If 2020 was a bad year, then 2021 was a shocker with travel bans, chaotic rules and rip-off tests and quarantine hotels.
However, in the spirit of optimism that we might one day be out of the Covid woods, we’ve put together a list of our top picks of holidays for 2022, both abroad and at home.
Things can only get better for travelling and, from global sporting celebrations to historic events via theme parks and natural wonders, there’s something for everyone in the 12 months ahead.
So start planning for a great year of big trips, short breaks and days out – there’s so much to do in ’22!
Yellowstone, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho, USA
The daddy of American national parks is reaching the ripe old age of 150 on March 1. Of course, given the natural wonders of this 3,468 square mile marvel, that is just a geological blink of the eye.
Today’s four million annual Yellowstone visitors have much to thank the splendidly named Philetus W Norris, who was tasked to “to protect, preserve, and improve the park” as the second superintendent in 1877.
He explored it widely to add to our geographical knowledge, constructed roads, built a headquarters at Mammoth Hot Springs, hired the first ‘gamekeeper’ and opposed hunters and vandals.
Special events for the anniversary year will be announced soon, but you hardly need an excuse to see some of the world’s finest geothermal features, such as the legendary Old Faithful geyser, and stellar wildlife including bears, wolves, bison and elk.
Get your motorhome running and hit the highway for nature’s finest.
Find more information at nps.gov/yell/index.htm.
A decade on from the inspirational London 2012 Olympics, it’s the West Midlands’ turn to step onto the world stage as they host the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
From July 28 to August 8 events will take place in and around Birmingham, including the city centre’s Victoria Square for the marathon finish and the Cycling Road Race from St Nicholas Park, Warwick. West Park in Wolverhampton will host the Cycling Time Trials, Sutton Park in Sutton Coldfield, will stage the triathlon events, and there is mountain biking at Cannock Chase Forest.
The Games’ merch store is open in the Bullring and ‘bull’ mascot Perry will be making appearances in the run-up to the event.
Alongside the Games, the Birmingham 2022 Festival will showcase the region’s rich creativity. Opening the event, Leamington Spa based dance-circus company Motionhouse will wow with aerial spectacle Wondrous Stories, celebrating the people across the region, with seven free performances in Centenary Square.
The Healing Gardens of Bab is an arts programme designed by Birmingham’s LGBTQIA+ communities in collaboration with artists from across the Commonwealth.
Plus Birmingham’s Flatpack Festival will present Wonderland, telling how cinema shaped the streets, lives and dreams of Brummies over the past century.
Find out more at birmingham2022.com.
If travelling by train, look out for Birmingham’s Musical Routes project. Comprising 30 music-themed maps installed at railway stations, it celebrates the musical heritage of the areas where artists such as UB40, Black Sabbath, Duran Duran, Joan Armatrading and Ocean Colour Scene started out. You can find out more at visitbirmingham.com.
The island of Ireland
The highly anticipated Game Of Thrones studio tour is set to launch in Northern Ireland on February 4. Housed in the Linen Mill Studios, Banbridge, Co Down – one of the key facilities used to shoot the TV series – the Thrones experience will be an immersive, high-sensory attraction featuring sets, authentic costumes, weaponry and props, all evoking the show’s epic, medieval fantasy world. ( Linenmillstudios.com )
Due to land in Derry in April, Our Place in Space is a sculpture trail created by artist and author Oliver Jeffers to urge people to think about what it means to live on Earth and how we can protect the planet. It will move on to Belfast and Co Down ( ourplaceinspace.earth ).
To celebrate the centenary of James Joyce’s Ulysses, the author’s literary credentials will be showcased at his birthplace of Dublin. The Museum of Literature Ireland will feature an exhibition around Joyce’s relationship with his wife and family.
Meanwhile €73million is being poured into attractions across the Republic, including a flight simulator experience in Dublin designed to tell the story of Ireland.
Find more information at tourismireland.com.
Light the blue touch paper and get ready to be dazzled on May 6 when the capital’s hottest tourist attraction, The Gunpowder Plot, launches at the Tower Vaults, opposite the Tower of London. That was where Guy Fawkes was imprisoned, interrogated and tortured after he was caught in the cellars below the House of Lords in possession of 36 barrels of gunpowder.
Tasked with infiltrating the November 5 plot, guests descend to the Vaults’ immersive theatre space, to be transported back to 1605, thanks to an innovative combination of tech including virtual reality, holograms and project mapping with live actors, while multi-sensory effects create the smell, taste and touch of early 17th century London.
According to Danny Robins, who wrote the script: “I feel we’re delivering an age-old classic story in an incredibly accessible, explosive, exciting 21st century way.” Adults from £30, children (10-15yrs) from £20.
Find out more at gunpowderimmersive.com.
The first football World Cup staged in the Middle East – and in the northern hemisphere winter – kicks off in the Persian Gulf nation on November 21.
More than one million global fans are expected to descend on Qatar during the course of the 28-day tournament, with England already having qualified for the finals and Scotland and Wales battling through to the play-offs in late March.
Ticket and accommodation packages with Qatar Airways Holidays are on sale and, while England will definitely be there, sadly only one of Scotland or Wales can make it. Either way, 50,000-60,000 UK supporters could be heading to the Gulf.
With Qatar being such a small nation (it’s not much bigger than Devon and Cornwall combined), it means supporters will not have far to travel between stadiums and it will be feasible to see two games in a day in the region around the skyscraper-ringed capital Doha.
The hosts are racing to build dozens more hotels, from the standard to the truly luxurious and spectacular, and they will also have desert camps and cruise ships moored up for extra accommodation.
Away from the match action, fans can go on dune-bashing 4×4 trips in the desert, spot wildlife including whale sharks, watch camel racing (robot jockeys!) and chill by the pool or beach.
For culture lovers, the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha is magnificent.
It’s no secret many football fans like a beer and there will be designated alcohol zones for the tournament, or at bars in smart hotels. But be warned, it’s cripplingly expensive.
Find out more at visitqatar.qa and qatarairways.com.
Floriade, The Netherlands
Coming into bloom only once every 10 years, the Floriade Expo is the hot horticultural ticket of 2022.
First staged in 1960 at Rotterdam, the festival will make its seventh appearance in ‘garden city’ Almere, near Amsterdam, from April 14 to October 9. Built on land reclaimed from the sea, the country’s youngest city (just 46 years old) is the perfect backdrop for the Expo’s eco-theme of ‘growing green cities’.
The 148-acre park will be home to more than 40 spectacular pavilions from participating countries including Indonesia, Qatar and Japan, showcasing flowers and plants in their vision of a green and pleasant urban life.
Browse a living gigantic library arboretum of more than 2,500 trees and plants set out in alphabetical order based on their botanical name. And for a thrilling birdseye view of the park take the five-minute ride by cable car.
There’s no better way to visit Floriade than on a river cruise. Cruise lines with itineraries taking in a visit there include Saga, Titan Travel, Shearings, Arena River Cruises and Riviera Travel.
Find out more at floriade.com/en.
It’s been a marathon 17-year, much delayed project but the magnificent Grand Egyptian Museum, by the Pyramids at Giza, is finally due to open in late 2022.
It will be the world’s biggest archaeological museum, covering 199 acres and housing the treasures of Ancient Egypt, including all the Tutankhamun collection.
This is a handy coincidence, as 2022 also marks the centenary of archaeologist Howard Carter discovering the boy pharaoh’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, near Luxor.
So, two excellent reasons to visit this welcoming sun-soaked nation.
Any trip to UNESCO-listed Luxor is memorable, taking in the towering sights of Karnak, the Valley of the Kings with the mesmerising hieroglyphics in the pharaohs’ tombs and the colossal mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, the dynamic female pharaoh who had a significant 21-year reign with ambitious building projects and a time of prosperity.
While there is no fixed opening date for the GEM, it’s expected to be by December and will be an absolute must-visit with thousands of never-before-seen treasures from the storerooms at the old Egyptian Museum in central Cairo on display.
Find out more information on egypt.travel.
Disneyland Paris, France
On April 12 it will be 30 years since the world’s most famous mouse crossed the pond to bring the Disney razzle dazzle to Europe. And the French theme park plans to get the celebratory party started on March 6, with magical shows and sparkling entertainment along the resort’s Main Street, USA, decked out in birthday decor.
The resort will celebrate its past and future with the debut of a new limited show at the Castle Hub along with the return of classic shows and parades of yesterday including Disney Stars of Parade and Disney Illuminations.
In the summer, Walt Disney Studios Park welcomes the arrival of new Marvel-themed attraction Avengers Campus where Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man and the Wasp will be lining up to meet avid fans. For more Marvel magic, check in at Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel. The theme park’s newest hotel opened last summer and boasts the world’s largest collection of the world-famous comic’s artwork.
Find out more at disneylandparis.com and disneyholidays.co.uk.
Necessity is the mother of invention and with sailings heavily limited by the pandemic last year, cruise lines came up with the clever tagline ‘seacation’ and offered no-fly cruises around the British Isles which fitted in with the Government Covid rules at the time.
They were a huge success and are being repeated on a smaller scale this summer. It’s a great way to see parts of our country that you may not have been to before and can be terrific value, plus if you are new to cruising it’s an easy opportunity to, ahem, dip your toe in the water.
Most voyages will explore home waters to take in the likes of brilliant cities such as Belfast, Glasgow and Liverpool, the magnificent Scottish and Welsh countryside, the Channel Islands and Orkney’s neolithic wonders.
There are also some ‘scenic sailings’ which cruise past the UK coast with no ports of call. Options are available from Fred. Olsen, Princess, Disney, Carnival, Cunard, P&O, Hurtigruten, Saga, Azamara, Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas lines.
Hadrian’s Wall 1900 Festival
This year hordes of visitors will be descending on the UK’s greatest Roman architectural site to join in the celebrations marking the 1,900th anniversary of the beginning of its construction.
Ordered by Emperor Hadrian on his arrival in Britannia in AD122 to “separate the barbarians from the Romans”, it took three legions six years to complete this epic feat of engineering, and remained the north-west frontier of the Roman empire for nearly 300 years.
The 73-mile (80 Roman miles) long wall runs from Wallsend on the River Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west.
A year-long programme of events and activities along the UNESCO world heritage site, will launch on Hadrian’s birthday (January 24) and run through to the celebration of Saturnalia (the Romans’ favourite festival) on December 23. Highlights include a contemporary artwork that uses the fabric of the region’s landscape, an off-the-wall Japanese manga series bringing Roman history to life like never before and fantastic falconry displays at Chesters Roman Fort and Birdoswald Roman Fort.
The Haltwhistle Walking Festival is celebrating with a new weekend walk Emperor Hadrian’s Round.
Among the blockbuster English Heritage events will be the Clash of Romans, a fiercely fought competition with swords, shields, bows and arrows.
And the wall’s most famous fort, Vindolanda, will be staging Roman’s Return: Big Birthday Bash with military displays and a traditional Roman camp.
Find out more at 1900.hadrianswallcountry.co.uk and english-heritage.org.uk.
Southwest Wales’ wild and beautiful county has a busy year ahead with milestone celebrations, festivals and grand unveilings.
Marking 70 years as a national park, the Pembrokeshire coast is packed with rugged scenery, wildlife and history and there are so many ways to experience it.
The recently revamped Milford Waterfront, with its collection of cafés, eateries and shops, is set to unveil the exciting new
Ty Hotel, a 100-bedroom waterside development, in spring.
After a two-year hiatus The Big Retreat Festival returns to Lawrenny Castle Estate from June 3-6. The adventure and wellbeing festival, headlined this year by 1990s favourites Reef and Toploader, will feature wild swimming, fire walking, and local food and drink ( thebigretreatfestival.com ).
Like something a little more niche? Head over to the idyllic Little Retreat glamping resort overlooking the Cleddau Estuary, which is home to a new 12-seat restaurant, Annwn, by renowned Pembrokeshire chef and forager Matt Powell, ( littleretreats.co.uk ).
The Victorian seaside town of Tenby will welcome back the epic Ironman Wales ( ironman.com ) triathlon event on September 11 and the market town of Narberth will see the return of its popular Food Festival on September 24 and 25 ( narbethfoodfestival.com ).
Also, redeveloped Saundersfoot Harbour ( saundersfootharbour.co.uk ) with the new Outer Reef Water Sports Centre and Ocean Cabins budget boltholes, will host the World Rowing Coastal Championships (October 7-9) and Beach Sprint Finals (October 14-16).
Find out more at visitpembrokeshire.com.
Hopefully our ideas will inspire you in 2022 once travelling abroad becomes easier and Covid is just a very unpleasant memory.
But after the dreadful time for foreign getaways in particular over the 731 days since the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organisation, aren’t we all simply desperate to go… well, just about anywhere?!
Wherever you go, safe travels in 2022.
- Travel restrictions may apply. Always check the latest Foreign Office advice for a destination before booking or going on a trip as this will include vital information such as a country’s entry requirements and other travel rules.
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