Make 2023 the year when you step off the tourist trails and leap into a world of cultural adventures. Cultural travel lets you scratch beneath the surface of each destination as you unearth compelling history and traditions that will undoubtedly get under your skin. To whet your appetite, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most inspiring experiences and events for a year of cultural immersion in 2023.
Kickstart 2023 in style by joining the celebrations of Vietnamese New Year, also known as Tết. Taking place on 22 January 2023, Tết is an important part of the Vietnam cultural calendar and a time to get together with family and to share great food.
Our Vietnam Adventure is an ideal introduction to the Vietnamese way of life, as well as a first-hand lesson in its mesmerising and sometimes turbulent history. Exploring the breadth of the country, we delve into Hanoi’s Old Quarter, visit imperial relics in historic Hue, and encounter the notorious Cu Chi war tunnels. Begin your year as you mean to go on with a trip to Vietnam.
When to travel: January
Book your place: Vietnam Adventure ***Hurry – spaces selling out fast***
The cooler climate towards the end of winter makes February an excellent month in which to explore the ancient historic treasure trove that is Egypt and the Nile Valley.
Steeped in ancient wonders, Egypt is a must-visit for any traveller with even a passing interest in history. The Pyramids of Giza, the Temple of Karnak and Luxor, the Valley of the Kings – the list goes on. These are names you no doubt recognise from school books as a child, but nothing compares to the breath-taking awe of standing in the same place as these icons of the ancient world.
Our new Premium adventure to Egypt is a stylish and sophisticated way to explore Egypt’s history. With two full days in Cairo, you can admire the legacy of the Pharaohs at a relaxed pace, while on the Nile we stay aboard the incredible 5-star MS Movenpick Royal Lily or Royal Lotus.
Enjoy extraordinary stays, experienced named leaders and award winning holidays with our new Premium adventure this February.
When to travel: February
Book your pace: Nile Cruise & Aswan – Premium Adventure
Sakura Season, when the cherry blossom blooms throughout Japan it is an idyllic and spectacular time to visit this amazing country.
From ancient temples and zen gardens to bustling, hyper-modern cities, Japan really does have it all. The cultural wonders charm and disarm in equal measure. And as you immerse yourself in the Japanese way of life you will no doubt return from the country with a great deal of affection for the Land of the Rising Sun.
Our Ancient and Modern Japan holiday explores the full panoply of Japan’s varied cultural identities. From a trip on the incredible bullet train, to the 2,000-or-so temples, shrines and gardens that surround the city of Kyoto, this is a whirlwind cultural adventure where the cherry blossom is just the icing on the cake.
When to travel: March
Book your place: Ancient and Modern Japan
Booking a trip to Greece around Easter time offers plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in their local culture and ancient Easter traditions. From candle-lit street processions to copious feasts of lamb roasting on a spit and fireworks at midnight, the way the Greeks celebrate Easter, or “Pascha” is an unmissable cultural experience. On this trip, you’ll spend some time visiting the ancient Acropolis and Plaka in Athens, but keep an eye out for festive sweets like koulourakia (biscuits) and (tsoureki) braided brioche and join in the spectacle of midnight mass on Holy Saturday night.
When to travel: April
Book your place: Highlights of Ancient Greece
May: Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia
Warming spring-like climate falls on the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in May, making this the ideal time to explore these three charming and varied nations in the northeast of Europe.
By turns tranquil and thrillingly modern, the Baltic states are up-and-coming travel destinations that have much to offer travellers with a taste for vibrant cultural experience. The capital cities of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius are brimming with culture, from fairytale-esque architecture to street art and fascinating historical sights. Outside the cities, the rugged coastline, picturesque countryside, and impressive national parks add to the magical atmosphere of these three inspiring countries.
When to travel: May
Book your place: Discover the Baltics
One of the biggest festivals in Peru is the Inti Raymi Festival. This festival is a traditional religious ceremony that honours the Inca sun god, Inti, the Inca’s most important deity. Taking place every year on the winter solstice in Peru, it celebrates the beginning of the Inca solar new year. In 2022, celebrations start on 22nd June in Cuzco, at Qorikancha, the sun temple, where crowds of actors, dancers and musicians in colourful traditional dress, including the Inca Queen, warriors and sun maidens’ parade through the streets towards Plaza de Armas. So, why not join in the celebrations on our Essential Peru trip that holds a special departure for this event?
When to travel: June
Book your place: Essential Peru Inti Raymi Festival
If you’ve ever had the urge to take part in ankle bone flicking, Naadam Festival is the place to be! As well as this unusual tradition, this Mongolian festival plays host to “the three games of men”, which include wrestling, archery and horse racing. This unique event demonstrates time-honoured nomadic culture that embraces the arts and sports of the country.
When to travel: July
Book your place: Mongolia: Steppes, Deserts and Nomads
August: Sri Lanka
Paying homage to the Tooth of Buddha, Kandy Esala Perahera (also known as the Festival of the Tooth) is a traditional Sri Lankan festival consisting of a colourful procession that features cultural dances, firebreathers and musicians. The festival concludes with a water cutting ceremony, Diya Kapeema, at the Mahaweli River in Kandy.
When to travel: August
Book your place: Discover Sri Lanka
This September, join us as we make the trip to Bhutan to enjoy the spectacular Thimphu Festival – a national day of celebration and one of the most colourful festivities on the planet.
The secretive kingdom of Bhutan is off the radar of most travellers and the tourism industry in this part of the world is still in its infancy. But adventurers that make the journey in 2023 will be highly rewarded by a cultural experience like no other, especially if they join one of our festival departures.
With its emphasis on colourful, masked costumes and ritualistic dancing, the Thimphu Festival attracts hundreds of people each year from across Bhutan. It’s a vibrant culmination of ancient traditions and religious beliefs that only enhances the spectacular mountain surroundings in which it takes place. You will not want to miss this!
When to travel: September
Book your place: Festivals of Bhutan
Organised by the Mongolian Eagle Hunters Association, the Golden Eagle Festival is a must-see event in Asia. Held annually in Bayan- Ölgii aimag, the festival showcases the classic Kazakh skills of eagle hunting and horsemanship, while also holding festive games including Tiyn Teru (horse race) and Kokpar (goat grabbing). This invites travellers to see these preserved centuries-old traditions, which gives a fascinating insight into the culture of some of the last nomadic Kazakh people on the planet. On our trip, you get to explore Mongolia’s Singing Dunes, ancient monasteries and the Gobi Desert before attending the spectacular Golden Eagle Festival.
When to travel: October
Book your place: Mongolia Eagle Festival: Steppes, Deserts & Nomads
Taking place during the Hindu month of Kartika, in the pilgrimage town of Pushkar, the Pushkar Camel Fair is running from 1-9th November in 2022. Attracting a trading fete of livestock, thousands of traders and their camels, horses and cattle arrive in Pushkar, alongside Hindu pilgrims looking to make their journey to Pushkar lake. On we have a special departure on our Colours of Rajasthan trip that takes you to the fair to join in the festivities. With plenty of cultural events taking place, including tug of war, the longest moustache “matka phod” competition and camel dances, you’ll enjoy several musical and dance performances while also browsing local stalls selling colourful bracelets, textiles and fabrics.
When to travel: November
Book your place: Colours of Rajasthan – Pushkar Festival
Not exactly a festival, but the advent of Christmas holds a very special place on the calendar for every local in Finnish Lapland. With Saint Nicholas’ village in Rovaniemi, also located in Finnish Lapland, you can’t help but feel festive on our popular Finnish Wilderness Week trip.
Imagine spending the run-up to Christmas in a cosy wooden cabin in Basecamp Oulanka, where you’ll spend your days snowshoeing through Oulanka National Park along the Kitka River, cross-country skiing near Juumba Lake and dogsledding with local huskies through Riisintunuri National Park. With opportunities to hone your wilderness skills by building a snow shelter (quinzee) your chances of seeing the incredible Northern Lights are also greatly increased when you travel to Finland during the long nights in December.
When to travel: December
Secure a place: Finnish Wilderness Week
Our life-enriching adventures ensure you delve into the heart of each destination, uncovering their unique cultures. If these trips have inspired you to plan ahead for a cultural adventure of your own, take a look at our cultural holidays here.