Worldwide events present agents with an opportunity to create unique packages. You might not make commission on all elements of the booking – for example it might not be possible to buy admission tickets through a supplier that deals with the trade – but agents should be able to make a chunk on the sale of hotels, flights, transfers and extras.
There are plenty of events to choose from, and we’ve highlighted some of the most popular – and a few unusual ones – to give you an idea of what’s going on in 2008.
Three Wise Men Parade, Seville, Spain
When: 21-22 January
Why? January 5 is more exciting than Christmas Eve for Spanish children, when the Three Wise Men drive through the streets in a golden carriage giving out sweets. Seville puts on a good show for this event.
Getting there: Ryanair has flights from Stansted from £146 return
Where to stay: Seligo has two nights’ bed and breakfast in the three-star Hotel Montecarlo for £28 per person per night.
Extras: Suggest clients hire a car to explore Andalusia. Holiday Autos offers three-day car hire from £30.
Bikaner camel festival, Rajasthan, IndiaWhen: 21-22 January
Why? January is a great time to visit Rajasthan and the camel festival adds a blaze of colour with processions and races.
Getting there: Jet Airways has flights from Heathrow to Jodhpur, the nearest airport to Bikaner, which operate via Delhi, with fares from £577 return including taxes. There are trains from Delhi and Jodhpur to Bikaner.
Where to stay: Expedia has two nights’ room-only at the Heritage Resort Bikaner for £80 per person, twin-share.
Extras: Clients can add the camel festival on to a tour of northern India. Travel 2/4 has a 14-day Highlights of Rajasthan tour from Delhi for £1,595 per person, excluding flights.
Venice Carnival, Italy
When: 25 January-5 FebruaryWhy? Eleven days of public parades, parties (including masked balls), music and theatrical performances that take over the streets and city.
Getting there: Ryanair has fares from Stansted to Venice from £60 return, including taxes.
Where to stay: Thomson Cities has two nights’ bed and breakfast at the four-star Sant’Elena for £106 per person.
Tickets: Many events are free but for the masked balls visit liaisonsabroad.com.
Extras: Book transfers with resorthoppa.com, which charges £280 return for up to three passengers, including car and water taxi between Venice Treviso and the city.
Chinese New Year, Hong Kong
When: 7 February
Why? Chinese New Year is the biggest event in China’s calendar and there will be nowhere better to see in the Year of the Rat than Hong Kong, where celebrations will include lion and dragon dances, fireworks, cultural performances and lots of food and drink.
Getting there: Oasis Hong Kong Airlines has return flights from Gatwick from £753, including taxes.
Where to stay: Kuoni has five nights’ room-only in the Excelsior from £215 per person.
Extras: Suggest a day trip to Macau, which costs from £65 per person through City Discovery.
Sydney New Mardi Gras, Australia
When: 9 February – 1 MarchWhy? Sydney’s New Mardi Gras, one of the most spectacular events for gays and lesbians worldwide, celebrates its 30th anniversary with arts, sports and gigs, culminating in the famous parade of outrageous floats and an all-night party.
Getting there: Gold Medal has flights with British Airways and Qantas for £1,190 return, including taxes.
Where to stay: Gold Medal has accommodation from £33 per person per night at the three-star Quality Hotel, Cambridge.
Tickets: Go to mardigras.org.au for tickets to the final party.
Extras: No one would go all the way to Australia just for a party so add on a tour. Contiki has a 10-day Bridge to Reef tour, from Sydney to Cairns via the Whitsundays for £715.
Teguise Carnival, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
When: 1 MarchWhy? Lanzarote kicks off spring with the bizarre Teguise Carnival where devilish dancers with blood-red eyes and drooling tongues, goat’s horns and cow’s head masks, chase adults and children shaking goat-skin truncheons.
Getting there: GB Airways has flights from Gatwick to Lanzarote from £134 return, including taxes.
Where to stay: Thomson has seven nights’ half-board at the four-star Barcelo Lanzarote on the Costa Teguise for £532 per person.
Extras: Clients will need a car to explore Lanzarote and its many interesting sites, including the unmissable lunar-like landscape of Timanfaya National Park, where you can see erupting geysers. Avis has a weeks’ hire from £129.
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When: Early April
Why? Japan is stunning in spring when its cherry blossom trees bloom for about 10 days, known as Hanami season. The timing of the blossom varies according to its location, but generally occurs in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto from late March to early April.
Getting there: Japan Airlines has return fares to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto from £631, including taxes.
Where to stay: Ueno Park, one of Tokyo’s largest, has more than 1,000 cherry trees. Ebookers.com has seven nights at the three-star Mitsu Garden Kamata hotel, south of the city centre, for £567 per room.
Extras: A rail pass is a convenient and cost-effective way to see more of Japan. Passes start from about £118 through japanrailpass.net.
Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain
When: 25-27 AprilWhy? With British sporting hero Lewis Hamilton one of the triumphant drivers in this year’s Spanish Grand Prix, held at the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona, the 2008 event is bound to be popular and it’s easier to get tickets for this than the Monaco Grand Prix.
Tickets: A three-day pass costs £150. Try BAC Sports, worldtickets.com and soldouteventtickets.com.Getting there: Opodo has flights from Heathrow to Barcelona with Iberia from £165 return.
Where to stay: Hotelconnect.co.uk has a studio apartment from £381, including breakfast, for four nights.
Extras: Resorthoppa.com has private transfers from £59 return.
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Vesak, Columbo, Sri Lanka
When: 19 May
Why? Vesak, also known as the Festival of Light, is the main Buddhist festival in Sri Lanka, with bamboo lanterns decorating the street, and open-air performances, street stalls and processions.
Getting there: SriLankan Airlines has flights from Heathrow to Colombo from £675 return. Where to stay: Med Hotels has seven nights’ bed and breakfast at the four-star Mount Lavinia hotel in Colombo from £312.
Extras: Adventure Lanka Tours offers a tour of the island taking in the major sights from £790 per person for 14 nights.
TT Motorcycle Races, Isle of Man
When: 24 May-6 June
Why? The Isle of Man comes alive for two weeks when it hosts the Tourist Trophy Motorcycle Races – the TT -attracting top riders.
Tickets: Grandstand tickets are available during the event from marshalls and cost from £5 to £10 on practice days and £25 on race days.
Getting there: Euromanx has flights from 11 UK airports with fares from £206 return, including taxes.
Where to stay: Hilton Isle of Man offers two nights’ bed and breakfast from £83 per room per night.
Extras: It’s useful to have a car for travel between the airport, hotel and race meetings. Hertz offers three days’ hire from £70.
Sacred Music Festival, Fes, Morocco
When: 6-14 June
Why? Artists from around the world flock to the Sacred Music Festival in Fes, bringing a range of music from gypsy songs from Spain to traditional chants from Vietnam.
Getting there:Royal Air Maroc has flights from Heathrow to Fes for £202 return, including taxes.
Where to stay: Sofitel Palais Jamai Fes has two nights’ bed and breakfast, twin-share, from £220.
Extras: Holiday Taxis has airport transfers for £79 return for up to three passengers.
Dragon Boat Festival, Singapore
When: 30 June-1 JulyWhy? The Singapore Dragon Boat Festival recreates a race to save the life of an ancient Chinese poet who drowned himself in protest against the corrupt Manchurian government. The re-enactment is one of the world’s largest dragon boat races, attracting top international teams.
Getting there: Singapore Airlines has flights from Heathrow to Singapore for £681 return.
Where to stay: Ebookers.com has four nights at the Holiday Inn from £230.
Extras: Persuade customers to extend their stay in the Far East with a trip to Bintan Island, a short boat ride from Singapore. The Bintan Lagoon Resort has three nights’ twin-share from £237.
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Palio Di Siena, Italy
When: 2 July
Why? The Palio di Siena horse race around the town’s main square is one of the most thrilling spectator events in the world followed by fireworks.
Getting there: Alitalia offers return flights from Heathrow to Siena from £341.
Where to stay: HotelConnect has two nights at the three-star Italia Garden Hotel from £284 per room, including breakfast.
Extras: This event is quite hairy so ensure clients have travel insurance. Gosure.com has a three-day policy with premiums from £3.11.
Distant Heat, Jordan
When: 31 July-1 AugustWhy? Distant Heat is a two-day concert and dance festival held at Wadi Rum in the desert and the Red Sea resort of Aqaba, with transport between the two venues provided.
Tickets: Available from distantheat.com costing about £50 for the two days.
Getting there: Royal Jordanian has return flights from Heathrow to Aqaba from £487.
Where to stay:Ebookers.com has seven nights at the InterContinental Aqaba for £471 per room.
Extras: Customers could fly to Amman, the capital of Jordan, and take a tour to the Red Sea visiting the ancient site of Petra and camping in the desert along the way. Exodus offers a nine-day Lost City of Petra tour for £739, including two nights in Aqaba.
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Edinburgh Festival, Scotland
When: 3-25 August
Why? Edinburgh is the only place to be in the UK during August when the Fringe Festival brings three weeks of comedy and drama to the Scottish capital.
Tickets: Available from edfringe.com.
Getting there: Bmibaby has flights from six UK airports to Edinburgh from £66 return, including taxes.
Where to stay: Superbreak has three nights’ bed-and-breakfast accommodation in a single room at the three-star Frederick House hotel for £294.
Extras:Budget has three days’ car hire from £70.
The Olympic Games, Beijing, China
When: 8-24 AugustWhy? The Olympic Games 2008, taking place in Beijing, promise no end of excitement for sports lovers.
Tickets: Sportsworld offers tickets for most events, which cost from £2 for sports such as handball to more than £50 for popular events such as swimming.
Getting there: British Airways has flights from Heathrow to Beijing from £811 return.
Where to stay: Hotels are likely to be booked for the games but there are apartments available from Phoenix Condos, which offers four nights from £282 twin-share.
Extras: China is a vast country with many highlights, many of which are included on a 10-day Beijing to Shanghai Imperial Jewels tour, offered by Viking River cruises, which incorporates three nights on the Yangtze River from £1,314.
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Prague Autumn Festival, Czech Republic
When: 15 September-15 October
Why? The Prague Autumn Festival brings to a close the European festival season attracting the world’s great artists. It’s also a good time to visit after the summer crowds have left and before the Christmas season gets under way.
Tickets: From pragueautumn.cz.
Getting there: Bmibaby has return flights from Manchester to Prague from £204.
Where to stay: Med Hotels offers two nights’ bed and breakfast at the four-star King Charles Boutique Hotel Residence from £112, twin-share.
Extras: Resorthoppa.com offers return airport transfers from £47.
Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany
When: 20 September-5 October
Why? Munich’s Oktoberfest is rated as one of the greatest beer festivals in Europe with more than six million drinkers filling the beer tents from morning until the early hours.
Getting there: EasyJet offers Edinburgh or Stansted to Munich flights from £38 return.
Where to stay: Seligo has two nights at the four-star Regent Hotel for £154 per person.
Extras: Airport transfers with Holiday Taxis cost £158 return for up to three passengers.
Hermanus Whale Festival, South Africa
When: 21-28 October
Why? Hermanus, on the southern tip of Africa, is the best place in the world to watch whales, when the southern right whales arrive to mate, and an annual festival is held in the seaside resort to celebrate.
Getting there: South African Airways has flights from Heathrow to Cape Town from £773 return.
Where to stay: Med Hotels offers seven nights at the four-star Villa Exner in the Winelands, close to Cape Town, for £445 per room.
Extras: Holiday Autos offers seven days’ car hire from £101.
The Breeders Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, US
When: 24-25 October
Why? One of the biggest horse-racing events in the world with $23 million prize money and 11 races. The event tours the US and in 2008 will be held in Arcadia, southern California, 13 miles from Los Angeles.
Tickets: Available from BAC Sport.
Getting there: Virgin Atlantic has flights from Heathrow to Los Angeles for about £307 return.
Where to stay:Best sold as an add-on to California so recommend punters base themselves in Los Angeles. Funway Holidays has seven nights at the three-star Holiday Inn Buena Park from £344 per room.
Extras: A car is essential to travel outside LA. Holiday Autos offers seven days’ car hire from £97.
The Volvo Golf Masters, Cadiz, Spain
When: 30 October-November 2
Why? The Volvo Golf Masters is the grand finale of the PGA European Tour and is a chance to get close to some of the world’s top golfers.
Tickets: A week’s pass costs about £53. Try golfinspain.com.
Getting there:Ryanair has flights from Stansted to Jerez from about £175 return.
Where to stay: Sol Melia has two nights in the four-star Tryp La Caleta for £112, twin-share.
Extras: Car hire is the most convenient way to get from Jerez airport to Cadiz. Europcar offers three-day rental from £94.
The Day of the Dead, Mexico
When: 1-2 November
Why? The Day of the Dead is a Catholic celebration of the memory of deceased ancestors that is celebrated on November 1, All Saints’ Day, and November 2, All Souls’ Day in Mexico. Celebrations take place throughout the country but they are most elaborate in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Getting there: British Airways and Mexicana have combined fares of approximately £775 return from Heathrow.
Where to stay: Hotelclub.net has three nights’ accommodation at the luxury Hotel Hacienda Los Laureless Spa in Oaxaca for £420, room only.
Extras: A trip to Oaxaca can be added to a holiday in a beachside resort such as Cancun or Acapulco.
Christmas Market, Leipzig, Germany
When: 30 November-20 DecemberWhy? Germany has about 2,500 Christmas markets, but Leipzig is thought to be one of the biggest and best with 260 stalls crammed into the historic city centre.
Getting there: Air Berlin has flights from Stansted to Leipzig from £58 return, including taxes.
Where to stay: The centrally located Leipzig Marriott has one night’s bed-and-breakfast accommodation from about £90, twin-share.
Extras: Holiday Taxis offers transfers from the airport to the city centre for about £108 for up to three people.
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New Year’s Eve, New York
When: 31 DecemberWhy? New Year’s Eve has been celebrated in Times Square for more than 100 years. But December 31 2008 will be special as it marks the 100th anniversary of the New Year’s Eve Ball, which is lowered at the countdown to midnight and a new crystal ball with state-of-the-art LED lighting effects has been designed.
Getting there: Virgin Atlantic has flights from Gatwick or Heathrow to New York for about £434 return.
Where to stay:Travel 2/4 has a three-night package including accommodation at the Belvedere Hotel, a sightseeing tour and a two-hour sightseeing cruise from £284 per person.
Extras: You can’t go to New York without going to Broadway so suggest a night at the theatre. Keith Prowse has tickets to Les Miserables at the Broadhurst Theatre.
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