From sunny Australian summer to frigid Canadian winter, January gives new year an exciting beginning with its contrasting opportunities. While one half of the world waits eagerly for the snow to fall and ski resorts to open, the other half travels to south in search of warmer climes. You have to decide how you want the first trip of the year to play out. Whether you want a quite Caribbean holiday or a thrilling vacation with adventures galore, January is always an ideal time to fly carefree.
Here is a list of places to visit in January that will give you a great start to the New Year.
One of the biggest showdowns in winter happens in Alberta. Banff National Park, the oldest in Canada, hosts the month-long snow festival – Snowdays. Even if you can't join hundreds others in skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding competitions, you can remain an active spectator and watch their tryst with adventure. Sit beside the ones taking part in Ice Carving contest and enjoy a sleigh ride before you retire to the warmth of crackling fire in the evening.
Location: Melbourne and Parkes
After the New Year gig is over and Sydney settles down, it's time to visit Parkes. This town in New South Wales gets ready to host the Parkes Elvis Festival from Jan 6-10. Memories of Elvis Presley come alive during this 5-day-long euphoria surrounding the legendary artist. Let the good times roll as you head south to watch the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Location: Alborz Mountains
Drop the idea of exploring the expensive Alps and head to the Alborz Mountains because wineter adventure and Iran go hand in hand. Top ski resorts can be covered in a one-day trip from Tehran. Snowboarders begin their trip with a bang as they come to Shemshak. Cruising through the snow and throwing powdery spray while speeding along the trek is an experience that's second to none. And don't miss out on taking arguably the world's longest gondola ride (7500 meters) to the slopes at Tochal.
Dubai is warm and tad more hospitable in January. Travelers always prefer a chilly evening in this city of superlatives than the desert heat. This is the time to enjoy outdoors and and derive pleasure in city's treasures. On the one hand, there's an immense urge to visit the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo and the Marina Beach, and on the other, the famous Dubai Shopping Festival draws your attention. It's during this month-long event that the love for shopping is realized. You have to be there to see what shape does the largest shopping and entertainment festival in the Middle East take.
Like Milan and other cities in northern Italy, Venice can be really cold in January. However, it's the quieter streets, more affordable hotel rates and authentic atmosphere that inspire travelers to come to this city in Italy. What really makes Venice alive is the Carnival. It's an experience to watch people in colorful masks and costumes gathering at the spectacular St. Mark's Square. While getting around in a gondola or exploring the contemporary art scene are perennial favorites for tourists, don't forget to enjoy hot chocolate in cozy cafes before you decide to move on, perhaps to neighboring Florence.
Location: Antigua and Rabinal
I know it's hard to leave Antigua and move on to other destinations in Guatemala. This party town is known for a catalog of colonial buildings and pastel-colored streets making it a more charming cousin of Havana. The warm January sun, however, will compel you to extend the New Year celebrations. Now that's a nice excuse to visit Rabinal and attend the Fiesta de San Pedro. Watch the locals perform pre-Colombian dances and observe the flying pole traditions. Live like the locals in family-run guesthouses before you conclude the trip with a visit to Tikal, one of the most impressive Mayan sites.