52 weeks, 52 things to do in 2013

52 weeks, 52 things to do in 2013

Damn we’re organized. Print this out, stick it to the fridge, fill your year with fun and cheer

Another year gone, another year in which you missed out on 95 percent of the cool things happening around the world.

No more excuses.

This list sets up your 2013 how it should be -- planned to the hilt with amazing, riotous, joyful, Facebookable things to do and photograph in as many countries as possible.

Now stop reading. Start planning.


5. Up Helly A ScotlandAfter a big Scottish effort to build the galley, it’s all about to go up in flames.

1. Loony Dook

When: January 1

Where: South Queensferry, Scotland

Edinburgh’s huge Hogmanay (New Year) shindig suggests the best way to be rid of the festive cobwebs is to throw yourself into the icy waters of the River Forth.

Surprisingly, quite a few people subscribe to this theory and the recently instituted event attracts masochists from around the world, many in fancy dress.

The name, derived from Scots for lunatic (loony) and swim (dook), is entirely apt.

Getting there: South Queensferry is a 20-minute train, car or bus ride from the Scottish capital Edinburgh; www.theloonydook.co.uk

2. Camel wrestling

When: January 13

Where: Selcuk, Turkey

Just as men have been getting hot under the collar about the fairer sex since time immemorial, so too have camels.

Tracing its origins to ancient Turkic tribes more than 2,400 years ago, the ancient sport of camel wrestling puts two bull camels together with a female camel in heat.

The two boys battle it out for her affection. If a male camel retreats, falls or screams, he loses.

Getting there: Selcuk is located on the Aegean coast of Turkey, 55 kilometers from the major hub of Izmir. Trains connect the towns.

3. Ati Atihan Festival

When: January 13-20

Where: Kalibo, Panay, Philippines

The Pinoy appetite for a good knees-up is legendary and this weeklong frenzy of tribal dance, music and costume is one of the country's best.

A fusion of ancient pagan beliefs and devout tribute to Santo Nino (the infant Jesus), the festival is nothing if not schizophrenic. The sheer exuberance of the celebrations drowns out the ambiguities.

Getting there: There are regular flights between Kalibo and Manila on Philippine Airways or Cebu Pacific; itsmorefuninthephilippines.com

4. Kumbh Mela

When: January 27-February 25

Where: Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

Milling around with up to 70 million other souls with the purpose of taking a dip in a slightly unpleasant river might not be everyone’s idea of festival fun.

For India’s devout Hindus, however, the opportunity to purify sins by bathing in the holy Ganges is not to be passed up.

Dating back thousands of years, the Kumbh remains an awe-inspiring and humbling ritual.


5. Up Helly Aa

When: January 29

Where: Lerwick, Shetland Isles, Scotland

Winters in Shetland are no picnic. Long, dark and unforgiving, they demand the odd injection of rambunctious levity.

That’s what this flamboyant fire festival delivers. A good humored and rather boozy way of marking the end of the Yule season, the festival involves a procession of up to a thousand torch-carrying participants in Lerwick.

The procession culminates with torches being thrown into a replica Viking longship. Then the party begins ...

Getting there: Fly to Lerwick from Edinburgh, Glasgow or Aberdeen; www.uphellyaa.org


6. Superbowl 12 USASuperbowl: scene of football heroics, wardrobe malfunctions, mangled anthems and, most importantly, action in the corporate suites.

6. Superbowl Sunday

When: February 3

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Manna from heaven for couch-potato sports fans, the epically dimensioned culmination of the gridiron season is perhaps best observed from the comfort of a La-Z Boy with plentiful beer, nachos and friends.

The live experience, however, is never less than memorable and the fact that this year’s installment takes place during Mardi Gras time in the Superdome adds extra incentive to get off the sofa.

Ticket prices might just put you off though.

Tickets from US$2,118; www.nfl.com

7. Cerro Abajo Urban Downhill Race

When: February 17

Where: Valparaiso, Chile

Downhill bike races are pretty mad affairs at the best of times and this one can stake a fair claim to being the world’s most certifiable.

After pushing off high up in the barrios that cling to the mountains in Valparaiso, competitors navigate a course that weaves around stairs, inside buildings and through windows.

Lax crowd restrictions mean you can get to within a few feet of the action.

Getting there: Valparaiso is 111 kilometers north of Santiago and is well served by domestic transport links; www.valparaisocerroabajo.cl

8. Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

When: February 24

Where: Pingxi, Taiwan

The first full moon after the lunar New Year sees Chinese in many cities across Asia light and release lanterns into the night sky.

One of the most spectacular celebrations is held in the mountain town of Pingxi in northern Taiwan, to which thousands of people trek each year.

Individuals buy lanterns, write their wishes inside and release them into the heavens simultaneously.

Getting there: Pingxi is not far from the Taiwanese capital Taipei. Be warned, however, the popularity of the festival means that buses and trains get jammed.

9. Sydney Mardi Gras

When: February 8-March 3

Where: Sydney

What started as a reaction by Sydney’s gay community to harassment from Australian police has morphed into a major boon for the local economy.

The three-week extravaganza of parties, exhibitions and events attracts thousands of visitors -- gay and straight -- from around the world.

This year's spectacular conclusion, the Mardi Gras Parade and Party, takes place on Sunday, March 2, as the festival marks its 35th birthday.

Getting there: Events are held all over Sydney; www.mardigras.org.au


12. Holi Festival of Color IndiaFor one day a year, the tie-dyed look is forgivable.

10. South By Southwest

When: March 8-17

Where: Austin, Texas, United States

What: While many music lovers find the idea of being cooped up at a festival constrictive, the jamboree that is SXSW tends to keep all comers happy.

A 10-day splurge of film, games and music, the festival turns already vibrant Austin into the world capital of music for its duration.

Past performers read like a roll call of the best bands of the past two decades. Credibility is far from uniform of course, but it’s a pretty consistent thrill.

Getting there: Austin is well served by domestic flights from major cities in the United States. Registration for all strands of the festival -- film, music and interactive -- starts at US$1,350; sxsw.com

11. St Patrick’s Day

Where: Dublin

When: March 17

It’s the night that millions of people around the world pretend to have Irish lineage in the name of excessive alcohol consumption.

It figures that the annual shindig in honor of Ireland’s patron saint is best marked in the Irish capital itself.

There are religious aspects to the day -- March 17 commemorates Christianity reaching Ireland -- but you won’t be alone if you choose to toast "Saint Paddy" with several pints of Guinness instead.

12. Holi Festival of Color

When: March 27

Where: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

Holi commemorates the victory of good over evil in the shape of the destruction of the demoness Holika through unswerving devotion to Lord Vishnu.

It's Vishnu’s more playful reincarnation, Lord Krishna, who inspired Holi’s mischievous persona.

Just as Krishna liked to play pranks on village girls by drenching them in colorful water, so too do revelers today.

The multi-hued mélange of paint-soaked humanity in the streets of holy Varanasi is one of the world’s amazing sights.

Getting there: Varanasi is in the north of India and well connected by air, bus and train to all of the country’s major cities.


14. Songkran ThailandElephant trunk trumps water guns in this Thailand encounter.

13. April Fools’ Day Parade

When: April 1

Where: New York City

While many parades and processions wallow in pomp, this annual celebration cocks a pointed snook at the foolishness of mankind.

Thousands of participants march down Fifth Avenue from 59th Street to Washington Square Park, the heart of bohemian Greenwich Village.

The march concludes with the annual crowning of the King of Fools. There’s a good chance the winner will hail from the political class.

Getting there: The march starts at the intersection of 59th and Fifth in Manhattan.

14. Songkran

When: April 13-15

Where: Bangkok

Mid-April wouldn’t ordinarily be the ideal time to visit Bangkok. With the dry-season in its dog days, temperatures -- toasty at the best of times -- verge on unbearable.

Nevertheless, if it’s a heady dose of authentic Thai sanuk (fun) you're after, Songkran (Thailand Water Festival) is a great time to be in the capital.

With the whole country on holiday the party spirit is in full swing and the streets are full of Thais and curious visitors armed with water guns and determined to dish out a good splashing.

15. World Ski and Snowboard Festival

When: April 12-21

Where: Whistler, Canada

It's not as if Whistler had a tame après ski vibe in the first place. Every winter the combination of visiting skiers and thousands of young transient workers -- mostly from Europe and Australia -- add up to solid months of partying interjected by the odd outing on the slopes.

The biggest party of them all comes with this April festival, a 10-day riot of concerts and DJs with some sport thrown in for good measure.

Getting there: Whistler is two and a half hours from Vancouver by road. It’s also possible to take a train or fly from Vancouver. Tickets go on sale end of February; www.wssf.com


19. Riga go Blonde LatviaDo not adjust your monitor -- this is reality in Latvia in May.

16. Cinco de Mayo

When: May 5

Where: Puebla, Mexico

If you think Cinco de Mayo is merely a wheeze by Mexican restaurant owners to sell more lime-infused beer and nachos, think again.

The citizens of Puebla -- where a Mexican army bested the country’s French occupiers on May 5, 1862 -- still take the celebration seriously.

Revelers from all over come to the city to take part in parades, watch concerts by big name Latino stars and partake in authentic Mexican street food.

Getting there: Puebla is a two-hour drive from Mexico City and well linked by public transport.

17. Theatertreffen

When: May 4-21

Where: Berlin

Berlin’s status as Gemany’s cultural capital is well established. This celebration of German-language theater from around Europe is one of a string of cutting-edge events that dot the annual calendar.

The most outstanding contemporary plays from Germany, Austria and Switzerland are performed on the Berlin Festival stage and other theaters in the city.

More information: www.berlinerfestspiele.de

18. Bay to Breakers

When: May 19

Where: San Francisco

The longest consecutively run footrace in the world was started in 1912 as a way to lift the spirits of San Franciscans after the disastrous earthquake of 1906.

Although it's no longer the largest race in the world, it still attracts around 50,000 participants.

A rowdy, fun affair, Bay to Breakers is well known for participants wearing costumes. A bit of public nudity isn't uncommon.

More information: baytobreakers.com

19. Riga Go Blonde

When: May 24

Where: Riga, Latvia

As members of stag parties from other parts of Europe know, there's no shortage of blondes in this Baltic nation.

Therefore turnout is never a problem at this annual celebration of flaxen-haired beauty.

Inaugurated in 2009 when the Latvian economy was in crisis and the nation was in need of a pick-me-up, the event -- led by former Miss Universe Marika Gederte -- is unashamedly camp and features a strict white and pink dress code.

Getting there: Riga is linked to most European capitals as well as to New York by air; www.goblonde.lv


21. El Colacho SpainSocial workers look away now.

20. Redneck Games

When: June 1

Where: East Dublin, Georgia, United States

What started as a joke response to jibes about "rednecks" hosting the 1996 Atlanta Olympics has expanded into a minor phenomenon.

Every year around 5,000 people show up to watch competitors take part in a range of slack-jawed sports such as cigarette flipping, bobbing for pigs’ feet and seed spitting.

It's all tongue-in-cheek and proceeds go to local charities.

Getting there: West Dublin is located midway between Atlanta and Savannah; tickets $5; summerredneckgames.com

21. El Colacho Baby Jumping Festival

When: June 2

Where: Castrillo de Murcia, Spain

It may be just a few years shy of its 400th birthday, but northern Spain’s famous “baby-jumping” festival has lost none of its bizarre lustre with age.

Cute babies are laid out on the street on a row of fluffy mattresses. Men dressed in yellow and red "devil" costumes leap over the prone infants as a way of warding off evil spirits.

Getting there: Fly to Murcia/Alicante airport and get a train.

22. Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race

When: June 9

Where: Brawby, North Yorkshire, England

To many Brits, the Yorkshire pudding -- a delicious oven-baked treat traditionally used to mop up the gravy from a Sunday roast -- is a near obsession.

That’s the case with Simon Thackray, who slipped into a flour and egg batter reverie when staring out of the window of his local pub on a Sunday and started imagining people rowing down the river in a giant Yorkshire pudding boat.

His dream has become a yearly reality as competitors row across Bob’s Pond in Brawby in their varnish-coated doughy boats.

Getting there: Brawby is located between York and Scarborough in North Yorkshire. The nearest train station is Malton, eight miles away; www.theshed.co.uk

23. Festa De Santo Antonio

When: June 13

Where: Lisbon, Portugal

The good thing about religious festivals in southern Europe is that they don’t tend to be all that pious.

This one, in Portugal’s capital, is held in honor of the city’s patron saint.

It attracts thousands of Catholics who believe in the saint’s miraculous healing powers. It also attracts thousands more non-Catholics who believe in the saint’s miraculous powers of giving the whole city an excuse to make merry with copious amounts of food and wine.

24. Edinburgh Film Festival

When: June 19-30

Where: Edinburgh, Scotland

Previously overshadowed by the ever-expanding beast that is the city's Fringe Festival (the two were previously held concurrently), the longest continually running film festival has come into its own since being shifted to an earlier date.

While there’s an emphasis on new British films, the eclectic program covers all bases, from art house productions to big-budget movies.

More information: www.edfilmfest.org.uk

25. Electric Daisy Carnival

When: June 21-23

Where: Las Vegas

If you like your tribal gatherings small this might not be the best place for you.

The biggest dance music festival in North America is a gargantuan party with attendances reaching around 115,000 in a single night.

What it lacks in intimacy it makes up for in panache, with more than 150 musical acts, 500 theatrical performers and 12 large-scale interactive and flame-wielding art installations, along with nightly pyrotechnics displays.

Getting there: The event takes place at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Tickets go on sale January 9; www.electricdaisycarnival.com

26. Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts

When: June 26-30

Where: Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset, England

As is its wont, the world’s most famous summer music festival has long since sold out.

So established it doesn’t even have to hint at headliners to get fans scrambling for tickets -- The Rolling Stones are strongly tipped to be appearing -- “Glasto” remains preeminent. For good reason.

Despite the ever-present threat of dismal British weather, the all-encompassing lineup ensures everyone is kept happy.

Getting there: Shuttle buses and charter trains transport festival goers to Glastonbury from Britain’s major cities. Tickets cost £205(US$333). There will be a resale of cancelled tickets in April. Register now! www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk


Montreal just for laughs festivalYou'll laugh so hard you'll see double.

27. Toronto Fringe Festival

When: July 3-14

Where: Toronto

Art in its raw form is on display at the 25th anniversary Toronto Fringe Festival, the city’s largest theater fest.

With more than 155 productions at 25 venues, from one-woman improv shows to sassy stand-ups and kiddie theater, there's top amusement every night.

More info: Tickets from US$10; fringetoronto.com

28. Singapore Food Festival

When: July

Where: Singapore

You can down renowned chili crab, snack on otak-otak or upgrade your cooking skills with chef-run lessons at the Singapore Food Festival.

Known for showcasing local chefs and giving shout outs to Singapore's Chinese, Malay and Indian roots, this gastronomy fest takes care of all food and culture needs.

More info: Free cooking demos to US$150 for workshops; singaporefoodfestival.com

29. Just For Laughs Festival

When: June 12-July 28

Where: Montreal

Montreal’s Just for Laughs festival is pretty much what it says it is. Funny.

English shows begin July 10, with show themes from Ethnic to Date Night. The Place des Arts has food truck fare, outdoor games and 20-foot stilt walkers parading to drum beats.

More info: Tickets from US$45; hahaha.com

30. Community Mosaic Mural Project

When: July

Where: Jacmel, Haiti

You might know Haiti for hardships, but artist Laurel True’s Community Mosaic Mural Project restores beauty in the country.

Fifteen volunteers can join to create murals in Jacmel working alongside Haitian artists to make a personal and public memory.

More info: US$1,795 includes all but airfare; Globalmosaicproject.org


32. Kruger National ParkNever a shortage of wonders in Krueger National Park.

31. International Berlin Beer Festival

When: August 2-4

Where: Berlin

Two thousand varieties of beer. For brew lovers, the mile-long Karl Marx Allee at the International Berlin Beer Festival lined with the likes of honey beer made by nuns to crisp Kölsch and pierogies, caters to all tastes.

May your stein be ever overflowing.

More info: isitberlin.de

32. Safari

When: August

Where: Kruger National Park, South Africa

After a day scouting wildlife at Kruger National Park in South Africa, you can lay out in luxury at the Outpost safari lodge.

Poised on stilts overlooking the valley, private villas have three sides without walls, but you can lower electric blinds if the bush hyrax spooks you.

More info: From US$490 in offseason (December-September); seasonsinafrica.com

33. Canadian National Exhibition

When: August 16–September 2

Where: Toronto

Like ten festivals in one, the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto includes everything from roller coaster rides to acrobatics and airshow stunt pilots, plus a chance to eat deep-fried anything, including Mars bars.

More info: Tickets from US$12; theex.com

34. Summer Sonic Festival

When: August 17, 18

Where: Tokyo and Osaka, Japan

Eclectic in its lineup, hosting Rihanna, Jamiroquai and Taku Takahashi in 2012, the Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo and Osaka has grown into Japan’s biggest summer music fest.

The mix of new and throwback artists keeps things fresh.

More info: Tickets from US$157/one day (Osaka); summersonic.com

35. Braderie de Lille

When: August 31-September 1

Where: Lille, France

The Braderie de Lille is a gargantuan flea market known for great antiques and occasional junk.

Here you can eat moules-frites (mussels with chips) from a restaurant with a massive mountain of mussel shells, then watch a newbie waitress get tossed into said mountain.



38. Singapore grand prixThe roar of Singapore.

36. Bestival 2013

When: September 5-8

Where: Isle of Wight, England

Winner of UK Festival Awards 2012 “Best Major Festival,” Bestival 2013 promises to be equally awesome.

This Isle of Wight boutique music fest features 350 live acts on 20 stages. Although the 2013 lineup wasn't announced as of publication date, the fest has recently hosted Stevie Wonder, Florence and the Machine and The Cure.

More info: Tickets from US$194, children 12 and under free; bestival.net

37. Art Istanbul International

When: September 14-17

Where: Istanbul

First times are special, which makes the launch of Art Istanbul International, a new modern and contemporary art fair, so intriguing.

Turkish and Middle Eastern art will be on display at Hasköy Wool Yarn Factory, where new and established collectors can explore Turkey’s art scene and heritage.

More info: istanbulartinternational.com

38. Singapore F1

When: September 20-22

Where: Singapore

Nothing howls louder than a Formula One race car; night races at the Singapore Grand Prix are particularly electric.

You'll get as close to the action as you’re willing to pay for or catch what you miss on giant screens.

Post-race music acts perform on designated stages.

More info: Tickets from US$40; singaporegp.sg

39. Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta

When: September 21-24

Where: Barcelona, Spain

At the Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta in Barcelona, visitors can board vessels for a look around and chat with sailors before watching them depart.

The regatta takes place simultaneously with the cultural celebration Nuestra Señora de la Merced, which has street parades and lots of food.

More info: fnob.org


43. EGYPTTwo opportunities per year to see this Egyptian wonder in its best light.

40. Aruba Caribbean Sea Jazz Music Festival

When: October 4-5

Where: Aruba

Every country has its jazz fests, but Aruba Caribbean Sea Jazz Music Festival offers a taste of its assorted culture. Cool sea breeze flutters your hair as you listen to jazz, Latin, soul and blues before feasting on pastechi and heading for the many after-parties.

More info: Tickets from US$50; caribbeanseajazz.com

41. Oktoberfest

When: October 3-20

Where: Blumenau, Brazil

The world’s second largest Oktoberfest takes place far from Munich in Blumenau (population 300,000) in southern Brazil.

You’ll hear the same German music, see the same German getups, engage in the same copious beer consumption, but with a subtropical backdrop.

More info: Free if you wear German clothing

42. El Cervantino

When: October 9-27

Where: Guanajuato, Mexico

A feast of folklore, El Cervantino in Guanajuato brings dance, music, theater and literature to stages across the city, so you’ll see it all.

Different countries from around the world are festival guests each year for added cultural variety.

More info: festivalcervantino.gob.mx

43. Abu Simbel illumination

When: October 22

Where: Abu Simbel, Egypt

Twice a year, sun shines into the temples of Abu Simbel in Egypt, illuminating statues of four gods and believed to be a “natural phenomena.”

After dark there's a music and narration show detailing the history of the Nubian monument in Ramses the Great’s time.

More info: en.egypt.travel


46. Elephant round up ThaiElephants don't just eat peanuts. They play soccer too.

44. TaPalma Tapas Festival

When: October

Where: Mallorca, Spain

Tapas need love, too, and they get it at Mallorca’s TaPalma Tapas Festival, a food fair dedicated entirely to the small Spanish dishes.

Visitors choose a trail of tapas bars to follow and sample codfish gratin with aioli, prawns in ketaffi and even secret mini-burgers -- all for €2 each.

More info: From US$2.60/tapa; seemallorca.com

45. Rijksmuseum opens again

When: November 2

Where: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

After a decade-long closure, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum will reopen on April 13, in time to participate in November's Museumnacht (Museum Night), an evening when about 50 city museums open after dark for exhibits, performances and free tours.

The Stedelijk and Van Gogh museums will also be reopened in time for the event.

More info: Tickets from US$23; iamsterdam.com

46. Elephant Roundup

When: November 16-17

Where: Surin, Thailand

In Surin, elephants play soccer, but only during the Elephant Roundup festival held to honor them.

After a hearty breakfast collected while parading the streets alongside dancing children, 200 elephants display their talents playing tug-of-war against humans and participating in an ancient battle reenactment.

More info: tourismthailand.org

47. Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival

When: November 22-25

Where: Barbados

At the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival you can try Bajan street cuisine, such as fish cakes and cou-cou, while listening to steel pan music.

You'll eat seaside and let the rum connoisseur teach you how to pair food with the island’s favorite distilled beverage.

More info: Tickets from US$25; foodwinerum.com

48. New Wine and Cheese Festival

When: November 24-25

Where: Budapest, Hungary

At the New Wine and Cheese Festival local winemakers showcase new wines paired with local artisan cheeses.

The Vajdahunyad Castle setting is magical and tickets include entry into the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture.

More info: Tickets US$9/day pass; visitbudapest.travel


50. TIGNESThat spiked cocoa is going to taste good after a day on the Tignes slopes.

49. Chichibu Night Festival

When: December 2-3

Where: Chichibu, Japan

Feats of human strength are on display at Japan’s Chichibu Night Festival as citizens pull 10-to-20-ton yatai floats through the streets where sake abounds.

Floats adorned with lanterns convert to stages for Kabuki performances before being hoisted up a hill to the insistent beating of drums. The night ends with fireworks.

More info: nto.go.jp

50. Tignes skiing

When: December

Where: Tignes, France

After making the most of 2013, it's nice to drink a spiked hot cocoa at a chalet in Tignes and relax.

A Mark Warner ski holiday at Chalet Hotel Hauts de Toviere offers three-course dinners with wine, ski school and daycare for children. Bookings beginning on a Sunday in December get a 15 percent discount.

More info: From US$1,370 all-inclusive; markwarner.co.uk

51. Christmas shopping

When: Late November-early January

Where: Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Christmas markets have that perfect Christmassy way of making holiday shopping painless. The well-priced selection of gifts and treats doesn’t hurt.

Staple items include handcrafted wooden puppets and communist-era flasks.

The preferred warming agent is medovina, a warm honey liquor.

More info: myczechrepublic.com

52. Reykjavik Christmas

When: December

Where: Reykjavik, Iceland

It’s a popular week for holiday travel, but Reykjavik is a worthy place to cap off 2013.

The city teems with Christmas, hosting a Christmas of yesteryear exhibit at the City Museum, ice skating around the Laugardalur Christmas tree, plus the best holiday light display: aurora borealis.

More info: christmas.visitreykjavik.is