Australia

The new year kicks off the traditional cycle, and less than a month later the country celebrates Australia Day. Officially it marks the anniversary of the arrival of the British in Sydney on January 26, 1788. Mindful of the original inhabitants of the land, the day is now simply a celebration of being Australian. Folks light the barbecue, play cricket on the beach, and take to the outdoors. Every happy Australian stereotype comes out on one glorious public holiday. Parties don’t come much more mind-blowing than the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, the biggest of its kind in the world. Go along to cheer on the sequined, feathered, Lycra-wearing ensemble as they celebrate equal rights. Forget Milan and Paris: The Mercedes Benz Australian Fashion Week in March has style setters and celebrities cooing over local labels such as Sass & Bide, Lover, Collette Dinnigan, Camilla and Marc, Jac + Jack, Anna & Boy, and Willow, among others.

Hippies, rockers, folk fans, indie types, country listeners, jazz groovers: There are festivals across Australia for every sort of music lover. Big Day Out is one of the largest rock, pop and indie music festivals, stopping at several states. Travel north to Byron Bay to revel in the stunning bushland setting of Splendor in the Grass, and go to Tasmania for the Falls Festival. See where Keith Urban started his career at the Tamworth Music Festival. The Hunter Valley’s Jazz in the Vines appeals to all ages. There’s Tropfest for film lovers and the Sydney, Melbourne, or Byron Bay Writers Festivals for the more literary.