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13 Summer Traditions and Festivals You Need to Know About

The summertime not only brings warmer weather and beach days, but also festivals and celebrations held around the world. People gather far and wide within their own countries and internationally to enjoy several summer traditions that cannot be beaten. While this year’s celebrations may look a little different, there is always time to plan to attend these global events next year. From barbecues and bonfires to races and celebrating friendship, these are the 13 summer traditions and festivals you need to know about.

Learn more about these Summer Traditions:

dragon boat racing summer traditions
China’s famous dragon boat racing.

Dragon Boat Festival: June 25

The Chinese calendar is filled with celebrations throughout the year. One of the most exciting traditions held annually in China is the Dragon Boat Festival. This festival has been celebrated for over 2,000 years and was even added to the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2009. Also as of 2008, the Dragon Boat Festival is a public holiday in China. The festival commemorates the life and death of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese scholar. A key part of the festival is the famous dragon boat races. These boats can be anywhere from 40 to 100 feet long and sit 80 rowers. The races symbolize bringing the dragons to life and laying them to rest after the race finishes. While the festival’s date changes yearly it is mainly held between the end of May to the end of June.

Pride Parade: June

For over 50 years in the United States, Pride festivities celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and is one of the most popular summer traditions. The first-ever Pride took place in New York City on June 28, 1970, one year after the Stonewall uprising. Since then, cities throughout the North American country fill the street with rainbow colors, parades, floats, and music to spread love, compassion, and kindness throughout the community. The biggest Pride festival is still in NYC every year and attracts millions of people from all communities to spread love and awareness. Other notable cities with large Pride events include Denver, Colorado, San Francisco, California, and Washington D.C.

March in the Pride parades in the major cities of the United States.

Summer Solstice: June 20

Who doesn’t love to celebrate the longest day of summer? Occurring between June 20 to June 22, the summer solstice marks the day when the sun is at its highest point creating the longest day of sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere. Countries in Scandanavia celebrate the holiday with large bonfires on the beach. In fact, the first largest bonfire record was a result of a summer solstice celebration in Norway in 2016. Many people travel far and wide to visit Stonehenge in Salisbury, England to admire World Heritage Site during the solstice. Celebrants can watch the solstice via a virtual tour on the Stonehenge website.

Bonfires are a major part of summer solstice celebrations.

United States Independence Day: 4th of July

The United State’s Independence Day is the 4th of July. Americans spend the day enjoying barbecues, bonfires, and red, white, and blue colors decorating absolutely everything. This is of course to match the American flag. On July 4, 1776, all thirteen American colonies signed the Declaration of Independence which gave the US freedom from under British rule. Many 4th of July summer traditions include parades throughout the country, a day at the beach, and firework shows in every city. Pro tip! Many coastal cities and lake cities light their fireworks in the water so that spectators can watch them from the beach and shore. It is a spectacular day of celebration and joy.

Looking for tips on how to safely celebrate this year? Watch the fireworks from your home, take a virtual tour of a national monument, and host a small BBQ of close friends and family. You can keep the 4th of July and it’s summer traditions alive, right from home.

Bastille Day: July 14

Otherwise known as Bastille Day the French National Holiday, La Fête Nationale is celebrated every 14th of July. It is very similar to the United State’s 4th of July in tradition and celebration. This holiday marks the turning point in the French Revolution on July 14, 1789, which united the French people after fighting against the monarchy. The streets of France fill with proud French citizens as fireworks illuminate the Eiffel Tower. One of the main parts of the summer event is the military procession that goes down the long Champs-Élysées.

Japan's summer traditions include fireworks
Enjoy the fireworks at Japan’s Sumidagawa Festival.

Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival: Last Saturday in July

If you are in Tokyo on the last Saturday in July, attend the annual Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival. Traditionally, fireworks a part of festivals for the dead to celebrate and commemorate the lives lost during the crisis during 1732. The festival then began in 1733, however it did not become an annual event until 1978. The firework festival brings the city to life under the shimmering colors. Summertime and fireworks go hand in hand.

Hajj Pilgrimage: July to August

Every year during the last lunar month of the Islamic calendar, Muslim people from all corners of the world make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Mecca is considered to be the holiest place in the Islamic religion. The pilgrimage can last from five to six days and is a mandatory religious duty for all adult Islamic people to do at least once in their lifetime. Between Saudi Arabian residents and international visitors, about 2.5 million people made the Hajj in 2019.

summer traditions hajj mecca
The beautiful gathering celebration at Mecca.

International Day of Friendship: July 30

Show your friends how much your care by celebrating the International Day of Friendship together on the 30th of July. This summer tradition offers friends the perfect opportunity to celebrate life, happiness, and kindness for their loved ones. Countries around the world celebrate this day on different dates, however, it typically falls sometime in July or the beginning of August. Although the concept of this day originates back to 1919, it officially became a holiday by the United Nations General Assembly in July 2011. Fun fact! Paraguay was the first country to officially celebrate the international day of friendship in 1958. The best way to honor the event is by booking a stay for you and your best pals on CuddlyNest. You can even make new summer traditions during your getaway.

Krishna Janmashtami: August 11

This Hindu holiday celebrates the birth of the eighth avatar of Vishnu, Krishna Janmashtami. It is one of India’s biggest and oldest holidays, due to Hindu tradition and teachings. The summer tradition includes two parts in which the Indian people build swings in their homes and place idols of the gods inside them, to then bathe them in milk, honey, and jewelry. Young boys also form a human pyramid to break a pot from 20-30 feet high. It is common for devotees of the celebration to dress their absolute best during the holiday and observe a day-long fast. While this an important festival in the Hindu religion, it is also a very proud day for all of India.

Enjoy art, culture, and music at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival: August

Also known as Fringe for short, this annual summer festival in Scotland is one of its most popular events all year. It is the world’s largest art festival and can last as long as a little over three weeks. The whole event features more than 50,000 performances and shows in over 300 venues throughout the city of Edinburgh. They include circuses, cabarets, musicals, exhibitions, and more. Spend next summer soaking in all the art and culture Scotland has to offer at the Fringe Festival in August. Pro tip: If comedy is your thing, check out local bars and pubs for free stand-up comedy shows. You can enjoy the events without purchasing a ticket.

Yi Torch Festival: August

One of China’s largest and grandest events is the Yi Torch Festival in the Yunnan province. The date of the celebration is always in August, as it corresponds with the 24th to 27th of the sixth month in the lunar calendar. While the festival includes wrestling, contests, horse racing, and more, the main event is the lighting of the torch. Each family lights a torch and uses it to illuminate the corners of the room and fields. Tradition says that this drives away all bad luck and brings a successful harvest. Larger torches are also made for the city centers to ward off bad luck for the entire community. It is truly a summer tradition of fire and light.

Explore Burning Man Festival in Nevada, USA.

Burning Man: August

Burning Man is a festival of art, self-expression, and creativity. Originating in 1986, it occurs every year in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Tens of thousands of people attend this summer festival in the desert to collaborate, create, and share beautiful experiences together. Not only does this summer tradition include music and art, but also the building of an entire city. The art that is built at the event can include anything from sculptures to towers. At the end of every Burning Man festival, a large wood effigy symbolizing “the man” is burnt to the ground, as well as the rest of the event grounds. If you have the opportunity to experience Burning Man once in your lifetime, you will never forget it. 

La Tomatina: Last Wednesday of August

On the last Wednesday of every August, over 20,000 people gather in Buñol, Spain to celebrate La Tomatina. Hundreds of tomatoes are thrown at each other in the street in the Valencian town purely for entertainment and fun. This food fight has been a tradition in the town since 1945. Over the course of its tradition, the fight has been banned off and on, but that has never stopped Spaniards from participating in the event that brings them so much joy.


Have you ever celebrated any of these summer traditions and festivals? Let us know which, so that we can help you plan a trip to experience even more events next summer.

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colosseum

Discover the New Seven Wonders of the World

Across the globe, people travel far and wide to visit The New Seven Wonders of the World. But, do you know the history of theses sites and how they came to be so important to the global community?

pyramids in egypt

For centuries the world has celebrated amazing sculptures and architecture. So much so that seven of these landmarks have the global status of being a “Wonder of the World”. Although there are now several categories with this title, the original list of ancient wonders dates back to a piece of work written in 225 B.C. by Philo of Byzantine called On Seven Wonders. These landmarks are revered because they show the true capability humans have for incredible imagination and creativity. After all, each of these architectural phenomenons is manmade.

The New Seven Wonders

The only ancient wonder that still exists today is the Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt. In order to choose the new seven wonders of the world, a foundation was created in 1999 to vote and choose them. After over 100 million votes, the new sites were revealed in 2007. They are Petra, The Colosseum, The Great Wall of China, Christ the Redeemer, Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu, and the Taj Mahal.

Although these sites are currently closed to the public, travelers can still admire and explore them through virtual tours. Learn about each of the new seven wonders of the world and plan for your future visit.


new seven wonders of the world petra

Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan is one of the most remarkable landmarks on the planet. This ancient city is from the 1st century B.C. and served as the Arabic capital of the Nabateans Empire. The state became very wealthy due to its position in the trading routes between Arabia, India, Africa, and the West. Its moniker is the Rose City and it became a UNESCO Heritage site in 1985. The beautiful sandstone walls are famous for their feature in the 1989 film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. According to the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA), Petra welcomed over one million visitors in 2019.


new seven wonders of the world christ the redeemer

Christ the Redeemer, Brazil

The colossal Christ the Redeemer statue looks over Rio de Janeiro from the summit of Mount Corcovado. Construction on the statue took place in April 1922 and it was completed in 1931. The statue is 98 feet tall and its arms span 92 feet wide from fingertip to fingertip. It is the largest Art Deco-style sculpture in the entire world. Christ the Redeemer celebrates and honors the 100th year anniversary of the Brazilian Republic. It is still one of the most visited sites in not only Brazil but the world. There is even a replica of the statue in Lisbon, Portugal.

In March 2020, the statue was illuminated with flags of all the countries heavily affected by COVID-19. An act that showed an outpour of support for the global community.


new seven wonders of the world chichen itza

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Over 2 million tourists visit Chichen Itza, the second most popular archeological site in Mexico, a year. The ancient city is on the Yucatan Peninsula. The Kukulkan Pyramid, which is located in the center of the site, is one of the only buildings to maintain its original structure. Historians say Chichen Itza was built from 600 A.D. until 1221 during the Mayan empire. Due to its location and size, it stood as one of the most important places in Mayan culture. In December 2019, a new daily visit record was broken, with over 18,000 visitors in just one day. It is a must-visit when planning a trip to Mexico.


new seven wonders of the world great wall of china

The Great Wall of China, China

One of the most famous structures in the world is the Great Wall of China. Built in the early 7th century B.C. it took over 2,500 years to complete the entire wall. It spanned over more than 10 Chinese dynasties. The wall winds up and down the country in a dragon-like shape and extends over 13,170 miles (21,196 kilometers). Due to both human and natural causes, almost 1/3 of the wall is missing today. Thus, the Chinese government has commissioned many restoration projects to renovate the wall and its missing parts. The Chinese don’t refer to this wonder as “the Great Wall.” They call it Chángchéng, which means Long Wall. Visited by over 10 million people a year, this wonder of the world became a UNESCO Heritage site in 1987.


new seven wonders of the world colosseum

The Colosseum, Italy

Located in the heart of Rome, Italy, The Colosseum stands proud as a symbol of power for the country. Construction on the Colosseum started in 70 A.D. However, it did not officially begin until 72 A.D. and finish until 80 A.D. Building the Colosseum was ordered by Emperor Vespasian who wanted to build the largest amphitheater in the world. In fact, it is still the largest in the world. During its time, the Colosseum could seat as many as 50,000 to 70,000 spectators. It was used to host gladiator contests, mock sea battles, and animal hunts. Some of the animals even included big cats and crocodiles. The historical landmark is one of Italy’s most famous tourist attractions and welcomes over 7 million visitors a year.


The Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal is so much more than just a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in 1632 to 1648 for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The building represents the emperor’s everlasting love for his wife. Today, it stands as a beacon of light and strength for India and the global community. Over 2.5 million visitors come to visit the Taj Mahal every year. As are the other wonders, the Taj Mahal is also a UNESCO Heritage site since 1983. While photos of the building show its beauty, they cannot truly capture the delicacy and attention to detail. It is truly a place one must see in person in order to know its magnificence.


machu picchu view

Machu Picchu, Peru

Last, but not least is Machu Picchu. This site is one of the most breathtaking global landmarks and the true pride of Peru. Machu Picchu belongs to the Incan empire from the mid-15th-century. However, it wasn’t rediscovered until 1911 by archeologist Hiram Bingham.  He was searching for another ancient city when he found the green terraces and remains of the structure. Many historians commonly use the term “ruins” when referring to this wonder, however, that is an incorrect description according to Machupicchu.org. It is best to describe this city as a sanctuary as it was a spiritual and sacred place for the Incans. Machu Picchu became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.


Have you ever visited one of the new seven wonders of the world? Let us know! Check out our blog to learn about more places you can virtually visit today.

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Mexican Food vs. Tex-Mex

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Have you ever wondered what the difference between Tex-Mex vs Mexican food is? If so, this blog post is for you! We recently watched Taco Chronicles on Netflix, which made us think, “What is the difference between Tex-Mex vs Mexican food? So if you’ve been pondering this question just like we have, read on as we delve deeper into this common query.

mexican food tacos

The fifth of May is an important day for many Americans and Mexicans, as it celebrates Cinco de Mayo, or Mexican Independence day. Just like Mexican food and Tex-Mex, this holiday has its own misconceptions. We are going to debunk myths about the celebrations surrounding this holiday. As well as the difference between the two delicious cuisines.

Cinco de Mayo: Why is it celebrated?

Cinco de Mayo is a United States holiday that celebrates Mexico’s Independence Day. However, this is a very famous misconception, as Mexico’s Independence Day is actually September 16, 1810. In Mexico, this day marks the “Battle of Puebla.” This battle was fought on May 5, 1862, between Mexico and France. The Mexicans unexpectedly defeated the French, thus they were able to keep the independence they already had.

cinco de mayo history

Why Cinco de Mayo is really a celebration of Mexican Food:

Two years after Mexico won the Battle of Puebla, the U.S. began celebrating Mexican culture on May 5th. Since then, millions of Americans celebrate this tradition every year. From festive parades and dancing in the streets to large tables of nachos and enchiladas, this celebration is all about food and fiesta.

cinco de mayo dancing

Food and Drink Consumption in the U.S. on Cinco de Mayo:

  • According to the cocktail market, about 126 million liters of tequila were consumed on Cinco de Mayo in 2019. It is also the seventh-largest beer-drinking holiday.
  • The California Avocado Commission says that about 87 million avocados were consumed on Cinco de Mayo in 2017.
  • Fiesta Broadway is the largest celebration of Cinco de Mayo. It is held every year in Los Angeles, California.
  • Mole Poblano is the official holiday dish.
  • There are over 360 tortilla factories in the U.S. that contribute to the production of tortillas.

mexican food margaritas

Mexican Food vs. Tex-Mex: What’s the difference?

In order to truly celebrate Cinco de Mayo, you need to know the difference between Mexican food and Tex-Mex.

  • The term Tex-Mex is short for Tex-Mexican (Texas and Mexican), a combination of both American and Mexican cuisines.
  • The most notable difference between the two cuisines is the ingredients. In almost all Tex-Mex dishes, cumin is the main ingredient, however, most traditional Mexican dishes don’t include it at all. Traditional Mexican plates use ingredients such as chile peppers, oregano, cacao, cilantro, and more.
  • Tex-Mex taco shells are typically hard tortilla shells, while Mexican taco recipes call for soft corn tortillas.
  • If you find cheddar on your Mexican food, then it is a Tex-Mex dish. Mexicans always use white or yellow cheese.
  • Many typical Mexican dishes including enchiladas, tacos, and more belong to both Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines. However, Tex-Mex prepares them with their own flavors and style.

Iconic Tex-Mex Dishes

Here we’ve listed a few iconic tex-mex dishes to give you some ideas about what to eat during your next Cinco de Mayo celebration!

  • Chili con Carne: Chili con Carne is a classic Tex-Mex dish made of chili, which is chilis, chicken broth, and your own (or others) secret ingredients, and Carne, either chicken, beef, or pork. If you haven’t tried traditional Chili con Carne before, then what are you waiting for?
  • Steak Fajitas: Fajitas are grilled meats usually served on a taco and doused with delicious spices and toppings. A definite must-have during your next traditional Tex-Mex celebration.
  • Queso: Queso has been described as one of the pillars of Tex-Mex cuisine, and is even sometimes referred to as the “national party dip of Texas”. Essentially gooey, melted yellow cheese with green chiles, you’ll be able to find this dish almost anywhere Tex-Mex food is served.

Iconic Mexican Dishes

Mexican cuisine is a diverse and massive array of cultures and ingredients, so it’s hard to list just a few dishes. However, we’ve listed a few traditional Mexican foods here just to give you an idea of what Mexican cuisine offers.

  • Tacos: Tacos are a hugely popular Mexican food all over the world, and for good reason. At its most basic, tacos are small tortillas filled with cheeses, sauce, and fillings such as meat, beans, or vegetables. Traditionally, a Mexican taco is very basic, and rarely contains more than just meat and some sauce and few toppings.
  • Enchiladas: Enchiladas were made for cheese lovers! A large tortilla stuffed with veggies, beans, and meat, then covered in cheese and baked, this mouthwatering dish is a Mexican classic and one you won’t want to miss.

 We hope you learned a thing or two, about Cinco de Mayo! Enjoy your feast, and don’t forget to let us know what you make at home.

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20 Countries Where You Can See the Japanese Cherry Blossoms

Spring has finally sprung, which means the arrival of the famous pink and white Japenese cherry blossoms. Known as sakura, in Japan, these delicate flowers are one of the most famous sights to see in Japan. But did you know you could also see them in other parts of the world, too? You may have even seen them and not known what they were. Don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you here.japanese cherry blossoms

Here are some fun facts about this popular flower:

  • According to the BBC, about 8.5 million tourists visited Japan during the cherry blossom season, (March-May), last year. This alone brought in roughly 650 billion yen.
  • The custom of the cherry blossom season is believed to have been started somewhere between 710-749, in the Nara Period.
  • The cherry blossoms symbolize clouds because they bloom in small bunches bundled together. They are also a symbol of the nature of life.
  • Cherry blossoms are now found in more than 20 countries around the world, apart from Japan. 

Do you have cherry blossoms in your home country? Check the list below:

Austria:

If you want to visit the cherry blossoms in Vienna, you have to act fast. Due to the colder temperatures in this region, the cherry blossoms tend to make their arrival and departure rather quickly. Have no fear! You can still see them in between mid-March to mid-April throughout the city.

Australia:

After WWII, as a sign of peace and friendship, the Cowra Tourism Board offered to make a Japanese garden in its province. The garden was first built in 1979 and refurbished in 1989. The town of Cowra celebrates a cherry blossom festival every September.

Brazil:

São Paulo is home to one of the largest Japanese communities outside of Japan. After the Japanese began immigrating to Brazil, they brought many seedlings of the cherry blossoms with them. The trees can be found in the Botanical Garden of Curitiba. They are usually in full bloom in July.

Canada:

Admirers of the cherry blossom can find over 40,000 cherry trees in Vancouver, Canada. Brought in the 1930s as a gift from Japan, the arrival of cherry blossom season is celebrated every year with a festival in the springtime.

vancouver cherry blossoms

Take in the gorgeous views of the cherry trees in Vancouver, Canada.

China:

The oldest cherry blossoms in China can be found in Longwangtang Park. Originating from the WWII era, the arrival of the cherry blossoms illuminates the area in late April. They can also be found in parts of Beijing and Shanghai.

Denmark:

Travelers come from far and wide to see the gorgeous cherry blossoms in Copenhagen. The most common place to find them in the capital city? Bispebjerg Cemetery and Langelinie Park in April.

France:

Flock to Parc de Sceaux, in Paris, to see the orchards of cherry trees, both in white and pink. Visitors can find them bloom in early April.

Germany:

Hamburg, Germany, hosts a full festival annually to welcome the return of the cherry blossoms, drawing in tens of thousands of spectators every spring. Every May a “Cherry Blossom Queen” is selected by the Japan Cherry Blossom Association. In German, the festival is known as “Kirschblütenfest.”

cherry blossoms in the Himalayas

Cherry Blossoms in the Himalayas.

India:

In India, the cherry blossom is found mainly in the Himalayan states. The country holds an annual cherry blossom festival in the fall, between October and November. With their arrival, the blossoms can be seen covering the Himalayan foothills, a truly breathtaking scene.

Korea:

In Korea, cherry blossoms symbolize purity and beauty. In earlier tradition, monks used the wood from the cherry trees to make bows and roadblocks. The best place to enjoy cherry blossom season is in Seoul in late March, early April.

Myanmar:

The town of Pyin OO Lwin is known as “The Land of Cherries.” While some of the cherry trees had to be genetically modified to survive the

tropical weather, they are still very important in Myanmar.

The Netherlands:

The cherry blossom trees in the Netherlands were donated 20 years ago by the Japan Women’s Club. In total there are 400 trees. 200 of the trees have female Japanese names and 200 of them have female Dutch names.

New Zealand:

Most commonly found in the Christchurch Botanical Gardens, the trees are also found in Hagley Park in the heart of the city. Visitors can enjoy the open space under a blanket of cherry trees.

new zealand cherry blossoms

Spend the night in a hobbit house surrounded by cherry blossoms.

Spain:

Every March marks the arrival of the cherry blossoms in the Jerte Valley in Extremadura, Spain. The valley holds over two million cherry blossom trees and fills it with the beautiful pink and white colors.

Sweden:

April 28th is the official Day of the Cherry Blossom in Stockholm, although these flowers tend to make an earlier appearance in the spring. The Swedes and Japanese hold a festival during this time each year, which marks 150 years of friendship between Sweden and Japan.

Taiwan:

The cherry blossom festivities in Taiwan attract 50,000 visitors each year. The season typically starts as early as January and finishes in April. One of the most popular places to see the incredibly displace is at Tianyuan Temple.

Thailand:

Unlike many other areas, the typical season for cherry blossoms in Thailand is in the winter. The trees bloom mostly in Northern Thailand in cities including Chiang Mai.

cherry blossoms thailand

Stroll down the streets of Chiang Mai under a blanket of cherry blossoms.

Turkey:

Typically due to arrive in spring, the cherry trees made an early arrival this year, blooming in early winter 2019. For one of Turkey’s orchard owners, the early arrival came as a big surprise. After 30 years of cultivating the land, he had never witnessed an early arrival.

The United Kingdom:

Travelers can find pink flowers all throughout the UK. The Gloucestershire region holds the national collections of Japanese villa cherries. London is also home to several parks and Japanese gardens where tourists can marvel at the cherry trees.

The United States:

From coast to coast, travelers can see the beautiful cherry blossoms in many states of the US. Most notably in the East Coast including Boston, Washington D.C., and Baltimore, visitors come to the University of Washington, Seattle Campus, every March to take pictures in the gorgeous liberal arts quad filled with cherry trees. To see the current bloom in Washington D.C., you can watch from the Bloom Cam.

Add a visit to the cherry blossoms in your home country to your bucket list.

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Best Dirt-Cheap Balkan Ski Resorts for Family Christmas Holidays You Can Ski below $20 a Day

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Balkan ski resorts In Southern Eastern Europe packs the best value per buck, if you ask us. While there are many opportunities for Christmas holidays spent together with family or friends, Balkans can offer you one of the most fun and unforgettable ways on skis. You can choose from resorts totalling in 883 kilometres of slopes, served by 521 ski lifts. That said, skiing opportunities in Southern East Europe Balkan countries are virtually endless.

While skiing is for everyone, skiing in Alps in France or Switzerland can get expensive. To have more fun while spending less, we suggest skiing in Europe in Slovakian Tatry, or go to Balkans instead.
Not only it is much more enjoyable stay away from tourist-crowded ski destinations; you will also save quite a bit of money by going to the budget Balkan ski resorts. Offering world-class skiing opportunities for just a fraction you would spend in the US, Western Europe or even Scandinavian glaciers, CuddlyNest made a list featuring the best Balkan ski resorts that are also family-friendly.

After all, Christmas is all about being together with your loved ones, isn’t it?

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Vitosha, Sofia – Bulgaria

Budget-friendly Resort for All, € 18

We already wrote about 15 good reasons to visit Balkans this holiday. But here comes another one. Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, hosts one of the least expensive, but well-rated ski resorts in Balkans. With more than 20 km of ski slopes available and 15 lifts in disposal of skiers, there is plenty of space to practice, learn and simply enjoy skiing for all technique levels.

 

The winter sports area is situated between 1340 and 2290 m, and while most of slopes are for those aiming at blue trails (easy level), approximately 30% of ski slopes is for intermediate skiers. If you are sure about your ski and want to go for extreme adrenaline trails, there is not that much to see in Vitosha. Only 2 km of total ski slope area is surviving advanced skiers.

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Sofia, Balkan Ski Resort Prices

As for pricing, you will save quite a bit when skiing in Sofia. Day ticket for adults cost approximately €18 (BGN 35), while youth and children day passes come at approximately €14 and €11, respectively.

Night Skiing in Sofia, Bulgaria

The resort is opened from 9 am to 4 pm, but you can also ski at night. Night skiing is operating from 6.30 pm until 10pm, daily, so you can enjoy starry sky while going back to top on the escalator chair.

The resort is one of the best established in the whole region. Although there are no recently opened slopes, the very first slope with the 2-person fixed-grip Dragalezvi-Saslona chairlift was opened back in 1956. After that, the resort undergone 2 large upgrades, with each adding 5 slopes. The current slopes is the result of 1984 upgrade. However, there have not been any Olympic games hosted in Vitosha, so while you get a great value for the buck, do not expect the world-class training slopes, especially if looking for moguls.

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Skiing Babin Do – Bjelašnica – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Want to ski on Olympic Games slopes? The winter Bjelašnica Olympic Mountain Ski Centre facilities are located on the eastern slope of Bjelašnica. Close to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, there is plenty to do both in winter and summertime. While it is one of the most marvellous places to go for a hike in summer (or winter, if you are into ski shoeing), do not get carried away with hiking trails.

Olympic Ski Resort in Balkans

Indeed, Bjelašnica is one of the top ski resorts, having more than 12.5 of slopes available. Good for both skiing and snowboarding, the resort lies around 27 km away from the capital city of Bosnia, making it an attractive destination for those who want to spend some time in the city where the World War I started. The capital boasts beautiful architecture, and affordable restaurant scene – you may want to check it now, and book Sarajevo hotel in advance.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Balkan Skiing Red Trails

Contrasting with other Balkan ski resorts, there is more to do for intermediates than those who are beginners. Located between elevations 1,270 and 2,067m over the sea level, skiing near the capital is also one of the most affordable, considered great Bjelašnica summit slopes. With day pass costing adults €18 (BGN 35), and €13 (BGN 25) for children, you can enjoy the slopes where Winter Olympics of 1984 were hosted. It is an experience of a lifetime to ski the same slope where Bill Johnson (US) won the alpine skiing downhill, and twins Phil and Steve Mahre (US) slalom.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Stara Planina – Babin Zub for Beginners – Serbia

Located in Southern and Eastern Serbia, Stara Planina offers one of the least costly options for beginners. The perks of choosing Stara Planina as your Balkan winter ski destination also include the fresh countryside air. The slopes practically end at the village Jabučko Ravnište, and you can go straight to your home after a long day on skis.

Serbia Ski Resorts

As for the offering, the Babin Zub is perfect for those families looking for a place to practice skiing safely. Out of 13 km of the resort’s slopes, more than half is for those trying to learn. When surpassed the blue slope skill level, you can either go for red or black slopes, both of which are equally abundant, compromising 3 km each.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Stara Planina Ticket Prices

Day tickets for adults and children are little bit more expensive but considering 5 lifts for just 13 km of ski slopes, you can be sure you will not freeze at the line waiting to go to top. Gondolas will take you to the top, and you can be sure the chairlifts are up to the latest standards, being constructed just back in 2006. Daily ticket for adults cost €19 (RSD 2250) and €15 (RSD 1760) for children.

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Sljeme (Medvednica) – Zagreb – Croatia

While Croatia beaches and historical sites are appealing to those families seeking sun and summer in the midst of winter, there is a lot to do in Croatia for those willing to take up skiing, too.

Best Croatia Small-Scale Ski Resort

Sljeme ski resort near Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is small enough to feel cosy and always be sure about where your family members are. One of the best ski resorts for those with young children, Sljeme ski area is totalling in 4 km. Mostly serving those who go after blue and red tracks, the ski area is equipped with a 3-person chairlift to bring you 1030 m high into the mountainous area, and 2 J-bar lifts to bring you to the top of the slope again.

Croatia Ski Resort Near Zagreb

The day ticket is one of the least expensive, costing €13 (HRK 100) for adults and €7 (HRK 50) for children. Operating from 9 am to 4 pm, Medvednica is a good option for those looking for a wintertime activity close to Zagreb, Croatia. After visiting Zagreb SPAs, you can relax in tranquillity on skis!

Have you skied in Balkans? Let us know and share this with your Facebook friends, Instagram fellows and Pinterest audience!

CuddlyNest blog Balkan ski resorts

Cuddlynest Winter Destinations New Year 2020

Best New Year’s Eve 2020 Destinations

Christmas is a date with great importance for the whole family and the loved ones. Surely more than one has planned to spend an unforgettable New Year’s Eve in some world-famous destination to start the year in a different way. Well, that is our goal today, discover the best places to spend the first night of 2019 to remember your whole life.

Berlin

Take advantage of these dates to soak up culture, art, and good beer. If you are also one of those who likes to do some exercise to download such copious Christmas meals, do not miss the Silvesterlauf race, or the Pancake race (ok, it may not be the best example), a race where thousands of runners dress up and enjoy the taste of the pancakes while touring the picturesque streets of Berlin. At night the party moves to the Brandenburg Gate, from where you can enjoy the fireworks and the Berlin party.

To find the best accommodation, we recommend you click here.

Koh Phangan

The famous party island in Thailand (for sure you have heard about the Full Moon Party). Well, if your idea is to spend the last night of the year surrounded by madness in the company of your friends, this is your place. As soon as the sun sets the party starts at Sunrise Beach and it does not end until … until one wants to. You can even start the first dawn of the year with a good dip on the beach while watching the sunrise. It sounds good, right?

Do not think much more and start planning here.

New York

We could not miss the city of skyscrapers. Surely we are not very original when we recommend you to go to Times Square, but if you are in New York that night and do not pass by there you may regret it for life. Just like if you do not visit the most famous tree in the world at Rockefeller Center or you do not take your family to ice skating in that same place.

Without a doubt, 2019 is going to be an unforgettable year so it is best to start it here.

Sydney

Who says it’s cold at Christmas? Well, the Australians certainly do not. Christmas can be spent on a boat while you enjoy the fireworks and the famous Opera House as a backdrop. Another alternative is to pass it ashore at a table in the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Of course, there are thousands of places to spend this magical night. Luckily for you, we can offer you the best in each place, so that wherever you are, you always feel at home.

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Best European Nature Festivals 2019

Looking for Europe Music Festivals August 2019? We too! Here is our guide.

Is the sun is shining out of the window leading you to restlessness waiting for the lunch break to escape the doomedness of sitting in front of your blue-lighted screen all day long? Even if the break is yet to come, you can freshen your mind already now, by taking a look at the amazing and diverse festivals in Europe this summer!

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Kolorado

Where? Hungary

When? June 19 -22

What? Music and arts

Kolorádó is a good mix of arts and music for the ones tired of the popular music offered in the most popular Hungarian summer festival Sziget. Kolorádó allows to escape the crowds of the city and rest for a couple of days in the nearby Sztrilich Scout Park. the festival is quite new, being hosted for the fourth time in 2019. You can stay in Budapest, but we encourage you to dive deep into the festival aura and stay in a hammock in the forest, or a special mini house built exclusively for the festival. Drawing, painting and other visual arts are on the plan, so be ready for self-expression!

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Ultra Europe

Where? Croatia

When? July 12 – 14

What? Music

Ultra is a  multi-venue outdoor electronic music festival that is a part, happening in one of the most beautiful beach locations in Europe, in Split. Ultra Music Festival’s worldwide expansion is a guarantee for good music and unforgettable electronic music dance experience in Croatia this summer. Be sure you do attend at least one Ultra in your life in one of its twenty host countries.

La Linea

Where? England

When? April 25 – May 5

What? Music

If you are into Southern rhythms, this one is for you. Best Latin music performances in the heart of London is precisely what La Linea Festival London offers to its attendees. Every year showcasing new artists, the festival invites singer-songwriters with futuristic sounds to the mecca of European culture every spring. If you are looking for fusion styles in music, this one is just for you. Check out where to stay in London – we have both shared rooms, apartments, or hotel rooms for the best rest after a long day of pleasing musical experiences.

Showcasing new artists and singer-songwriters with futuristic sounds and fusion styles, you can expect lots of class and fun.

Positivus

Where? Latvia

When? July 26 – 27

What? Music

Positivus is another gem for the ones looking for an immersive nature and music experience. Hosted in the idyllic location just by the sea, the festival has seen major growth since 2007. It will be a great choice for those looking for an alternative European destination, as it is the heart of Eastern Northern Europe, allowing you to visit Nordic countries and the Baltics on your way.

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Feel Festival

Where? Germany

When? July 11 – 15

What? Music and Dance

Feel festival is, just as described, for the ones who enjoy immersive experiences, feeling all aspects of a festival. Here you can camp almost directly on the beach, and visit Berlin before or after the festival, which is located by the Bergheider See 127km south of Berlin.

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Boom 

Where? Portugal

When? July 28 – August 4

What? Visual arts and music

Boom Festival is for the environmentally conscious ones enjoying the green forests and the wilderness of Portuguese nature. It is hosted every second year and won the Outstanding Greener Festival Award – the highest accolade of the four categories to be awarded, as a recognition for its environment and social program once again. Hosted according to periods of the Moon, and is one of the closest nature-immersive experiences you can possibly get while enjoying music and arts.

So now, when your coffee break is over, go and hit the productivity list. And, make sure to plan something amazing for your European summer adventure with CuddlyNest.

 

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Free Budapest Activities, Tours and Excursions

While looking for budget destinations in Europe, you cannot go wrong with Hungary. While some of us plan Christmas Holidays well in advance, some in a distinctively human way postpone every single decision, among them – where to go this Christmas Holiday. Eastern and Central Europe have an emerging travel scene and some of its destinations shine brighter with every year. Prague, Budapest, Vienna, and others are true gems. What’ s the best? They are not overly expensive, as the tourism industry is still emerging. Here CuddlyNest had a look at what activities Budapest has to offer for budget travelers.

Taste Hungary Wandering Around the Great Market Hall

If there is something every single traveler loves about the Eastern and central Europe, it is surely the food. Hungarian cuisine is well known for its real and unimaginably tasty food. Cheese croissants selling in the Hungarian pékség are fresh and full of cheese, and Hungarian specialty lángos is made on the spot as ordered. Have your stomach grumbling already? When visiting Great Market Hall, do not forget to buy a couple of paprika spice satchels selling on the Hungarian street and climb up on the second floor to have a free tour on Hungarian national handicrafts, which are selling at bargain prices.

Wander the Streets with Eyes in the Sky

Budapest has a lot to offer beyond museums. In fact, the best museum to visit is the streets of Budapest. Conserved the history of ages of different ruling powers and cultures present,  the architecture tells its own story. From the Budapest Parliament building to Szent István (St. Stephens’s) Basilica to Castle, you will see architecture from Medieval and Baroque to Neoclassicist, preserved throughout centuries. And if you have a chance to stay in one of the Neocclaccisist buildings while sharing the apartment or renting out the whole place for your family trip, you will see how spacious are the buildings.

Budapest Free Tours in English, German and Spanish

Budapest winter weather may not always be as welcoming as in Medditarean climate, but the guides of Budapest free tours will make you feel better instantly. Tours are offered in Chinese, English, Spanish, German and even Russian, and are generally very informative and interesting. One thing you should keep in mind though is the fact that you must be registered before. Not required but welcomed also are some donations for the guides. Keep in mind that tours range from 1 to 3 hours and start from the Jewish Quarter – you better be there on time!

Ruin Pubs for the Contemporary Budapest Experience

If you wish to save whilst on the road, yet experience not only the historical architecture but meet people and have fun in one of the Budapest’ s signature places, you must go to its ruin pubs. From the super touristic Szimpla Kert to Csendes Bar, Budapest will exceed your expectations and amaze you with its diversity. If you love cultural experiences, go to Szimpla on Mondays and join the Hungarian dances. If your thing is brunch, then Farmers’ Market and Breakfast will be just right for you. Other hotspots of alternative, yet free cultural experiences are Golya, Aurora and Kék Ló (Blue Horse).

Free Days on Budapest Museums are Worth It

Budapest art scene may not be regarded as particularly avant-garde, although you may find many inspiring and innovative approaches present in its many local galleries, especially when taking a stroll around the District II. However, Budapest offers a lot to art lovers, and if you are lucky, you may get into museums completely for free. Every month on the third Saturday you may visit Hungarian National Gallery (Castle District) and Fine Arts Museum ( near Hősök Tere – Heroe’s Square) for free given that you are a European passport holder under the age of 26. For modern and contemporary art lovers Ludwig Museum will be the best fit, free to attend on the last Sunday every month. Hungarian National Museum in the centre of the city and Skanzen of Szentendre on the outskirts of Budapest are good places to go as well.

Overall, while Budapest weather definitely takes a toll on the possible things to do in December and January, it is never short on events and places to go. Budapest is therefore just the perfect getaway for anyone looking for a great place to go for a couple getaway for Christmas or New Year holidays.

 

Best Christmas Holiday City Breaks for Families in US

You may think there is no difference, but some cities are great, and some are the ultimate family trip destinations for experiencing the best Christmas holiday getaway. There is plenty of family attractions all over the East Coast. We have picked the best family vacation itinerary attractions for budget travelers in the most family-friendly cities in the US. Read on and get ready for the perfect family time this winter holiday season!

San Francisco, California family vacation

San Francisco has a lot to offer for families with young children, teens, and even toddlers. It is easy to travel here with infants as well, as most places in San Francisco offers free parking, so visiting museums, parks, and other attraction will be no problem. You can also get into the old cable car to get around!  From Golden Gate Park with its many attractions to Walt Disney family museum, everyone has something to do here. If your kids want to spend their day in an amusement park, San Francisco will be the perfect place to be – the Pier 39 has all you can imagine. To wrap up the day, go to Chinatown with its colorful lanterns, the smell of fresh dumplings and sweets in tea houses and enjoy the Eastern culture in the heart of the West.

San Diego, California vacation package DIY

Who needs a San Diego package holidays when your family is unique? DIY your own family trip and find the best deals, handpicked and enjoyed only by you. Visit the century-old Belmont Amusement Park or see Balboa dancers mastering the nuances of the dance in Balboa Park. Spend a day outdoors watching tide pools and exhibits, taste the seafood near Shelter Island and watch the sun go down at Sunset Cliffs. Fresh air, the right sizing of the city and location by the coast make San Diego one of the top destinations for a family trip.

Chicago

If one city calls for a “family friendly” label, then it is Chicago. From the Navy Pier to Millenium Park and Shedd Aquarium, Chicago provides loads of attractions for every family member, no matter the age and interests. You can grab an original rainbow cone at Navy Pier, shop around with your family and take the must-have selfie with Cloud Gate in the background. But there is a lot more to it; Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the Crown Fountain and Lurie Garden, among many other awesome attractions are granted to entertain you all day long. For budget travel, remember that Shedd Aquarium has free admission days listed on their website, while the 4D theatre is free for the basic viewing when purchasing the ticket.

Washington, D.C.

If you want to provide your kids with some knowledge of the US and show them the White House, Washington is a place to go. Large, yet airy and dense of parks, it has a lot to offer to those seeking a bit more of an educational trip. You can visit museums specialized in the US history called Smithsonian Institutional Office and just spend amazing time in Washington’s green areas and amusement parks.

New York

From Frank Sinatra to Kevin getting lost in NY Christmas spirit alone, New York has something to offer not only for adults but also for kids. It is exceptionally welcoming for families with pets. Starting with climbing up on the crown of the Statue of Liberty, continuing with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and finishing off with a relaxing day at the Central Park, it is hard to find a better destination for a family city getaway. Do not forget to take your dog with you – at the Central Park, dogs are allowed off-leash between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and then 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. In the middle of the day, you can leash your pet and enjoy your time with family for almost free – just check what activities are hosted beforehand. If you happen to love diversity and want to try some new foods, then Chinatown will top your family’s list. Pork buns, dumplings, and hand-pulled noodles are must, and you can also get some vegan bubble tea, or shop around in markets for everything starting from dried fish to herbs and spices. To hang out with locals, go to Columbus Park for playing Tai Chi, chess or mahjong. Still craving some nature? Check out the Bronx Zoo – the largest metropolitan zoo is free on Wednesdays, but if you cannot make it, ask for the general admission ticket for half the price of the standard ticket.

Seattle, Washington

Your family will love the Museum of Pop Culture, and you will have a great time exploring the pop culture form a little bit more scientific perspective. Bundle the museum attendance for free on Thursday with the Museum of Flight and   Pacific Science center for the ultimate winter holiday vacation. With Vietnamese restaurants popping up all around, you must try Pho along with the well-known favorite dessert of Obama Fran’s Chocolates.

No matter which city you choose to go to, remember to enjoy your time with family. Do not plan too much and run around the museums – instead, experience a little different city culture, try new foods, spend relaxing hours in city parks and go to places you have never been before. Most importantly, do not get stressed out trying to provide your family with the perfect vacation – just plan ahead, get to know the best places and take care of everyone’s needs and wants to agree on the places to go to.

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Sant Jordi: Love and Culture around Barcelona

On April 23, the Sant Jordi Day is celebrated throughout Catalonia. It is a very special day for the Catalans since it is a day to reclaim their own culture. Tradition says that boys should give a rose to their beloved, while girls should give them a book.

The legend

A long time ago there was a terrifying dragon located in the village of Montblanc, south-west of Barcelona. The dragon was always hungry, so the people gave him one animal a day to keep it from attacking the village. However, one day the dragon ate the last of the animals, and then it started eating the people of the town too. In order to satisfy the hunger of the dragon, the village decided to randomly choose a person every day to be sacrificed to the beast.

One day the princess’ name came up, and although that made the King very sad, he sent her to the dragon. But just when the beast was about to eat the princess, a brave and handsome knight, known as Sant Jordi, rode into town and killed the dragon with his spear, saving her life.

From the blood of the dragon, there grew a rose bush, and Sant Jordi took a red rose and gave it to the princess as a sign of his love. Everybody in the village was very happy because the dragon was dead and they lived peacefully ever after.

The real history

Sant Jordi was a knight who served Emperor Diocletian, and who refused to follow his orders to persecute the Christians, so he was beheaded on April 23rd of 303. From that moment on he was started venerate and then fantastic stories about his person emerged.

In the fifteenth century, a fair of roses was held every year in commemoration of Sant Jordi attended by many engaged couples and young matrons. It is thought that this is the origin of the tradition of giving a rose to loved ones. 

On the other hand, on November 15th, 1995, the General Conference of Unesco decreed April 23rd as the International Book and Copyright Day. So, during that day the readers take the opportunity to exchange reading impressions in the streets with their favorite writers. In recent years, this ritual has had a great media reception so that success has spread well beyond the Catalan territory.

Sant Jordi today

Since then the popularity of this day has been growing in such a way that it is almost impossible to walk through the streets of Barcelona on that date. In each corner of the city, you can find stops with roses and books. In addition, there are many acts in which free love is claimed, as well as musical performances with the Catalan culture as the main character.

 

April 23rd is not a day to stay at home. In the streets of Barcelona you can find writers signing their books at the stands, talks with authors, commemorative parties and also a blood donation campaign, because being altruistic is a great gesture of love.

In addition, the entire city is decorated. If you walk along Paseo de Gracia you have to go to Casa Batlló, the most commemorative building on this day. Gaudí was inspired by the Legend of Sant Jordi to create this architectural masterpiece (the roof imitates the scales of a dragon). So in the day, the house dresses its facade with roses giving it an even more impressive look.

Start planning your Spring love getaway for next year in one of the most fashionable cities in the world. Stroll along the Ramblas of Barcelona feeling the smell of roses, enjoy the Catalan culture at its peak and delight. We know April 2019 is not just around the corner but, it’s never too early. 

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