Where to go when: Cassie's holiday calendar
As one of our product managers, it's Cassie's job to scout out exciting destinations, research routes and plan the tours that you see in our brochures and on our website. With her wealth of expertise and insider knowledge, we asked Cassie to pick out her favourite times of year to visit the destinations she covers. From sumo wrestling tournaments in Japan and sun god festivals in Peru, to witnessing baby turtles hatching on Costa Rican beaches, she's got the inside scoop on when to go where...
I could wax lyrical about Japan for days! There's always something going on here, whether it's the beautiful cherry blossom season or a traditional festival that gives visitors a glimpse into Japanese culture.
On 'Japanese Winter Wonderland', we visit during January and February, so that you can enjoy unique experiences like the snow monkeys, Lake Shikotsu Ice Festival and the Sapporo Snow Festival. Enjoying the hot natural outdoor springs at our traditional hotel in the Japanese Alps is the most blissful experience. The water steams up around you and keeps you warm from the sub-zero temperatures. Nestled in the middle of a lantern-filled Japanese garden, it's a great way to unwind after a busy day.
Late March to mid-April is the prime time to visit Japan to experience the fabulous 'sakura' in bloom - seeing the sights framed by the beautiful pink hues of the cherry blossom really is wonderful. April is also a great time to be in Takayama (the 'little Kyoto' of the Japanese Alps), when the Takayama Festival is held. The festival marks the start of the harvest, with magnificent floats paraded through the streets.
In May and September, the weather is pleasantly warm, the sights are uncrowded - and it's sumo season in Tokyo! We have special departure dates that take in the sumo tournament at the Kokugikan Arena, known as the spiritual home of sumo.
2023 will be the first year that we launch July departures of our 'Essence of Japan' tour. It'll be a wonderful time to travel to Japan - you'll enjoy the fabulous Gion Festival in Kyoto, as well as a traditional Japanese riverside summer dining experience called 'Kawadoko Dining', with a full kaiseki dinner and a performance from a maiko (apprentice geisha).
Finally, October and November are the months to visit for the beautiful autumn colours. I love strolling around the Kenroku-en Garden, one of the 'Three Great Gardens of Japan', during autumn, as the colours make it even more atmospheric. The end of harvest festival also takes place in Takayama in October.
October is the best month to visit Costa Rica if you're interested in seeing the turtles - this is the time they come up to nest on the beaches of Tortuguero, on the Caribbean coast. Weather-wise, November-March is the dry season, and the most popular time to travel.
In general, October through to April is dry season. My pick would be early November, though, to coincide your holiday to Mexico with the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) national holiday. It takes place on 2 November - we have dedicated departures that include some special Day of the Dead extras.
The USA is huge, so the best times to visit really depend on which part of the country you're looking at. February is a fantastic time to be in New Orleans, as you get to experience the famously raucous Mardi Gras festivities. And April is great for music lovers, as there's a brilliant jazz festival (it makes a memorable end to our music-inspired 'Southern Sights and Sounds' tour).
April-May and September-October are the months I'd pick for the national parks of Utah and Arizona. These four months are the perfect balance of being pleasantly warm but avoiding the scorching summer heat!
May is also a great time to visit Hawaii (the rainy season has been and gone, and it leaves behind lush landscapes and pleasant temperatures), while September would be my pick for California - dry, sunny days and not too hot.
Late September into early October I'd flag as the best time to see the fall colours New England is famous for. Finally, for New York, I'd definitely highlight December as the best time to visit. You can pick up your Christmas shopping and admire all the amazing festive decorations across the city.
Australia & New Zealand
You could pick any time of year between October and March for Australia and New Zealand - it's the spring/summer season and most places are beautiful at that time.
If pushed, I'd probably choose November for New Zealand, as you can enjoy warm spring weather without the crowds of the summer holidays. For Australia, I'd say March or October. Our tours tend to cover a lot of the country, and the climate can vary greatly between different states - I'd say these months give you the best weather across the board.
The best time to visit Peru is generally May to September, which is the dry season. It can get a little cool in places, but there are very few rainy days. June in particular is a great time to travel to Peru - we have an extra special departure date to coincide with the Inti Raymi Festival (Festival of the Sun) - it's great to experience this cultural tradition.
Carnival happens in February each year. We always try and have a special departure of our 'Grand Tour of South America' that puts us in Rio de Janeiro a week after the main Carnival for the Winners Parade. We'll have tickets to the parade, so you'll get to see all the best floats of the Carnival - a great finale to our tour of South America.
For more holiday inspiration, why not order a free copy of our Worldwide brochure?
Article published on: 24th August, 2021