Throughout the year and around the world, people are gathering together in some of the most incredible places to experience and celebrate the best that life has to offer. From open-air operas in Turkey to breathtaking fireworks in St. Petersburg, here is a list of some of the most amazing events on the planet.
Saint Valentine’s Grand Ball
Step back in time to Venice during Carnival and let the decadence of old Italy stir your imagination. The first Carnival in Venice took place in 1268, and the tradition of wearing masks to hide one’s rank in society began. Marking the beginning of Lent (40 days before Easter), Carnival usually starts in mid-February. One of most opulent events of the season is the Saint Valentine’s Masquerade Ball, which takes place in a private Venetian palace overlooking the Grand Canal. There, costumed guests dressed in gowns of red velvet and wearing masks enter the ballroom, which is illuminated by candlelight and furnished in exquisite Venetian style. One of the most celebrated hotels in Venice is the Hotel Danieli. Staying at this legendary property is the perfect way to spend your time in Venice during Carnival.
Argentine Polo Open Championship
Before there was Evita, there was polo in Argentina. Since the 1800s, Argentines have prided themselves on their impeccable polo skills and beautiful ponies. Argentine Polo Open Championship is one of the oldest polo championships in the world. It is the event in which the global glitterati fly south each year to mingle with winning polo players and glamorous jetsetters. The games are held in the posh neighborhood of Palermo, Buenos Aires, in November and December. Since that’s summer in Argentina, after the games, spectators head to the many bars and restaurants to dine al fresco, sip Champagne, and chat about the matches. The place to stay is Alvear Palace Hotel, where you will be greeted with elegant doormen and impeccable service. Guests have access to a personal butler to attend to their every need.
The Ryder Cup
This year, the Ryder Cup is coming home to the country that invented the game of golf. From September 22 through 29, Scotland hosts the greatest tournament in match play golf at The Gleneagles Hotel. For golf enthusiasts, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the magnificent Scottish landscape while enjoying the game of golf. The Gleneagles Hotel is a five-star luxury property and is one of the most celebrated hotels in Scotland. The property is set on 850 acres of lush rolling hills and surrounded by three golf courses. Prefer to ride horses than hit golf balls? Not to worry, The Gleneagles Hotel Equestrian School is one of the best equipped in the world and provides horse-riding lessons for every level of experience.
New Year’s Eve Down Under
For those who want to experience New Year’s Eve before the rest of the world, head to Sydney. The best way to see the amazing choreographed fireworks is on the water—more specifically, while on a yacht. Ian Swain, the Founder of Swain Destinations, charters two luxury yachts for a super private and exclusive celebration. Aboard one yacht, families can ring in the New Year with kid-friendly food and fun, while those looking for an elegant and sophisticated celebration can drift away on the adults-only yacht. After the revelry, Swain Destinations suggest that you retreat to The Langham Hotel, nestled in a discreet and quiet location on the border of the historic Rocks district, home to some of Sydney’s best restaurants and shopping. And, as an indulgent start to the New Year, guests can recover from all the festivities at the hotel’s day spa with a cashmere silk wrap.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Forget the camels—Abu Dhabi is home to the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which will happen November 21 through 23, 2014. Hailed as one of the biggest events in the Middle East, the sixth annual Formula One will take place at the state-of-the-art Yas Marina Circuit. Here, the world’s most glamorous adrenaline junkies descend onto this small desert island to watch one of the most exciting car races in the world. The centerpiece of Yas Island is the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi. The hotel is an architectural marvel that looks like it floats over land and water. It is the place to see and be seen by all the beautiful people who flock to the Grand Prix from around the world. Plus, viewing the Formula One race is easy if you stay here, since the track is right next to the hotel.
Thailand’s Loi Krathong
Celebrated every November in Thailand, Loi Krathong means “Floating Decoration.” It is a beautiful holiday tradition in which decorations and floating candles are carefully placed on rivers. For the most incredible views of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, which is lit with floating lotus flowers, staying at the famed Mandarin Oriental is the way to go. Mandarin Oriental, one of the darlings of refined travel, sits along the banks of the river and has been Bangkok’s Grande Dame Hotel for 138 years. From high tea to Thai massages, this iconic hotel is a favorite destination for the most discerning jetsetters. Seeing the Loi Krathong celebrations from this legendary hotel is particularly special because Mandarin Oriental is near the celebrations, gliding decorations (krathong), and drifting candles.
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez
For those in the know, Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez is the place to be at the end of September. Ultra-luxe yachts from around the world gather together in Saint-Tropez to race for the coveted Rolex Trophy. Join the glamour and excitement on the tall ship cruise line, Star Clippers. Unlike staying in a hotel, guests can sail into the heart of the action on a yacht. This exclusive experience combines the pampered lifestyle of mega-yacht cruising with the exhilarating thrill of sailing aboard an authentic clipper ship. Spend two days enjoying the race and exploring the most famous port on the French Riviera. Other calls on the seven-day tour include L’Ile Rousse/St. Florent, and Bastia, Corsica; Portoferraio, Elba; and Rapallo, Italy.
Aspendos International Opera and Ballet
Tucked away between the Taurus Mountains and the warm Mediterranean Sea is a 2,000-year-old Greco-Roman city with one of the most spectacular outdoor venues in the world. Located in Turkey, the secluded city of Aspendos hosts the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet in the solid stone edifice erected in 155 A.D. Every August and September, this remote city becomes the centerpiece of cultural delight when some of the top opera and ballet performers showcase their talents under the warm Turkish skies. For a theatre that is more than 2,000 years old, the acoustics are superb. Microphones are not needed in this incredible amphitheater. To continue the opulent experience, staying at the Mardan Palace is in order. This Ottoman-inspired $1.4 billion resort sits on the Turkish Riviera and is considered one of the best hotels in Europe (Turkey is considered to be part of Asia and Europe). Of course it has a two-acre spa, five-acre swimming pool, and an underwater restaurant surrounded by a 350,000-gallon aquarium. Would you expect anything less?
Perched near the Artic Circle, St. Petersburg, Russia, is home to one of the most electrifying events in the world—White Nights. White Nights is both a natural phenomenon—held during a time when the sun lights up the sky continuously—and a festival of incredible magnitude. The weeklong festival in June is an extravaganza of the arts—opera, ballet, music, film, and outdoor celebrations, including the Scarlet Sails, a fleet of tall ships adorned in red sails that hosts a gunpowder-packed fireworks display, Russian style. The festivities commence at an invitation-only event at the Palace Square on Vasilievsky Island. To continue with the Russian-themed adventure, book the historic Fabergé suite at the Grand Hotel Europe in central St. Petersburg.
Monaco Yacht Show
Imagine sipping Champagne and touring some of the most amazing superyachts in the world, while rubbing shoulders with the uber-rich. You can—at the Monaco Yacht Show, which takes place in late September each year. Throughout the three-day show, there are more than 100 events that take place on board the yachts and within the many luxurious hotels in Monte Carlo. Of course, there are gala dinners and cocktail parties to keep the billionaires busy. With one of the largest and oldest wine cellars in the world, wine aficionados will love Hotel de Paris. Le Bar Américain has a remarkable, heart-stopping 300,000 Champagne vintages available. This grand hotel sits in the center of all the action and is in walking distance to many of the famous sites in Monte Carlo.
Teresa Rodriguez is a travel expert and the founder of TangoDiva.com. She is also the author of several books, including Fly Solo: The 50 Best Places on Earth for a Girl to Travel Alone and Body, Mind, and Solo: 7 Keys to Conquering the World Alone.