It is at this time of year that thoughts start to turn to where to go for next year’s big holidays. While some of us like the tried and tested route of going back to the same hotel year-in, year-out – and I say there’s nothing wrong with that – some of us like to try something new and different. Here is my bucket list of destinations for the coming year and the reasons why I think now is the time to book.
Publicity poster for Fantastic Bests and Where to Find Them, credit: Warner Bros
The premiere of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is certain to spark more interest in the Big Apple. The latest movie in the Harry Potter franchise is set in the city in the mid 1920s.
To get a proper feel for the city from that era, you could stay at the Warwick New York on West 54th Street or the InterContinental Barclay hotel in East 48th Street, both of which opened in 1926, the year the move is set.
Another attraction next year in NYC will be The Whitby, the latest boutique property from Kit Kemp’s Firmdale, the group behind the Charlotte Street and Covent Garden Hotels, on 53rd street.
No matter that the movie’s New York scenes was largely filmed in Liverpool – the Big Apple is still packed with the 1920s vibe the movie channels.
The Danish city of Aarhus will be one of two European Capitals of Culture in 2017, along with Paphos in Cyprus. The city will host a full programme of events throughout the year aimed at both locals and visitors.
Aarhus, on the east coast of Jutland, is Denmark’s second largest city
The city is home to the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum. You can’t miss it, it is topped by a rainbow-coloured panoramic walkway designed by Olafur Eliasson that lets you get 360 degree views of the city.
The museum’s collection shows a rich timeline of Danish art history for the last 300 years, including works by neoclassical painter Nicolai Abildgaard and vibrant landscapes from the Expressionist Jens Søndergaard.
Aarhus’s Tivoli Friheden is not as internationally known as Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens but is well worth a visit for thrill-seeking families. The latest attraction is a 5D haunted house, complete with zombies.
In mid-July next year, British Airways launches a five times a week service to the Floridian city of Fort Lauderdale from London Gatwick.
Fort Lauderdale’s location makes it an ideal spot for starting a Florida driving holiday, taking in the Keys, Miami and the Everglades.
Miles of beach that stretch along the Atlantic coast are one of the main attractions of Fort Lauderdale. You will probably want to hire a car so you can drive along Florida State Road A1A, the road that runs parallel all the way along Florida’s coastline. Just behind this beach strip you will find Fort Lauderdale’s famous harbours and the luxury waterside homes of Las Olas Isles. A great way to explore is by water taxi.
The city sees the opening of the fabulous new Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort in the summer.
Many people overlook the stunning city of Valencia in favour of Madrid and Barcelona but Spain’s third city has plenty to offer and easyJet is starting a new service there from Luton in 2017.
Once plagued by floods in the centre of the city, Valencia diverted the Rio Turia and the river’s former course is now a nine-kilometre-long garden park. One of the best attractions of the gardens is the giant Gulliver, which is actually a children’s playground with slides and rope walks.
The city also has some stunning modern architecture in the City of Arts and Sciences, a quarter of the city with buildings by Norman Foster and Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who designed the city’s contemporary Queen Sofía Palace of the Arts opera house. The Luna Rossa building, the base for the 2007 America’s Cup, is a stunning concoction of fabric sails attached to a steel framework.
Valencia is deservedly famous for its food. The region is believed to be the birthplace of paella but is also home to lots of other rice-based dishes, such as arros al forn, oven-baked rice with sausages, chickpeas and potatoes.
A year never goes by without something new and exciting opening up in Orlando and 2017 is no exception. Universal opens a new water park, Volcano Bay, next year in early Summer to add to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
At the heart of the park is a volcano (not a real one) called Krakatau. One of the park’s flagship rides will be the Krakatau Aqua Coaster where groups of up to four can ride on canoes through the volcano’s dark interior and out through waterfalls. There are also body plunge rides that drop riders through trap doors onto water slides.
The park will be ultra high-tech and visitors will get wearable wristbands that mean you don’t have to wait in any queues and they also let you unlock special features around the park.
Hang on a minute, you say, what about Universal’s Wet ’n Wild park? It will lose its doors on 31 December this year to be replaced by the new park. Theme park watchers predict that some of the old park’s popular rides will be transferring to Volcano Bay but there is no official word on that yet.
Egypt has long been a destination of choice for families looking for a combination of guaranteed sun, fabulous beaches, hard-to-beat culture and hospitality. Yet the country’s reputation took a severe dent with the downing of a Russian flight from the popular Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, which subsequently saw UK authorities ban flights there from the UK. Security has been beefed up at the resort’s airport and other countries are slowly reintroducing services there, although the UK’s link remains unconnected at present. This may well change in 2017.
The FCO guidance for Egypt is not as harsh as some think – it is only travel by air to Sharm that is affected and it is possible to get a fast ferry there from Hurghada, which is unaffected by the problems, in around two hours. If you fancy Hurghada as an alternative to Sharm, there are some incredible deals there at the moment as tour operators struggle to fill beds.
If Egypt’s history, rather than its beaches, is more appealing, the country has always been high on the list of tourists looking to tick off the world’s most iconic sites, thanks to the Pyramids of Giza, Karnak and the Valley of the Kings. Abercrombie and Kent have a range of tours taking in these highlights.
With some holidaymakers unwilling to travel to Egypt as well as other parts of North Africa and Turkey, Cyprus has been enjoying something of a boom, with 19.5% more people visiting in 2015 than the previous year.
The island has also been focusing heavily on sustainable tourism and with 2017 being the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, it is a great time to go. One initiative has been making the island’s beaches cleaner and greener and it now has some 59 Blue Flag Beaches, including newly awarded Fig Tree Bay in Protaras below. The country is also promoting self-drive routes exploring unspoilt areas of rural Cyprus.
North Cyprus is an area that has been spared the excesses of some of the rest of the Mediterranean and the port of Kyrenia is a great ace to brace yourself to explore the region’s beaches, visit the castles and sample the food and culture.
Other ideas for 2017
Myanmar is fast opening up to international tourists, attracted to the country by its unspoilt nature and treasures such as the Bagan temples and beautiful Inle Lake. Visitors also want to explore deeper in to the country and the region of Kayah is proving a real attraction for tourists wanting an authentic experience.TransIndus can offer a range of tailor-made itineraries to explore the highlights of the country formerly known as Burma.
Next year marks the 200th anniversary of the death of novelist Jane Austen. She was born in he spent her life in Hampshire and many of her novels are set around the country and Bath, where she also lived. You can arrange tours of the region with Strictly Jane Austen. Stay at The Pig, a cousin to the famous New Forest hotel but in a country house outside Bath.
Additions to the UNESCO World Heritage list are a good place to seek inspiration for new holiday ideas. Added this summer was Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua, where Britain’s naval hero spent three years from 1784. The site is one of the best preserved examples of Britain’s colonial expansion. In contrast, the island’s carnival, celebrating the emancipation of slavery in the country, will have its 50th anniversary in 2017 and lovers of Caribbean music and culture will descend on the island for ten days in July and August. Hire a villa in the country to explore this diverse Caribbean nation.