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New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Photography by Getty Images

There’s no better way to experience the history, soul and charm of The Big Easy than at a festival. While Mardi Gras is the most popular and well-known festival in New Orleans, the celebrations don’t stop there. With more than 400,000 attendees each year, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, also known as Jazz Fest, is the city’s second most popular festival. 

Taking place from April 25 to May 4 this spring at the Fair Grounds Race Course, this 10-day, 2 weekend festival celebrates the music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana with live music, authentic Louisiana cuisine and crafting. READ MORE

 

Salvador’s Pelourinho Neighborhood (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

Salvador is known as Brazil’scapital of happiness” because of its countless number of popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival. Its humble beginnings can be traced to 1549 when Portuguese settlers decided to colonize Brazil and make Salvador the capital of the country. As a result, this coastal city quickly became the main port of call for ships from all over the world that would dock and import their goods into South America. Salvador is no longer Brazil’s capital, but it is a magnificent city with unique architecture, historic museums, chic gastronomy restaurants and African-inspired music, which makes it a unique host city for the 2014 World Cup soccer games.

Salvador, the City of Music
Bahia is the musical state of Brazil. Its rich mixture of Brazilian, African and European cultures birthed genres and rhythms like axe, pagode and samba.. The state’s capital, Salvador, marches to its own beat. People here sing and play special percussion instruments like the berimbau, agogos and atabaques.
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Rio Grande do Sul

Photography by André Maceira

When you think of Brazil, do you think of cowboys in wide-brimmed hats and red neck kerchiefs, verdant canyons and apple strudel? Didn’t think so.

These things happen to be as Brazilian as a pulsating samba beat; Technicolor carnival costumes and intoxicatingly beautiful beaches, and you can find them in the country’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, which is getting ready for its star turn during the 2014 World Cup.

The region will reveal a side of Brazil that few know with culture and customs traced back to fiercely independent gauchos, along with determined Portuguese, Spanish, German and Italian settlers.  These customs show up mostly in the region’s foods. There’s chimarrao, the evra mate tea sipped from a communal cup called a cuia; galeterias, restaurants serving the pastas, polenta and grilled chicken of Italian immigrants; and café colonial, serving plate after plate of German-inspired dishes, including strudel. And then, there is churrasco, the gaucho parade of grilled beef, pork and chicken, probably Rio Grande do Sul’s most well-known export. READ MORE

Curitiba (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

Curitiba is a city that advocates sustainable living. The name of the city originates from Guarani, an indigenous language in South America, and translates to “lots of pine trees.” People traveling to Curitiba for the World Cup will admire the Arena Da Baixada, which is considered to be one of the most modern stadiums, as it opens its doors to more than 40,000 fans from around the world. Even with all of the excitement and energy surrounding the games, guests will enjoy Curitiba’s hidden gems, including its urban parks and city center.

Curitiba, the City with Sustainable Living
With existing public policies that focus on sustainability in urban public areas, the city of Curitiba is at the forefront of environmentally friendly living. These policies helped build and maintain 30 parks and forests, and the government’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the United Nations Environment Program, who awarded Curitiba a prestigious award for its recycling waste project.

To start your tour of Curitiba’s urban parks, we recommend going to the Parque de Pedreiras (Quarries Park) where the marvelous Ópera de Arame (Wire Opera House) is located. This gorgeous, translucent structure is built out of steel tubes and is full of windows, and it only took an impressive 75 days to construct.
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Fiesta San Antonio

Photography By San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau

For more than a century, San Antonio has honored the heroes of the Alamo and Battle of San Jacinto with an annual parade and celebration. Now, one of the largest festivals in the US, Fiesta San Antonio welcomes almost 3.5 million people each year.

A fun, family-friendly event for all ages, this year’s Texas-sized Fiesta will take place April 10-27, and will offer 110 events such as concerts, parades, cook-offs and more. READ MORE

 

National Cherry Blossom Festival

Photography by Reuters

Each year, in March and April, millions of people flock to Washington, DC, to experience the beauty of the National Cherry Blossom Festival when thousands of cherry blossom trees bloom along the Tidal Basin.

Today marks the average peak bloom date for the cherry blossom trees, and while the actual bloom date is difficult to predict, the National Park Service predicts that this spring’s peak bloom period is between April 8 and 12.

If you’re planning a visit, a stroll along the Tidal Basin is a must, but here are some other ways you can also celebrate the festival in the nation’s capital: READ MORE

 

Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

Rio de Janeiro is a magnificent city for travelers looking for a well-rounded experience of Brazil. Rio is more than a popular backdrop for countless movies. It’s home to iconic soccer players like Pelé, the popular Christ the Redeemer, the classic bossa nova, the most beautiful beaches in the world and  the world’s most entertaining carnival. Rio de Janeiro’s laidback culture and natural beauty will leave a lasting impression to adventure seekers, soccer fans and history lovers making their way to Brazil for the World Cup.

Rio de Janeiro, The City of Yellow, Green, Blue Through and Through
In 1950, Brazil hosted the World Cup, which left the country heartbroken and disappointed when the championship title was awarded to Uruguay after the team won the final game by 1 point in Rio de Janeiro. Since then, the sport and the country of Brazil have drastically evolved, and locals are ecstatic to experience with visitors the fruits of their labor after  more than 4 years of preparation for the 2014 World Cup. It all ends here in Rio de Janeiro, and only 1 team will win the title of  2014 FIFA World Cup champions.
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Photography by iStock

Adorned with dozens of baroque statues, the historic 15th-century-era Charles Bridge is one of Prague’s most scenic and well-trodden thoroughfares.

Daily Escapes!

Photography by Alex Holland / Cultura / Aurora Photos

If you want take a stroll past one of Madrid’s best known landmarks, do so in the evening, when the brilliant gate and Neoclassical monument in the city center is dramatically lit against the night sky.

Daily Escapes!

 

Cuiaba (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)

Cuiabá is a host city not to be overlooked by visitors when traveling to Brazil for the World Cup. In the 20th century, this gold-mining city drastically grew from 57,000 to 544,737 residents in 30 years. Today, the city’s 3 ecosystems (the wetlands of the Pantanal; the savannas of the Cerrado; and the Amazon), are treasured by locals and tourists. The city offers visitors magnificent opportunities to immerse themselves in nature, whether it be waterfalls, rivers, plateaus, or miles and miles of beautiful green landscape.

Cuiabá, The City of Picturesque Countryside
One of the many spots to hike and explore in Cuiabá is the Chapada dos Guimarães National Park (Parque Nacional Chapada dos Guimarães), a UNESCO World Heritage site located a few miles outside of the city. This enormous natural park gives people a place to go and explore the large orange and red-rock formations via guided hikes with varying levels of difficulty. Along the hike, visitors to the park see caves, canyons and beautiful outlooks.
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