Monday, February 27, 2017


Lonely Planet named Canada the Best Country to Travel to in 2017 and the New York Times ranked it Number 1 in their "52 Places of a Year", meaning there’s no time like the present to join in the fun. If you weren’t already considering Canada for your next vacation, here are 10 reasons why you definitely should be now.


Dig into food and drink favourites

Canada has some of the best food and drink, even though it might be hard to pinpoint a particular regional cuisine. Head to Churchill, Manitoba for delicious food in a remarkable setting; discover the best restaurants across the country; or sample up-and-coming brews while visiting innovative breweries in places like Ontario and Nova Scotia.

Travel through over 45 national parks

Canada has an amazing array of national parks. Explore the country’s renowned nature at parks like Glacier National Park in British Columbia and Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto. What’s more? National parks are free in 2017.

Spot only-seen-in-Canada wildlife

Pretty much any trip up north will have you viewing wildlife you can’t spot anywhere else. Head to the East Coast and spot over 22 species of whales or check out polar bears and belugas in the Arctic.

Celebrate rich culture

As Canada turns 150 in 2017, appreciate its rich Aboriginal culture. Discover First Nations art in Northern British Columbia; explore human rights at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg; relive history in almost every province and territory.

Live it up at a festival

No matter your taste, Canada has a festival for you. Into music? Check out Oshega in Montreal or RBC Bluesfest in Ottawa. If comedy’s more your thing, Just For Laughs is a must-attend. There are also film festivals like Toronto International Film Festival and food festivals like Pemberton’s Slowfood Cycle Sunday.

Meet very friendly people

Chat up a local at a live music venue or sidle up to a new friend at a communal table to get insider’s tips on how to best explore your new favourite city.

Explore the longest coastline in the world

Head out on the open ocean in New Brunswick to spot whales putting on a show or get to know the West Coast by kayak or float plane. No matter which province or territory you visit, you’ll never be far from a pristine lake or ever-changing tide.

Find adventure wherever you go

Canada is set up to get your adrenaline pumping. Head into the wilderness and explore its rustic side or stick close to the city and discover an urban adventure. Exhilarating excursions can be found just about everywhere — from the Badlands of Alberta to the windswept mountains of Baffin Island.

Discover the four seasons

With four distinct seasons, Canada is a great year-round destination. Head into the trees to discover the fall colours, celebrate winter at a festival in Quebec City, lay out on a beach in Prince Edward Island in the summer, or discover spring coming to life on a hike in Ottawa.

Take in the diversity

From culture, to food, to experiences, Canada boasts a diverse experience for everyone. Whatever you’re passion, all you need to do is pick a place to visit and start exploring.

Experience the charm of Japan’s Spring

Spring is when Japan's famous trees burst forth into blossom, beginning with plum trees in March and continuing to May, when the last cherry blossoms drift to the ground in northern Japan. Visit Japan this spring to admire the cherry blossoms (sakura) and enjoy a traditional ‘hanami’ picnic party under the blooming trees. 

The sight of beautiful pink cherry blossoms as they blanket the country in soft, colourful splendour is truly magical. In 2017, the sakura are expected to start blooming around 26 March in Tokyo, around 29 March in Kyoto and around 2 May in Hokkaido. 

The traditional custom of hanami is to visit mountains and parks with cherry blossoms and hold sake-drinking parties beneath the cherry trees in full blossom.
Here are some great places for cherry blossom viewing.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Park & Ueno Park, Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is the location of the samurai residence of the Naito family. It has been famous for its cherry trees since the Meiji Era (1868-1912), and today is one of the most popular spots in Tokyo to enjoy the spring blooms.

Ueno Park is one of Japan's most crowded and popular cherry blossom spots, featuring more than 1,000 trees along the street leading towards the National Museum and around Shinobazu Pond. Trees are lit up in the evenings. 

The rows of cherry trees, Somei-yoshino and mountain cherry trees, bloom magnificently in spring, making the park very popular for holding parties under a canopy of beautiful flowers.
Flowering season: Late March to late April

Maruyama Park & the Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto

Maruyama Park is the oldest park in Kyoto and is renowned for its huge illuminated weeping cherry trees, best viewed at night. During cherry blossom season, as trees on the mountainside start to blossom while the park's trees fade to green.

Also explore the Philosopher's Path which is a walking track from Ginkaku-ji Temple to Wakaoji-jinja Shrine, to see a vista of cherry blossoms on both sides of the river path from Lake Biwa-ko. The cherry blossom petals floating on the water add to what is already a beautiful and atmospheric walk between the historic monuments such as Ginkaku-ji Temple, Honen-in Shrine, and Eikan-do Temple.
In Arashiyama, the cherry blossoms flower profusely all over the area from Togetsu-kyo Bridge to Arashiyama-Nakanoshima Park, the bank of the O-i-gawa River, and Kameyama Park behind Tenryu-ji Temple. The weeping cherry trees in Tenryu-ji Temple are also splendid.
Flowering season: Late March to late April 

Nara Park, Nara

Nara Park is a historical park surrounding Todai-ji Temple, Kofuku-ji Temple and Shoso-in Repository. Constructed in the Tempyo Period (710-784), it spreads over a vast area of a lush and green landscape. Herds of deer are renowned there as the holy messengers of Kasuga-taisha Shrine.

The park has about 1,700 cherry trees of various kinds and offers a number of scenic spots, such as Sagi Pond, the foot of Mt. Wakakusa, the remains of To-do Tower, the Kofuku-ji Temple area, Ara Pond, Kasugano-enchi, and the Todai-ji Temple area.
Flowering season: Late March to late April 

Japan Mint, Osaka 

When the cherry trees bloom around mid-April, the Japan Mint in Osaka opens a passage of 560 meters long along the old Yodo River, from South Gate to North Gate to the general public for one week. 

In the Mint, there are about 120 different varieties of the total 370 extant varieties of cherry trees, such as Kanzan, Fugenzo, Shogetsu, Benitemari, Shibayama, Kizakura, and Yokihi.
Flowering season: Mid to late April  

Goryokaku Fort Park, Hakodate City, Hokkaido

Hokkaido is where plum and cherry trees blossom at the same time. Goryokaku was a western-style fort built by the Tokugawa shogunate (1857-66) in the harbour city of Hakodate. 

The star-shaped ruins of the fort are now a park full of cherry blossom trees.
Flowering season: Late April to early May

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

8 New Attractions Fit for All the Family

Visit Britain this summer for a wealth of new family attractions, from a back-in-time dinosaur theme park to a 'catapult blob' that will send you and your kids four metres in the air, before you plunge into a waiting pool.

Catapult Blob!

Surf Snowdonia, in north Wales, has a new addition to the Crash & Splash obstacle course - the Catapult Blob, which will launch you up to 13 ft up into the air, before you descend into the waiting water.

The assault course, set adjacent to the world's first inland surf lagoon, also features monkey bars, rope bridges, spinning balls and a slippery-when-wet climbing wall.
Location: In Dolgarrog, north Wales, around 90 minutes by car from Liverpool.

Paultons Theme Park: The Lost Kingdom

Paultons Theme Park’s new attraction ‘The Lost Kingdom’ takes the whole family back millions of years. Expect thrilling rides and attractions set around a tropical landscape where dinosaurs roam. 

Watch out for the ‘live' walking T-Rex! While the small kids search for fossils in the sandpit, the older children and adults can take on the rollercoasters!
Location: In Hampshire, south England, around 90 minutes by car from London.

‘Command of the Oceans' at Chatham Historic Dockyard

Command of the Oceans tells the amazing story of Chatham Historic Dockyard's role in British naval supremacy from the 16th century through the ‘Golden Age of Sail' from 1700 - 1820. On display is the Royal Navy’s magnificent warship Namur, preserved where she was discovered and still lies. 

There are several historic warships to explore, a railway workshop and much more.
Location: In Kent, south-east England, around one hour by car or train from central London.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide

Ride the ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide - the world's tallest and longest slide. It wraps around Britain's tallest public artwork, taking 40 seconds to encircle the sculpture 12 times, travelling 584 ft in total! 

It was created by British-Indian artist Sir Anish Kapoor, and the slide is the creation of Belgian artist Carsten Höller.
Location: In east London; the nearest train stations are Stratford and Hackney Wick.

British Airways i360

The British Airways i360, in the seaside city of Brighton, is the world's first vertical cable car, transporting passengers 450ft high for amazing views over the Sussex countryside. 

Later, take in the buzzing Brighton Pier with its many rides, doughnut-eating opportunities and fish and chippies!
Location: In Sussex, south-east England, one hour by train from central London.

The Knights’ Village, Warwick Castle

Families on a quest for fun and adventure should book the Knights' Village at Warwick Castle. Twenty eight lodges are set in the wooded idyll of the attraction's 64-acre estate. 

Wake up to a hearty breakfast in the banqueting hall and enjoy two days entrance to Warwick Castle as part of your stay. The Castle will take you hundreds of years back in time with costumed characters and live events, including jousting! Kids can enjoy putting their parents in the stocks, while the whole family can try to find their way out of the new Horrible Histories maze.
Location: In central England, around two hours' drive from London, or just 40 minutes from Birmingham.

The National Museum of Flight

The National Museum of Flight, located on the UK's best preserved Second World War airfield, is an awe-inspiring, fun and educational place to visit. 

See amazing aircraft like Scotland's Concorde and discover fascinating stories in the newly transformed hangars, with interactive exhibitions, supersonic experiences and plenty of outdoor space to run around in.
Location: In East Lothian, around 40 minutes by car from Edinburgh.

LEGOLAND Windsor's 4D films

Guests to the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort are in for seriously awesome film fun with the ‘The LEGO Movie 4D - A New Adventure'. 

There's also the LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS 4D Movie: The Book of Creativity! For Star Wars fans, catch the 500,000 brick Death Star, the recreation of Darth Vader's superweapon in the popular LEGO Star Wars Miniland Model Display.
Location: In Berkshire, south-east England, around one hour from central London.