveling Social
Out: Traveling Solo
Savvy travelers have been using TripAdvisor to help plan getaways for several years, and going forward, social travel website and app launches will only accelerate. A dizzying glut of startups hope to cash in on the trend in 2012 with services that run the gamut from sharing and planning itineraries to meeting up with people along the way.
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In: Mayans
Out: Incas

Silly Incas, you need to predict a world apocalypse if you want to be “In” next time. Maya calendar buffs will want to visit a few key sites this year on or before Dec. 12, 2012, the date on which the world is predicted to end (or be reborn) in the Mayan “long count” calendar. Mexico’s Tortuguero no longer exists as an archaeological site, but Monument 6, its most famous relic containing the only text bearing the actual date, is now housed in the Museo Regional de Antropología Carlos Pellicer Cámara in Villahermosa.
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Don Bayley  

In: Space Hotels
Out: Underwater Hotels
This year Galactic Suites plans to open the world’s first orbiting hotel. The Barcelona-based company says guests will orbit the earth every 80 minutes, see the sun rise 15 times a day and crawl around pod rooms using Velcro suits. Your 3-day stay in space will cost approximately $4 million. Meanwhile, Poseidon Undersea Resorts, a proposed chain of underwater hotels, was slated to open its first property in Fiji by 2008. We’re still waiting to sleep with the fishes.
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conrad maldives hotel  

In: Books on Mobile
Out: Books on Kindle

Last year we carried our laptop for work, mobile for texting, tablet for movies and Kindle for books. But this year we’re asking ourselves, “Why carry an extra device when we can download our library to a mobile phone or tablet?” From handy dandy travel guides to beach reads to movies and Angry Birds, the tablet or phone can handle them all. Some of us remember the days when we tore the pages out of our “Let’s Go” after we left a destination to save room in our backpack. You kids have it so easy.
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In: Lima for Eating
Out: Lima for Breathing

Recently this coastal city has been drawing foodies from all over the world to sample a new breed of modern cuisine reflecting Lima's cultural mix of Spanish, African, Chinese and Japanese. The country’s long Pacific coast provides an endless bounty of fresh seafood for all sorts of recipes, including Lima's signature dish -- ceviche. Unfortunately the Peruvian capitol suffers from the worst air pollution of any South American capital.
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Ildiko Papp  

In: Edutravel
Out: Glamping

NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are, a program on which celebrities trace their genealogy to destinations across the globe, is capitalizing on a trend that travelers are also embracing -- trips on which learning and activity is emphasized over lazing around the beach or pool. Many tour companies are also offering trips where experts lead the way through historical, scientific and archaeological sites. We’re up for these authentic experiences over last year’s kind-of creepy “glamping” trend. Even the Sex and the City women can’t pull off couture while riding a camel.
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In: 4-Wheeled Luggage
Out: 2-Wheeled Luggage
The first time we saw a woman in Paris’s Charles de Gaulle gliding along next to her suitcase as she daintily guided the large bag down the concourse, we did a double take. We were shocked -- SHOCKED! -- to notice the thing had 4 multi-directional wheels. We were skeptical even as our right shoulder ached from the weight the 2-wheeler that added several feet to our total length. Color us convinced. WANT.
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In: Sonoma, CA
Out: Napa, CA

Wine connoisseurs have long been in on the secret that Sonoma’s 300-plus wineries offer superlative tasting, but travelers have discovered that Sonoma has a more well-rounded flavor than her sister county, Napa. From floating the Russian River to hiking through ancient redwood stands, to browsing Petaluma’s Victorian row to sampling Sepastopol’s Gravenstein apple pies, Sonoma satisfies all tastes.
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Chris Boswell  

In: Mérida
Out: Cancun

Travelers to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in 2012 are forgoing the tired Americaland of Cancun and turning to the “real Mexico” a few hours inland at Merida. The city’s Spanish colonial center is ringed by 16th-century cathedrals and free art museums. Plus, 5 Mayan sites are situated on public bus routes. It’s simple to arrange day trips to the region’s magical cenotes (water-filled limestone sinkholes unique to the Yucatan), as well as the village of Celestún where hundreds of pink flamingos nest and feed in the mangroves.
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Joao Canziani