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Festivals

Fairbanks' Midnight Sun Festival draws big crowds at the Summer Solstice.

Fairbanks’ Midnight Sun Festival draws big crowds at the Summer Solstice.

As a big fan of Alaska travel and someone who’s written about the state a fair amount, I realize I’ve been amiss in not previously mentioning one of the 49th state’s premier events: Summer Solstice in Fairbanks.

Just 140 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the city of Fairbanks is the top spot in Alaska to celebrate the Solstice on June 21. The Solstice is the apex of the Midnight Sun season, which runs there from April 22 through August 20.

During the Solstice, the sun never dips below the horizon and the sky never gets dark.  So on June 21 or thereabouts, Fairbanks residents and visitors can either pull down the blackout shades when it’s time to go to bed or give into reality and just decide to stay up half the night.

Three Sun-Illuminated Events

Thanks… Continue reading

Yu Sheng, the salad that Malaysian Chinese toss to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Photo by Jade Chan.

Yu Sheng, the salad that Malaysian Chinese toss to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Photo by Jade Chan.

Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival), starts on February 16 this year and continues for 15 days.

It’s the most important festival time of the year in China — when millions of Chinese travel to their home villages and cities to be with family or friends for holiday reunions.

This is the Year of the Dog, which is one of the 12 rotating Chinese Zodiac signs.

Those born in the Year of the Dog are thought to be loyal, industrious, and courageous.

Chinese New Year is now celebrated by parades featuring dragon and lion dances and fireworks, family gatherings and feasts, and, on the 15th and final day, a Lantern Festival featuring illuminated red lanterns.

According to legend, Chinese New Year traditions stem from thousands of years ago… Continue reading

This is the year that the Rooster gets to crow.

This is the year that the Rooster gets to crow.

Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival), starts on January 28 this year and continues for 15 days.

It’s the most important festival time of the year in China — when millions of Chinese travel to their home villages and cities to be with family or friends for holiday reunions.

One of the world’s most celebrated festivals, Chinese New Year is also a star occasion  in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and some other Asian countries as well as Chinatowns around the world. And in recent years, the celebrations in New York, London, Vancouver, Sydney and other overseas cities have spread out of Chinatowns.

Parades with dragon and lion dances and fireworks, family feasts, and, on the final day, a Lantern Festival illuminated by red lanterns are all traditional.

This is the Year of… Continue reading

This is one of the beautiful images you'll find on StrideTravel.com. Photo by Dennis Cox.

This is one of the beautiful images you’ll find on StrideTravel.com. Photo by Dennis Cox.

“The Savvy Path to Breathtaking Travel, Without the Hassle”

“Less Planning, More Experiencing”

“A Journey of a Thousand Smiles Begins With a Single Click”

These are some of the taglines that express the essence of the new travel website, StrideTravel.com, where I worked for more than a year as Content Director. (My job is now in the capable hands of Content Coordinator Samantha Scott, who, together with co-founders Gavin Delany and Jared Alster, comprise a formidable team.)

In practical terms, Stride aspires to be — and in many ways already is — the best place on the Web to survey the wealth of multi-day, pre-planned trips that are now available from hundreds of travel suppliers around the world.

“Pre-planned trips” may encompass guided group or private tours as well as independent journeys… Continue reading

images (5)It’s Mardi Gras time in Louisiana, and not just in New Orleans.

A few years ago I was in Lake Charles, Louisiana, during Mardi Gras, and while the carnival festival there is more low-key than in New Orleans, it’s said to be the second largest in the state.

Along with a few other visiting travel writers, I was invited to ride on the local Convention and Visitors Bureau’s float, which led the midday parade. Best of all, we were also invited to throw out beads and candies to the folks lining the parade route.

People had camped out all morning to get a prime spot, bringing their folding chairs and coolers stocked with cold drinks, many wearing Mardi Gras colors: purple, green and gold. They also wore beads, funny hats, sequined outfits, and various Krewe T-shirts, indicating allegiance to the various social clubs that build and run the parade floats.… Continue reading

Yu Sheng, the salad that Malaysian Chinese toss to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Photo by Jade Chan.

Yu Sheng, the salad that Malaysian Chinese toss to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Photo by Jade Chan.

Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival), starts on February 8 this year and continues for 15 days.

It’s the most important festival time of the year in China — when millions of Chinese travel to their home villages and cities to be with family or friends for holiday reunions.

This is the Year of the Fire Monkey: a combination of fire — one of the five primal Chinese elements that include wood, earth, fire, metal, and water — and monkey, which is one of the 12 rotating Chinese Zodiac signs.

Chinese New Year is now celebrated by parades featuring dragon and lion dances and fireworks, family gatherings and feasts, and, on the 15th and final day, a Lantern Festival featuring illuminated red lanterns.

According to legend, Chinese New… Continue reading

What town is named after this "jolly old elf"?

What town is named after this “jolly old elf”?

Christmas is a popular time to travel, especially for baby boomers escaping cold weather (those who live up north) and/or taking advantage of their empty nests (if applicable).  And if you have grandkids you don’t want to part with at Christmastime, you can always take them with you!

One option is to put together a Christmas-themed vacation. But how much do you really know about where to find Santa Claus, reindeer herds, unique Christmas trees, an It’s a Wonderful Life festival, or an island named Christmas?

Take our quiz to find out (answers coming in my next post; try to resist googling or risk finding lumps of coal in your stocking).

1. Christmas Island was discovered by British Royal Navy Captain William Mynors on December 25, 1643, hence the name. Which ocean would you travel to to spend… Continue reading

Dunure Castle, Scotland. Photo by Oliver Clarke, Flickr.

Dunure Castle, Scotland. Photo by Oliver Clarke, Flickr.

Regardless of your feelings toward last year’s “nae” vote on breaking away from the UK, Scotland’s spirit of independence, natural beauty, and rich enduring cultural heritage make it a remarkable place to visit any time of year. (Yes, we know it gets a wee bit chilly and damp in the off season, but that just adds to its atmospheric charms.)

Baby boomers will have heard about many of these attractions most of their lives (Harry Potter sites and Edinburgh Festival Fringe excepted — but it’s always good to experience something new).

Here are my favorite reasons for booking a trip to this nation of 5.3 million people that has less land than South Carolina — but boasts an inordinate number of claims to fame:

  1. Edinburgh and Its Castle

One of Europe’s most architecturally stunning capitals, Edinburgh lies a mere 332 miles… Continue reading

  • Yu Sheng, the salad that Malaysian Chinese toss to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Photo by Jade Chan.

    Yu Sheng, the salad that Malaysian Chinese toss to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Photo by Jade Chan.

    Today (as I write this) is Chinese New Year’s Eve, celebrated by Chinese all over the world. February 19 marks the beginning of the lunar New Year, which then continues for 15 days of festivities.

     

    This is the Year of the Goat – or Ram, or Sheep, depending on the source, and perhaps where you live. One theory has it that if you live in a country with more goats, you’re more likely to call it the Year of the Goat.  If sheep are more common, then you’re more likely to call it the Year of the Sheep or Ram.

     

    For instance, in the U.S. it’s more commonly called The Year of the Sheep or Ram, while in goat-loving France it’s the Year of the Goat.

     … Continue reading

images (3)It’s Mardi Gras time in Louisiana, and not just in New Orleans.

A few years ago I was in Lake Charles, Louisiana, during Mardi Gras, and while the carnival festival there is more low-key than in New Orleans, it’s said to be the second largest in the state.

Along with a few other visiting travel writers, I was invited to ride on the local Convention and Visitors Bureau’s float, which led the midday parade. Best of all, we were also invited to throw out beads and candies to the folks lining the parade route.

People had camped out all morning to get a prime spot, bringing their folding chairs and coolers stocked with cold drinks, many wearing Mardi Gras colors: purple, green and gold. They also wore beads, funny hats, sequined outfits, and various Krewe T-shirts, indicating allegiance to the various social clubs that build and run the parade floats.… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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