Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Various through February 2008
While others beat the winter blues with a beach vacation, we recommend joining the season's biggest party instead: Mardi Gras (aka Carnival)! Tickets to the best parties, happening next month in New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, Quebec City, and Trinidad, are already getting booked up, but you can still join in the fun with the great-value vacations we've found from $169/night. The festivities usually reach their zenith on Mardi Gras itself (February 5), so you'd better make your travel plans now if you want a party to remember.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Mardi Gras may be celebrated around the world but nobody does it better than New Orleans! In February, the city delivers a few days of unforgettable festivities, with music, parades, picnics, floats, crazy costumes ... After some lesser hype in recent, post-Katrina years, the Big Easy promises to put on a stellar show this year and we recommend boosting the city’s tourism by checking it out! You can even save by staying at Hilton New Orleans Riverside, a deluxe property with special Mardi Gras rates between February 4 and 7. Discounted double rooms start at just $169/night ($199/night if you want to stay on the executive floor).
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
Glittering sequins, fabulous costumes, spectacular floats, caipirinha-fuelled parties ... that’s Rio de Janeiro at Carnival time. Every February, the streets of this sexy Brazilian city get filled with revelers who come from around the world to strut their stuff to the sound of samba and bask on sun-kissed beaches. This year, the fiesta peaks on February 3 and 4 when the samba schools compete in the famed Sambodromo. Tickets are known to be outrageously pricey, running up to $599! But book the General Tours package we found and six days in Rio during Carnival will cost you just $1119, with five nights’ lodging, meals, sightseeing tours and Sambodromo tickets. Note that the flight to Rio is additional.
Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago
Slideshow: Rio grand Imagine celebrating Carnival on a tropical island, among rainforests, waterfalls, wetlands, and corral reefs. You can do exactly that during Trinidad & Tobago’s Carnival each February. With its masquerade bands, astounding costumes and pulsating calypso and soca music, Trinidad's giant street party is among the world’s best (and certainly the Caribbean's largest party). Fun-loving folks who head to this Caribbean outpost will witness an explosion of color, music and revelry. We recommend booking a package by a local operator, Caribbean Discovery Tours. For $400, it covers five-nights' hotel during the festivities, transfers, island tours, and breakfasts. They’ll even arrange to have a costume made for you if you wish to play in a band (at a cost of $50-$200).
Winter Carnival in Québec City
For Carnival festivities with a cold-weather twist, head north of the border to Canada’s historic Québec City. Revelers flock to this French-speaking city for the annual Winter Carnival to watch the parades, ice-sculpture competition, and canoe and dog sled races. Slated to run between February 1 and 17, the 2008 Carnival features a special vintage program that will celebrate the 400th anniversary of Québec City. Hotels are now running promotions, including the five-star Fairmont Le Château Frontenac that has family rates for $314/night, with lodging, buffet breakfast, gratuities, and a Carnival kit with a number of freebies.
All rates above are listed per person, based on double occupancy.
You better brush up on your funky dance moves.
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