The World's Top Attractions and When to See Them

March 26, 2019

Fine weather, seaside longings and family adventures are all excellent reasons to head out of town. But taking a trip can be extra special when the destination in mind is celebrating, too. Time your vacation to catch some of the world’s most unique festivals, events, attractions and celebrations.

Lore has it that Telluride earned its moniker from the irascible miners who claimed their mountain locale was, well, rough: “To hell you ride.” One hundred and fifty years later, it’s much easier to get here, either on scenic Highway 145 through the San Juan Mountains or flying in to North America’s highest commercial airport, the Telluride Regional Airport. Telluride has so many festivals, the town even celebrates the odd weekend when there isn’t one. The Telluride Film Festival, Jazz Celebration and Telluride Bluegrass Festival are all mainstays on the summer calendar, but there are many more from which to choose. At the beginning of the summer the Baloon Festival turns the sky into a Technicolor dreamscape, while Blues & Brews ushers in the changing aspens with music, food and suds in the autumn.

The Cap Cana Beach Polo World Cup is a one-of-a-kind event, wherein colorfully clad polo players atop galloping steeds take to the white sands of Cap Cana for a rousing tournament of polo. A terrific photo opp, the Cap Cana tourney turns into a beach party like only the DR can throw.

Chicago and lakefront are synonymous, thanks to the annual Air & Water Show on North Avenue. Admission is free and the show is open to the public. Claim your seat early because the Windy City packs ’em in for this one. Best seats in the house will be on North Avenue Beach and Oak Street Beach. Or hop into the continent’s fastest elevators in the John Hancock Observatory building, climbing 1,000 feet in 39 seconds for 360-degree views of the city and the show. Bonus: A multimedia tour narrated by David Schwimmer is included. Each year the Air & Water Show introduces new surprises, such as Vince Vaughn’s 2011 parachute onto the beach. If crowds aren’t your thing, wander over to Navy Pier and the Chicago Children’s Museum, catch a 3D movie at IMAX or take in the sunset from the Ferris wheel.

Humpback whales begin their southern migration from Alaska to Hawaii each December. February to April is prime whale-watching season in Maui, as Lahaina celebrates their annual arrival with ocean-themed presentations, music, and dancing at the Lahaina Whale and Ocean Arts Festival.

Get teed up for the PGA Golf Championship, held on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The Pete Dye-designed course has proven to be one of the toughest on the East Coast. This Low Country island, all 11.2 acres of it, is one of the most carefully preserved barrier islands in the world. Named for the Native American tribe that hunted and fished in the area in the 1600s, the island was granted to reputed pirate George Raynor in 1699. Only three owners later in 1974, the island was developed into a world-class private gated resort community with a year-round population of roughly 1,200 residents. Try biking around the island on 30 miles of paved bike paths and 10 miles of  beaches.

July is the height of Lavender Season in Provence, with two primary growing areas known as lavandicoles: the triangle between Sault, Banon and Sederon, and north of Nyons at the base of Mont Ventoux. Field upon field of purple dances in the summer sun, scenting the air with its pungent aroma. In the town of Coustellet, a small lavender museum with a collection of copper stills dating back to the 16th century tells the story of lavender production. By 1929, there were 47 lavender stills around Sault— considered the lavender capital of Provence—producing the best essential oils. The Sault Tourist Office offers guided tours of the three remaining lavender distilleries. Festivals and lavender tours abound. Make it a point to see the medieval villages of Gordes, Menerbes, Lacoste and Saignon, Roussillon, and Les Baux-de-Provence.