Next week sees the arrival of the cheerily coined calendar date of ‘Blue Monday’. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, Blue Monday is claimed to be the most depressing day of the year: a combination of post-Christmas blues, dark, cold nights and the arrival of unpaid credit card bills. A miserable combination I’m sure you’ll agree.
Here at Upgrade Pack however, we prefer to look on the brighter side. January is great time to plan and book your next trip (especially so with tempting January offers). So to give you some inspiration for the kind of things that are worth travelling for in January – here’s five from us.
Enjoy Timkat Festival in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
Celebrated on 20th January, Timkat (also known as Timket), is an Orthodox Christian Celebration of the Ethiopian Epiphany. It’s are-enactment of the baptisms of Jesus Christ and flocks of pilgrims from all over the country celebrate with spectacular processions, song, dance and prayer. The celebrations last three days with the streets of the capital Addis Ababa decorated in the colours of the Ethiopian flag (green, red and yellow) as priests walkthrough the city doning colourful decorated umbrellas. If you don’t make it to the capital, celebrations are carried out through the entire country. Ethiopia’s abundance of national parks, historic buildings, wildlife and stunning scenery has seen it grow as a tourist destination, with the country’s national carrier also expanding its route network last year.
The Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin (China)
If you’re not daunted by sub-zero temperatures and you’re a fan of ice sculptures, we have just the festival for you. Increasingly becoming an international attraction, this event takes place in Harbin, one of the coldest cities in the world where there’s an average temperature of -16.8 degrees in winter. The awe-inspiring snow creations presented at the festival are designed by master sculptors who start their creations several months beforehand. Sculptors cutout gigantic ice blocks from the Songhua River which they use to make beautiful castles, enormous dragons, and super-sized goddesses, adding computer-controlled LEDs to animate these breath-taking sculptures.
Taking on The Chocolate Walk in Bruges (Belgium)
Like a city break? Love chocolate? Then Bruges is another great winter travel option. Often referred to as the "Venice of Belgium," Bruges has maintained its medieval charm. From its perfectly preserved city to its Chocolate Walk (a chocolate tour that takes in the finest chocolate shops in the Belgian city), Bruges is a great destination for those who want to visit a unique city where the focus is on ‘quality tourism,’ To mitigate risks of overtourism the city positions itself as ideal for day trips and short stays of up to three days) - plenty of time to sample this city’s historic charm, and some quality chocolate…
Celebrate Burns Night in Scotland
Burns Night is the annual celebration of Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns’ birth on 25th January 1759. Widely regarded as Scotland’s national poet, Burns Night honours his contribution to Scottish culture. Whilst Burns Night is celebrated by Scottish people living all around the world, nowhere is the occasion more abundantly observed than in Scotland itself.The night of the 25th sees families and friends gather for a hearty Burns supper that includes haggis (a savoury Scottish specialty) and ‘neeps and tatties’ followed, of course, with drams of whisky. The feast is accompanied by poetry readings, recitals and tributes to Burns himself. A true dip into traditional Scottish culture.
Lose yourself in the colourful souks of Marrakech (Morocco)
Away from the busier periods, January represents the perfect time to travel to the gem that is Morocco. If you’ve always wanted to visit the Sahara Desert but the hottest temperatures are not for you, January is a perfect time to visit. Marrakech offers the perfect fusion of traditional Moroccan cuisine, historic architecture and vibrant nightlife. The city’s famous souks (markets) offer a wide assortment of goods for sale, from spices and tea sets to clothing and ornate rugs. Even if you have no intentions of buying anything, strolling aroundMarrakech’s energetic and colourful markets is a ‘must do’ activity while being in the city.