December 31, 2009
Just when you’re all set to have a ball, the ball drops...and New Year’s Eve is over. This year, stretch your holiday cheer well into January at one of the winter celebrations recommended by IgoUgo travelers from around the globe. Wherever you are in the world--or wherever you’d like to be--there is a party, and you’re invited.
South Queensferry, Scotland: The Loony Dook
Start the first day of 2010 with a splash at this follow-up to Hogmanay that sees Scots splashing into the “sub-zero waters of the River Forth.” Denise Scotland explains that the word “loony” means “lunatic” and that “dook” means “to go underwater,” and that the event features "brave, or foolish, people celebrating the new year by going for a swim.” The dip takes place just northwest of Edinburgh and grows bigger each year. Denise shares the stats in Scottish Hogmanay Traditions.
Florence, Italy, and Tarpon Springs, Florida: Epiphany
Which city you choose depends on whether you feel like getting a dazzling dose of Italian or Greek culture, but either way, your January 6 will be well spent. In Florence, says airynfaerie, “biblical characters in medieval costumes and lots of witches” take to streets and store windows, and the centuries-old Procession of the Magi parade unfurls. In Tarpon Springs, where Tolik celebrated this Twelfth Day of Christmas, “local folks dive for the Epiphany cross thrown into the water in Spring Bayou.”
Pembrokeshire, Wales: Hen Galan
“An old Welsh custom, now only celebrated in this small corner of Wales,” the New Year’s celebration of Hen Galan falls on January 13. Schools close so children can go from house to house singing for sweets and money, says nicci, and “in the evening, the whole community gets together for Welsh food and lots of singing.”
San Juan, Puerto Rico: San Sebastian Festival
This January 16-19, “one big PAR-TAY” invades Old San Juan as locals salsa and play “spirited music” (including cowbells!) in the streets. Christmas lights still decorate the city, as the San Sebastian Festival marks the end of the holiday season. Carmen says, “The festival was a great way to take in some of the local culture and just immerse ourselves in the vacation spirit!"
Brisbane, Australia: Australia Day
Many of Australia’s towns and cities go all out for Australia Day on January 26, but only Brisbane can claim the Cockroach Races. Local fan Euroazz says that the charitable insect-fest “culminates with the highlight of the afternoon: the Cockroach Gold Cup.” It would be our highlight too, as it signals the end of the event.
Delhi, India: Beating the Retreat
Three days after Delhi’s Republic Day Parade extravaganza, January 29 heralds the Beating of the Retreat, “a subtler, better orchestrated (literally!) ceremony” and the official end of Republic Day festivities. Regular attendee phileasfogg calls the tradition “impressive,” “colorful,” “vivid,” and “another day of celebrating freedom from British rule...in true British style.” If her striking description of the event--from the sounds of the army, navy, and air force bands to the visuals of the camel cavalry--is any indication, this is a vivid and moving ceremony indeed.