New year, new travel goals. With more destinations than ever, this is the year to dream big. From sporting fixtures and massive food fights to cosy getaways and sun-drenched music festivals, we’ve put together some key dates for your calendar. Get planning now and make 2019 a year to remember…
Ease yourself into 2019 with a winter sun break to Lanzarote, Fuerteventura or Tenerife. Dreaming of snowy peaks? Hit the slopes of Bergamo, Grenoble or Basel. For a culture fix, pack your tartan kilt for Burns Night (January 25th) and raise a glass of whiskey in Prestwick, the home of Scottish poet Robert Burns.
February in Germany is WILD. Embrace the madness of Carnival in Cologne (28th February to 6th March) or get swept up in the crazy antics of Düsseldorf Karneval (28th February to 6th March). Fly to Verona for a cosy Valentine’s getaway or mix rugby and romance with a 6 Nations break to London, Rome, Paris or Edinburgh. The action gets underway from 1st February.
With spring in the air, there’s nowhere greener than Ireland in March. Fly in to Shannon and visit the Cliffs of Moher or head to Dublin for St Patrick’s Day on 17th March and soak up the music and craic that goes hand in hand with the St Patrick’s Festival (runs from the 14th of March to the 18th of March). Meanwhile, five days of fireworks and friendly mayhem await in Valencia during the city’s Las Fallas festival (15th March – 19th March). Can’t wait for Oktoberfest? Clink stein glasses at Starkbierzeit, Munich’s lesser known beer festival, from the 15h of March until 6th April.
Get ready for Amsterdam’s biggest street party of the year. King’s Day on 27th April sees the city’s streets, canals and bridges buzzing with live music, DJs and a massive open-air market. Fancy some spring sunshine? Get a head-start on the crowds with an April escape to Sicily or Morocco. Temperatures aren’t yet sizzling but it’s comfortably warm, meaning you can catch some rays AND explore the sights. April is also the perfect month to check out the ancient attractions of Athens.
Fly into Nice and zip over to Monaco for the Grand Prix (23rd – 26th May), see London in full bloom at the Chelsea Flower Show (21st to 25th May) or secure your spot in the mega clubs of Ibiza for the opening parties (11th May onwards).
Dig out those wellies and pack your parka for some of Europe’s biggest music festivals. June’s line-up includes Awakenings (29th June – 30th June, fly to Amsterdam) and Roskilde in Denmark, (29th June – 6th July, fly to Copenhagen). Alternatively, party all night at Lisbon’s St Anthony Festival (12th – 14th June), brush up on Ulysses ahead of Dublin’s Bloomsday (June 16th) or get yourself to Krakow for Lajkonik (27th June), one of the city’s most popular outdoor events of the year.
As temperatures soar, the beat goes on in Portugal and Spain. July music festivals include Lisbon’s Nos Alive (11th July – 13th July), and Super Bock Super Rock (18th – 20th July), while Benicassim welcomes revellers for another summer of fun (18th - 21st July, fly to Barcelona). Just as London dons its Wimbledon whites for the last crucial rounds of the Championships (1st July – 14th July).
Let the good times roll. Get messy at one of the world’s biggest food fights – La Tomatina (August 28th, fly to Valencia), celebrate the 53rd anniversary of London’s Nottinghill Carnival (24th - 26th August) or fly into Budapest for a music festival of epic proportions. The week-long Sziget festival takes place in the leafy surroundings of Óbudai-sziget (“Old Buda Island”) nestled in the heart of Danube and features over a thousand performances.
Most of the Mediterranean is still basking in balmy temperatures. With schools re-opened for another term, September sees deserted beaches across Europe, crowdless cities and cheaper accommodation. This is the perfect month to soak up some late sunshine in the resorts of the Algarve or Croatia or to enjoy one last hurrah at Ibiza’s closing parties. Head to Munich’s Oktoberfest for beer-based thrills from 21st September to 6th October.
Wander through Rome’s Trastevere neighbourhood as it’s bathed in golden light, crunch through autumn leaves in Prague and check out Berlin before the big freeze sets in. October is one of the most beautiful months of the year to take a city break in Europe.
Ryanair have announced new direct flights from Dublin to Kiev and it is bound to be one of our most popular holiday destinations in 2019. Find out what to see in the Ukrainian capital with our Local’s Guide to Kiev.
From mid- November all the way through to early January, Christmas markets will be popping up in Old Town squares all over Europe. Pack your winter woollies and soak up the festive atmosphere in cities including Brussels, Cologne, Krakow, Prague, Amsterdam and Budapest.
So many European cities do New Year’s Eve better than home. Free concerts and spectacular fireworks are just two good reasons to combine a December city break with the biggest party night of the year. For the ultimate in New Year celebrations, look no further than Edinburgh’s Hogmanay extravaganza.
As always, book early for the lowest fares and best availability
- Fiona Hilliard