Any town or city can hang up a few lights in the city centre and call it a Christmas festival but there are places in the world that put the rest to shame. If you’re fed up of shoddy lights and a sad-looking tree take a look at these places that really know how to put on a show and offer the best alternative places for holidays at Christmas.
If you’ve got enough holiday to extend your holidays until the 5th of January (Three King’s Day) then there’s no place than Barcelona to spend it with Melchior, Gaspar and Balthasar. On Januray 4th the three king’s touch down at the city’s port on their very own ship – Santa Eulalia and completely kitted up in velvet. Canons are fired, fireworks are let of and as the mayor of the city hands over the keys of the city to the kings, the magic of Magi officially starts. The kings are paraded through the streets in an extravagant procession of floats comprising of camels, elephants and giraffes.
Excited about Game of Thrones Season 4? Ahead of its premiere on Sky Atlantic on April 6th, we’ve got some pictures of the best filming locations for the new series. For anyone living under a rock, the TV show based on the hugely popular G.R.R. Martin books centres around the fight for power amongst seven feuding families who plan to win the right to the Iron Throne. Featuring the Starks of Winterfell, Lannisters of Casterly Rock, the Greyjoys of the Iron Islands nad House Targaryen it is a fantasy epic with locations that match its incredibly dramatic story lines. Game of Thrones is filmed mostly in Iceland, Ireland, Morocco, Croatia and Malta where rugged landscapes stand in for Winterfell and sun soaked streets play host to the Queen of the Dragons. Here are some of our favourite Game of Thrones locations.
The bulk of Game of Thrones filming season 1, 2 and 3 took place in Northern Ireland, where Castle Ward in Downpatrick became Winterfell and introduced viewers to the Starks, Lannisters and King Baratheon. McComb’s Coach Travel provides Game of Thrones day trips from Belfast where you can also visit the Kings Road and the Cave of Cushendun where the shadow baby was born to Melisandre. Ballintoy Harbour played host to Theon Greyjoy’s homecoming to the Iron Islands and near Bushmills is the avenue of trees known as The Dark Hedges, where Arya Stark escaped King’s Landing. There’s even a GoT exhibit in Belfast where you can take a seat on the Iron Throne.
Plan an incredible summer holiday around a festival and get more bang for your buck. Read our Purple tips about the best music festivals 2014 and don’t miss out. If you’ve got any more suggestions for the best music festivals 2014, hit us up in the comments below.
Altitude Comedy Festival – Austria When: 31 Marcy – 4 April 2014 Where: Mayrhofen, Austria What is it: In the same awesome venue as the Snowbombing festival, this is all about comedy. Lots of beginner slopes as well as black runs and great apres-ski, this is two holidays in one! Who: Pub Landlord Al Murray, John Murray, Tommy Tiernan, Andrew Maxwell and Craig Campbell. Price: Depending on your arrival date from £188.
Snowbombing – Austria When: 7-12 April 2014 Where: Up in the snowy mountains of Mayrhofen, Austria What is it: A mix of partying and piste, where winter sports meets hedonistic highs. Who: The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers DJ set, Four Tet, Tom Odell, Foxes. Price: From £219 including accommodation.
Best Music Festivals 2014 – May
Primavera Sound – Barcelona When: 29-31 May 2014 Where: Parc Del Forum, Barcelona, Spain. What is it: A huge lineup of some of the best acts in the world today will play in the sunshine at Primavera’s outdoor stages showcasing Barcelona as a great music-lead city. Who: The National, Arcade Fire, Pixies, Nine Inch Nails, QOTSA, Haim, Metronomy, Foals and Chrvches. Price: €175
Ibiza Rocks and Mallorca Rocks – Balearic Islands When: All summer long! Starting on June 4 2014. Where: Ibiza/Majorca What is it: A full on summer festival experience without the mud. Who: Haim, The 1975, John Newman, Bastille, Bombay Bicycle Club, Ed Sheeran and Tinie Tampah. Price: From £75
Pinkpop – Netherlands When: 7 – 9 June 2014 Where: Landgraaf, Netherlands What is it: The 45th year of Pinkpop, this is one of the oldest in the world and draws huge names from all over the world. Who: Arcade Fire, Metallica, Editors, Mastodon and Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters. Price: Tickets for Pinkpop will be released on 15th March 2014
#1 Budapest The Hungarian capital is set to have a busy year amongst hipsters thanks to the release of Wes Anderson’s film The Grand Budapest Hotel (even though it was mostly filmed in Germany!) The city’s filled with architecture, baths, boutique hotels and laid-back cafes. It’s a must-do value city break. Makes a nice addition to our 2014 travel bucket list.
#2 The Greek Islands We especially love Ikaria, where your holiday can make you live longer and eternal favourite Crete, where you can visit the hippie village of Matala or go family friendly in Heraklion.
#6 Brazil Book cheap holidays to Brazil right now because cities like Rio and Sao Paolo are set to see a huge influx of visitors thanks to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Instead of watching from your armchair, make 2014 the year you go there in person.
#8 Havana, Cuba It’s always been said, Cuba is a place to visit before it changes! Choose it for 2014 and get in there now before it’s too late and see the 50s cars, the old-time atmosphere and the eclectic accommodations on offer.
#9 Cork, Ireland Not only is the city of Cork a hive of activity, but the surrounding countryside has some of the most spectacular scenery Ireland has to offer. Go to Clonakilty for black pudding, Inchydoney for the beach and island hop to Sherkin.
#10 Gulet Cruise, Turkey Fed up with the idea of hitting the bars of Kusadasi or Bodrum? You could opt for a traditional wooden boat cruise instead on your holiday in Turkey. The boat takes you to tiny, hidden beaches, deserted bays and well away from the crowds.
#12 Balearic Islands With new routes from Heathrow and London City Airports in particular, the sun-drenched islands of Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca play host to perfect 2014 summer holidays. There are stylish hotels, boutique farmhouses-turned-villas and an incredible choice of things to do to suit any budget and of course, Ibiza is always a top 2014 party holiday destination.
#13 Mexico If you really fancy Mexico, but you’ve already been to Cancun, try Puerto Vallarta. Once a spring breakers paradise, the resort is now more famous for its boutique hotels, great beaches and variety of diving spots.
#14 Cape Verde The former Portuguese colony is a beaut. It’s got Latin spirit by the bucket load thanks to its close proximity to West Africa. Go to Boa Vista for stunning beaches and loggerhead turtles for an unforgettable addition to your 2014 travel bucket list.
It’s hard to choose, but we’ve picked our top 10 best summer festivals. Any we’ve missed, add in the comments below.
1. Coachella April 12-14/April 19-21, Califronia, USA. Tickets around $349 for a three day pass. Where the beautiful people of rock, pop and movies go to see and be seen. Run over two weekends, this years lineup is UK heavy, with the Stone Roses, the XX, New Order and Johnny Marr joining the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Modest Mouse and Sigur Ros amongst others. The festival in the dessert is all about sunshine and surprises: last year Tupac Shakur appeared in hologram form to perform with Dr Dre.
2. Primavera Sound Music Festival 22-26 May, Barcelona, Spain. Tickets €145 for a festival pass. This is one for serious musos. My Bloody Valentine are riding the coattails of their surprise album release with a string of dates and will headline Primavera along with Blur, Nick Cave, Tinariwen and Wu-Tang Clan.
3. Electric Daisy Carnival New York 17-19 May NYC, USA. Tickets $159. No lineup announced yet, no official updates on the website either, but we’re pretty sure the annual electro dance fest is one to watch. 2012 saw Armin van Buuren, Afrojack, Avicii and Steve Angello headline.
4. Roskilde Music Festival 29 June-7 July, Denmark. Tickets DKR 1810.00. One of the biggest and best festivals in Europe, Roskilde actually does it all for charity. All profits go to a different chosen charity every year. So, not only will you have a good time watching Slipknot or, eh, Rihanna but you can enjoy the fact it’s for a good cause too.
5. Electric Elephant 11-15 July, Tisno, Croatia. Tickets TBA. Set in a natural amphitheatre, on a white sandy beach, surrounded by warm, crystal clear waters, Electric Elephant is about as far away from mudbath Glastonbury as you would imagine. We don’t know much about the lineup apart from Mr Scruff, but we do know, there’ll be boat parties, sunshine and handy apartments on site.
6. Positivus Festival 19-21 July, Salcgrava Latvia. Tickets LVL 39.00. A pretty good option for a cheap festival circuit experience, this has an eclectic mix of acts and a great atmosphere among its 20,000 + revellers. Sigur Ros are already confirmed to headline with more TBC in the next few weeks.
7. Sziget Festival 5-12 August, Obuda Island, Hungary. Tickets €229. A good option for non muddy camping, usually the weather is perfect for 7 days of nonstop partying, 60 venues, 200 acts daily, and lots of non music acts like a circus. Hadouken! Boys Noize, Azealia Banks, Blur and Triggerfinger have already been announced for Hungary’s finest festival.
8. Pinkpop Festival 14-16 June, Ladgraaf, the Netherlands. Tickets €165. Going into its 41st year, the Dutch have gotten this festival down to a fine art. The festival has sold out 20 times in its four decade history, so better get booking soon. An average of 60,000 head to the site each year and this year looks like it’s no different with Green Day, the Script and Ben Howard already announced.
9. Iceland Airwaves Music Festival 30 October-3 November, Reykjavik, Iceland. Tickets KR 18.500. Any festival in Iceland is going to be a bit different; they did give us Bjork after all! Already on the bill are Gold Panda, Goat, Fatima Al Qadiri and church organ magician Anna Von Hasswolff are set to play at the festival, where, by 4am, “You’ve been to five cool clubs, seen ten great bands, made fifteen new friends and fallen in love twenty times. You’re tired. You’re wired. You’re ready to find a bed. You’re ready to find the after-party. You can’t believe you’re here. You’re already making plans to come back next year. And guess what? It’s still Day One.”
10. Super Bock Super Rock 18-20 July, Sesimbra, Portugal. Tickets €48-80. Arctic Monkeys, QOTSA, and the Killers are headlining the huge rock fest that started in 1994; it’s since become one of the most kick-ass gigs in the country, drawing huge crowds and big names.
For the best prices on flights and accommodation for all kinds of festivals, call one of our travel experts now on 0207 993 9228.
Off The Beaten Track: Seeing The Northern Lights 2014
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are one of the most amazing and awe inspiring natural phenomena you will see in your entire life. Yes, we know that’s a big statement and we stand by it! Here’s the Purple Travel guide to the Northern Lights 2014.
The natural light show is caused when collisions between charged particles in the ionosphere release mass energy and light in multiple colours, which will leave your jaw on the floor. The mysterious Northern Lights 2014 are a wonder to behold and their magical as well as atmospheric formations completely win over anyone lucky enough to actually experience them.
Oh! You lucky things, there’s still lots of time to book as winter 2014 has been characterized as the “Solar Maximum Period” and therefore predicted to be the best aurora season in many years. Bear in mind though the lights are visible only under dark skies between the months of September to April, preferably under a clear, cloudless sky.
Usually seen between 5pm and 2am, it is important to be away from artificial light (and to bring a thermos of coffee with you!) No month guarantees better sightings than another but December to February offer the longest hours of darkness, while the months of autumn and spring are likely to offer more stable weather conditions and often see more aurora activity.
If you head for the area known as the auroral oval that sits above the Arctic and sub-Arctic, you’ll have the best chance of seeing the lights. The best options and most easily accessible of these destinations are Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Canada. Our top choices include the Hotel Ranga in the Iceland’s southern countryside, the Aurora Sky Station at Abisko in Swedish Lapland or just outside Tromso in Norway.
Northern Lights tours are popular and give visitors the best chance of catching the lights. There are actually plenty of options for anyone willing to spend a few days in the icy landscapes. A romantic Northern Light Cruise could be a good honeymoon option, or the Northern Light tour will give the ultimate Arctic Circle Experience.
We are suckers for anything beautiful and shiny and this video by Enrique Pacheco is just that. His film Made on Earth, was filmed over two years in Spain, Iceland, Estonia and USA and we think you’ll agree really shows some stunning views of the world.