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Life’s a Party: 5 festivals, carnivals and markets to add to your travel calendar

Some of the richest and most memorable travel experiences come when a trip coincides with a local festival, carnival or market. After all, this is when a city or town lets its hair down and shows you its version of fun, crazy or commemorative. 

We’ve compiled 5 events to add to your travel calendar in the next 5 months – just remember to book early, as accommodation options do fill up fast! 

MCQP (CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA)  |  14-17 DECEMBER 2018

South Africa’s biggest dress-up party should be on the bucket list of every pink traveller. The themed event hosts more than 10,000 people annually, and is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) event on the African continent. 

MCQP (Mother City Queer Project) started in 1994 as a highlight on the Cape Town gay calendar and has expanded each year to attract a cult following of fun-loving attendees from around the world. 

Keen to attend? Book your accommodation early: December is the height of the tourist season in Cape Town – here are some of the best hotels if you want to be in the heart of the action.

  • 3-nights Southern Sun Cape Sun from R4,077 p/p sharing
  • 3-nights The Rockwell All-Suite Hotel from R2,874 p/p sharing
  • 3-nights Protea Fire & Ice! by Marriott Cape Town from R2,364 p/p sharing

Contact your nearest Sure Travel Agency to enquire or book, or call 0861 47 48 49.

. . . . 

CHRISTMAS MARKETS (VARIOUS CITIES, EUROPE)  |  1-31 DECEMBER 2018

’Tis the season to travel to Europe! And eat, and shop – and eat some more! Winter in Europe is one of the most magical times to travel, whether you’re going for the snowy ski hills, cities steeped in culture, or to visit friends and family who have settled up north.

The festive season markets – called Christkindlmarkt or Weinachtsmarkt in places like Germany, Austria and Switzerland – are a must-see on any visit to the continent in December (and if you’re lucky, early January). Read all about the best ones HERE. 

. . . .

MEVLÂNA FESTIVAL (KONYA, TURKEY)  |  10-17 DECEMBER 2018

Commonly referred as the Whirling Dervish Festival, this annual event commemorates the death of 13th century saint Mevlâna – known more commonly today as the poet, theologian and Islamic scholar, Rumi. Rumi believed that it was possible to communicate with God through music and dance. 

Konya’s annual festival of entranced Whirling Dervishes and sacred music entrance the more than 1 million visitors to Turkey each year. The festival reaches its climactic crescendo on 17 December, the day when Rumi was united with Allah. Booking in advance is essential. 


Visit Turkey with Sure Travel

11-day Wonders of Turkey, from R15,900 p/p sharing

East meets West in this Turkish extravaganza exploring the Byzantine and Ottoman past of Istanbul with its colourful street markets and beautiful Blue Mosque. You'll also visit the underground city of Sarhatli, Pamukkale's cotton fortresses and the ruins of Ephesus.

14-day Best of Turkey Tour, from R18,300 p/p sharing

A fabled land of fairy chimneys, Whirling Dervishes and cotton castles is yours to explore on this leisurely journey through Turkey with Trafalgar. 

. . . .

CARNIVALE (VENICE, ITALY)  |  23 FEBRUARY - 5 MARCH 2019

Venetians know how to liven up the weary winter months! The city of winding waterways bursts into full colour in celebration of the 18th-century tradition, Carnevale. 

Visitors and locals don full ballgowns, feathered masks and glittery face paint for parades and masquerades – and an annual competition for the best carnival costume, held in the famous Piazza San Marco. 

Don’t miss this stunning display. Contact your nearest Sure Travel Agency to enquire or book your tickets to this once-in-a-lifetime event. 

Visit Italy!

7-night Rome to Venice Cruise, from R21,010 p/p sharing

Cruise Italy’s iconic cities on board the Celebrity Infinity in June 2019. Price includes 7-nights accommodation, all meals and select beverages, entertainment, gratuities, taxes and port expenses.

. . . .

HOLI FESTIVAL (VARIOUS LOCATIONS, INDIA)  |  20-21 MARCH 2019

Celebrate the ancient Hindu festival of love and the victory of good over evil, and usher in the beginning of springtime in India. The dates for the Holi Festival vary each year, but typically take place between late February and mid-March. This year, it’s in March and lasts for one night (known as Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi) and the following day (Holi).

Take part in the religious bonfires of Holika Dahan, symbolising the forgiveness of past debts. Then wake up to Holi, a wild street party – people drench each other with water balloons and water guns, and then cover each other with dazzling colourful powders (you’ll find hints of it here, there, and everywhere for days). Everyone is welcome – and fair game.

Looking to experience the festival off the beaten path? Check out similar festivities in Nepal or Pakistan.

Book hassle-free with Sure Travel

9 Days Golden Triangle – Female Solo Traveller, from R19,415 p/p sharing

Explore India’s Golden Triangle and experience the best of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Mumbai. Package includes accommodation in each city, domestic flights between Jaipur and Mumbai, airport and hotel assistance from female staff, daily buffet breakfast, transfers, sightseeing and tours, and an English-speaking female guide. 

. . . .

CARNIVAL (RIO DE JANIERO, BRAZIL)  |  2-9 MARCH 2019

Don’t miss the world’s biggest street party – you’ll be among the millions of party-goers who visit Rio de Janeiro in the lead up to Lent to “shake what their mama gave 'em”. 

The first festivals of Rio date back to 1723 and were historically a Catholic religious celebration. Carnival takes place in February or March each year (this coming year it’s in March), and coincides with the end of Brazil’s long, hot summer. 

In modern days, it’s a crazy and colourful themed-costume affair, with balls and dance competitions by neighbourhood samba schools to win national acclaim and cash. The festival culminates with a rowdy two-night extravaganza in the Sambadrome, and the winner’s parade. 

You can obviously celebrate Carnival in many of Brazil’s neighbouring Latin American countries – but none throw a party quite like Rio. 

Party in Rio with Sure Travel

Carnival In Rio De Janeiro 2019 - 5 Nights, from R 22,378 p/p sharing

Package includes: return airfare from Johannesburg to Rio de Janeiro, approximate airport taxes, return private transfers from airport to hotel, 5-nights accommodation at the 3* Copa Sul Hotel or similar, breakfast daily, and a Sambodrome ticket (Grand Stand, bleacher sector 9). 

5 Nights Rio De Janeiro's Winners Parade 2019, from R 19,343 p/p sharing

Package includes: return airfare from Johannesburg to Rio de Janeiro, approximate airport taxes, return private transfers from airport to hotel, 5-nights accommodation at the 3* Copa Sul Hotel or similar, breakfast daily, and a Sambodrome ticket (Grand Stand, bleacher sector 9). 

4 Nights Rio de Janeiro - Rio Carnival, from R 10,258 p/p sharing

Package includes: return airport and hotel private transfers in Rio, 4-nights at the 3* Windsor Martinique Copa, breakfast daily, and a Sambodrome ticket (bleacher sector 10).

5 Nights Rio & Falls, from R 13,625 p/p sharing

Among the world’s most beautiful cities, Rio is a must-visit spot for any serious globetrotter. Its pristine beaches and majestic peaks are natural wonders, and the city itself is known worldwide as a convivial and social hub. From its bars and restaurants to world-class nightlife, Rio has as much to offer as any city in the world.

Go there!

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