Tag Archives: New Year eve

Christmas is a fairy tale in Taiwan

Christmasland is a “realm of Merry Christmas” in the urban setting of Xinban Special District, a sprawling playground intended for people of all ages, and also an effort to enhance New Taipei City’s global profile. By connecting attractions throughout the neighborhood (The Lin Family Mansion & Garden, 435 Art Zone, Huangshi Market, Fuzhong Shopping District, Nanya Night Market, etc.) to Xinban Special District’s emerging shopping district, Christmasland bolsters tourism in both New Taipei City and Northern Taiwan as it transforms the entire Banqiao area into a spectacular winter getaway destination complete with culinary treats, entertainment and lots of shopping.

Read Also: New year eve celebrations! Got to be Brussels!!

To mark the period between Christmas and Chinese New Year, the most festive time of the year in Taiwan, Christmasland incorporates elaborate venue and event planning efforts to touch visitors’ hearts with a sense of joy. It is a gorgeously illuminated, happiness-evoking enclave that creates a fairy tale-like experience out of the country’s tallest Christmas trees, fun-packed rides, and a series of regular events from county fairs, large concerts, and markets selling handmade goods to carnival parades. Designed with all demographic groups in mind, Christmasland is a true embodiment of the gleeful, festive atmosphere.

Then there are the New Year Eve Celebrations in Taipei that are special. The festivities begin at Taipei 101 building, when the countdown enters the final stage, the building itself lights up floor by floor from the bottom up for the New Year’s countdown, making Taipei 101 the biggest New Year’s Eve countdown clock in the world. After the countdown is over, fireworks are immediately set off, a star-studded group gathers on the spot to accompany a variety of activities and special ceremonies, and a special, exciting, out-of-the-ordinary Taipei New Year’s Eve celebration is on display!

Although taking place in the winter with its low temperatures and frequent bursts of cold air, Taipei New Year’s Eve celebration attracts a huge number of visitors despite the weather. Even if a cold snap hits, there is no drop in the enthusiasm of those welcoming in the New Year. The Taipei city government, that runs the event, has made the concept of turning Taipei city into “New Year City,” the creative axis of the event.

Since the staging of Taiwan’s first-ever grand New Year’s event in 1995, it won an enthusiastic response among young people and had the media competing with each other to report it, and this later spread throughout the entire country with similar celebrations being held everywhere. On the day of the event, the Taipei city government invites popular entertainers and famous pop singers to perform at the celebrations on the square in front of the government offices. At the same time, this glamorous New Year’s Eve celebration puts Taipei squarely on the global stage, winning international applause and becoming one of the most famous international and Taiwanese New Year’s events.

How to do Taiwan!

Taiwan is located in the western Pacific Ocean 160 km (100 miles) off the southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland and is a convenient gateway to Asia for the Indian traveler.

FLIGHTS: A number of airlines such as China Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Southern and Thai Airways fly directly or with a stopover, in to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the Kaohsiung International Airport and the Taichung International Airport from the Indian metros of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata. Scoot Airlines also connects the cities of Jaipur, Amritsar, Lucknow, Chennai, Trichy, Kochi, Lucknow, Bangalore and Hyderabad with a stopover in Singapore to Taipei.
The average flight time between India and Taiwan is of about 6.5 hours; and Taiwan is 2.5 hours ahead of India.

VISA: Indian Passport holders can enjoy Visa exempt entry into Taiwan for 30 days via an online system

The applicant must have at least one of the following valid or expired visas issued by UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand or any of the Schengen countries.

  • Valid resident or permanent resident card
  • Valid entry visa (may be electronic visa)
  • Resident card or visa that has expired less than 10 years prior to the date of arrival in Taiwan
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New year eve celebrations! Got to be Happy Brussels!!

Still planning for your new year eve celebrations! If you are looking for some options abroad, why not Brussels! It is a fantastic place to be on the new year eve. Besides being the capital of Europe, Brussels is also a dream place to hit the dance floor. With a plentiful of bars, nightclubs and party venues, there will be room to dance till dawn for all types of revellers. What more, for all those stepping out to look for new experiences, happy.brussels offers a pass that provides entry to various unmissable parties for New Year 2018. Brussels night life will no longer hold any secrets for them. If you are fond of hip-hopping in true sense, jumping from one party to another, this pass gives you a variety of options. Beauty is that it is not just limited to the parties alone. You can do much more with a happy.brussels pass to make a fantastic start to your new year.

So you can even plan a new year eve celebration and a winter holiday in Brussels. Queen of diversity with its 183 nationalities, Brussels also prides itself on offering a wide range of late night party venues. From tech house to dance, not forgetting hip hop, all musical styles can be found here. Many head for a night out in the capital to see the latest DJ or have a crazy night in one of the string of late night venues that light it up.

Brussels’ nightlife in all its forms

For the New Year, the Happy Brussels pass gives you a unique opportunity to discover all the facets of “made in Brussels” nightlife. The capital puts on its party clothes. From the superb Galerie Horta to the mellow atmosphere of the Sounds Jazz Club, not to miss the unmissable Fuse, the events offered take place in the capital’s most famous venues.

Apart from entrance to about ten New Year’s Eve events, the Happy Brussels pass also includes ways of enriching your stay with rewarding daytime activities. Indeed, Happy Brussels gives you the best tips on bars and unusual places to start off your celebrations; The pass also provides access to the Atomium, the unmissable architectural giant symbolising the capital of Europe. Finally, it includes admission to a show of your choice at the Cinéma Galeries.

Reaching Brussels

Right in the heart of Europe, Brussels has superb air, road and rail connections. More than 60 million Europeans live within 300km of Brussels, less than two hours by high-speed train. For those who fly in, it takes only 20 minutes from the airport to the city centre. And when you have arrived, it’s easy to move around the compact city, by public transport or on foot.

So, what are you waiting for! Come, joint the party!!!

Ushering in the New Year where seas meet!

Where will you bid adieu the year 2016 and welcome the New year? A question often strikes in the last month of the year to all travellers.  There are few places which have there typical charm for the occasion. Celebrating this transition into new year often means watching the last sunset of the passing year and then the first sunrise of the new year.

But then there are always limitations with different places. You can go to Goa for a perfect year ending sunset but you can’t enjoy the new dawn. And while you can welcome the new year with a perfect sunrise in Darjeeling’s Tiger Hill, you will not have chance to say goodbye to the passing year with a perfect sunset. There are very few places where you can watch a perfect sunrise and a mesmerising sunset from same place.

One such place in India is of course Kanyakumari or Kanniyakumari or Cape Comorin in Tamil Nadu. It is southernmost tip of peninsular India located in Cardamom Hills. Mythologically it is also revered as a Sangam where seas meet. Popular belief has been that three seas- Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean meet here. But geographically it is said to be touching Laccadive Sea and the Gulf of Mannar.

Well geographies apart, this a place where you can just turn your head to watch a beautiful sunrise and equally charming sunset from a same place. Hence it is perfect place for new year revellers to witness the last sunset of the year and first sunrise of the new year from the same place. And every year lot many tourist gather here on the year end to soak in this moment.

Kanyakumari1
Last sunset of the year from Kanyakumari

You can see the curious travellers gathered to see the sunset at Kanyakumari on 31st December

And though it was cloudy on 1st January, but still it couldn’t dampen the spirits as everybody gathered to take a new year wish (resolution!) in front of the rising sun from behind the Vivekanand Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar statue.

Vitals: Kanaykaumari is in state of Tamil Nadu but it is close to capital of Kerala- Thiruvananathpuram which is closest airport 90 kms from here. Nagercoil at the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border is just 70 kms from here. Kanyakumari has a railway station with daily trains via Thiruvananthpuram and Chennai-Madurai routes. Its well connected through roads with all major nearby towns of Kerala as well as Tamil Nadu.

Kanyakumari has descent places for stay suiting all types of budgets including hotels, resorts as well as dharamshalas. Kanyakumari is also a very important pilgrim centre due to its mythological importance. There are many religious centres, temples here. Its is often included in pilgrim circuits with Rameshwaram and Madurai. At the time os the year end many pilgrims from Sabarimala also reach there as those are also the days of the annual Sabarimala pilgrimage.

(Disclaimer: These images were taken on 31st December and January 1st some time back)

Welcome New Year in Style at Brussels!

Brussels PartyBrussel’s nightlife is shaped in the city’s image : lively, convivial, and eclectic. In fact, the capital of Europe has innumerable bars, night spots, and themed nights out, their hot electric atmospheres seduces fun seeking revellers. But here’s the flipside : it is sometimes difficult to choose from among all of these options, above all where to enjoy seeing the New Year in. This is why the third version of the Happy Brussels pass created by visit.brussels and PLAY Asbl opens the doors to the better nights out for revellers to celebrate the start of 2017 at the party in good humour.

Are you a fans of techno, tech house, underground, dance, r’n’b, hiphop, jazz, or even bollywood fusion ? Do you want to see the New Year in at a club, in a bar, or in an unusual place ? Do you want to have good fun going around on an exuberant night out until the break of dawn ? The Happy Brussels pass rolls out the red carpet for all revellers in search of new experiences and places just made to celebrate the passing of the old year into the start of 2017. In particular, you will find the FUSE New Year’s Eve, the Stereo & Leftorium NYE 2017 at the Stereo, the Deep in House NYE 2017 at the Galerie Horta, the Acid New Year at the Wild Gallery, the Los Ninos New Year’s Eve at the Bodega, the night out at Madame Moustache, at the Mirano Continental, and a good many others too.

In addition to entry into 14 of the best nights out on New Year’s Eve, the pass lets you make rich discoveries during the rest of your visit to the city. In fact, Happy Brussels lists the locations of a selection of trendy chic bars and unusual places where you can kick off the celebrations  . You can get into the Atomium, the not-to-be-missed architectural giant and symbol of Europe’s capital  . It includes entry into the Jim Jarmusch exhibition and a seat at the Cinéma Galeries show. Lastly, it offers a few additional pleasures such as tingling the taste buds with a good waffle.

Brussels all decked out for the New Year!

New Year in BrusselsWith its many nightclubs, easy transportation, and original events, Brussels is a paradise for New Year’s revellers. Once again this year, Happy Brussels, presented by visit.brussels offers to guide party-goers to the best places to celebrate the arrival of 2016. The pass provides access to the best parties as well as well as flagship activities around the European capital. 

New Year’s Eve is a pivotal moment, one offering the chance to start the new year in good spirits and festive fashion. And Brussels has loads of opportunities to suit everyone’s taste. The Happy Brussels pass offers the chance to explore all of these possibilities by hopping from one fantastic party to the next, and topping it all off with a stay full of new discoveries.

New Year party in BrusselsIn fact, for 60 euros, the pass specifically provides access to a wide range of parties and a number of tourist activities. In its guide, it also combines advice for a magical visit to the capital of Europe under the glow of Christmas lights. For an extra 20 euros, Happy Brussels will throw in all the benefits of the 24 hour Brussels card: admission to 30 great Brussels museums and discounts for attractions, stores, restaurants, and bars.

City Wonders

Happy Brussels includes admission to tourist attractions like the Atomium, and the Galeries Cinema to see a film and visit the exhibition. Even more, it offers a day or evening tour around Grand Place and the Manneken Pis, as well as Christmas activities like the Christmas Market and the New Year’s Eve countdown.

Urban Treasures

BarThe Happy Brussels guide specifically indicates good tips and concept stores for an exhilarating experience in the fashion district, as well as a selection of hip and unusual bars that each have a wide selection of Belgian beers.

NYE Party Pass

Brussels provides the backdrop for a night owl journey till dawn. The party pass provides access to a series of popular clubs and parties for New Year’s Eve. There is something for everyone from Balkan and hip-hop to house and techno including gay friendly parties.

Happy Brussels opens the doors of the Fuse, You, and Madame Moustache,  the Wood, Palais 12 and many more.

RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR : FILIPINO STYLE !

pic1It’s the year end and New Year happens to be the biggest festival around the world, but nothing beats Philippines. Celebrated with éclat and great ardor, this Southeast Asian Island gives you more than what you expect. The New Year in Philippines is celebrated with lots of blare and sound as it drives away all evil spirits creates space for good ones. Fireworks, glittering lights, happy people is of the common sight and it lacks nowhere in display of its celebratory élan.

Phillipines1Crescent-shaped beaches dusted with talcum powder-like sand; uninhabited tropical islands, lush impenetrable jungles bristling with unique wildlife, the thrusting soaring capital of Manila, historic cities, a diverse local cuisine and culture …the Philippines has all this and more. Go there and discover some of the 7,107 islands of this vibrant archipelago where English is widely spoken, the people are fun loving and life moves to a lilting beat. So here are few things to look out for New Year celebrations in Philippines:

simbang-gabi-imageFireworks: This is about pure, unadulterated, angelic and fun fireworks like you have never seen before. Fireworks have become a major part of New Year’s tradition as the Simbang Gabi (dawn mass) is a Christmas tradition. The experience of seeing all those bursting and glittering lights and looking up in the bright skies is truly magical.

PhillipinesMake some noise: For those who are not fans of fireworks, there are alternative noisemakers. So what do we use? Trumpets (they’re hot items during this time), pots, pans, whistles, car horns, anything that will make a lot of noise. Or you can turn up your radio or MP3 full blast and have the songs blaring at top volume.

philip4Food: Here comes the best part food! Celebrate the New Year’s Eve by sharing a midnight meal with family and friends (called the Media Noche). This feast symbolizes family union and celebration. Tikoy, pansit, hopia, lumpia, adobo all the mouth watering dishes are made and feasted upon during this time.

Others
What to wear during the New Year’s Eve celebrations? How about clothes with polka-dots on them? There is the belief that wearing clothes with polka-dots will bring lots of money (or prosperity). If you want to increase your good luck, make sure that all your pockets and wallets have money on them. This will ensure that you will not have empty pockets the rest of the New Year.

Lastly, when you celebrate the coming of the New Year, make sure you have a happy smile on your face. Failure to do so will mean you will have 12 months of unhappiness during the coming year.

Manigong Bagong Taon!
Say happy New Year Filipino style

पिघलते सूरज में नए साल का जश्न- समंदर की लहरों में

कल आपने पढ़ा हिमालय से जुड़ी दो जगहों के बारे में। आज जानिए समुद्र से जुड़ी उन दो जगहों के बारे में जहां आप बीते साल का आखिरी सूर्यास्त या नए साल का पहला सूर्योदय देख सकते हैं-

Last sunset of the year at Kanyakumari
Last sunset of the year at Kanyakumari

कन्याकुमारी का संगम: कन्याकुमारी हमारे देश की मुख्यभूमि का आखिरी सिरा है। यहां अद्भुत समुद्री संगम है। यहां पर बंगाल की खाड़ी, हिंद महासागर और अरब सागर मिलते हैं। इसीलिए इसकी महत्ता किसी तीर्थ से कम नहीं। अंग्रेज इसे केप कोमोरिन के नाम से जानते थे। तमिलनाडु में नागरकोइल व केरल में तिरुवनंतपुरम यहां के सबसे नजदीकी शहर हैं। देश का आखिरी सिरा होने का भाव भी इसे देशभर के सैलानियों में खासा लोकप्रिय बना देता है। लेकिन यहां की सबसे अनूठी बात यह है कि यहां आप एक ही जगह खड़े होकर पूरब से समुद्र में सूरज को उगता हुआ भी देख सकते हैं और पश्चिम में समुद्र में ही सूरज को डूबता हुआ भी देख सकते हैं। यह अद्भुत संयोग आपको देश में और कहीं नहीं मिलेगा। 31 दिसंबर की शाम इस साल को विदा कीजिए और अगले दिन तड़के वहीं जाकर नए साल की आगवानी कीजिए। कन्याकुमारी में पूरब की ही तरफ विवेकानंद रॉक भी है। सूरज की पहली किरण अक्सर इसी स्मारक के पीछे से समुद्र से बाहर निकलती देखी जा सकती है। इसीलिए हर साल 31 दिसंबर को बहुत सैलानी जुटते हैं। साल की आखिरी किरण को विदा करने और नए साल की पहली किरण का स्वागत करने के लिए। मौका मिले तो आप भी नहीं चूकिएगा अपने निकटजनों के साथ यहां जाने से।

कैसेः कन्याकुमारी के लिए दिल्ली, मुंबई व चेन्नई से ट्रेनें हैं। केरल की राजधानी तिरुवनंतपुरम यहां से डेढ़ घंटे के रास्ते पर है। वहीं सबसे निकट का हवाई अड्डा भी है। कन्याकुमारी छोटा ही शहर है। लेकिन वहां रुकने के लिए कई छोटे-बड़े होटल हैं। यहां समुद्र तट के निकट का फुटपाथ बाजार खरीदारी के लिए बेहद लोकप्रिय है। यहां जाने का फायदा यही है कि उत्तर भारत की सर्दी से बचा जा सकता है।

Fishermen in Chilika Lake in Odisha, India
Fishermen in Chilika Lake in Odisha, India

चिलिका का विस्तार: ओडिशा के तीन जिलों- पुरी, खुर्दा व गंजम में फैली चिलिका झील भारत का सबसे बड़ा तटीय लैगून और दुनिया में दूसरा सबसे बड़ा लैगून है। इसके अलावा भारतीय उपमहाद्वीप में सर्दियों में आने वाले प्रवासी पक्षियों का सबसे बड़ा बसेरा है। कई पक्षी तो सुदूर रूस व मंगोलिया से 12 हजार किलोमीटर तक का सफर तय करके यहां पहुंचते हैं। झील दुर्लभ इरावडी डॉल्फिनों का भी घर है। बेहद खूबसूरत झील में पुरी या सातपाड़ा से नाव से जाया जा सकता है। कहने को यह झील है, लेकिन बीच झील में कई बार आपको चारों तरफ केवल समुद्र दिखाई देगा। चिलिका के सूर्योदय व सूर्यास्त, दोनों की ही बात कुछ और है। लेकिन इन दोननों का ही आनंद नाव पर झील में जाकर लिया जा सकता है। नाव पर आप अपने साथियों के साथ हों, चारों तरफ पक्षियों का कोलाहल हो और जाते साल का आखिरी या नए साल का पहला सूर्य पानी में लाल रंग भर रहा हो तो क्या नजारा होगा! जरूर सोचिएगा। यही वो समय होता है जब प्रवासी पक्षियों को चिलिका में देखा जा सकता है। इसलिए समुद्र में नलबन द्वीप की तरफ जाते हुए तड़के जल्दी नाव से निकल जाएं ताकि समुद्र के भीतर पहुंचकर सूर्योदय देख सकें और फिर शाम को लौटते हुए सूर्यास्त। यानी समुद्र के बीच जाकर समुद्र से उगते-डूबते सूरज को देखें। नए साल की इससे बेहतर शुरुआत और भला क्या होगी। इसमें बच्चों को भी खूब मजा आएगा।

कैसेः तीन जिलों में फैली चिलिका झील बहुत बड़ी है। उसमें कई जगहों से जाया जा सकता है। पुरी से कई डॉल्फिन टूर चिलिका में जाते हैं। लेकिन सबसे लोकप्रिय जगहों में से खुर्दा जिले के बालुगांव में बरकुल और गंजम जिले में रम्भा है। समुद्र में कई द्वीप हैं, जहां प्रवासी पक्षियों को देखने के लिए जाया जा सकता है। भुवनेश्वर या बरहमपुर से ट्रेन या सड़क के रास्ते बालुगांव या रम्भा जाया जा सकता है। सबसे निकट का हवाई अड्डा भुवनेश्वर ही है। ध्यान रखें कि ओडिशा का समुद्री तट होने के बावजूद तड़के या देर शाम झील में जाते समय खासी ठंड हो सकती है।

पिघलते सूरज में नए साल का जश्न- हिमालय की गोद में

View of Kangchenjunga from Tiger Hill in Darjeeling. Photo :  Carsten Nebel/Wikipedia
View of Kangchenjunga from Tiger Hill in Darjeeling. Photo : Carsten Nebel/Wikipedia

साल की आखिरी शाम को विदा करने और नए साल की पहली सुबह का स्वागत करने का ख्याल कुछ अलग ही तरीके से रोमांचित करता है। लेकिन हममें से ज्यादातर अपने आसपास की होटलों या रेस्तराओं की न्यू ईयर पार्टियों या डिनर से आगे सोच ही नहीं पाते। आखिरकार जाते साल की आखिरी शाम हमारे लिए बीते वक्त को याद करने की और नए साल की पहली सुबह नई उम्मीदें जगाने की होती है। छोडि़ए होटलों की पार्टीबाजी और नाच-गाना और इस बार अपने हमसफर, दोस्तों या निकटजनों के साथ जाइए ऐसी जगह, जहां ढलते या उगते सूरज की लालिमा आपको भीतर तक आह्लादित कर देती है। सूरज के क्षितिज में समा जाने या वहां से बाहर निकलते देखना सबसे सुकूनदायक पलों में से एक होता है। हम आपको सुझा रहे हैं ऐसी ही कुछ जगहें। इनमें से कई जगहें ऐसी हैं जहां आप एक ही स्थान पर केवल अपनी नजरें घुमाकर शाम को सूर्यास्त और सवेरे सूर्योदय देख सकते हैं। इस फेहरिस्त में हालांकि आपको गोवा, केरल या पूर्वी तट के कई समुद्री तट नहीं मिलेंगे जो पहले से ही सैलानियों में बहुत लोकप्रिय हैं।

हिमालय की गोद में

Observation deck at Tiger Hill in Darjeeling to watch sunrise
Observation deck at Tiger Hill in Darjeeling to watch sunrise. Photo:  Shanoor Habib Munmun

टाइगर हिल का रोमांचः यूं तो हिमालय में किसी भी जगह पर बर्फीले पहाड़ों के पीछे से या घाटी में फैले बादलों में से उगते सूरज को देखना बेहद रोमांचकारी अनुभव होता है। लेकिन बहुत ही कम जगहों को इसके लिए उतनी ख्याति मिलती है जितनी दार्जीलिंग में टाइगर हिल को मिली है। टाइगर हिल दार्जीलिंग शहर से 11 किलोमीटर दूर है। दार्जीलिंग से यहां या तो जीप से पहुंचा जा सकता है या फिर चौरास्ता, आलूबारी होते हुए पैदल, लेकिन इसमें दो घंटे का समय लग सकता है। टाइगर हिल से सूर्योदय देखने की ख्याति इतनी ज्यादा है कि अल्लसुबह दार्जीलिंग से हर जीप सैलानियों को लेकर टाइगर हिल की ओर दौड़ लगाती नजर आती है ताकि वहां चोटी पर बने प्लेटफॉर्म पर सूर्योदय का नजारा देखने के लिए अच्छी जगह खड़े होने को मिल सके। हैरत की बात नहीं कि देर से पहुंचने वाले सैलानियों को यहां मायूस रह जाना पड़ता है। सूरज की पहली किरण जब सामने खड़ी कंचनजंघा चोटी पर पड़ती है तो सफेद बर्फ गुलाबी रंग ले लेती है।  धीरे-धीरे यह नारंगी रंग में तब्दील हो जाती है। टाइगर हिल से मकालू पर्वत और उसकी ओट में थोड़ी छाया माउंट एवरेस्ट की भी दिखाई देती है। 1 जनवरी को बेशक थोड़ी सर्दी होगी, लेकिन टाइगर हिल से साल की पहली सुबह को प्रणाम करना एक बड़ा ही रोमांचक अनुभव होगा।

कैसेः टाइगर हिल के लिए पश्चिम बंगाल में दार्जीलिंग जाना होगा। दिल्ली या कोलकाता से ट्रेन से न्यू जलपाईगुड़ी पहुंचे या हवाई जहाज से बागडोगरा। वहां से दार्जीलिंग सड़क के रास्ते पहुंचने में चार घंटे लगते हैं। मौसम अच्छा हो तो सिलीगुड़ी से छोटी टॉय ट्रेन से भी दार्जीलिंग जाया जा सकता है। दार्जीलिंग में रुकने के हर इंतजाम हैं। टाइगर हिल जाने के लिए रात में ही होटल वाले को बता दें और टैक्सी का इंतजाम कर लें।

Sunrise View from Sonapani, Almora
Sunrise View from Sonapani, Almora

नंदा देवी का नजारा: बात सूरज के उगने या डूबने की हो तो उसकी किरणों से फैलते रंगों का जो खेल पानी में या बर्फीले पहाड़ पर देखने को मिलता है, वो कहीं और नहीं मिलता। इसीलिए सूर्योदय या सूर्यास्त देखने के सबसे लोकप्रिय स्थान या तो समुद्र (नदी व झील भी) के किनारे हैं या फिर ऊंचे पहाड़ों में। उत्तराखंड के कुमाऊं इलाके में भी ऐसी कई जगहें हैं, चाहे वो अल्मोड़ा में कसार देवी या बिनसर हो या फिर नैनीताल जिले में सोनापानी- इन जगहों से आप नंदा देवी का खूबसूरत नजारा देख सकते हैं। सोनापानी गांव पहाड़ के ढलान पर है और सामने बुरांश के पेड़ों से लकदक दूर तक फैली घाटी है। घाटी के उस पार हिमालय की श्रृंखलाएं इस तरह ऊंची सामने खड़ी हैं, मानो यकायक कोई ऊंची दीवार सामने आ जाए। इन्हीं में भारत की दूसरी सबसे ऊंची चोटी नंदा देवी भी है। यहां आपको पर्वत के पीछे से उगता सूरज तो नजर नहीं आएगा, लेकिन खुले मौसम में सुबह की पहली किरण में नंदा देवी और बाकी चोटियों के बदलते रंगों में आप खो जाएंगे। कमोबेश ऐसी ही रंगत डूबते सूरज के समय भी रहेगी। दिसंबर-जनवरी में आप सामने के पहाड़ों की ठंडक महसूस कर सकेंगे, हो सकता है कि कभी बर्फबारी से भी दो-चार हो जाएं, लेकिन रूमानियत भरपूर रहेगी। सर्दी से डर न लगता हो और हनीमून व नया साल, दोनों साथ मनाना चाहें तो इससे बेहतर जगह कोई नहीं। बाकी दुनिया के हो-हल्ले से बहुत दूर- थोड़ा रोमांच और पूरा रोमांस। एक नई शुरुआत के लिए एकदम माफिक जगह है यह।

कैसेः सोनापानी जाने के लिए ट्रेन से काठगोदाम पहुंचकर या हवाई जहाज से पंतनगर पहुंचकर टैक्सी करनी होगी। वहां से सड़क का रास्ता लगभग चार घंटे का है। सोनापानी रिजॉर्ट में शानदार कॉटेज हैं, करने व घूमने को बहुत कुछ है और कुछ न करना चाहें तो भी यहां बोर नहीं होंगे। संगीत सुनाती मदमस्त पहाड़ी हवा है और गीत गाते पंछी। अल्मोड़ा व मुक्तेश्वर जैसे सैलानी स्थल भी निकट ही हैं।

 

Bruges hits all the right notes for Christmas!

Bruges in Winter
Bruges in Winter

Bruges is all about amazing atmosphere and winter romance. The window displays are decked out in all their Christmas finery, as are the streets and squares of Bruges.

Without a doubt the most beautiful winter venue is St. John’s Hospital! Every year Magical Winter Moments  is organised in this medieval hospital, with stunning flower decorations adorning this historical site. Prepare for an amazing spectacle from 22 November until 1 December.

Snow & Ice sculpture festivalNot wintery enough? Then why not replace the gorgeous flower arrangements with snow and ice sculptures? Head over to the square in front of Bruges’ railway station, where you can explore an enchanting ice world. From 22 November until 5 January the Snow & Ice Sculpture Festival will bring the fantastic world of the Disney film Frozen to life. Breathtakingly beautiful but also bound to make you catch your breath because of the cold. So make sure to bundle up adequately!

Are you walking from one winter venue to the other? Then make sure to find a bench or terrace near the Belfry around 11 a.m. for the belfry concerts on Wednesday,Saturday and Sunday. Celestial sounds which are bound to transport you to higher dimensions. By the end of November the stalls of the charming Christmas marketare in place and the lights of the ice-skating rink are beckoning. They both are definitely worth visiting.

Käthe Wohlfahrt
Käthe Wohlfahrt

Every year Bruges’ retailers outdo themselves with even more amazing window displays.  During the holiday months I love walking past the various squares to admire the Christmas lights. Do you want to avoid the Christmas crowds like I do? Then shop on weekdays! And because there is nothing like that warm Christmas glow, do take the time for a crisp waffle, a heart-warming cup of glühwein or a steaming mug of hot chocolate.”

Shop Käthe Wohlfahrt

Think Christmas and you immediately think of the Christmas decorations, Father Christmas and gifts. Or of that one-stop shop for all of the above and more called Käthe Wohlfahrt, because this family-owned shop is simply teaming with Christmas items. Handmade wooden Christmas figurines, ornaments and lights for the tree as well as original nutcrackers. This is the place to go for all of your Christmas decorations or to find a gift for someone special.

International December Dance festival

December DanceEvery year internationally renowned dancers and choreographers flock to Bruges’ Concert Hall for December Dance. This year the art director is the leading Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus. From 4 until 15 December he will add a sequel to his own festive year (his company Ultima Vez recently celebrated its 25th anniversary). And yet he will not only be hosting a retrospective of his own work. In December he will also invite (inter)national talent.

Compagnie Marie Chouinard

Treat yourself to an early Christmas gift with tickets for the Belgian premiere of the dance performance by Marie Chouinard. On 23 November eleven of her dancers will perform a special ballet to the sounds of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies. For her second choreography Chouinard drew inspiration from the book Mouvement by the Belgian surrealist, Henri Michaux. Ten mysterious dancers will leave you dazzled after their psychedelic trip.

Belgian Swing Jazz Orchestra

For a few weeks the jazz tunes in the Hotel Navarra bar will be replaced with traditional Christmas carols. But who says that you have to miss your usual portion of jazz? Because the Belgian Swing Jazz Orchestra invites you to join them in the Stadsschouwburg on 24 November where they will treat you to a concert of some legendary Belgian jazz from the period between the two World Wars. Stirringly beautiful.

Looking for a stay?

Bruges in Winter
Bruges in Winter

Hotel Navarra prepares for Christmas. “It is an annual tradition in the hotel. By the end of November it starts decorating for Christmas. And it plays Christmas carols instead of the usual jazz music.  At this point it is completely ready for Christmas. And so are guests because often Bruges is their number one destination for Christmas shopping. This hotel is the perfect place if you want a taste of the Christmas atmosphere and go and find some Christmas gifts.

Most people inevitably associate Christmas with good food! Restaurant La Porta serves festive food every day of the year. Gourmets will enjoy the tasty, Italian creations which chefs Jess Wittevrongel and Steven Verriest conjure onto your plates. Delectable food for an equally delicious price!

Celebrate unique winter holidays in Orlando

Christmas Parade at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando
Christmas Parade at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando

Home to seven of the world’s top theme parks, Orlando celebrates the holiday season like nowhere else. From spectacular fireworks displays to festive live entertainment, Orlando’s theme parks offer something for every member of the family. Orlando is offering visitors the gift that keeps on giving with 59 days of unique winter holiday celebrations throughout the entire destination. From Nov. 8 to Jan. 5, tourists can experience all the joy of the season while basking in Orlando’s year-round sunshine.  

Holidays at the Theme Parks

  • Walt Disney World Resort offers some of the most elaborate of seasonal festivities, with more than 1,300 decorated trees and 8.5 million lights strung throughout the property. For several weeks around the holidays, guests celebrate the season with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom Park, Holidays Around the World at Epcot, and the dazzling Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Guests can also ring in the New Year with a variety of entertainment, including the Electrical Parade and special dining events across Disney.

    Family enjoying a Roller Coaster at Orlando
    Family enjoying a Roller Coaster at Orlando
  •  Universal Orlando Resort celebrates the classic tale of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” with Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure, featuring live musical shows, meet and greets with the Whos of Who-ville and appearances by The Grinch himself. Guests can also visit Universal Studios to experience Macy’s Holiday Parade, presenting floats and balloons direct from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. On New Year’s Eve, CityWalk comes alive with performances by national acts, a gourmet buffet and nightclub entertainment.
  • SeaWorld Orlando’s annual Christmas Celebration runs for six weeks, beginning Nov. 23. SeaWorld offers special shows and attractions, including Shamu Christmas Miracles, Winter Wonderland on Ice and The Polar Express Experience. Guests can count down to New Year’s Day and enjoy live music and spectacular fireworks display.
  • LEGOLAND Florida will feature Christmas Bricktacular, a celebration with daily appearances by Santa Claus, a 270,000-LEGO-brick Christmas tree and other seasonal creations. Kids can also participate in their very own countdown to 2014 during a giant, LEGO brick drop at “Kids Standard Time,” otherwise known as 7 p.m. 

Celebrations Outside the Theme Parks

Couple enjoying a Balloon ride in Orlando. Photo: VisitOrlando
Couple enjoying a Balloon ride in Orlando. Photo: VisitOrlando

From giant gingerbread creations to two million pounds of ice, Orlando’s seasonal celebrations extend beyond the theme parks. Visitors looking for unique ways to celebrate are sure to find new favorites in local traditions.

  • Leu’s Holiday House, part of Orlando’s downtown botanical garden Leu Gardens, gives visitors a unique look at the historic estate and gardens trimmed and decorated for the holidays.
  • The Festival of Trees at the Orlando Museum of Art showcases “All That Glitters,” featuring dozens of adorned trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses on display, as well as for purchase.
  • ICE! At Gaylord Palms, an award-winning attraction carved by a team of 40 skilled artisans, features more than two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, including Frosty the Snowman, four ice slides and a live ice-carving station.
  • The 15th Anniversary Gingerbread House, located in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, is a life-sized, 16-foot-high Victorian creation crafted by Disney pastry chefs.