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With winter just around the corner, our thoughts turn to ways to warm up on a cold day. Don’t shy away from the snow and ice, there is nothing like a skating date to warm you up to Montreal’s winter lifestyle. Variety is key to a Montreal winter vacation, ranging from the club scene, to quiet local rinks in every city quarter.

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Viticulture has a very long history in South Africa stretching back to the 1600’s and the first Dutch settlers. The industry as it exists today is very young however, stretching back only to the early 1990’s and a wave of investment and energy that came following the collapse of the apartheid regime in the country. Nowadays South African wine has markets all over the world and the country is increasingly popular as a destination where wine connoisseurs can combine their passion with a trip through a beautiful and fascinating country.

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If travellers want to experience life in a futuristic far-eastern mega-metropolis then Shanghai is the place to go. Riding the crest of the Chinese economic miracle, even Beijing doesn’t have the energy and sense of awesome scale and ambition of Shanghai.

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How does one describe Siena’s Il Palio? This horse race is part Kentucky Derby, part Shakespearean drama with a pinch of Mardi Gras thrown in for good measure. The 90 second event is breath taking to watch. Jockeys ride bareback three times around a dirt track in Siena’s Piazza Del Campo, the first horse that crosses the finish line is declared the winner, with or without a rider. The race has ancient roots, starting sometime in the 13th century in the piazza. The foundation of the race is built on the fierce competition between the 17 different contradas or neighborhoods in Siena. Each Sienese contrade has it’s own church, social structure, patron saint and flag. Over the years the race has evolved from riding buffalos to donkeys to horses. It is now held twice a year, July 2 and August 16, former Palio is a bit older and therefore the bigger deal of the two.

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Negril, a vibrant Jamaican town, boasts in abundance the sun, sea and sand that tourists from more temperate climes seek out, especially as we move from a half-hearted summer to a wet and windy autumn. Negril walks a tightrope and has so far avoided becoming completely overrun with package tourists and not succumbing to the mahogany faced charm of over gentrification. This places it firmly in the centre ground of the Caribbean holiday market.

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Kiev is a fantastic city that has several advantages over other destinations in the region. Ukraine lacks the punishing visa regime of Russia that holds back the tourist potential of St Petersburg, but it has also avoided the worst of the binge drinking weekend trips that have blighted other cities of Eastern Europe.

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The town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee was named for Radford Gatlin, a general store owner and Confederate sympathizer during the Civil War. Despite its population of around 4,000 residents, the city has grown into a renowned mountain resort. It rests on the border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which connects the city of Gatlinburg with Cherokee, North Carolina. As a result of its geographic location, the city is surrounded on every side by a series of mountain ridges.

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The world’s largest fair of the year is right around the corner and the city of Munich, Germany and the city is preparing for its annual average of 6 million visitors that typical inundate the town for the duration of Oktoberfest, the country’s largest annual event. Even though you don’t want to sound like a local, it takes more than just learning the tips in your guidebook for ordering a few liters of beer and sounding somewhat like a local. Here are a few tips for attending Oktoberfest this year and enjoying yourself among the crowds.

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If you’re a fan of ice skating, whether it’s competitive or for entertainment purposes, then you are probably familiar with the Disney on Ice Tour. Founded by the Feld Entertainment group under agreement with the Walt Disney Company, the Disney on Ice Tour has been entertaining families with children since 1981. The shows are aimed primarily at children as the figure skaters are dressed in costumes that depict some of Disney’s most well known cartoon characters.

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If you’ve never experienced a caravan camping holiday or vacation in the UK, you have been missing out on a great way to see the beautiful countryside and landscapes of one of the world’s most pristine countries. In recent years, the camping holiday or vacation has become one of the most popular activities in the UK. The following is a list of the better camping areas that will provide you and your family with some beautiful scenery while enjoying a wide range of activities and quality time together.

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If you are looking for a unique theme for an end of October holiday or vacation, you might want to consider the Relentless Energy Drink’s Freeze Festival held in Battersea, London during the last weekend of October.  Formerly known as “London Freeze”, the Freeze Festival is the UK’s ultimate music and snow festival that is held in the Battersea Power Station of London.  It is a sports competition involving the best skiers and snowboarders in the world and a line-up of musicians to match.

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The city of London, England is well known for its attractions, diverse cultures, history, many landmarks, and its pubs.  However, what most visitors to the city oftentimes overlook or just miss altogether is the Ice Sculpting Festival that attracts some of the best ice artists from around the world.  It is usually held every January when London’s weather is at its coldest in Canada Square Park at Canary Wharf.  This coming January, 2012 will be the 4th annual Ice Sculpting Festival.

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Europe’s largest dance festival of the year takes place for four days every spring when the Euro Dance Festival is held near Freiburg, Germany in the town of Rust at the Europa Park.

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If there is one aspect of the French culture that they are famous for, it is the wines that they produce.  The following is a listing of the top wine regions in France and the best wineries in each.

photo by derekGavey

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If you require a taste of adventure when you travel internationally, you should consider some of the nighttime flea markets in Hong Kong. These are the perfect illustration of the local culture as each of the markets listed here has its own unique charm and contain some hidden treasures worth purchasing. You’ll find all types of consumer goods but more importantly, you can haggle for a better price at every one of them.

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