1. Get back in shape in Surrey
The dawn of a new year will often spark the urge to be healthier – but this instinct can evaporate fast at the merest hint of a freezing winter morning. Seize the day in the first week of 2018 with a stay at Grayshott Spa, near Hindhead in Surrey. Set in 47 acres, this leafy retreat offers four-night “Fusion Fitness” programmes which include two health consultations, plus a series of work-outs for both body (cardio routines and strength exercises) and mind (yoga and meditation).
From £935 per person, including full-board lodging, through Health And Fitness Travel (020 3397 8891; healthandfitnesstravel.com).
2. Olympic skiing in South Korea
The Winter Olympics will illuminate the fortnight of February 9-25, but ski aficionados can leap ahead of the professionals by tackling the downhill course in January. The games will be held at Pyeongchang in South Korea, and the pistes that will be at the heart of the action – at the Yongpyong resort – are accessible to those who put in the air miles.
Ski Safari (01273 224060; skisafari.com) sells a 14-day Ski Asia Safari combining the slopes at Niseko in Japan with three days at Yongpyong. From £2,195 a head, with flights.
January is high season in the Caribbean. With excellent reason. The Christmas rush has passed, but temperatures sizzle around 80F (27C). So where to go? Antigua is always a reliable option, with good airlift from the UK. It was also left largely unscathed by last autumn’s hurricanes. Curtain Bluff, a five-star resort with beaches on both sides of a narrow peninsula on the south coast, reopened in October after a £10 million refurbishment. A seven-night all-inclusive holiday, departing from Gatwick on January 15, costs from £4,159 per person – with Tropical Sky (01342 889204; tropicalsky.co.uk).
4. Bag a bargain in Cape Verde
If January in the Caribbean sounds expensive, Cape Verde is an increasingly plausible alternative for winter sun – at the end of a shorter (six-hour) flight. Often viewed as a cheap but not necessarily classy place of escape, this African archipelago welcomed a new luxury offering in November with the opening of the Hilton Cabo Verde Sal Resort – a rare five-star retreat, on the south coast of package-break island Sal.
A one-week full-board holiday, flying direct from Gatwick on January 22, costs from £1,484 per person, including transfers – through Cape Verde Experience (01489 866969; capeverde.co.uk).
5. Beat the half-term ski crowds in France
January 29-February 4
Easter’s early slot in 2018 (April 1) is tricky if you want to ski in France in February, but don’t consider the laughter of children an enhancement of downhill days. The staggered half-terms (February 10-March 3) of the Gallic school system will see slopes filled with juniors for most of the month. Go early to avoid this. Seven nights in Val D’Isere, at the five-star Hotel Avenue Lodge (with breakfast), flying from Luton to Geneva on February 3, costs from a basic £1,449 per person through Inghams (01483 345651; inghams.co.uk).
6. The Rio Carnival
Nothing blasts away the winter blues like a dose of Mardi Gras mayhem in one of the planet’s most flamboyant cities. The Rio Carnival will be its usual feast of sequins and smiles between February 9 and 14, building to a crescendo on Fat Tuesday (February 13) through the razzmatazz of the nightly parades at the Brazilian party metropolis’s purpose-built Sambadrome arena. Journey Latin America (020 3553 6441; journeylatinamerica.co.uk) sells a nine-day Rio Carnival Holiday which includes seats at the Sambadrome (for one evening), plus international flights – from £2,362 per person.
7. Five-star Dubai family getaway
The early Easter also means “spring” half-term will fall when winter is still in residence. So a search for warmth around 80F (27C) – and a family-suitable destination within a reasonable distance – may mean a rush to Dubai. A seven-night half-board stay for a family of four at the five-star Sofitel The Palm Resort, flying from Birmingham on February 10, costs £4,557 in all via Destinology (01204 824121; destinology.co.uk). The hotel has a kids’ club (guests aged four to 12), swimming pools with slides and a cinema room.
8. Dutch theme park break
This week is also half-term in parts of the UK. The Netherlands always seems on the cusp of spring, tulips sprouting – so a trip to its prettiest theme park may be a fortuitous way of seeking a change of season. Efteling (0031 416 537 777; efteling.com) has plenty of appeal for younger visitors. Its ponds should be alive with ducklings come February, while carousels and classic-car rides ensure gentle thrills. A three-night stay for a family of four (children aged four to 12), checking into the Loonsche Land village on February 20, is €784 (£696), including breakfast and unlimited park entry. Flights (ideally to Amsterdam) extra.
9. Celebrate Captain Scott in the Antarctic
February 26-March 4
June 6 marks the 150th birthday (in 1868) of Britain’s most eulogised Antarctic wanderer, Robert Falcon Scott – an excellent reason to go in search of the continent he chased with dedication. However, June is an impossible month for trips to the final land mass – the depth of its winter. Better to go in “summer”. Perhaps through Explore (01252 884243; explore.co.uk), which has an 11-day Classic Antarctica voyage scheduled to cast off from Ushuaia on March 4. Participants visit Deception Island in the South Shetland archipelago, and set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula. From £3,999 a head (without flights).
10. Canary Island escape
Tenerife begins to pick up its climactic pace in March, jumping back above 70F (21C) as the third month of the year arrives. Sovereign (01293 839151; sovereign.com) offers a wealth of fly-and-flop breaks to the biggest of the Canary Islands. A seven-night stay (with breakfast) at the five-star Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife (on the south-westerly shoreline of Playa Paraiso), flying from Glasgow on March 5, starts at £1,164 per person.
11. Wine tasting and skiing in the Dolomites
The Italian snow zone of Alta Badia achieves an annual alchemy, combining wine and skiing in its alluring Sommelier on the Slopes escapades. Participants (€28 a head; altabadia.org) glide down red runs between mountain huts, and test regional wines (six in all) with expert guidance (the emphasis is on tasting, not glugging). Seven of these jaunts are planned for this season, including one on March 15. A seven-night half-board stay at the Sporthotel Teresa in Badia, flying from Manchester on March 10, costs from £1,009 per person – with transfers from Innsbruck – through Neilson (0333 014 3351; neilson.co.uk).
12. Fly direct to Australia for a coastal drive
March 25 will witness an impressive aviation moment – the departure of the first direct flight from Britain to Australia. Qantas (0800 964 432; qantas.com) will be the record-breaker with its new non-stop Heathrow-Perth service (returns from £690). If you want to linger, The Ultimate Travel Company (020 3733 4322; theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk) may tempt you with its 16-night West Coast Self-Drive. This goes north from Perth for encounters with whale sharks and wine lands – from £3,690 a head, including flights.
13. Late skiing in Zermatt
March 26-April 1
With the Alpine season shortening in the face of warmer temperatures, leaving it late for a dash to the slopes can be a gamble. But the risk is averted if you choose Swiss sentinel Zermatt. Its Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (12,740 feet/3,883 metres) is the highest ski area in Europe reachable by cable-car – a guaranteed place for downhill devilment thanks to the Theodul Glacier. A seven-night half-board break, flying from Gatwick to Geneva on March 31 (a departure which would have you away over Easter), staying at the four-star Ambassador Hotel, is £1,703 per person via Crystal Ski (020 8610 3123; crystalski.co.uk).
14. Explore civil rights history in the US South
The first week of April is the start of the Easter holiday in Britain, but will be a seismic juncture in the US. April 4 is the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King. A prime time to examine the history of the Civil Rights movement? Bon Voyage (0800 316 3012; bon-voyage.co.uk) offers The US Civil Rights Trail, a 12-day road trip that meanders from Atlanta to New Orleans – visiting the likes of the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and the superb Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, which opened in Jackson this month. From £1,995 per person – flights extra.
15. Visit the capital of culture in Malta
Malta should have nudged the mercury to about 70F (21C) in time for the Easter holiday – and has special purpose in 2018, with its key city Valletta taking a turn as a European Capital of Culture (valletta2018.org). A small but striking urban dot on the map, it can easily be combined with a family week on the beach. A seven-night half-board stay for two adults and two children at the Radisson Blu Resort Malta – a five-star enclave with three swimming pools, just up the coast at St Julian’s – flying from Manchester on April 5, costs from £2,669 in total – through Thomas Cook (01733 224808; thomascook.com).
16. A blissful new cruise to New York
Champagne will fizz on April 21 as Norwegian Cruise Line’s (0333 241 2319; ncl.com) latest baby, Norwegian Bliss, sets off on her inaugural voyage. Cabins – from £1,119 per person (not including flights back to the UK) – are still available for said 12-day sailing from Southampton to New York. This 20-deck debutante comes with an “aqua park” and a go-karting track – and will stretch her sea-legs by venturing to Ponta Delgada in the Azores, and Halifax in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, as part of her first odyssey.
17. Centenary celebrations in Estonia
Estonia hits its centenary as a modern state in 2018. Independence Day is February 24 – a chilly date to visit the Baltic. Events (ev100.ee), however, will be held throughout the year. Go in April for The State Is Not A Work Of Art, an exhibition of contemporary art at Tallinn Art Hall (February 16-April 29; kunstihoone.ee; free). A four-night break in the capital at the five-star St Petersbourg hotel (with breakfast), flying from Gatwick on April 27, costs from £289 per person with easyJet (020 3499 5232; easyjet.com/holidays).
18. Explore the heart of country music in Nashville
April 30- May 6
Long-popular, yet mildly inaccessible, Nashville – the American capital of country music – will come a little closer to the UK, at least in travel time, on May 4. This will be the day that British Airways launches the first direct service between the UK and the city in 22 years – a nine-hour link from Heathrow. A good enough reason to visit the spiritual home of Dolly Parton and many other big-hat, big-grin country music icons. A seven-night break at the Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown, catching the inaugural flight, is £1,668 per person (ba.com).
19. Celebrate 300 years of Mardi Gras in New Orleans
If you are in Nashville in early May, you might as well continue south to New Orleans for the Louisiana city’s latest party. Not Mardi Gras, but the tricentennial of its founding (May 7 1718) by the French Mississippi Company. Festivities? Lots (see 2018nola.com). America As You Like It (020 8742 8299; americaasyoulikeit.com) sells a 14-night Rhythms of the South road trip that ticks off Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, Tupelo and Jackson as well as the Big Easy. From £1,295 per person, with flights, hotels and car hire.
20. Italian Royal wedding escape
May 19 will witness the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle – a red-letter date which, depending on your perspective, will have you dreaming of romance or desperate to flee the UK for somewhere less wrapped in the fairytale. Whichever it is, the Classic Italian Trilogy offered by Kirker Holidays (020 7593 1899; kirkerholidays.com) should tick the boxes. Enjoyed with a loved one, this six-night romp through Venice, Florence and Rome should earn Cupid a performance-related bonus. Alternatively, it will provide distraction from events in Windsor. From £1,598 per person, including flights and hotels.
21. Seychelles beach break
May is an ideal month to visit the Seychelles, as it falls between the two blowier trade-wind periods that direct the Indian Ocean country’s weather patterns. May 2018 will be an especially viable window – March 24 will have observed the launch of a British Airways service from Heathrow to Mahé, the first direct flight to the islands in five years. Hayes & Jarvis (01293 762456; hayesandjarvis.co.uk) offers an 12-night beach-break package which divides its attention between four-star hotels on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Prices in May start from £3,149 per person – with breakfast and return BA flights (ba.com).
22. Half-term in the Lake District
May 28-June 3
By the time summer half-term clicks into view, Cumbria should be a suitably sunny playground for energetic escapes. Parents and offspring keen to stretch their legs may be drawn to the Lake District Family Adventure offered by Activities Abroad (01670 789991; activitiesabroad.com). This four-night extravaganza can involve ghyll scrambling and hill walking, plus canoeing and dinghy sailing on Derwentwater – in the company of qualified guides. A full-on itinerary in early June, with five different activities, costs £695 per adult and £535 per child aged eight to 13, including hotel lodging in Keswick and all meals.
23. Birdwatching in Slovenia
Naturetrek (01962 733051; naturetrek.co.uk) is probably underselling its “Wild Slovenia in Spring” break – added to its brochure for 2018 – by not describing it as a summer tour. But this will not diminish the beauty of the scenery it admires. This eight-day group trip, scheduled for June 7-14, will be based at a farm next to Lake Cerknica, in the south west of the country – and will forge out on excursions in search of birds such as the Ural owl and the three-toed woodpecker. From £1,295 per person – including international flights.
24. Low season sale in the Maldives
The Maldives are not at their best in the middle of the year. However, this is a relative concept. The islands’ tourism low-season (May-Nov) promises a greater likelihood of rain – but the knock-on effect is cheaper accommodation prices (and temperatures that still hover around the 86F/30C-mark). A seven-night stay in June at Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa – a five-star retreat in the southerly Addu Atoll – costs from £2,212 per person, including flights from Heathrow (and breakfast), with Kuoni (0800 531 6958; kuoni.co.uk). This is compared with a starting price of £4,657 in January for the same break.
25. World Cup in Russia
Few experts give the side much chance of success – but it is not impossible, should you choose, to follow England at this summer’s football World Cup in Russia. Gullivers Sports Travel (01684 879347; gulliverstravel.co.uk) is selling 10-night packages, flying from Stansted on June 18, that take in the team’s three guaranteed group fixtures (Tunisia in Volgograd, June 18; Panama in Nizhny Novgorod, June 24; Belgium in Kaliningrad, June 28). From £3,999 per person, including all air journeys and a hotel in St Petersburg. However, travellers must organise their own match tickets (fifa.com/tickets).
26. On the trail of the Tour de France
June 25-July 1
The Tour de France will don Lycra once more between July 7 and 29 – but keen cyclists can pedal ahead of the professionals by riding some of the race’s grand peaks in June. Saddle Skedaddle (0191 265 1110; skedaddle.co.uk) has an eight-day “Mont Ventoux to Alpe D’Huez” guided jaunt scheduled for June 23-30 (with a second departure on August 18). The trip will, of course, ride the two mountain beasts in question (three weeks before the tour tackles the latter on July 19). From £1,845 per person, with flights and bike hire.
27. Wildflower trek in Canada
Canada’s rawest spaces often require the benign touch of high summer to make them fully accessible. So it proves with Wells Gray Provincial Park, a wilderness enclave in the Cariboo Mountains of eastern British Columbia. World Expeditions (0800 074 4135; worldexpeditions.com) will visit the area as the calendar hits its mid-point – via a six-day “Hut to Hut in Wildflower Heaven” group trekking trip that will set off from the town of Clearwater on June 30. Hikers stroll through alpine meadows swaying with blooms, while keeping eyes open for bears, moose and deer. From £795 per person (flights extra).
28. Safari adventures in Botswana
An increasingly revered proposition for a safari, Botswana bears its soul gloriously in July. This is the heart of the dry season, when animals gather in fabulously photogenic fashion around shrinking water holes. Expert Africa (020 3405 6666; expertafrica.com) offers an eight-day “African Jacana Safari” which splits itself evenly between luxury accommodation posts in the Chobe Enclave, the Okavango Delta and the Makgadikgadi salt pan. The break costs £6,417 per person during July, including all international flights.
29. Nelson Mandela centenary in South Africa
Four years after his death, Nelson Mandela still looms large over South Africa. In 2018, the pertinent date will be July 18 – what would have been his 100th birthday. Prime locations of his life can be found in Johannesburg and Cape Town – but the most intriguing tour may be the “Mandela Landscapes” break offered by Red Savannah (01242 787800; redsavannah.com). This seven-day itinerary journeys to Qunu, the village in the Eastern Cape where he grew up (and is now buried), and explores some of the Xhosa traditions that would have framed his youth. Costs from £3,450 per person (without flights).
30. Russian capitals tour
If you want to visit Russia this summer, but have no interest in football, the “Russian Capitals” itinerary dispensed by Jules Verne (020 3130 6944; vjv.com) may pique your curiosity. This seven-night journey comes with the added safety net of being a guided group affair – and keeps things simple, with four nights in St Petersburg and three in Moscow. The scheduled July 24 departure would have you in the former city when its almost dusk-free “White Nights” are still haunting the sky – and in the country a week after the World Cup has ended. From £1,395 per person – including flights and rail travel.
31. Bronte bicentenary in Yorkshire
July 30-August 5
English literature will take another trip into its own past in 2018 – July 30 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Emily Bronte (bronte.org.uk/bronte-200). Celebrations will centre on the Parsonage (bronte.org.uk), the Haworth home where the author of Wuthering Heights wrote, but there is much merit to wandering the Yorkshire landscape that shaped her narrative. On Foot Holidays (01722 322652; onfootholidays.co.uk) sells a self-guided “Yorkshire Dales” jaunt that skips west from Ripon to Austwick. The full seven-night walk costs £725 per person, including hotels, breakfast and bag transfers.
32. Family summer retreat in the Austrian Alps
The Alps can be splendid – and great for families – once the ski season is over; not least the peaks and valleys of the Austrian state of Salzburgerland. Here, the spa town of Bad Gastein is home to Haus Hirt, a boutique retreat that spends summer hosting parents and children. Guests who book through i-escape (0117 946 7072; i-escape.com) can expect complimentary childcare, and a discount of seven nights for the price of six. A one-week full-board stay for a family of four, checking into an “Alpine suite” on August 8, costs £2,999 – including guided hiking and biking tours. British Airways and easyJet fly to Innsbruck.
33. Holiday park glamping in France
Eurocamp (01606 787125; eurocamp.co.uk) has added 15 holiday parks to its brochure for 2018. These include the Saint Louis camp, near Cannes. The region may be uber-glamorous, but the park delivers child-pleasing basics with zeal – including a giant pool complex, kids’ clubs (for five to 17-year-olds) and a beach three miles away. A seven-night stay for a family of four in a three-bedroom Azure holiday home, arriving on August 13, is £1,540 in total. British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair all fly to Nice, 20 miles away.
34. A classical music escape in the Big Apple
There is rarely a bad time to visit New York, and if you can cope with the heat, you can be in the Big Apple for the centenary of the birth of one of its most dearly departed adopted sons. Leonard Bernstein would have been 100 on August 25. Hats can be doffed at the Lincoln Center, home of the New York Philharmonic (nyphil.org; from $22/£17) – where the composer was music director from 1957 to 1969. A three-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental New York (001 212 805 8800; mandarinoriental.com), a short stroll away, checking in on August 24, costs from £1,160 per person (two sharing, room only).
35. Get off the beaten track in Greece
August 27-September 2
The Cyclades need no introduction as summer oases, but if you want to avoid the obvious (and often crowded) outcrop of Santorini, the tiny islet of Kimolos may deliver a quieter take on the Aegean. Indeed, with just two villages, and a discreet location north of Milos, it can scarcely do anything else. Sunvil (020 8758 4758; sunvil.co.uk) has added Kimolos to its 2018 brochure, and can slot it into its “Island-hopping in the Cyclades” breaks. These seven-night jaunts, which also tick off Milos, Folegandros and Sifnos, cost from £1,041 per person (with flights and ferries) – and are ideal for parents with older children.
36. Cultural tours in the Netherlands
Holland’s less-visited cities will receive some love in 2018. Leeuwarden will be one of the European Capitals of Culture (friesland.nl/en/european-capital-of-culture), while its busiest port will be the subject of a new guided group tour offered by Cox & Kings (020 3797 4503; coxandkings.co.uk). “Rotterdam: Modern Art and Architecture” will seek some of the city’s more striking structures – such as the concrete Van Nelle Factory, which was born of the Nieuwe Bouwen architectural movement in 1925. Two of these five-day trips are inked into the diary – the second for September 1-5. From £2,125 a head, with flights.
37. See Zimbabwe in a new era
It remains to be seen what the end of the Mugabe era will do for one of Africa’s longest-suffering nations, but Zimbabwe’s beauty has seen it inch back into safari consideration in recent years. It follows similar weather patterns to Botswana – September leaves it dry and warming up. Elephants should be very visible this month in Hwange National Park – which is bound with Victoria Falls by Steppes Travel (01285 601757; steppestravel.com) into an nine-day trip which shows the country at its best. From £3,495 a head with flights.
38. In the footsteps of James Cook in the South Pacific
James Cook is another 2018 anniversary hero. The explorer’s first voyage – which pushed into the South Pacific, pausing at Tahiti and New Zealand en route to a first European sighting of the east coast of Australia – departed from Plymouth 250 years ago this summer (August 26 1768). Travellers can take a semi-similar route by signing up for the 20-day “Hawaii, Tahiti and South Pacific Crossing” proffered by Princess Cruises (0344 338 8663; princess.com). This bids farewell to Los Angeles on September 23, and finishes in Auckland. From £2,248 per person, flights not included.
39. Hiking in Japan
With similar seasonal patterns to the UK, Japan can be an appealing destination at the end of September. Inside Japan (0117 370 9751; insidejapantours.com) has introduced a new “Honshu Hiking” holiday for 2018. This self-guided escapade spends 17 days following the Nakasendo Way, a winding route between Tokyo and Kyoto that samurai warriors wandered in the country’s feudal era. The modern experience is not entirely dissimilar, taking in rustic scenery and small villages. From £2,630 a head – flights extra.
40. A dream cruise in the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean holds its nerve and its temperature even as autumn looms – and is still a pleasant environment for a getaway on deck in October. Boutique cruise operator SeaDream (0800 783 1373; seadream.com) has a fleet of just two ships, each with a maximum capacity of a mere 112 passengers. SeaDream I will sail its last voyage of the summer when it leaves Nice on September 28, bound for Civitavecchia (and Rome), via the likes of Bonfacio in Corsica, and Porto Cervo in Sardinia, over eight unhurried days. Suites are still available, from £3,768 per person (two sharing; international flights extra).
41. Capture the dramatic landscape of Slovenia
The more reflective context of autumn might bring an urge to try an educational form of travel. Wild Photography Holidays (01630 647828; wildphotographyholidays.com) offers breaks that – literally – focus on dramatic landscapes. These include an eight-day “Misty Lakes and Medieval Villages” group trip, set to start on October 13, which takes in the rural vistas of Slovenia with photographic experts. The idea is for participants to boost their camera skills while enjoying one of Europe’s prettiest countries. From £2,100 per person, including full-board accommodation. easyJet serves Ljubljana from Stansted.
42. The Ryder Cup in France
Europe and the US will resume golfing hostilities over the weekend of September 28-30, when the 42nd Ryder Cup drowns Le Golf National – a labyrinth of fairways and bunkers in the south-western suburbs of Paris – in shouts of “get in the hole!”. Give it a fortnight and you can wade through ticker tape and tears to play the same hallowed venue. Your Golf Travel (0800 193 6623; yourgolftravel.com) offers packages of three nights’ accommodation, Eurotunnel tickets and three rounds of golf – including one round on L’Albatros, the Ryder Cup course. From £539 a head, based on a start date of October 18.
43. On The Jungle Book trail in India
October 19 will see the release of the latest cinematic incarnation of The Jungle Book – just in time for half term, and at the perfect juncture for adventurous parents to whisk their offspring to India to absorb the real-life context. Rainbow Tours (020 3131 0780; rainbowtours.co.uk) offers an eight-day “Experience the Jungle Book” trip which devotes itself to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra (a reliable enclave for tiger sightings) and Pench National Park in Madhya Pradesh (which was supposedly a direct inspiration to Rudyard Kipling). From £2,499 per person, including flights and transfers.
44. Fishing in the Cotswolds
October 29-November 4
You do not need to go as far as the sub-continent for half-term merriment in the autumn. The Farncombe Estate (prideofbritainhotels.com/hotels/farncombe-estate) – a winsome accommodation enclave, at Broadway in the Cotswolds – can boast three separate hotels. Of these, The Fish (01386 898573; thefishhotel.co.uk) has a discernible family edge, with 400 surrounding acres of woodland waiting to be explored, and a games room with pool and football tables for rainy afternoons. A three-night stay for a family of four in a suite in the Outhouse, checking in on November 1, costs £670 in total – with breakfast.
45. First World War centenary tour
The centenary of the First World War, having marched through a series of dark moments in the past four years, arrives, finally, at the hour the guns fell silent, on November 11. Numerous silences will mark the significance of the day, but the most pertinent place to stand might be the conflict’s saddest slaughterhouse. Leger Holidays (01709 385624; legerbattlefields.co.uk) has an “Armisitice Day on the Somme” trip for November 9-12 – a four-day paying of respects that will pause at the Thiepval Memorial and the Serre battlefield. From £369 per person, including coach travel, hotels and breakfast.
46. Independence Day celebrations in Chile
Can a country turn 200 twice? Chile’s emergence from Spanish rule was a complicated tale. It celebrated its bicentennial in 2010, pinned to its first flourishes of revolution – but will be in party mood again in 2018 as the anniversary of its declaration of independence (in 1818) comes around. Either way, with British Airways serving Santiago direct from Heathrow as of last January, this is a superb time to visit this South American state. Last Frontiers (01296 653 000; lastfrontiers.com) sells a 10-day “Northern Chile” trip that ticks off the capital, Valparaiso and the Atacama Desert. From £4,130 a head, with flights.
47. Celebrate Britain’s Pirate of the Caribbean
One of 2018’s stranger anniversaries falls on November 22 – the 300th anniversary of the death (in 1718) of Edward Teach. The sea-dog better known as “Blackbeard” lost a battle off the coast of North Carolina, with fatal consequences. Salute the Pirate of the Caribbean by sailing the region he terrorised. P&O Cruises (0344 338 8003; pocruises.com) has a 14-night voyage (ref: B832) scheduled to depart Barbados (bound for Grenada, St Lucia and Antigua) on November 23. From £1,399 a head – with flights.
48. Pre-Christmas sun in Thailand
November 26-December 2
The Caribbean shrugs off the last gusts of its hurricane season in November, but it also pays to look east for sunshine. To Phuket, for example. Thailand’s biggest island emerges from its own period of wet bluster in the 11th month, but is yet to hit its busiest time-slot, the new year. A seven-night pre-Christmas holiday at the five-star Amanpuri, with flights and breakfast, costs from £4,800 a head, via Scott Dunn (020 3131 4724; scottdunn.com).
49. Iceland drive
As its name suggests, Iceland is a country where slippery sports are splendidly feasible when winter hits top gear. Abercrombie & Kent (01242 547837; abercrombiekent.co.uk) has accessorised 2018 by adding an “Iceland 4×4 Ice-Drive Adventure” to its portfolio. This four-day small group trip is as adrenalised as it sounds, letting participants rush through rivers and along frozen roads in reinforced vehicles. Three departures are slated for the coming year – the last of them on December 7. From £3,995 a head, flights extra.
50. Mark 100 years of the Czech Republic
As in Estonia, there will be centenary celebrations in the Czech Republic in 2018 – a nod to the fact that Czechoslovakia was born in 1918. That Czechoslovakia has not existed since 1993 does not seem to matter (see czechtourism.com for events) – and besides, Prague, with its festive markets, may be the perfect city for a pre-Christmas weekend. A three-night stay (with breakfast) at the five-star Art Deco Imperial, departing Gatwick on December 13, is £366 a head via easyJet Holidays (0330 3655 000; easyjet.com/holidays).
51. Guaranteed snow in Norway
The likely depth of snow in the Alps in December can be hard to predict, but there are no such issues in Norway, where the Scandinavian winter laughs at southern Europe, then throws down a few more flakes. Inntravel (01653 617 005; inntravel.co.uk) offers breaks to Geilo, a ski zone some 140 miles north-west of Oslo where the slopes cater to beginners and intermediates. A seven-night full-board stay at the Bardola Hotel, flying from Gatwick on December 22, costs £1,250 per adult (from £3,828 for a family of four).
52. Christmas in the Caribbean
If the idea of another Christmas in the UK appeals less than last year’s turkey, there is always the cheat-mode of ditching the whole frosty shebang for the Caribbean – where the alliance of sand and Father Christmas hats always looks strangely appropriate. Virgin Holidays (0344 739 5363; virginholidays.co.uk) can provide an eight-night retreat to St Lucia and the five-star Rendezvous resort – a couples-only bolt-hole on the west coast, near Castries – from £5,262 per person, flying from Gatwick on December 24. That eighth night away is crucial – it means you get to do New Year’s Eve amid sunshine and sea-spray as well.