The United States’ National Park Service turns 100 years old in 2016

When: August 25, 2016

With more than 20 parks in Virginia, 16 in Maryland, The Capital Region USA boasts some of the most varied sites in the country. The region’s best National Park Service sites to explore:

Virginia: Scenic Shenandoah National Park 

Shenandoah National Park lies astride a beautiful section of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia,75 miles west of Washington D.C. The National Scenic Byway, Skyline Drive takes you through the 105-mile-long park, providing more than 75 overlooks with spectacular vistas. 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail, lead you to waterfalls, panoramic views and protected wilderness.

Photo: www.capitalregionusa.co.uk

Photo: www.capitalregionusa.co.uk

Maryland: Scenic Assateague Island 

Assateague Island National Seashore is a beautiful beach with a unique twist. With 300 horses taking residency here, visitors will spot them on every part of the island. Live alongside wild horses in the camping sites, enjoy sightseeing cruises and try crabbing and kayaking.

horses

Photo: www.capitalregionusa.co.uk

WASHINGTON DC: Cherry blossom in spring

Washington DC will host its annual National Cherry Blossom Festival in three National Park Service locations in April. The festival will take place around the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park, in East Potomac Park (Hains Point), and on the Washington Monument grounds with the parade on April 16 2016. Get the best view from the Potomac River on board a canoe or kayak.

Alaska Celebrations

A new traditional Huna Tribal House in Glacier Bay National Park is set to open in 2016. The Alaska National Park Service is planning a programme of Artists in the Parks, including art displays and a classical concert series starting in Fairbanks in October 2016.  New ranger-led hikes at Denali National Park open in 2016 venturing into a new section of Horseshoe Lake Trail.

Alaska – Fur Rendezvous Winter Carnival: Take part in the Iditarod dog-sledding celebrations starting March 5 and experience Alaska’s Fur Rendezvous Winter Carnival from February. The largest winter festival in Alaska, ‘Fur Rondy’ celebrates the end of the long winter with events which represent the pioneering spirit of the Alaskans. Visit www.alaskatravel.com

Tenerife Walking Festival

When: March 29 – April 2, 2016

What better way to experience Tenerife’s diverse natural beauty than with four days of hiking? Featuring 15 trails, expect 300 ramblers from across Europe. Choose routes from three categories (volcanic landscapes, coastal paths and green trails) to discover a variety of terrain and protected landscapes, including the UNESCO-listed Teide National Park, famed for its remarkable volcanic scenery; the ancient laurel forest of Teno Rural Park; the charming village of Taganana, perched high above the Atlantic Ocean, etc. Other activities include stargazing tours, wine tastings and guided visits to Tenerife’s volcanic rock pools.

The online registration is open and costs €20 (approx £14).

Photo: www.webtenerife.co.uk

Photo: www.webtenerife.co.uk

Manatee Lagoon opens in Florida 

When: February 2016 

Manatee Lagoon – An FPL Eco-Discovery Center will be a new, free Palm Beach County educational attraction with a dedicated area for viewing manatees up close. The 16,000-square-foot center will feature exhibits for visitors to learn all about these endangered and unique creatures as well as the natural wonders of the surrounding Lake Worth Lagoon. On cold winter days, the facility’s observation deck will be the ideal spot to view manatee herds basking in the warm-water outflows.

Photo: Ahodges7 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Ahodges7 via Wikimedia Commons

The Evandale Village Fair & National Penny Farthing Championships, Australia

When: February 20, 2016 

The peaceful village of Evandale in northern Tasmania plays host to the Evandale Village Fair and National Penny Farthing Championships. The annual village fair started in 1983 and attracts enthusiasts from across Australia and around the world. Accompanying the Penny Farthings races are a country fair and period themed festival.

Events include the feature race of the day, separate championship races for ladies, juniors, veterans. Also, includes the Slow race (last over the line wins), Slalom (two at a time around witches’ hats), Novice Race, Sprint (200 metre dash), Relay (teams of 4, one lap each), Biathlon (run one lap, ride 2, run one), Miss ‘n Out (last rider on each lap eliminated), Obstacle (run, carry bike, wheel bike, sprint) and Consolation (for those who haven’t won a medal.) For details, check out their website.

Penny Farthing race

Photo: evandalevillagefair.com

New northern lights ‘Bubble’ launching in January 2016
When: Jan 9, 2016

Iceland will launch its first northern lights ‘Bubble’, making childhood dreams of sleeping under the stars (and northern lights!) come true. The bubble-shaped room located in the wilds of Iceland will have a transparent roof so you can sleep directly under the aurora borealis. The bubble will be the first of many to launch near Reykholt, 70km north of Reykjavik. This rural area is free from light pollution. Check out www.buubble.com

Photo: www.islandsstofa.is.jpg

Photo: www.islandsstofa.is.jpg

USA’s First International Light Festival in Baltimore

Light City will transform Baltimore with world-class light displays, cutting-edge sculptures, video projections on buildings and interactive technologies. Light City will also feature curated live shows to experience one of America’s hottest music scenes.

Aether and Hemera is a multi-disciplinary art and design studio based in Newcastle upon Tyne and their piece ‘Voyage’ consists of 300 illuminated floating ‘paper-boats’ and is designed to be an interactive experience which people can engage with through their mobile phones. ‘Voyage’ installation occupies 800sqm and is made of 300 RGB LED lights.

Photo: www.capitalregionusa.co.uk

Photo: www.capitalregionusa.co.uk

Medieval festivities to mark the 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, Normandy

When: April – December

2016 marks the 950th anniversary of the Norman invasion of England and William the Conqueror’s crowning at Westminster. To celebrate, medieval festivals will take place throughout the Normandy region. Medieval street markets, music, dance, theatre, workshops, sound and light shows and special exhibitions will be held in many towns and villages associated with William the Conqueror and his momentous expedition.

Bayeux Medieval Festival

Bayeux Medieval Festival. Photo: OT Bayeux Intercom

Scotland: The Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design and two new trails

The Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design will celebrate the richness of Scotland’s heritage, culture and environment, alongside the contemporary and cutting edge designs. From textiles to technology, architecture to fashion and design, this is a year-long programme. A key feature of 2016 will be the first Festival of Architecture 2016.

Smugglers Trail – the new trail is set to launch along the Berwickshire Coastal Path. Research shows how rife smuggling was in this part of Scotland. The route will have interpretation of smuggling stories, and will stop at various viewpoints where known incidents took place. Gunsgreen House will be at the centre of this trail.

Photo: Peter Nisbet via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Peter Nisbet via Wikimedia Commons

New Cairngorms ‘Scenic Route – set to be launched in 2016 is a scenic route along the eastern side of the Cairngorms National Park, from Glenshee to Grantown-on-Spey, combining stunning Scottish design and the outstanding natural beauty.

New Mexico – Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

When: Oct 1 – 9 

More than 500 balloons lift off from Balloon Fiesta Park for the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. At the world’s largest hot air balloon festival, enjoy balloon rides, fireworks displays and live music, as well as traditional New Mexican food. Tickets are available for $8 (approx. £5) per person. Visit www.BalloonFiesta.com.

Photo: Danae Hurst/ CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Danae Hurst/ CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A Celebration of English Gardens 2016

In 2016 The Treasure Houses of England will be marking the 300th anniversary of ‘Capability’ Brown and celebrating the English Garden. Enjoy 10 of the most magnificent stately homes, castles and palaces each with its own unique garden and parkland to explore.

Beaulieu: Enjoy the manicured lawns of Palace House which contrasts with the informal Wilderness Garden, dating back to the 1700s.

Blenheim Palace sits within 2,000 acres of Capability Brown landscape. Opening in February 2016 the new temporary exhibition will share ‘Capability’ Brown’s work across the 11 years he was commissioned (1763 – 1774). There are 13 key vistas marked out in the ‘Capability’ Brown trail.

Burghley is undergoing an extensive restoration to restore the original views and vistas Brown created during his 20-year association with Burghley.

Castle Howard sits in 1,000 acres of parkland in the rolling Howardian Hills. Meander through woodland and along lakeside terraces which offer spectacular view of temples, follies and the imposing Atlas Fountain.

Harewood House will celebrate the landscape gardener, ‘Capability’ Brown with a new temporary exhibition Art of Landscape (runs March 25 – November 30).

Enjoy a celebration of the Formal Gardens at Hatfield House. From the Pleached Lime Walk through to the Sundial Garden, enjoy The East Garden laid out by the 5th Marquess of Salisbury.

A project is underway at Holkham Hall to restore the 6 acres of walled gardens which were originally laid out by Samuel Wyatt during the late 1700s.

Leeds Castle is set within 500 acres of beautiful grounds. The beautiful Culpeper Garden is a must-visit, designed by one of the greatest garden designers of the 20th century, Russell Page.

Woburn Abbey’s tranquil Abbey Gardens are open to enjoy the brilliance of Humphry Repton’s original designs. Enjoy approximately 30 acres of serene formal and natural garden environments, and the Doric Temple was carefully restored last year.

Terrace Garden. Harewood House,Yorkshire, UK. Photo: www.treasurehouses.co.uk.jpg

Terrace Garden. Harewood House,Yorkshire, UK. Photo: www.treasurehouses.co.uk.jpg

New Trails at Jungfrau, Switzerland

New First Cliff Walk – a summit attraction at Grindelwald-First. The narrow cliff-side walkway, suspension bridge and a 45-metre-long vantage platform offer spectacular and unnerving views out towards the Eiger and down the extreme cliff face. Free to visitors.

New Halfpipe in the White Elements Park:  The White Elements Snowpark is one of the largest in Switzerland. With a length of 650 metres, it has several lines with rails, obstacles and boxes for different grades of difficulty.  The new halfpipe will be approximately 130 metres long and 5.7 metres high.

SnowpenAir, Switzerland’s biggest winter music event (April 2, 2016): 
The high-altitude event in Kleine Scheidegg and can only be reached by the beautiful mountain railway where national and international bands will play at 2061m. Visit: www.jungfrau.ch/snowpenair.

Photo: Jungfrau

Photo: Jungfrau

New Zipline Opening at Niagara 

When: Spring 2016

At two spectacular locations along the Niagara Ontario Parkway, there will be a new zip-line attraction. An aerial adventure course will be opened on the north side of the Whirlpool at Thompson Point offering breathtaking vistas of the Niagara Whirlpool, Gorge and the Niagara Parkway.

Four high-speed zip lines will descend 670 metres (2,200 feet) from NPC’s Grand View Marketplace into the Niagara Gorge below. With views of both the American and Canadian Horseshoe Falls, experience Niagara, the Gorge and Niagara Parks in a unique way.

Horseshoe Falls view. Photo: " Helen Filatova / CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Horseshoe Falls view. Photo: ” Helen Filatova / CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Moonlight rafting, Canada 

Horizon X will be the only company on the Ottawa River to offer full moonlight trips. They guide you down the river as you experience the nature and wildlife that can only be seen under the stars. Check the website for first postings of 2016 dates.

Photo: HorizonX.ca

Photo: HorizonX.ca

Ice Canoe In Quebec City, Canada

Traditionally a means of transportation between Quebec City and Levis, canoeing is now a competitive sport. Experience the cracking ice beneath your feet and enjoy an ice canoeing adventure on the mighty St Lawrence River in winter. Visit www.quebecicecanoeing.com

Photo: Cornellier via Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Cornellier via Wikimedia Commons