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10 Places to Travel for the Holidays

10 Places to Travel for the Holidays

The holidays are almost here, and it’s the perfect chance to get away. Whether you want to spend your holiday break lying on a sandy beach, skiing down some of the world’s best snow, or exposing yourself and your family to a new culture, here is a list of 10 must-see travel destinations.

Nara, Japan — Wakakusa Yamayaki

Nara

    Japan is a gorgeous country full of cultural exploration, but around the holiday season there is an event you shouldn’t miss out on–Wakakusa Yamayaki. This spectacular Japanese festival involves monks from two religions–Buddhism and Shintoism–setting fire to a mountain after fireworks displays and religious rituals at their respective shrines. The history behind the festival involves an ancient boundary dispute, but this has been long resolved, and the festival is a way to commemorate that occasion. The fires the monks set are more of a controlled burn than a raging inferno. However, the image of the greater part of a mountain on fire from a distance is not one you’ll soon forget. The Wakakusa Yamayaki takes place in Nara, Japan on January 23, 2016.

    Bahia, Brazil — Mareh Festival

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    Bahi

      For New Year’s Eve, what could be better than being on a serene private beach on an island off the coast of Brazil’s Bahia state for beach bar fetes and day-long parties that run for almost 10 days in their entirety? The Mareh Festival features some of today’s hottest performers and entertainers in an exotic location with crystal-clear water and open beaches. Boats offshore host their own private parties, with international DJs and musical acts in abundance. The festival runs from December 26 to January 3 on the Boipeba island of Bahia and includes festive New Year’s Eve celebrations. What better way is there to ring in the new year?

      Park City, Utah, USA — Sundance Film Festival

      Sundance

        From January 21-31, 2016, Hollywood takes over Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival as movie stars and producers rub shoulders with the downhill ski crowd and screenings compete with local scenery for the attention of the world’s press. You don’t have to be a film junkie to be invited; the slopes of the nearby Mountain and Canyon Resorts will keep you occupied just as much as the movies (if not more so). Be sure to get tickets for major screenings as far in advance as possible, and don’t forget your skis!

        Playa del Carmen, Mexico — BPM Festival

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        DSCF4412

          Packing 375 musicians into 10 days isn’t easy, but if you need to blow off some steam in early January–January 8-17 to be exact–you should head for this coastal resort near Cancun on Mexico’s Riviera Maya coast on the Caribbean. From beachfront blowouts to hot club nights, this festival is large and raucous. Besides attending performances, you can also swim with dolphins, snorkel, scuba dive, kayak, visit Mayan ruins and archeological sites or just lay on the beach and soak up the sun.

          Rajasthan, India — Magnetic Fields

          India

            In the historical and decadent 10-acre palace of Alsisar Mahal in Rajasthan, India, the Magnetic Fields event will host Indian and international musicians from December 18-20. The amazingly-preserved Alsisar palace and grounds, which recall another time, have been fashioned into a luxury hotel, featuring courtyards and outdoor garden areas. Eventgoers have the opportunity to camp out on the grounds in bedouin-style luxury tents, each suited for up to three guests. Alternatively, attendees can pitch their own tents and sip from a selection of the finest Indian teas.

            Sydney, Australia — The Sydney Arts Festival

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            Sydney

              Australia always sounds like a good idea, but if it’s not incentive enough then you must go for the Sydney Arts Festival. This three-week arts festival is the site of symphonic performances, outdoor movie screenings, and live film music orchestra. The Sydney Festival, which runs from January 7-26, features music, theater and dance, opera and classical music, circus and cabaret as well as family events. Many performances take place in waterfront parks or public theaters; some are free. Sydney’s hottest months are December and January, so be sure to pack light.

              Miami, Florida — Holy Ship!

              Ship

                This four-day cruise featuring 40+ electronic music acts on the 4,000-passenger ship MSC Divina is a sun-filled excursion to nowhere–well, almost. Technically, the ship docks in the Bahamas, and some people disembark to go to a private island, but otherwise, the main action is aboard the ship. Performers will improvise sets in rooms, lounges and just about anywhere they can find a space and an audience. Because of the cruise’s popularity, Holy Ship! takes place twice; the first cruise is January 3-6, 2016, and the second one is February 10-13, 2016.

                Miami Florida — Jam Cruise

                As opposed to Holy Ship!, above, Jam Cruise is a happy-go-lucky, laid-back affair where 3,000 revelers sail off into the Caribbean sunset enjoying jam-band music and partaking in easygoing revelry. There are shipboard casinos, restaurants, yoga classes, and–of course–musical shows. Along the way, Jam Cruise makes stops in Mexico and Honduras, and you can disembark to do some local exploring. Jam Cruise sets sail from January 6-11, 2016.

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                Saalbach, Austria — Rave on Snow

                Austria

                  From December 10-13, 2015 the villages of Saalbach and Hinterglemm in Austria are the site of Rave on Snow, which features international DJs and performers from Europe, the U.S. and Asia. The celebration’s Gipfel Party happens on the peak of Schattberg Mountain, over 2,000 meters above sea level. During the day there are over 200 kilometers of ski and snowboard runs to explore, and at night the entire village becomes a vibrant festival area surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

                  Reykjavik, Iceland — Sónar Festival

                  iceland

                    The Sónar Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland takes place from February 18-20 and features over 50 noted international performers. Sónar Reykjavik is a satellite festival of the main music, technology and creativity festival of the same name, which takes place in Barcelona, Spain in June. For Sónar Reykjavik, there will be five stages and a capacity for more than 3,500 guests. At least some of the festival will take place underground as well as in the country’s most avant-garde large music venue, the Harpa Concert House.

                    Featured photo credit: Hinterglemm village seen from Zwölferkogelbahn lift, Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria/MattiPaavola via en.wikipedia.org

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                    Last Updated on March 24, 2021

                    8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

                    8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

                    We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and bought useless gadgets that we don’t really need, just because they seemed really cool at the time. Then, we are stuck with a bunch of junk, and end up tossing it or trying to sell it on Ebay.

                    On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome tech inventions that are actually useful. For instance, many of the latest home gadgets do some of your work for you, from adjusting the home thermostat to locking your front door. And, if used as designed, these tools should really help to make your life a lot easier—and that’s not just a claim from some infomercial trying to sell you yet another useless gadget.

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                    Take a look at some of the most popular “smart gadgets” on the market:

                    1. Smart Door Locks

                    A smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors by using your smartphone, a special key fob, or biometrics. These locks are keyless, and much more difficult for intruders to break into, making your home a lot safer. You can even use a special app to let people into your home if you are not there to greet them.

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                    2. Smart Kitchen Tools

                    Wouldn’t you just love to have a pot of coffee waiting for you when you get home from work? What about a “smart pan” that tells you exactly when you need to flip that omelet? From meat thermometers to kitchen scales, you’ll find a variety of “smart” gadgets designed to make culinary geeks salivate.

                    3. Mini Home Speaker Play:1

                    If you love big sound, but hate how much space big speakers take up, and if you want a stereo system that is no bigger than your fist, check out the Play:1 mini speaker. All you have to do is plug it in, connect, and then you can stream without worrying about any interruptions or interface. You can even add onto it, and have different music playing in different rooms.

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                    4. Wi-Fi Security Cameras

                    These are the latest in home security, and they connect to the Wi-Fi in your home. You can use your mobile devices to monitor what is going on in your home at all times, no matter where you are. Options include motion sensors, two-way audio, and different recording options.

                    5. Nest Thermostat

                    This is a thermostat that lives with you. It can sense seasonal changes, temperature changes, etc., and it will adjust itself automatically. You will never have to fiddle with a thermostat dial or keypad again, because this one basically does all of the work for you. It can also help you to save as much as 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills.

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                    6. Smart Lighting

                    Control your home lighting from your remote device. This is great if you are out and want to make sure that there are some lights on. It is designed to be energy efficient, so it will pay for itself over time because you won’t have to spend so much on your monthly energy bills.

                    7. Google Chromecast Ultra

                    Whether you love movies, television shows, music, etc., you can stream it all using Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream all of the entertainment you love in up to 4K UHD and HDR, for just $69 monthly.

                    8. Canary

                    This home security system will automatically contact emergency services when they are needed. This system offers both video and audio surveillance, so there will be evidence if there are any break-ins on your property. You can also use it to check up on what’s happening at home when you are not there, including to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

                    Featured photo credit: Karolina via kaboompics.com

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