Explore’s 2019 festival calendar takes you on an exciting journey of cultural celebrations around the world. Experience an epic-scale water fight in Thailand, witness the solar eclipse in Argentina or get up-close with eagles in Mongolia. From the icy sculptures of Harbin and Sapporo to the colourful Diwali and Rio Carnival, there is a festival to suit everyone.
Bulgaria Winter Surva Festival (recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage)
Experience both ancient customs and remnants from Bulgaria’s more recent communist past on this winter festival trip. Attend the Surva International Festival of Masquerade Games (24-27 January) in Pernik and combine it with the opportunity to see fading Soviet monuments and Socialist art, and the chance to sample a communist style dinner in Sofia. The Bulgaria Winter Surva Festival11-day trip departs 18-28 January and costs from £1,279pp. Price includes return flights, transport, accommodation, some meals and an Explore leader.
Highlights of Harbin Ice Festival
Travel to the far north of China, close to the border with Russia, where the winter months see the city of Harbin come to life with an incredible display of ice sculptures and snow carvings. After taking in the highlights of Beijing, travel by sleeper train to the city of Harbin and spend time walking on the frozen Songhua River, marvelling at huge snow sculptures in Sun Island Park and taking in the life size buildings carved from ice at the Snow and Ice World. The Highlights of Harbin Ice Festival7-day trip departs 25 January – 1 February and costs from £1,569pp. Price includes return flights, transport, accommodation, some meals and an Explore leader.
Sapporo Snow Festival
This exciting journey visits the far north of Japan and includes a visit to the annual Sapporo Snow Festival. Now in its 70th year, the Sapporo Snow festival takes place from 4-11 February 2019 and offers the unique chance to see the impressive snow sculptures. Explore the ultra-modern city of Tokyo, visit the tranquil Zen gardens in ancient Kyoto and journey on an ice-breaker cruise in the Sea of Okhostk before seeing the snow monkeys at Yudanaka. The Sapporo Snow Festival 13-day trip departs 4-17 February and costs from £5,130pp. Price includes return flights, transport, accommodation, some meals and an Explore leader.
Rio & Recife Carnivals
This trip takes in the more traditional street parades in the north eastern cities of Recife and Olinda before travelling to Rio for all the glitz and glamour of the famous carnival (1-6 March 2019). Immerse yourself in the infamous street parties and vibrant atmosphere of Rio and visit one of the biggest samba schools and try on some carnival costumes. Soak up the lively atmosphere in Old Recife and watch the winners’ parade at the Sambadrome. A trip to Rio wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the iconic Christ the Redeemer Statue before wandering the artists’ district of Santa Teresa and exploring cobbled streets and colourful architecture. The Rio & Recife Carnivals trip departs from 2-11 March and costs from £3,320pp. Price includes return flights, transport, accommodation, some meals and an Explore leader.
Thailand – Celebrate the Buddhist festival of Songkran with an enormous water fight
Explore’s Simply Thailand trip combines Thailand’s highlights from the temples of Bangkok to the palm-fringed and white sand beaches of Krabi. Visit in April to take part in the Songkran festival (13-15 April) and join locals who celebrate New Year with friendly water fights in the streets. Learn about the Bridge over the River Kwai, visit cave temples, camp on a remote beach and spend time getting to know locals. The Simply Thailand 12-day trip departs 6-18 April and costs from £1,849pp. Price includes return flights, transport, accommodation, some meals and an Explore leader.
Kunming to Hong Kong and the Buffalo God Festival
Journey across southern China from Kunming to Hong Kong and explore small villages, vast 1000 year old rice terraces, and modern cities. Experience the Buffalo God Festival, in the company of the Miao tribal people, and explore stone forests, high waterfalls, mall villages and finish with a relaxing cruise along the Li River past beautiful and unusual landscape. The Kunming to Hong Kong and the Buffalo God Festival 12-day trip departs 6-23 May and costs from £3,620pp. Price includes return flights, transport, accommodation, some meals and an Explore leader.
The Tagong Horse Festival of Ancient Kham – China
On this trip discover monasteries and settlements devoted to Tibetan Buddhism and journey to the Tagong grasslands for the annual Horse Festival. The south-eastern part of the Tibetan Plateau, known as Kham in ancient times, is a region of stunning high mountain scenery and fascinating people. Here, nomads demonstrate their amazing equestrian skills with races and challenges, and celebrate their culture with singing, dancing and nomadic sports. The Tagong Horse Festival of Ancient Kham18-day trip departs 3-21 June and costs from £3,440pp. Price includes return flights, transport, accommodation, some meals and an Explore leader.
Northwest Argentina & Eclipse Reverse
Highlights in this action packed two week trip to Argentina including travelling to San Juan with a local astronomer to see the solar eclipse, exploring the vibrant city of Buenos Aires and sampling the delicious wines in Cafayate’s vineyards. Marvel at the spectacular scenery of Argentina’s northwest region from coloured mountains, deep gorges and fertile plains along the way. The Northwest Argentina & Eclipse Reverse 12-day trip departs 28 June-11 July and costs from £4,429pp. Price includes return flights, transport, accommodation, some meals and an Explore leader.
Serbian Summer Festivals
This trip visits four unique festivals in Serbia including the Guca Trumpet Festival – the largest brass band event in the world and the Nisville Jazz Festival – one of the largest jazz festivals in Europe. Whilst in Nis the trip visits the Wine and Fine Fair to sample some hearty Serbian cuisine and choose from over 30 different Serbian wines as well as locally produced brandy, olive oil and cheese. Finish the trip on a high and dance the night away to live music at the Belgrade Beer Festival whilst sampling some of the local brews. The Serbian Summer Festivals11-day trip departs 6-16 August and costs from £1,790pp. Price includes return flights, transport, accommodation, some meals and an Explore leader.
NEW for 2019 – Mongolian Eagle Festival and the Siberian Altai
This trip follows the ancient Northern Silk Road across high mountain passes through the stunning Siberian Altai Mountains, stopping at local villages before crossing the border in to Mongolia. Spend two nights with an Eagle Hunter family before travelling onto Olgii in the far west of the country, attending the spectacular local Eagle Hunter Festival before continuing to the capital, Ulaan Baatar. The Mongolian Eagle Festival and the Siberian Altai 15-day trip departs 7-22 September and 28 September-13 October and costs from £4,290pp. Price includes return flights, transfers, accommodation, all meals and an Explore leader.
Cycle the Berlin Wall – commemorate 30th anniversary of the fall of the wall
Explore’s new cycling trip commemorates 30 years since the wall was torn down. Cycle along the 155km long wall that divided Germany from 1961-1989 and learn what it was like to live behind the wall from an Explore leader who grew up in East Germany. Visit a number of sites including Hitler’s Bunker, the Bridge of Spies (Glienicke Bridge), Checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag, East Side Gallery and the Brandenburg Gate. The 7-day Cycle the Berlin Wall departs 16 – 22 September 2019 with prices from £1,420pp. The price includes return flights to Berlin, internal transfers, 6-nights’ accommodation, breakfast, bike hire (bring own helmet) and an Explore leader. Luggage is transported between hotels.
Festivals of Bhutan – Thimpu Festival
Travel to Bhutan in October on Explore’s Festivals of Bhutan trip and visit the Bhutanese capital of Thimpu. The festival is an annual highlight and a unique opportunity to watch local monks perform traditional masked dances known as chhams. No trip to Bhutan is complete without hiking up to the Taktsang Monestery (Tiger’s Nest Monastery) perched precariously on a cliff face 900m above the Paro Valley The 13-day Festivals of Bhutan – Thimpu Festival trip departs 1-13 October and costs from £4,030pp. Price includes return flights, transport, accommodation, some meals and an Explore leader.
Cycle Rajasthan and celebrate Diwali
This cycling trip explores northern India and coincides with the colourful Indian festival of lights, Diwali. Watch the sunset at the Taj Mahal and visit the abandoned red sandstone settlement of Fatehpur Sikri. Discover the Amber Fort and City Palace of Jaipur, the famous ‘Pink City and cycle to Ranthambore national park and look for the elusive Bengal tiger. The Cycle Rajasthan and celebrate Diwali10-day trip departs 18-28 October and costs from £1,839pp. Price includes return flights, transfers, bicycle hire, accommodation, breakfast and an Explore leader. Luggage is transported between hotels.
Contrasts of Mexico – celebrate the Day of the Dead
From the valleys of Mexico to the jungles of Guatemala, this trip explores colonial cities, Mayan towns and ancient sites including Tikal and Palenque. It also coincides with the Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead festival where families gather to remember loved ones who have died. The trip visits Oaxaca during the festival which is the perfect place to watch the fascinating and colourful celebrations. The Contrasts of Mexico 15-day trip departs 28 October-12 November costs from £2,320pp. Price includes return flights, transfers, accommodation, breakfast and an Explore leader.
India – Highlights of Assam & Nagaland – Hornbill Festival
This 16 day trip visits India’s north eastern states of Meghalaya, Assam and spends several days at the annual Hornbill Festival. During the festival tribes from all over the state come together and perform traditional dances, folk songs and display their ornate clothing, jewellery and hunting spears. The festival is named after the state bird and the tribal headdresses reflect the bird’s colourful feathers. Visit the tribal Khasi villages of Cherrapunjee and walk along the living tree bridges. Search for rhino in Kaziranga National Park and see Majuli Island, one of the world’s largest river islands. Experience tribal life in the villages of Ao Naga and Regma and visit Longwa, a village that is split between India and Burma. The Highlights of Assam & Nagaland16-day trip departs 23 November – 12 December or 27 November – 16 December and costs from £3,559pp. Price includes return flights, transfers, accommodation, all meals and an Explore leader.
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