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Tools For The Traveler: Mark Your Calendars for These 2018 Festivals

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Travelmania manifests itself in compulsive list making—places to go, packing lists, things to see, and of course where to go next. If you have a touch of travelmania, mark your calendars, and get those lists ready. Contributing writers Natalie Compagno and Greg Freitas found five special events around the world that will satisfy your thirst for food, culture, history, and adventure this spring and summer.

BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California
March 5-18, 2018

This tennis tournament—formerly known as the Indian Wells Masters—is one of the must-see tennis competitions on the planet. The most attended tourney in the world after the four Grand Slam events, Indian Wells is also home to the largest tennis stadium other than Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens.

A tempting spring destination, Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley have perfect weather, refreshing pools, canyon hikes, and year-round summer cocktails. No excuses—get those tickets and book those flights.

Stay

The recently refurbished Miramonte Indian Wells is more than your average desert oasis. The Hilton property rebooted around the concept of fun, wellness, and high-octane activity to create a lodging that’s a hit for all ages. The mid-size hotel has multiple pools and hot tubs, and an award-winning spa. Ask for the floatie menu—you just might find a unicorn.

Eat

Onsite restaurant Citrus & Palm features innovative farm-to-table fare that is locally and responsibly sourced. Chef Paul Hancock forges unexpected and delectable flavors that include citrus from his own orchard, and he delights in introducing subtle spice to almost any dish.

Do

After all that spectating, it’s time to explore. Choose the Miramonte Extreme package to go beyond golf and tennis. Big Wheel Tours sets visitors up to tour the desert by bike, hike, or Jeep. The world’s most delicious date shakes are included.

Taste Washington in Seattle, Washington
March 22-25, 2018

As spring arrives, head to the Pacific Northwest for the nation’s largest single region food and wine event. The four-day smorgasbord features tastings, seminars, and savory tours of iconic Pike Place Market. The crowning glory is the Grand Tasting at CenturyLink Field—home of the Seahawks—with over 70 of Seattle’s elite chefs and an astonishing 235 Washington wineries representing. With such an array of options, how do you choose? We’re here to help.

Sip

Located just a cork’s throw from the festivities, Browne Family Vineyards proudly opened the door to their new tasting room this month. The single estate winery in Washington’s fertile Walla Walla area has already produced over 30 scores of 90 or higher from the experts. The Cabernet Franc is a personal favorite—balanced expertly between tannins and fruit.

The new room is a sleek design gem in the historic Seller Building near the bustle of Pioneer Square. Small snacks are available and the communal table is an easy way to meet locals. Humor is infused into the gift section as well as the experience. Ask for a Chambong. Yes, it’s a champagne bong.

Eat

Seattle is a foodie’s delight. Copine in Ballard prepares fine French-influenced food with a Seattle twist: healthy, local, and sustainable. Independently owned, the husband and wife team of Shaun McCrain and Jill Kinney strike the perfect balance between upscale casual and fine dining. Whether adding locally picked huckleberry to foie gras, or falafel and piquillo peppers to the rack of lamb, each course delights the palate.

Be sure to stop in at a Taylor Shellfish eatery. The beloved local mollusk farmers supply 10,000 oysters to Taste of Washington each year. Learn about the intricacies of sustainably raised mussels while eating freshly shucked oysters and sipping a dry Pinot Gris.

Do

For a true Northwest experience, board a Kenmore seaplane and soar to the San Juan Islands, just 40 minutes north of the city. Eastsound, on Orcas Island, offers enough foodie options to keep travelers sated for a week. Get a room at the Outlook Inn and you can walk to every wonderful meal.

Escale à Sète in Sète, Occitanie, France
March 27-April 2, 2018

This colossal celebration of maritime tradition is biennial, so 2018 is the time to go. Canal-striped Sète is known as the Venice of Languedoc—join in this festival to experience one of the most unique and welcoming small towns in France. The maritime mania is marked by over 100 spectacular tall and sailing ships.

This year, the guest of honor will be the Hermione, a replica 32-gun frigate fashioned after the original warship that belonged—no, not to Harry Potter—to General Lafayette during the American Revolution. The 2018 Escale also features ships commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I

Stay

The ideally situated Hotel de Paris is a stylish boutique nugget that offers plenty of bang for the euro.

Eat

Looking for an inviting, almost 24-hour hotspot where you can order a perfect café express at 11 a.m., down a bottle of rosé as the sun sets, and dance on tables shortly before it rises? Hippy Market Café is the place.

Do

Hike Mont Saint-Clair. The 600-foot climb culminates in spectacular views, and an artsy community with quirky museums and ateliers.

Malta International Fireworks Festival in Valletta Harbor, Malta
April 21, 27 & 30, 2018

This is the year to visit the Mediterranean’s most charming island nation—Valletta is the European Capital of Culture for 2018. Malta is renowned for their pyrotechnics—there are over 30 fireworks factories on the island—so book those flights for late April. The event, which commemorates Malta’s entry into the European Union, will set off a nationwide celebration in every town across the island.

Do

Valletta has the harbor but it also has the tourists and the kitsch. Visit Mdina. Malta’s second city is a picture-perfect medieval town on a hill overlooking the island. Filled with tasty cafes and indie shops far from the masses, Mdina is a must-visit.

Stay

Xara Palace is the only hotel within Mdina’s ancient ramparts, and provides an elegant glimpse into Malta’s aristocratic palazzo past. Better still, for under $200 a night, you can stay in a Relais & Chateaux property.

Eat

In Mdina, be sure to stop in at the Fontanella Tea Garden for wonderful food with an even better view.

Nelson Mandela Centenary in Durban, South Africa
July 18, 2018

Many socially conscious travelers look for service opportunities during their visit. This summer marks the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, a perfect opportunity to give back and honor his legacy.

South Africa has adopted the custom of giving 67 minutes of service on Mandela’s birthday, one minute for each year of his service. Some cities make a party out of it—a perfect way to get to know the locals. In Durban, you can sign up for a 67-minute supermarket spree, where teams push around carts to load with food for the needy.

Stay

The Elephant House is an 1847 hunting lodge converted into an inexpensive, charming B&B that’s also the oldest house in Durban.

Eat

Indian food. Durban is known as “the largest ‘Indian’ city outside India,” which is impressive when considering the number of Indian emigres in Fiji, Singapore, and Trinidad.

Do

Hike in the Drakensberg, Southern Africa’s tallest mountain range. “The Berg,” as the locals call it, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains over 22,000 ancient rock paintings at 600 sites, many easily accessible to visitors.

To learn more about unique destinations you can visit around the world, check out:

By Natalie Compagno and Greg Freitas for PeterGreenberg.com